7 Millennials On The Moment They Realized They Wanted A Divorce
*Trigger Warning: this article includes some mention of DV and assault. Stories containing sensitive topics are denoted with an asterisk (*)
There is a stigma when it comes to marriage and millennials, primarily that “this generation” doesn’t know how to stay married or make a marriage work (rolls eyes). Millennial couples are constantly compared to the generations paired off before them when it comes to talks of divorce (ironically, research shows that we are not the group with the highest divorce rate, contrary to popular belief. BOOM!)
However, it makes you wonder whether millennials are low on patience… or just low on tolerance for bullshit. With an increase in women’s rights, we’re now able to work and be self-sufficient versus needing a husband to open a bank account. We’re in a time where, instead of being shunned for being single, there are “I DO, I DID, I’M DONE” parties in honor of your divorce from your toxic partner. Right on!
We recently asked seven divorced 20 and 30-somethings the moment they wanted out of their marriage. And the answers may surprise you.
1. “My husband consistently treated me like a child when it came to finances”
“My divorce stemmed from money philosophy issues. I was married in 2010 right after college graduation and divorced by 2012. My first husband consistently treated me like a child when it came to finances. He lectured me when I bought my first car after college on the loan cost and insurance costs even though I was perfectly aware of how money works (the car was used and the costs were reasonable and manageable). Additionally, we never went out and did anything. He was very stingy to the point that we rarely spent money on experiences which is very important to me. The most we did was attend 2 or 3 concerts together.
“Needless to say, I figured it out early (but not soon enough), to avoid the whole wedding/divorce process. It drove a serious wedge between us because our philosophy on how to live life was so different; it couldn’t work. I am remarried now, and our financial relationship is so much more healthy. We’re on the same page with the same goals about our finances and how we want to spend our money and experience life.”
-Amy K, 33 (Married at 22, Divorced at 24)
2. “I realized I had no idea what it was like to be an adult on my own”
“I had been with my husband for 12 years before we eloped with our 10-year-old son in tow. I was 27 at the time and thought I had everything I wanted in life.
Not long after turning 30, I realized I had no idea what it was like to be an adult on my own. It wasn’t long after my 30th birthday that I found myself sitting on the side of the bed, staring into the en suite, fantasizing about what it would be like to have the bathroom cupboard all to myself and how I would display my skincare products without anyone touching them. Four weeks later my husband had moved out and I was living out my fantasy.
“I’m 36 now and have [grown] personally and professionally since getting a divorce and still maintain a close friendship with my ex-husband.”
-Maree K, 36 (Married at 27, Divorced at 30)
*3. “After 3 years of violence and gaslighting, I confronted him and told his mother”
“After almost three years of violence and gaslighting, I noticed a $700 transaction in our account. I found out it was for private services at a strip club. I confronted him and told his mother. When he came home I was in bed with a migraine. He attacked me physically, shouted at me, and flicked the lights on and off. He chased me and took my phone for the afternoon so I couldn’t tell anyone else. I found a room in a share house while working out what to do. While we were separated I went to Nepal for a trekking and meditation trip. While there I found a small parcel of some kind of drug in my bag. I disposed of them and told him how freaked out I was about this. He shouted at me on the phone about how drama always follows me. Years later I realized he probably planted them in my pack. He gave the pack to me for my birthday while we were separated – which seemed so nice at the time. He was a criminal lawyer with a lot of contacts in the criminal world. Happy to say I’m divorced now and remarried to a much more respectful human.
4. “I knew both me and my dog deserved better”
“I married my college boyfriend when I was 20 years old and he was 25. I had only known him for a little over a year when we got married. I had no idea what I was doing. Our divorce finalized a week before my 23rd birthday (though we had been separated for two months before that).
“The moment I knew I wanted to separate — few weeks after he came home one day and told me he quit his job. He did not have another job lined up, he had not discussed with me that he was going to quit. He just ‘didn’t like it.’ He didn’t even give two weeks, just quit on the spot. I did not make enough at the time to support us both. I tried for weeks encouraging him to apply for something new and being as supportive as I could. He made the minimal effort and treated [being unemployed] it like a vacation- staying up late playing video games, wouldn’t clean up after himself, drinking heavily.
“The final straw came when I came home from my normal 8-5 shift during lunch to eat (around 12pm or so). The agreement was, since he was home all day, he would take our dog out on a walk in the morning and afternoon and then we would take a walk together in the evening (we lived in a top story apartment at the time.) I came home to our dog (who was being crate trained at the time, so she slept in her kennel) STILL in her kennel, with him just waking up and already playing video games. I knew both me and my dog deserved better. I have never once regretted my decision to leave someone who constantly pulled me down. I’m now 25, successful in my career, own my own home by myself (with a backyard for the dog!), and climb mountains on the weekends. If your gut is telling you to leave, LEAVE!”
-Megan, 25 (Married at 20, Divorced at 22)
*5. “I knew I needed to leave after his best friend assaulted me”
There were a lot — A LOT — of red flags over the course of our relationship and our marriage. A lot of them actually came out after I had my son. Our relationship though was such a “whirlwind romance” that I couldn’t see him for who he was for a long time. I saw him as who I wanted him to be, and honestly, that wasn’t fair of me. But the exact moment I knew I needed to leave and move on with my life was after his best friend, who I treated like a brother, sexually assaulted me. At first, my now ex-husband was mad at him and stood by me but that very quickly changed. Once I realized he cared more about his friendship with this man than standing by his wife, I took the “NOPE!” train out.
6. “I pictured being on my own and it felt so exciting”
The moment I realized I wanted to separate was when I pictured being on my own and it felt so exciting and compelling, that there must be a reason. Things were “off” for a while before that and I couldn’t articulate why. So I talked to my partner about our future and could no longer picture it together. He was fine with the status quo, and I still wanted to grow. In short, I had changed and compromised too much for the perceived societal expectation to be partnered.
There were a few big issues we pushed off making definite decisions on: having kids (both fence-sitters), or lifestyle now vs [work hard for early] retirement. Otherwise, we had many compatible beliefs and got along as friends. It was an amicable divorce. My friends say I’m ‘more myself’ now.
I guess one good thing about being a young DINK couple, I got to own a home sooner than later. We sold it and my half of the proceeds was enough for a new down-payment. There’s the finance angle.
“7. I was waiting for my partner to reach their goals before working towards my own”
“I have never been married, but I would say calling off my engagement to my partner of seven years is just as traumatic as a divorce. The reasons for the separation were compounded over the years. Ultimately, there was a catalytic moment that I realized I needed to be alone — I had been waiting for my partner to reach his goals before I felt I could work towards my own.
“My story is not just about my relationship with my college sweetheart, but my relationship with myself and money. I lacked a sense of identity and purpose beyond the ‘power couple’ dynamic I practiced with my partner, who worked long hours and made more money than I did. The drastic imbalance of our work habits and paychecks took a toll on my mental health. The line between how he supported me as a partner and how he was supporting my lifestyle blurred. At the moment I decided to end it, I remember the immense pain of existing as an incomplete person. Simultaneously, I felt an empowering urge to take control and stop riding shotgun to my own life.
“During this two-year journey, it became clear that my values for security and safety fueled my ambition for a husband and a family. Now, I have redirected that energy towards loving myself and creating security for myself through homeownership. I am so thankful to have had the support of my family and friends to get here, but I am also grateful to myself. There is power in identifying what you want, but empowerment strikes in making a commitment to yourself and seeing it through. My mental and financial health journey is still ongoing, but I am finally in the driver’s seat and have complete control of my goals.
Image via Unsplash