Putting your foot down and issuing any sort of ultimatum in your marriage is a very risky call: Sure, you may get what you want, but if your spouse is resistant to your demands, there could be dire consequences.
Below, bloggers and readers share the ultimatums they gave their spouses and the impact it had on their marriages.
1. End contact with the other woman.
“I asked my ex-husband to stop seeing the other woman. It seems silly that you would have to ask your husband to stop that but at the end of the day, I loved him and I wanted it to work out. I was willing to forgive and move on so that my family could stay together. It ended up being too much to ask and we each moved on. Marriage is worth fighting for even in the hardest circumstances, if you’re both able to let go and forgive.” ― Chelsie D.
2. Stop prioritizing poker over me.
“My ex played a lot of poker: at casinos, tournaments and online. As the amount of time he spent playing increased, I asked him to cut down. I wanted him to at least not play online when he was home so we could spend time together. He went back and forth, but never actually cut down. Obviously, it took a toll on our marriage. To be fair, I didn’t heed any of his ultimatums, either!” ― Kathy K.
3. Be more present in our child’s life.
“You can’t make someone be a parent, even if you ask. They have to want to be there, emotionally and physically. I could handle my ex not being a husband for me. I couldn’t handle him not being a father. Now he sees our son once or twice a week, if he chooses.” ― Anna S.
4. Grow up.
“Every time we went back to my husband’s home state, he reverted back to being his parent’s teenaged son, complete with binge-drinking. This was despite promises that this time would be different or complete denials that he acted out. One night he vomited in the rental car in front of the kids. I pulled to the side of the road, opened the passenger door and shoved him out. I left him sprawled under a tree! I took the kids to a hotel. I wanted him to change but when I walked into his mom’s house the next morning, everyone acted like nothing at all had happened. We stayed married for six years after that, but I knew that day that I would never have a voice in my own relationship. Oddly, in the decades since our divorce, we’ve become friends. Both of us have changed and made amends.” ― Wendy K.
5. Spend less so we can get out of debt.
“I told my husband how anxious it made me to have bill collectors constantly tracking us down and how throwing away so much money on late fees and bounced check fees was keeping us in a crushing cycle of never-ending debt. We lived in a big, beautiful home with two shiny cars in the driveway and a dollar in our pockets! I requested that he not pay for things on credit. I suggested not buying new cars, vacationing or enjoying dinner out unless we actually had the cash to do so. It did not work out. He would say, ‘Honey, we are deficit spending, like the rest of the country, lighten up!’ Our differing financial values were one of the main issues that led to our divorce.” ―Karen M.
6. Stop being so chummy with your co-worker.
“I asked him to cut off contact with the woman he worked with because I felt it was no longer a work friendship. Two months later, I was moving out with our two-year-old daughter and the co-worker was moving into our marital home. Ultimatums only work if they actually care about losing you.” ― Rachael J.
7. Go to marriage counseling with me.
“I told my spouse I wanted to go to marriage counseling ‘or else.’ I was desperate for happiness and unity in our marriage and I hoped that couples counseling would provide the solutions I sought. My spouse was not closed to the idea but he wasn’t open to it, either, mostly because he didn’t like being given an ultimatum. He asked if he could choose the counselor and I agreed. But when months passed and he kept giving excuse after excuse for why he was too busy to research marriage counselors and choose one for us, I took matters into my own hands and scheduled an appointment. Ultimately, months of counseling followed by a year of separation ended in divorce. In hindsight, I see that giving him an ultimatum, and then choosing the counselor after he failed to, was my one-sided attempt to control the situation ― and he certainly despised being controlled. That said, he had no sense of urgency to repair our damaged relationship, so we were both at fault in our own ways.” ― Ann P.
8. Move back to California.
“We had moved from California to the East Coast. After a few years of failing to feel like a team, I gave my then-husband an ultimatum that we needed to move back to the West Coast and find ourselves again as husband and wife. We were always so happy, so free, so in love before our big East Coast move. Naively, I was hoping we could find the old us again. So we did it. We took a leap of faith that moving back would be the cure for the rough patch we were in. Instantly after the move, I felt happy and relieved that we were once again doing things together, enjoying similar hobbies and spending time as a family. Unfortunately, that was short-lived. His work and friends were again prioritized over me. As a new mom with an infant, I knew that wasn’t how a healthy marriage operated. The constant disagreement on what being a team was supposed to look and feel like ultimately lead to our divorce and him actually moving back to the East Coast and my son and I staying in California. A move can’t fix everything.” ― Shelley C.
9. Cut off contact with your former stripper girlfriend.
“Looking back now, I can see that I may have been a bit unreasonable (ha!) by demanding that my husband choose between our 23-year marriage and his secret ex-stripper girlfriend. Ten years later, as I’m writing this from Paris with my new husband, I’m so glad he made the ‘wrong’ choice!” ― Lee G.