Marriage is - theoretically - a forever kind of thing. Not a lot of people go into it thinking it's something they'll do until they get bored and something else comes along. Having said that, forever is a really long time to spend with a person and divorce is all too common. That doesn't mean it's a must, though. Millennials have been blamed for "killing" divorce (umm, you're welcome?) but it's not like they're the first to be able to battle back from the edge.
One Reddit user asked:
Redditors who salvaged their marriage from the brink of divorce, what's your story and how's it going now?
A surprising number of brave people stepped up to talk about it - and what it mostly boils down to is that honesty and communication are a must. Oh, also maybe don't play so many video games and handle your mental health people!
The responses have been edited for language, but that's it. These are people's stories in their own words. Some are heartbreaking, some are kind of funny, but they're all honest and vulnerable.
Warcraft = War At Home
Husband played World of Warcraft. A lot. We had two kids. I was miserable and controlling.
I went to therapy for myself and got some emotional tools on how to deal with life. It was mind blowing. I also learned how to not let fear dictate my decisions. Husband noticed. I basically went from controlling and nagging and a mean sobbing mess to calm, independent and in some ways less caring. He got nervous and agreed to go to therapy.
He went for two sessions. Basically he got his view of reality called into question. I swear our therapist was like a non-evil Hannible Lecter. He was good at getting to the heart of things but both myself and my husband were desperate for change.
My husband stepped up. And I stepped down from trying to micromanage his life. I want him to enjoy video games. I do too. But he needs to be emotionally available. If I'm making dinner I'll tell him "Don't start a new game, dinner is almost ready" or he'll ask how much time he has ... Or wait to game after kids sleep.
It's the communication, the consideration and the priorities that need to be changed. If you're using gaming as a crutch for other issues, you'll just find a replacement if gaming is taken away.
So, yeah he still plays. But he plays because he enjoys it, not as a way to escape real life every second he can.
Life is good.
Re-Directed Emotional Energy
I caught my wife chatting with someone else online. When I called her on it, she said she knew I was talking to someone else too. We had been (emotionally) cheating on each other because we felt like we weren't getting what we needed from the marriage.
We realized that if we just took the effort that we were spending on the other people and spent it on each other, we'd be happy and getting what we needed. Now our marriage is really amazing.
Most of our problems came from his family full of awful, abusive, intrusive, boundary-stomping as$holes.
We moved 1000 miles away and no longer speak to them. We're happy now.
We Forgot To Be In Love
Go back 17 years ago, we had a young son. He was my dream child. I lost my focus on my husband and centered entirely on my son. My husband never said much.
I was so tired too. All I wanted to do after working 9-10 hours was sleep. He had a job he hated and works 10 hours a day too.
We forgot to be in love. Period. I nagged a lot and he just ignored me. I caught him telling our problems to a stranger on the Internet. I asked for a divorce.
It was around January. I said we would let my son finish the school year and I would leave in June.
After that, we coexisted as friends. We had been together for 16 years, so that wasn't hard. Our parents knew we were divorcing and they didn't understand because we were such good friends.
Around March we were bored. We wanted to go out to dinner and a movie. I asked my mom to babysit. It was just as friends. I actually took the time to get ready. He did too. We went to dinner and then the movie. By habit, I just grabbed his hand. He never said anything, but just stroked the back of my hand and never let go.
We got back into the car. It was late, so we let our son stay overnight.
I don't know what happened that night, but I felt something I had never felt before. I was holding on to my best friend and I wasn't going to let go.
We went home and just held each other. Divorce was never mentioned again. In my own head I realized that I had to put him first. He needed me too. I balanced my time and he learned to give me the reassurance that I needed to feel loved.
As I currently watch him sleep, with our young 7 year old between us, I know that our marriage is about as perfect as a marriage can be. We have both forgiven and accepted each other's faults.
My advice to you..
- Make one date a month. Make it special. 2 Every 3-4 months, plan to go out-of-town for a night. Act like teenagers. I can't tell you how much I need these nights. We go to concerts, ball games, casinos, or even just camping.
- Don't argue about something that won't matter in one month. If he didn't take out the trash, will that really matter?
- Learn to enjoy each other's bodies. I had gained weight and lost all self-esteem. Once I realized that he wasn't looking for perfection, just attention, things changed. I wasn't happy with what I looked like and o have slowly improved.
My oldest son is getting married. His soon-to-be wife told him he wanted marriage just like his parents had. That told me everything I needed to know. We had made it.
Boiled Down To Communication
After I had my kids I felt like I lost who I was. I was "mom" and that was it. I was permanently exhausted. All my energy was spent on the kids so by the end of the day I just wanted to get into bed and sleep. My husband would stay up late playing computer games. We spent no time together. I nagged him because I felt like I was doing all the work at home.
I also gained a lot of weight during my 2 pregnancies and I didn't lose it afterwards, which made me feel fat and unattractive. It didn't help that my husband seemed to completely lose interest in me. He stopped telling me I was beautiful. He stopped saying "I love you". He has never been a very expressive guy so when that stopped, and he wasn't being physically affectionate with me either, I truly believed that he didn't really love me anymore. It was a bit of a vicious cycle, because the more I felt that way, the more weight I gained and the more terrible I felt about myself. I would always be the one to initiate any intimacy. It completely blew my self-confidence.
While all this was happening I met somebody online (to clarify, it was not on any dating site or anything like that) who I used to chat to regularly. There was nothinginappropriate that happened. It was just sharing about what had happened during the week, getting advice on things, talk about parenting etc. This guy lived on a different continent. I never shared anything about my husband with him, never complained about him etc. He was more like a spiritual mentor. I realized though, that even though nothing inappropriate was going on, it was wrong because without realizing it, I was emotionally investing in somebody else when I should have been using that time and energy to invest in my relationship with my husband. Although I put an end to that, things still didn't improve. I felt like with every month that passed the gulf between us got wider and wider.
I caught my husband looking at porn a number of times, which at the time, was devastating to me. It made me feel even worse about myself...his sex drive was fine, it was just me he wasn't interested in. I took it very personally. He was completely withdrawn from me, and there was actually a point where I worried that he might be having an affair. I was absolutely miserable.
The tipping point came a few years ago, when my husband went snooping online and found some "anonymous" confessions I had made on Scary Mommy confessions (unlucky for me, even though I had never saved any of them, he worked his software engineer magic and knew which ones were mine). It was my place to vent about how crappy I felt about motherhood, about myself and about my marriage (and even about both our families).
When my husband saw them he was devastated. Because he's always had trouble expressing any emotions he wrote me a long letter telling me that he had gone snooping and found them. He told me how hurt he was and how he didn't realize that I had been so unhappy.
A very hard discussion followed, with lots of tears on both sides. Once everything was out in the open things got so much better. He made more of an effort to tell me he loved me and that I was beautiful. He encouraged me to go back to school and to follow my own dreams. I started seeing a personal trainer 3x a week. I also discovered that the reason he doesn't initiate sex very much is not because he doesn't want it, but because he never wants me to feel pressured to do it. Our sex life has been amazing since. We also spoke about love languages.
For us, fixing things really boiled down to communication. I think the key to any good marriage is good, open communication and not letting things build up until you're miserable and full of resentment.
Not Doing This Alone
We had two kids in diapers and we were working opposite schedules so that we could care for them without resorting to daycare.
He called me at work to say "We're both not happy. We should separate."
Without any emotional tears or anything I said
"I'm not f***ing doing this alone so get over yourself."
Then I hung up the phone.
Tomorrow is my 30th anniversary. The kids are grown and successful and we love each other more than we ever have.
We Got Therapy, We Grew Up
Marriage was a sh!t show. We were both still immature in several ways. Things got bad. There was lying, fighting, yelling, verbal and psychological abuse. Divorce was used as a threat, and so was custody of our kids. Husband was having an emotional affair with his ex wife. We reached a tipping point during an argument in which I was told my opinion was wrong, and I needed to change it or be gone within the week.
I left the next day.
We fought more, we both filed for divorce. We had one hearing where we talked about custody to the judge. Time passes, my lawyer had everything ready to finalize it and all it needed was my signature.
I opted not to have it filed and not to sign.
During the three years we were separated, we continued to talk on the phone. I let him see our kids as much as possible. We were hundreds of miles apart - twelve hours driving. My car would not have made the trip. His was in better condition. He may have been a sh!t husband, but he's always been a good dad. We talked, and talked. We both sought therapy individually. We grew up.
Eventually he moved back, and I moved back in. We've continued to work on our marriage so we never get to where we were.
As for right now? Things are okay. We're not perfect people, but we're making it through.
Workaholic Mama's Boy And The Emotional Affair
I did that cliche movie thing where my husband comes home from work and finds his wife (me) sitting at the kitchen table with a drink gesturing at the other chair like, "Have a seat, we need to talk."
I basically laid out everything that was wrong with our relationship and family life - and there was a lot. I had thought a lot about it all for literal years (married for 9 years at that point), but obviously the communication was so far deteriorated that I hadn't brought any of this up before. He took it very much in stride and said, "That's fixable! I'll fix it!" I was silent and looked down. He said, "Unless... you don't want it to be fixed. Are you telling me you want a separation?"
I had wanted a separation, but I couldn't bring myself to tell him that. This conversation was going differently than I expected. I thought he'd jump at the chance to leave me; I thought he hated me. So, I said, "Well, no." And we talked some more, and made plans to improve our relationship.
Several days after that, we were out having dinner and I was too distracted by my thoughts about our shitty marriage to have a good time. He noticed and asked what was wrong. I said, "You expect everything to improve overnight. Nothing is better. I feel the same." After a bit of angry back and forth, we got the check and stormed home (we live walking distance from the restaurant we were at, so we angrily power walked home, it must have been comedic to people who were watching).
Everything, everything came out that night. All the ways that he had wronged me, as far back as 10 years ago, that he had never apologized for or acknowledged, all the way up to the present. He said, "Why now? Why are you telling me this now? What has changed? Has [longtime friend of mine] pitted you against me for some reason??" And so the truth came out: I said, "I met someone else."
It was true, I'd met someone else and it was mainly an emotional affair, though we exchanged pictures and sexted. But what struck me was how differently they both treated me. I mean, long story short, it was like night and day. To put it very simply, the other guy respected my time and made me feel like I had value as a person separate from making him happy, whereas my husband did not make me feel like that.
I had not wanted to tell my husband about the affair. The other guy and I were not going to get together and were in fact starting to end our relationship, so telling my husband would be just pointless and hurtful. I mainly told him in order to clear my poor friend's name (he really thought she was trying to get me to divorce him) and to put the nail in the coffin of our relationship so I could just move the on.
That was actually the turning point of the evening. He told me that it didn't line up with who he knew me to be - which was a good, honest, faithful person. He said that I must have felt really backed into a corner to turn to infidelity, and that actually made him sit down and examine how he had been acting for the past ten years.
As for how he had been acting: he was a workaholic who had literally zero time for family life including fun interesting conversations about non-work related things. He never came with me to visit my family, hardly spent time with our son, expected me to do everything around the house - which I didn't really mind except he would complain terribly when it wasn't up to his standards instead of just fixing things to his liking without complaining. For example, he would complain to me about a sock being on the floor rather than just picking it up as he walked by.
He didn't listen to anything I said, and I had a running joke where if I wanted to end a conversation, all I had to do was talk longer than 30 seconds because at that point he became very dismissive and would literally walk away. Not in an overtly mean way, more like, "ahah well I've said everything I need to say, and now I'll get back to work" while backing away. Then after a while, whenever this happened, I'd say, "Hah see, this is what happens when I start talking!" and he'd say, "ahah no it isn't" over his shoulder as he was sitting back down at his desk. It didn't really feel like it had any malice behind it, but it was really upsetting anyway. He told me later that he was afraid to spend time on anything that wasn't work. The conversations were usually work related, so when I started talking, the usefulness of it would be over, as I usually expanded the conversation from work to other things often still related to work, but in a less direct way.
He would threaten me with divorce every time we had a fight - I eventually asked him to stop and he more or less did, but occasionally lapsed. His mother lived with us for years and she was incredibly emotionally abusive in ways that I cannot and will not ever forgive- but whenever I brought it up with my husband, he got very defensive, defended her, and said that I was wrong for feeling the way I did. Most hurtful was the fact that he didn't work for a year by choice and despite all of his free time, he did not spend a single day hanging out with me and our son. That was when I was convinced he didn't love me, and that's when I met the other guy, which spearheaded all of this.
After that initial big conversation, we did a LOT of soul searching. I went on a trip planned long in advance, to visit my family (it was one of those family trips that he never took with me, so he didn't have a ticket and therefore didn't come along). During our time apart, we thought a LOT about what we wanted from our marriage and each other and whether we were willing to work on things, whether we were able to come back from the hurt we'd caused each other. We spent a lot of time texting and on the phone. On the day I was supposed to come back, we were both pacing and debating whether we actually wanted to see each other again.
We decided to stay together and make it work. He has a better work life balance, and does things around the house. I speak up when things bother me. We have conversations about things that aren't work related. He values what I say. He apologized for the way his mom treated me, and for not acknowledging how hurtful it was - which made me feel like a huge load was lifted from my spirit. He said that he didn't even realize that's how he was acting all those years - that he was acting like a person he never wanted to be. I believe him. I always knew he had a good heart. I feel like his behavior now matches with who he is on the inside.
I didn't know our marriage could be as good as it is now; if I had, I definitely would have tried to have that conversation years ago, preferably without the infidelity.
A Breast Reduction Changed Everything
I had surgery. I know it sounds weird.
I'm a female, make the most money, work the most, etc. My husband also works but has very few skills and smokes weed a lot because of back pain, so any time he DOES get an interview for something better, they drug test and he doesn't get the job.
We also have a son with autism. We aren't having more kids. When my son turned 8 I got my tubes cut out so I couldn't. Every day is exhausting and honestly, neither of us were happy. I never wanted sex because I was tired, he wanted it all the time. He snapped about everything, I shut down about everything. We had our 10 year anniversary and I knew I wanted a divorce.
I has a breast reduction because of pain issues that were affecting my work. That surgery is serious stuff. I prepared myself for having to go at my recovery with no help. I was delusional. I was a mess afterwards. I didn't want to ask him for help at all.
He turned into a different person. He helped me in the bathroom, took me in the shower to help me, drove me to all of my appointments, made me food, checked on me every 20 mins. Never once did he get impatient with me.
4 weeks after my surgery I felt really lovely from my surgery. I was in a good mood, I liked how I looked in the mirror. I asked him if he liked how I looked. He looked like a dog staring at a treat. I told him I wanted sex.
Ever since then, things are TOTALLY different. I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe him realizing that attention to me matters and showing care, and I realized I needed to give up control. Now we make a little date time. We have sex 1-2 times a week (It had been about once a month before). We laugh with each other. I talk to him when I'm frustrated instead of trying to solve everything by myself. But it's pretty awesome.
Long story short, I was a very heavy drinker for 15+ years. Verbally abusive to my wife when drunk. Wife lost her father from cancer the same year we married. Lost her mother the following year due to unknown cause, possibly heart issue. We had a kid. June 2016, my wife's sister gave birth, then unexpectedly, her sister died a week later. I started drinking more heavily and ramped up my verbal abuse. My wife suppressed her feelings and said she was "used to death now."
End of August 2016, she says she wants a marriage break. I didn't want a break. Early September 2016 I decide to quit drinking cold turkey (average 15 drinks a day down to 0) and start working out. One week later, I find out she's having an affair. The affair continued for 6 months on and off, but I maintained my sobriety and tried to convince her I changed the whole time. She never believed me and expected me to revert back to my old ways. December 2016, we were headed for divorce. February 2017, the affair had ended a month prior, she's gone thru a lot of therapy at this point (she started going weekly in November 2016), and we decided to try and give our marriage another shot. We did marriage counseling bi weekly and started to get to know the new us, individually and as a couple. That April, I started school again after a 10 year hiatus.
Today, 9/27/18, I'm down to 170lbs from 220 (this weight was actually all lost in the first couple months after finding out about the affair), I'm 80% of the way done with my bachelor's degree, wife and I are more in love than we ever have been since knowing each other, and we're expecting our second child in one week! I'm still sober with no outside help. I did it in silence and I'm damn proud of myself! 2 years ago at this time, I wouldn't have believed this was possible, but I pushed thru and I'm making good decisions, finally!
I was a dick and didn't deserve the beautiful woman who put up with my daily drinking and verbal abuse for over 5 years. She shouldn't have cheated and maybe some think I should have cut my ties, but I made the choices I made and I stand by them. I love her. My Wife and I finally found our true selves and our marriage is stronger than it's every been. We were both in the wrong for different reasons, but we worked hard and fixed everything that we could.
Just wanted to get this off my chest because I feel accomplished. I'm finally happy with my life and where it's going for the first time since youth.
Keep your head up, most bullsh!t in life is just a phase unless you make it bigger than it should be. Stay focused.