How long did it take you to leave your ex?

uxorialJanuary 7, 2007

I would like to hear some experiences that others have had regarding getting separated and then divorced. NO! I'm not getting divorced! But I have a friend who's thinking about it. I thought he had his mind made up (he was looking at an apartment to rent), then his wife did a 180 and now wants to try to work things out. I've always had the opinion that a relationship is like sour milk--you can't take the milk out of the fridge, smell it, realize it's sour, and put it back into the fridge thinking it will get better. I think that once the "damage is done" that there is usually no hope for the marriage. What do you folks think? How did it turn out for you?

Did you have a big fight and one of you just walked out and never returned? Did it simmer for years? Did you make up your mind to leave but take a while to think about it and talk it over with friends? Did you get your own place but get talked into going back? Did you stick around long after you should have out of guilt or low self-esteem? Did you stay "for the sake of the children"? Did you go to counseling? And if so, did it help?

I'm particularly interested in hearing from those of you who had a pre-nup. How did that affect your marriage? Did it create a financial rift right from the start? Did the pre-nup have an expiration date?

So far this friend has just been talking to my husband about this. I'm a little sketchy on the details, but it sounds like they fight a lot and always have. There are financial issues stemming from the pre-nup, and other stories he's told don't give me a good feeling that they can work it out. It sounds to me like she's become a psycho you-know-what from you-know-where. She's said hurtful things to him that nobody should ever say to a spouse. The only kid involved is her 19-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, who lives with them with her own young daughter. I don't think that's helping the marriage at all, as mother and daughter scream at each other all the time, and the youngster is starting to scream at her mom too.

He's a real sweet guy, has a good job, and deserves to be treated right. (I've never met his wife.) I hate to see him go thru what I did: decide to leave, sleep in my car for a week, get my own place for a month, get talked into going back, stay and argue for another two years, then finally see a lawyer, file for divorce, and move out. I can't even remember how many years of anguish I suffered through all together, some of them before we were even married.

I realize that each situation is different, but I also think that there are underlying similarities. Did most of you do what I did? Or did you make a clean break? I have only my own experience to share with this guy (DH has never been divorced), but something is keeping me from saying that he should leave and never look back, like I should have done. What do you guys think? Should I tell him to get out now while he still has some dignity (and money)? Or should he give it yet another chance?

Thanks for reading all this!


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26 years and three great kids before we separated, 28 years to divorce. Good riddance to the XH.

I don't believe that once it's sour it can never be fixed (sorry for the mixed metaphor), but I do think big changes are generally needed to fix a broken marriage, on the part of both, and very few people are willing to do the work required. (XH and me included).

We had no prenuptial agreement, back in the early 70's they didn't exist (at least for people of modest means).

I think most people go into a marriage with totally unrealistic and irrelevant expectations. As reality slowly unfolds, so do the disappointments. If they aren't mature enough to see what's happening and reorient their priorities and expectations, the marriage continues on a downward spiral. It's too bad.

If there are children involved, they pay a heavy price in a divorce and both parents need a good dope slap and some serious counseling. If there are no kids, he should get out now.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 2:28PM
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A marriage is too important to have one big fight then shortly thereafter call it quits. So I think - and again, using only my own experience and what I've seen and heard from my friends - that most people think about it long and hard and waver back and forth for a while before finally calling it quits for good. Whether they 'waver in-place' or move-in and out 'wavering in-transit' I think everybody wavers.

I know in my case, I thought about it for months before even mentioning the 'D' word. (You certainly can't un-say it.) Then we went to counseling for about six months before I realized definitively that I didn't want to work things out anymore. Of course, that's when my Ex finally realized I was serious, and begged for another chance, promised to change, etc. He started individual counselling, a huge step for a person like him, and we continued joint counselling for a few more months, but I was just 'watching the clock' until after Christmas. On January 3rd, I told him it was absolutely over, and gave him some brochures from nearby apartment complexes. Best decision I ever made.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 2:34PM
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I've been divorced twice. The first time, I was married 6 years. I caught her cheating 6 months into the marraige, but stuck it out for all kinds of archaic reasons, from doing it for the kids, to having patience hoping she'd grow out of it, to not believing in divorce thanks to my catholic upbringing, to not wanting to quit or give up. The cheating never stopped, right down to the night of my father's funeral. I caught my second wife, ten years into the marraige, on the internet getting cozy in a chat room. We argued about it the next day, and the day after that, I moved out. She called me 3 days later to ask me to try and work it out, and as much as it hurt to do it, I hung up on her. I learned my lesson the first time around. Sure enough, two weeks later a "good friend" of mine for over 20 years moved in with her. Once it's over, it's over. No use dragging it out. Cut it quick and be done with it.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 3:03PM
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It took a long time. I wasn't willing to give up easily; it isn't in my nature. I tried many approaches and then I sort of gave up and didn't do anything for a long time. At last I realized the damage that was occurring and the danger of remaining so I got out. I wished I'd done it much, much sooner.

I like the analogy they used on Seinfeld for break-ups. It went something like this: Breaking up is like knocking over a soda machine. You don't just shove it and it's done; you have to rock it back and forth, back and forth, before it finally crashes to the floor.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 3:14PM
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I have never been divorced, but I would recommend that anyone in this man's situation do whatever it takes to save his marriage. He made the vows and needs to fulfill them to the fullest, if only for his own sake. For example, why is the 19 year old plus her daughter (his step-grandchild) living with this couple? The marriage is more important than the daughter, the daughter plus her child need to find another place to live, this would be a sign that the wife is willing to work on the marriage. Also, I would also recommed that the wife have a medical examination, including an evaluation by a counselor, as a part of her agreement to help the marriage since she seems so irrational. Moreover, if this woman is suffering from mental illness, rather than giving her the boot, she needs professional help. And if she is mentally ill, it would help the husband cope better if he understands why she acts the way she does, and the fact that it's her illness that is making life crazy. It's sad when a spouse leaves a spouse who has a treatable and perhaps undiagnosed mental illness, the mentally ill spouse usually has a dismal outlook for the rest of their lives. The last thing I would say is that if the wife doesn't cooperate, then the difficulties are ultimately unreconcilable.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 3:37PM
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Mine was 6 years coming... coming from that day we got married. I do not regret it since I have three wonderful kids form that marraige but if it were not for them I should have been the run-away bride way before that other chick! I was blessed/lucky/picky the second time around and have been very ahppy for 11 years and we must be doing something right since people still peg up for newly weds since we still hold hands and he opens all door for me.. that sort of thing. My breaking point was finding out that instead of being at work he was at the movies while I was home with 3 kids under 4 and working from home with two differnt jobs. He came home to find a suitcase on the front porch and new locks on the doors.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 4:06PM
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I think you should stay out of his problems altogether. Whether he stays or leaves should come entirely from him. I would not give him any advice. You can listen as much as you want, but he needs to decide this one on his own. If he's being emotionally abused then he needs to work on his self esteem.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 8:31AM
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I agree completely with Donna. Leaving a marriage is serious and no matter how therapeutic it may have been for you, your DH's friend must be utterly convinced that it is the right thing for him to do. You don't want him to think later on that he left because YOU thought he should leave and have him wonder what-if later on. Even you, you may not be quite so positive that leaving your XH was the right thing to do if you had not had the back and forth which allows you to know now that you really tried to make that marriage work. If you are clear about it, you can make that break and move on with your life. If you are not, I can imagine that the realization that you walked out on a solemn vow that you had once made can dog you for a long time - and what a waste of the rest of your life, then.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 1:03PM
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I took a long time, we were in counseling, I told him I wanted a divorce then went back....It was painful and I wish I could've done it faster but I needed to be sure it was the right decision and the marriage was truly over. It was and I have no regrets. If your friend has gotten as far as he has, he'll end his marriage if/when he's positive it's over.

I had a pre-nup with this marriage, not that there was that much for dh to protect. It kinda pissed me off for a bunch of reasons, but not enough to wreck the marriage. It sunsetted awhile ago and is no longer relevant.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 1:52PM
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Thank you all for sharing your experiences and expressing your opinions. Since I posted this, our friend has decided to take a breather and try to work things out. I don't know if that means weeks, months, or years. I think his recent sense of urgency is based on some changes in their pre-nup that take place in June, so he wanted to finalize things before then. What I'm sensing from a distance is that on the one hand, he is the kind of person who doesn't take marriage vows lightly and really doesn't want to be divorced. On the other hand, he's still young (about 34?), and most likely wants to buy a house together, start a family, etc. And that's not happening. The house they live in is HERS, as she's made very clear to him. She already has 3 kids and is too old to have more. Also, it's very possible that his wife is "manipulating" him to some degree to get him to stay until the changes in the pre-nup occur (which would be to her advantage if they did divorce). She has been married and divorced before and is 18 years older than he is, so I'm sure she could "play the system" better.

momj--I agree that big changes are needed to fix this marriage. I think they've been to counseling, but I guess it didn't "take." You're so right about few people being willing to do the work. I was in that situation with my ex, too. Time will tell if that's true for this couple. They have no kids together, but I'm sure her daughter and granddaughter living with them is starting to take a toll.

sweeby--Yes, one big fight is not usually the case with most divorces; they've been fighting since the wedding day from what I've heard. I think he's in the wavering stage now, and I'm wondering if he's watching the clock like you did, and will pull the plug at the end of May. But I'm hopeful that they will go to counseling, or she will go alone, and they'll work it out.

bill-thanks for sharing your story. I think this guy is like you in many ways, wanting to stick it out for various reasons. Fortunately, there is no infidelity or abuse in their marriage (that I'm aware of). Those issues can certainly make it more difficult to stay, and in some cases even more difficult or dangerous to leave. (I still got phone calls in the middle of the night from my ex two years after I moved to the other side of the country.)

seeking--that is such a great analogy! So true! And when it does crash to the floor, all the sweet things and money are gone. One of my favorite analogies is this: a relationship is like holding a handful of sand. As long as you keep your hand open, you can hold a lot of sand in it. But when you tighten your grip, the sand starts to come out.

cup--thanks for sharing your opinion. I totally agree that the marriage is more important than the teenage, unwed mother (who recently ran away for a few days with the kid----so irresponsible). I guess she was living there when the couple married, as she would have been only 14. But I don't know the details of why she's still there. Probably just the usual situation of a mother not wanting her daughter living on the street. I can't say whether this woman has an undiagnosed mental illness. I know she's very controlling, but lots of people are. Wouldn't a marriage counselor pick up on that, though?

maddie--good for you for having the courage to take control of your situation. I have a feeling that this guy is sort of in your position--doing all the work, paying all the bills, being a good spouse, while "the wagon of love breaks under the baggage of life." We all have our breaking point, and I hope he is able to recognize what his is.

donna--thanks for your response. I agree that I/we should stay out of it, and we have been. The only thing I've said to him so far is that people can take advantage of him only as long as he allows them to (and it was months ago that I said that). I think my husband has given him some financial advice, but he's not the type to say "you should just leave." Low self-esteem definitely enters into it; I can tell that much. That seems to come into play for most of us who go thru a divorce.

mindstorm--Yes, you're right, leaving is serious. I think that's why most of us do the "wavering" and take a long time to knock the soda machine over. In my own situation, there was substance abuse, infidelity, and a lot of lying, none of which I bargained for when taking that "solemn vow." I had lots of people telling me I should leave, but I didn't listen because I knew I had to be sure it was the right thing to do. What has dogged me for most of my life is that I put up with it for so long and didn't get out sooner. The part of my life that was wasted was the years I spent married to him, not the years since.

zobeet--It is difficult to tell sometimes when it's over, and I think one half of the couple is usually more willing to work on it than the other. Some couples stay married in spite of this; some split because of it. In my friend's case, it appears that the pre-nup benefits her more than it does him. I think that's one of the major issues.

Thanks again everybody for taking the time to read and respond. It's been enlightening to hear everyone's opinion.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 12:48PM
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It sounds like this guy is headed for heartbreak. The age difference added to her having been married before and "too old" for children. I feel sorry for him but it is his lesson to learn. I have "helped" friends many times in many different situations. I always thought they would appreciate my help but it usually wasn't the case. People want to "vent" but rarely appreciate too much advice. Most people have to learn on their own. If this was a relative I'd say get involved, otherwise save yourself the stress and just be a good listener.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 6:08PM
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