I Should Have Left My Marriage Sooner

One question I often ask my interviewees is, “With the benefit of hindsight is there anything you have done differently?” When I asked Two Kids And a Fish this she said she would have left sooner. Here’s Two Kids And a Fish to explain:

[contemplate1] Is there anything I would’ve done differently? I would have left sooner. I always say that but I don’t know if I was emotionally ready and strong enough to do it. I feel like I lost so many years. I think I was forty, forty-one by the time I left.

If I’d left sooner my oldest would not have had to endure as much as she did. That’s a really big thing to look at for me as a mother. And knowing what she went through.

It is hard to look back and say, I should have done this, I should have done that or left earlier but that is the one thing. If there was anything I could do to erase some of what my oldest endured, I would.

I used to say, “At least I’m not being abused.” I was being abused. I was being verbally abused, emotionally abused and no one whether a man or a woman should not have to endure that and should not have to take it. If your husband or your wife is not willing to get help you have every right to make your life better. You shouldn’t have to endure that. You shouldn’t have to live your life that way. It takes a toll on you. It takes a toll on your confidence, on your self-esteem, on your heart, on your health and it makes it harder to leave. It’s disempowering you.

Ending a bad marriage can be as healthy as losing weightIt’s easy for me to say now. When I meet a woman or a friend tells me about someone they know, I say to myself or I say to them, “They need to get out of that situation, why don’t they get out of that situation?” But I think to myself, I didn’t. I didn’t for a long time. It’s easier said than done.

But it is possible, it absolutely is possible and there will be people there in your corner that will show up and be there for you and help you fight your battle or be just a shoulder to cry on, or someone to bring you groceries when you have no food, they’ll be there for you. You will be surprised at the people who will be there for you. And you’ll probably be surprised at the people who won’t be there for you. But, it can be done.

My life is a thousand times better, now. I am in much better health. The health issue that I was dealing with that started me thinking about divorce, I’ve completely reversed it. I am almost a hundred percent in the clear.

My doctor chalks it up to the divorce. He said there is such a difference in my health and my bloodwork from when I was in the marriage. It’s night and day. I told him that losing thirty pounds helps and that I feel I lost more like 250 pounds to be honest.

Now all the things I always wanted to do, I can do. I’m traveling more, I’ve reconnected with friends and I’m going to be traveling with people who were very close to me. I don’t know if everyone has a bucket list. Everyone should have a bucket list and, I’m working on it.


I absolutely understand what Two Kids and a Fish is saying here: it doesn’t matter what other people see or think you should do, you have to wait to end your marriage until you know you’re ready for the challenges divorce brings. This is why when someone says they’re not sure what they should do, my response is to wait. They need to wait because they’re not ready. Something will happen, like how Two Kids And a Fish’s husband responded to her health scare, and then they will know.

And BTW, knowing and being ready to leave doesn’t mean knowing what your future holds. It’s almost the exact opposite – it’s knowing that everything in your life is going to change and feeling ready to take on that uncertainty.

I chuckled at Two Kids and A Fish saying her thirty pound weight loss felt more like two-hundred and fifty! I felt like that also. I know the list of life’s top stressful events puts  divorce right at the top along with the death of a spouse but just being in a troubled marriage is stressful (and harmful to your health) and that isn’t even on the list. Perhaps that’s because it’s an on-going situation rather than a specific event.

Looking back at the end of your marriage, what would you have done differently? What advice would you give to someone who is contemplating divorce now?

© 2012 Jupiter Images Corporation


  • Mary Ann Mehegan

    Everything probably happened as it was meant to… even the suffering. Otherwise it would have been different. It does take a toll though. You probably stayed because you are loving, you give people chances, you believed in the sanctity of marriage, or other good values. You did your best. Hindsight is different — because we judge with gained wisdom. Nice post. “I wish I read it sooner” haha NO I wouldn’t have understood it earlier…

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Wise words. I agree. It is valuable to appreciate the good reasons why you chose to stay and not to beat up yourself.

    • TwoKidsandaFish

      Hi Mary Ann – It took me a long time to accept that it all happened the way it was supposed to. And it happened once I was emotionally ready for it happen and strong enough to leave and rebuild. You’re right about why I stayed. I’m loyal to a fault, I thought I could fix our marriage, fix him and yes I truly believed in the sanctity of marriage. And I held on the image of the old him, wishing and praying the man I’d married would come back to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tracylynn7173 Tracy Hofstetter

    I LOVE this post. Feel like I could have been the one answering this question, or at least most of it. I can totally relate, from “would have done it sooner” to the abuse point. I had ’emotionally’ checked out years ago, for the most part but did what I had to in order to get into a position to actually go through with it and feel like I could do it on my own. Now it’s just the lonliness that is getting me more than anything. This too will pass and get ‘better’. :-) Still wouldn’t go back though!!!

    • Candi Brandl

      Tracy- I feel the exact same way. I spent 34 years in a bad marriage but it took me years to be in a position to leave after I had emotionally checked out too! Loneliness is sometimes an issue but still a million times better than what I was living with :-)

      • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

        I’ve heard lots of people say that being alone is better than being lonely within a marriage. Hopefully, once your divorce is final you’ll be able to more forward with a rich and full social life.

  • Katie H.

    I would have left years earlier. I stayed ‘for the children’ but I did them no favors. My kids suffered as the dad used up all the savings while i wasted years trying to talk sense into him. And as hard as my Catholic family took the divorce, 6 months into it my Dad said’ why didn’t you come to me ? I would have helped you get out.’

    My real advice. Don’t get married and if you do, don’t EVER give up your job. to stay home to raise the kids. Both shift the balance of power. When a guy knows you can walk any day as you have the money and the skills he will always treat you better. When you are a stay at home mom with no job he can lie and cheat and whatever as it is so hard for you to get away with kids in tow.

    Job skills go stale as I have found out. Keep your job skills current. Then if you ever find yourself on your own through divorce or being widowed you can just carry on. I stayed home to raise a disabled child. His life would be so much more secure if I stayed in my profession and paid for carers for him . Only now, 16 years out of the work force and recently divorced do I realize this.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Hi Katie – I spoken with many people who say with hindsight they wish they’d left sooner but at the same time realize that they for a number of reasons they couldn’t. I still believe in marriage so I don’t agree with your first piece of advice but I do agree with you on the importance of maintaining your work skills. You never know how things are going to turn out and you have to be able to support yourself. How are you doing workwise?

  • Honey

    Hi, I am from india and im going through my divorce and I have no Kids. The society i live here, makes it a Taboo for me to leave my husband.

    I could totally connect with what you have explained here………….

    I used to say, “At least I’m not being abused.” I was being abused. I
    was being verbally abused, emotionally abused and no one whether a man
    or a woman should not have to endure that and should not have to take
    it. If your husband or your wife is not willing to get help you have
    every right to make your life better. You shouldn’t have to endure that.
    You shouldn’t have to live your life that way. It takes a toll on you.
    It takes a toll on your confidence, on your self-esteem, on your heart,
    on your health and it makes it harder to leave. It’s disempowering you.

    I am happy to have taken a decision.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Hi Honey – I agree absolutely with everything you said. It takes courage to leave that type of relationship and it takes even more courage to leave when it’s taboo in your country so you have my admiration and support. You will inspire others. Stay strong and please, let us know how you’re doing.

  • Kathy

    I have only been married since May 2013 but we dated for 4 years prior to getting married. We have a son together and I have an older son from a prior relationship. I am miserable in my marriage. But I am also a new Christian and know that the Bible says God hates divorce….but doesn’t he also want his people to be happy, healthy, and able to grow? I am drowning in a life of work, housework, kids, and then dealing with a lazy husband that won’t lift a finger. He lies, sneaks out of the house all the time. He did cheat before we got married and was physically abusive. I chose to take him back time and time again. I feel that I have done my part. And I have tried so hard to just put myself and my happiness aside and just let him do what he wants to do and be ok with it but it is impossible. I want to raise my children right and walk a Godly life, but how can I do that when I am literally living with negativity each and every day. I wake up angry, go to bed angry, I can’t focus on my job….which is what pays ALL the bills since he won’t work. I worry about my youngest son being in his care all day because he is so lazy and selfish that he does silly things not even thinking of how it might affect our children. And he is terrible to my oldest son….they have their moments but 95% of the time it is bad.
    I have read a lot of articles and everyone says to STAY, don’t leave, God doesn’t like divorce….well I don’t like it either but does God really want me to live unhappy for the rest of my life? When is enough enough?

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Dear Kathy, I know what I think but the only person who can decide what’s right for you is you. I have spoken to a number of women who kept their faith in God through their divorce even though divorce was frowned upon by their particular faith community. I would suggest that you first talk to leaders in your faith community to understand their particular view and share with them your situation. If they are anti-divorce and you don’t feel that’s right for you then try looking for an alternative community that would be more accepting. I would also encourage you to sit down and identify what your marriage would need to look like for it to be fulfilling and satisfying to you. Then talk to your husband about this and see if he’s willing to work on any changes. Does this help you?

  • Christina

    I should have left at least 4 years earlier than what I did. I used to tell myself at least he doesn’t hit me. But what he did was worse! I realized during my pregnancy with my youngest child that It was over. He didn’t love me like he should. In reply to Kathy below, I was catholic, divorce is a Big HUGE no no when you are catholic. But you know, God doesn’t want you to be abused either. He doesn’t want you to be harmed. And he will still love you if you get Divorced. I now go to a Non Denominational church and am so much happier. My Ex also abused my oldest daughter. I look back and wish I could have been strong enough to leave sooner for her.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Hi Christina, Thank you for sharing this. Many people look back and say they should have left sooner but the reality is that they couldn’t – they weren’t ready. Once you’re on the other side of divorce you can see that it isn’t so impossible but you don’t know that at the time. I’m glad you found a faith community that accepted you.

      You don’t say how older your eldest daughter is? She may not understand now why you couldn’t leave but one day she will. She will know that you did the best you could and I’m sure she knows you love her.

      • Christina

        Hi Mandy,
        I couldn’t leave…I was stuck financially and wasn’t sure that I could support two small children. My Oldest Daughter was 17 when I left. She knew the situation I had told her that I could not leave that I was stuck. I think that is the WORST feeling in the world, knowing you need to leave, but you just aren’t sure how. I know also being an abused person, you get to where you feel like you deserve it too, and that is also part of the I can’t leave situation as well. As they say Hindsight it 20/20. I can always look back and see what I should have done, but I wasn’t ready. So it wasn’t time. :) thank you for sharing!

  • Walter Festoon

    Totally agree. I should have left my wife 4 years earlier than our divorce. I knew I would never love her the way I wanted to love a wife. She cared so much about “things”. She ended up with most every thing I owned as it is. My daughtes are so much better off with a happy confident father. A huge weight was taken off my shoulders. I can breathe now.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      Your divorce may have cost you “things” but becoming a better parent for your daughters is priceless and you’ll all benefit from that for many, many years. Kudos to you!

  • blah

    blah blah blah – bitter people just trying to justify their own poor choices.
    I love seeing these posts. I often find the people who complain of being miserable are in fact just miserable people.
    All about YOUR happiness.
    Me. Me. Me. Me.
    I’m entitled.
    Some people (not you) find happiness in serving God and others and don’t need anyone else to “make” them happy.

  • The truth

    Losers! It takes courage to run away? Ahahaha. Put a tattoo on your head: emotionally immature oath breaker

  • TheRealTruth

    Well being married to a Bi Polar woman which i never knew, certainly caused me a lot of trouble since she Cheated on me too. And with most women Cheating these days it is very hard to Trust another one again.

    • http://sincemydivorce.com Mandy Walker

      I Can’t agree with your statement about most women cheating – I don’t think that’s true. Your concern about being able to trust someone again, is more about learning to trust yourself again and that has to do with knowing your values, setting your expectations and not compromising on them just to be with someone.