A marriage usually deteriorates slowly, after months or years of simmering tension and poor communication.
But as most divorced people will tell you, if your outlook on the relationship is already bleak, sometimes there’s a moment ― a big argument or shocking revelation ― that signals to you that the marriage is beyond saving.
Recently we asked divorced men to share what the final straw was in their marriages. See what they had to say below.
“For me, it was learning that my infant daughter had met my wife’s affair partner. I could have probably worked through anything, but that just left me repulsed by the marriage at that point. The best thing now is being able to see how much better off I am as not just a person but as a father. I’ve always been a good dad, but after my divorce, I became a better father than I thought I could be.” ― Daniel D.
The co-dependent family
“For me, it was the co-dependence she displayed amongst her family members. Her mother would come and stay for weeks or months, obsessively cleaning our home and doing the family laundry. My ex-wife was unable to care for our children without her mother’s constant help. Meanwhile, my family had to schedule and plan any visit whatsoever. I separated from my ex-wife after her brother lived with us without contributing for over 16 months. We were never able to connect as a couple because she put her family first, her kids second and I was a distant third.” ― Drew L.
“The last straw in my marriage wasn’t a fight or an argument. It wasn’t even a misunderstanding or miscommunication. The morning routine in our house was hectic and hurried. My wife usually tried to fix the kids and me a little something to eat while I loaded the car or gave the dog a quick walk before we all left the house together. Most mornings, my wife made me a fruit smoothie, which I always appreciated. I’d slam it down in mere seconds so I wouldn’t have to take it with me in the car. One day, as I was chugging my breakfast, I coughed up a huge wooden shard that went from my smoothie cup to the back of my throat. I gagged as I removed it from my mouth. At first, I had no idea what it was... until I saw a wooden spoon sitting on the counter, its end having been shredded by the blades of the blender. I held it up and showed my wife. She just shrugged. The car ride to work was quiet and I mostly thought about how little my wife cared about me.” ― Bill F.
The divorce attorney letters
“My wife asked me to recycle some papers of hers, and as I was going through them, removing our names and addresses, I came across correspondence between her and a divorce attorney, which had been going on since the start of our marriage. In the letters, she was formulating the best plan to get the most money she could from me in support, and one of the letters mentioned a secret brokerage account she had. In that letter, she had asked her attorney when she should transfer stocks from our joint account to her personal account. After the shock wore off and I wiped away my tears, I went out into the very cold night for a long walk, realizing that I had been completely duped and blindsided and the chances of moving forward with our marriage from here were very small.” ― Matt S.
The open-marriage dealbreaker
“The thing that put an end to my marriage was when my then-wife was texting with a female love interest on our couch while completely ignoring me. I had asked her several questions and tried to make conversation, and she simply failed to respond. We had decided to open up our relationship as she was becoming more curious about women, which was fine. But I wanted it to be hierarchical nonmonogamy. Clearly, I wasn’t her main preoccupation anymore. We had a lot of other issues to work out. If we weren’t going to cherish one another, it seemed to me we wouldn’t do the hard work necessary to get us back on track.” ― Philip T.
The yearlong doghouse
“The last straw for me came after sleeping on the couch for a full year. I began having panic attacks, waking up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding, in a cold sweat, and thinking I was going to have a stress-induced heart attack. I knew then that I had to make a change or I might end up dropping dead.” ― Steve R.
The phone call
“My ex-wife and I both had our share of fooling around during our eight years of marriage. But we reached a point where we agreed that if one of us stepped out again, the marriage would be over. Shortly after this agreement, I received a call from my wife’s lover’s girlfriend. She gave me her boyfriend’s pager number. She told me that my wife and her boyfriend were together, and that if I called right then, I would receive a call back from my wife within the next two minutes. When I received that call, our marriage was officially over.” ― David A.
The bank account
“I was exhausted, anxiously trying to return home after an intense travel week for my sales job, when I got the call that made it clear the previous 17 years of marriage counseling was not enough to accomplish the goal of till death do us part. It was the bank, verifying that I had moved $50,000 into my wife’s name and changed the passwords and secret questions to our joint account. It soon became clear that my wife instructed another man to impersonate me and take for herself what was ours. My bank was astute enough to call and ask if I was having marital problems. The level of fear and anger after having been deceived so viciously, when my heart’s desire was to keep my family of six together, was one the most devastating blows. She also shut down our joint checking account. My direct deposit paycheck actually bounced a few days later back to my employer. Her selfishness was no longer something only I could see.” ― Bryan C.
The gift basket
“The last straw came when things were on the rocks and she told her friends. Not too long after, we were at home with our two kids and there was a ring at the door. There was a big basket left at the doorstep. There was a note with some beers and some gifts. My daughter, who was 8 at the time, picked up the note and started reading it. I looked over her shoulder and saw the note was signed by “The Bitches.” It was from her friends, I don’t remember exactly what the note said. It had some words of encouragement to her and a dig at me. They knew I was home with her and our kids. It was right at dinner time. It was totally calculated. They wanted me to see it. At a time when our family was teetering, it could not have come at a worse time. Plus, my kids were unaware of the real situation going on with their parents.
What got me the most was her reaction to the fact that our daughter just read this note. My ex-said, ‘Well, now our daughter now knows what it’s like to have good friends’ and smiled. She loved it. That is when I knew for sure she was done with our marriage.” ― Mark P.