Do you feel guilty for divorcing a really nice guy?

 

Recently a mom emailed me:

“I feel so guilty for leaving my marriage. My husband is a really, really nice guy. He is a great dad, loves me a lot, has a good career. There was nothing really wrong with our marriage. I just didn’t love him any more and wanted out. Now, our divorce is almost finalized, and we have all been so devastated — especially our kids. Now they have to schlep back and forth between two homes, go through the pain of having divorced parents, my ex is devastated, his parents and our friends are devastated, and we are both poorer having to support two homes. Even the dog looses since she stayed with me and misses her ‘dad’!

Listen to my Like a Mother episode on this topic:

Of course I am very sad about all of this, but I just could not be married to him any more. We are not intellectual or professional peers — I am growing a digital business I am passionate about, while he is 100% content in his middle-management corporate job with good benefits. I stopped being sexually attracted to him years ago, even though he is still a very handsome and fit man. Instead, I find myself fantasizing about and/or flirting with men in my professional circles who are mentally stimulating to me, understand my career and creative drive and ignite in me something I think I never experienced with my husband — deep, feminine PASSION (some of these guys are fat or old or not handsome — and I still find them so, so sexy!). These are men who jibe with my own growing social circle of equally driven and creative people — people who my husband never really connected with or felt comfortable around (even though, in all his decency and devotion to me, was always kind to and made an effort for).

I don’t have any commitment to any of these men, but simply feeling that way around them made me realize that by staying in my marriage. I am missing out on something I deeply crave and long to nurture. Now, on the other side of my marriage, I see that I may not ever find that kind of romantic connection that I crave, and I may be lonely. I see those I love most suffering because of this decision, and I am left feeling selfish, guilty and all-around rotten.”

I have heard many similar stories, all of which resonate on some level. I am glad I am not married to my ex, even if he is a good guy. Lots and lots of reasons, including some mentioned above by my emailer. But there are times when we are getting along, when we are chatting like old friends at the kids’ T-ball game, the kids are exhausted from schlepping back and forth between our apartments, I remember all his good qualities and all the benefits of marriage, and I think:

Can’t we just be adults and make it work? Can’t we just agree not to fight any more? Be in one home, be practical, get over this trite, adolescent notion of forever soulful romantic love, have no expectations your husband will fulfill you and just be realistic already – FOR THE KIDS’ SAKE? 

Then he will blame me for my kid tripping in the hallway of my apartment and getting a bloody boo-boo on his head, or cancel a visit with the kids last-minute because he wants to see a concert and all those cozy notions are thrown out the window quicker than a Las Vegas divorce.

sell engagement ring

Maybe it means I’m selfish. Maybe it means I can’t control my anger. Maybe it means I am a indulgent adolescent artist, but I don’t want to be married to my ex-husband so I am not married to my ex-husband. We were great together in many ways, but we also bring out the worst in one another — something that neither of us are committed to overcoming. Also: I just don’t want to be married to him.

Also, also: That is OK.

I want to explore my sexuality in a way that is impossible with him. I want to be with people who support my huge professional ambition and creative pursuits without competing — again, impossible with him. I want to be with someone who easily forgives, and easily laughs, and easily picks up his fucking dirty clothes and just puts them in the hamper.

I just don’t want to be married to him.

And that is OK.

The end of that marriage was not my decision, though in hindsight I knew what I could have done to make him stay (beg), and I didn’t. I never visit the idea of a reconciliation with him. I’m done, and it is because I know I am so, so much happier outside that marriage.

Even if it means that I am not in a relationship.

Even if it means that we are both poorer.

Even if it means that things are much harder on the kids in many ways.

All this is OK because it is way, way, WAY better for me. I am happier than I could ever have been in that marriage. I am thriving professionally in a way that I was impossible for me in that partnership. I am creatively free and fulfilled, which could not have happened in that marriage. Dating at this stage of my life, I know, is part of a much greater plan for my life that of course could not have blossomed inside of a traditional marriage.

The end of that relationship was painful for so many people. And being divorced is hard for him, me and my kids in lots of practical ways.

But the net result for all involved is positive. I am thriving and my very best self now — and I, my kids and those in my orbit benefit. Is that selfish? Adolescent? A mentality of post-feminist, navel-gazing Gen X/Y/millennials?

Maybe?

I don’t fucking care.

I am glad for it.

And I free you to be glad for it, too.

 

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114 thoughts on “Do you feel guilty for divorcing a really nice guy?

  1. What? This is what is wrong with society. You made a commitment to your husband. Then you Get bored. So forget the commitment? Weak mined. Yes. If you make the promise of marriage and don’t commit, you are a bad person. Marriage is WORK- and its selfish to put yourself first before your children. You will be miserable. And deserve it.

      1. I just read your post and it was so comforting. Because I am married to a really, really nice man and I DON”T WANT to be married ANYMORE!! Unfortunately, I’m in a space right now where I have to build up support for myself before I can leave, or ask him to. This will take time. I am struggling so much with the guilt and shame of what it will do to him and our daughter when I tell him it’s over. No one will truly understand because he is such a NICE GUY. But they don’t have to f*ing live with him! So thank you for your post, every word resonates and I think you are so brave.

    1. I’ve seen how screwed up kids turn out when their parents stay together “for the kids.” If you as a parent cannot model a healthy and happy relationship with your spouse, then you NEED to divorce. Preferably, you need to divorce before the relationship becomes so poisoned your divorce process becomes toxic and spills over into a bad co-parenting relationship with your kids.

      Trust me on this. Had my in-laws split up, my own marriage would not be in deep, deep trouble. They stayed together and it absolutely wrecked their sons, both of whom are on their second marriages.

      1. Thank you for posting this! I just told my husband I wanted a divorce and so much of it is because his parents are so dysfunctional that he does not have the tools to be in a marriage, and he refused to get help with me for years. The guilt is overwhelming though, because I so badly do not want to abandon him. But I can’t wait around and keep on accepting bad behavior and a bad marriage. ESPECIALLY when kids are involved.

        1. I’ve been the provider fir my family for 22 of the 24&1/2 years we’ve been together. 24years of unfulfilled promises yo get a real job and help out. But yet he’s enjoyed everything’s because I was married to a good man who loves me. Waits on me hand and foot. I am also married to a man who doesn’t make love to me once a month is the norm. He cannot provide for me. And now with our youngest of six being 14 I am counting down the days til I am free. Or so I thought. I am actually looking at boarding school and freeing myself because I’d rather be alone than ignored and neglected in my own home. Enough is enough.

    2. I am MUCH happier after my divorce (not yet finalized). My ex left me. I was just content to allow him to “online cheat” many times and keep forgiving him. I didn’t want a divorce, I thought we could make it work, basically I thought I could change him. He was a liar, lazy, cheated and had trouble keeping a job. He withheld sex from me (find out later he is a-sexual). Even his family doesn’t like him. We tried counselling, it didn’t help because he said “why am I always to blame?”… well it was mostly his issues we were trying to work on but he was in denial and defensive. He couldn’t “man up” to anything.

      A few years later, I am still single, but I know who I am. My son sees him regularly, but he knows his dad lies sometimes. My ex is engaged, even thought we are not yet divorced. I can see a pattern with him and I see that he did me a favour by leaving.

      Many people have told me that I can find better than him, and I know I can. I am not in a hurry.

      Nope, I do not regret our divorce. I deserve much better.

      1. I am going through a divorce with two young boys. One being under 1. I discovered my husband was seeing prostitutes on top of our relationship just not being a healthy one. I stayed with him for a year following the discovery and wanted to see if things would change or if he’d try harder. He didnt. He wanted me to just act as though I didn’t find out anything and also blamed me. Even with this, I am going through the regret phase where I am questioning my decision to divorce. I know I deserve better but it is that fear of the unknown ripple effect. My soon to be ex keeps asking me am I sure as if I am making a bad decision and he’s the victim. I don’t know, I’m not at the “fuck you, I deserve better “. I have my moments when I’m reminded but it is a struggle.

    3. Kate what is truly selfish is showing your kids that one needs to make sacrifices for his or her happiness. Is that the kind of role model you want to be for them? Yes marriage is work and a commitment to the other person but these are all just rules society has made up. The true relationship is with yourself and being honest about how you feel. Sometimes people grow apart or go different directions in life and the marriage expires. There is no medal of honor working through something that your heart doesn’t want. True strength comes from being honest with yourself and your needs.

    4. I disagree. You did what was best for you! You are NOT a bad person. I am in the same position and I am happier knowing that my divorce will be final in April. You go girl!

  2. Nope! Glad I divorced mine. We were young when we married but loved each other so much. I just knew in my heart I that lifestyle we lived wasn’t something I wanted or needed in my life. Marriage was never my goal. My goal was making money and creating a business for myself. He wanted me to be a traditional housewife. When we met, I had a career. I have no desire to ever be a housewife nor stay at home mom like his mother was all his life. Nothing wrong with a housewife, thats just not for me. Not everyone is cut out for it just like marriage isn’t for everyone.

  3. Yes, I have a little different situation but the same guilty feelings are there.
    My ex and I were not together very long before getting pregnant and he and I haven’t been a couple since my son being born (5yrs old).
    Lately with working overtime everyday him at 2 jobs, my son back and forth to whomever is available is driving me crazy and exhausting and I feel so bad for my son.
    His dad is so great with him, so patient, so involved in his school.
    I feel like I’m making things so difficult by us in separate households. Then I drop off my son and have a conversation and remember all the reasons why I can not stand living with him!

    1. I wonder … do you think that annoyance will subside in years to come? Do you worry you may look back and think you were petty or hasty? I’m not at all suggesting you were, just want to know what YOU think :)

  4. My ex-husband and I grew up together. We have known each other since we were four years old. Our parents socialized together for years and years. Our families spent holidays together……ok you get the idea, except that I couldn’t stand him growing up. Fast forward to when we started dating which was immediately after college. I didn’t realize it at the time but I felt trapped, so when he proposed 4 months after dating, I rationalized and romanticized it by saying that we didn’t have those requisite “getting to know you” years. It was supposed to be this beautiful fairy tale. What I didn’t do, was listen to that voice that said that this wasn’t right, from the very beginning. Then, you blink, and 20 years have passed by. You’ve adapted. You’ve raised kids. You’ve built a home together. What you haven’t done, what I didn’t do, was recognize that something was missing and how unhappy I really was. I needed more. Wanted more from my marriage and from what this really nice, great guy, could give me.

    So, no, I NEVER feel guilty about divorcing a great guy. And he is a really nice, great guy. For someone else.

  5. Thank you for publishing this!!

    In 2011 I started feeling like something was missing from my marriage (passion, respect, attention). My ex worked so much that I became accustomed to taking care of our daughter, our home and our pets by myself. I worked full time as well. My frustration eventually turned into resentment which then lead to a few bad decisions for my exit strategy. My ex was surprised by my unhappiness.
    I moved out and took our then 3 year old daughter with me. He had agreed to this and we set up a schedule for visitation.
    I hurt a lot of people with my decision to “break up” with my husband. It took me a few years to manage the guilt that I felt.
    I left a “good guy” for the unknown. He’s slowly becoming less bitter towards me. We have the most wonderful 7 year old girl that is incredibly understanding and well adjusted.

    Mostly, it takes a lot of courage to make a move like this. I felt selfish and empowered at the same time.

    If anyone is going through something similar right now, please realize that you’re not alone.

    1. Thank you for sharing. I agree — takes A LOT of courage.

      A lot of people might read this and say: “Why didn’t you tell him you were unhappy? Did you try to work on it with him– alone or together? Therapy?”

      Just curious what you tell people who no doubt ask.

      1. I told him that we needed to spend more time together as a couple and as a family. I told him that I needed not just more sex but more intimacy as well. Nothing that I tried ended in our satisfaction. When I told him I wasn’t happy we did try counseling that ended up not being successful.

      2. We went to counseling 3 years earlier. I couldnt do anymore counseling, nor did I want to. I figure that I no longer wanted to be married and I didnt want to be convinced to stay just because he wanted me to stay. I do go to counseling for me to work through the guilt and I told him to do the same. He says, Ive broken him and he cries everyday. That really hurt and all I could say was Im sorry.

        1. That is tough but honestly -he is responsible for his own happiness and sounds a little manipulative. Hopefully he is just going through the grieving process and will move on.

    2. Thank you! I am going through this right now.. Its so hard because he does not want to let go or grasp the fact that, although he is a great father and friend, i want to end it. I have a 4 year old and he will be devastated.. It is so hard to choose yourself. he was not perfect and neither was i but i always gave all of myself .. i loved whole heartedly and had to keep pulling him back to us. he would ignore and here in the end did something that i found very hurtful and disrespectful. I finally decided.. i deserve the love i give. If i can give you 100 % of the love i have … raise our child.. push you to do better .. support ANY idea you have .. listen when you need to speak.. then you know.. i deserve the same. It came to a surprise to him, that we were falling apart… he has since started doing ALL of the things i wish she would have done years ago.. throughout our relationship. He does not understand why i want out. Why i will not try “one more time” I have been trying for years.. and it just got old. I shouldn’t have to tell you how to love me.. i shouldn’t have to tell you hey.. remember us?? its to the point where i love him as a friend and father to our boy. The guilt KILLS ME.. its on my mind ALWAYS and i dread that i am making a mistake. I feel guilt for “breaking up” our family and am trying to live with him so the change is not so bad for our son. This is proving difficult since he refuses to let go. im so glad i came across this article. I don’t feel alone.. ughgh i just want to be happy .. i want EVERYONE to survive this.. especially our son. it seems like FOREVER away. Thanks again.

      1. IT’s like I wrote this. Thank you for sharing. I feel sooo guilty. After 8 years of marriage where it’s been turbulent from the beginning and me telling him for years that I wasn’t happy, he now is like, “where is this coming from?” And now-NOW- he wants to make it work. It makes me feel guilty and RESENTFUL. Really, now, buddy? I wish the righteous rage could quell the guilt but it doesn’t. I don’t know what to do.

        1. This seems to be really common – women expressing their discontent for years, and only when they file for divorce the guys start to take them seriously. What do you make of it?

        2. I too have been married 8 years. Jan 2, 2017, I asked for a divorce. Hardest thing Ive ever done. He doesnt want it. The guilt had me bound and still does but therapy is helping and when he moved out this past weekend. I actually had a deep sigh of relief! Its hard, I definitely know but with time, it gets easier. Choose you!

  6. Thanks for sharing this story! As a divorce coach who works with clients who struggle with the guilt of leaving a marriage that checked off all the boxes of what a “perfect” marriage was, this story hits home.

    Here’s the thing—a marriage requires that both partners are happy and healthy as individuals…then, and only then, can their marriage–and the unit–be happy and healthy and productive. And when one partner can no longer be healthy and happy in that relationship, it doesn’t seem fair to anyone–to the spouse, to the children, and to the person who needs to leave–to stay in that marriage.

    At that point, then everybody is living a lie. And that’s setting an example to the children that it’s okay to not be happy and to not speak your truth, and to live an un-authentic, fake life. Some people may call that selfish, but at the end of the day, to me that seems like being courageous and honest and self-aware.

    And if you did divorce a nice guy, that’s great–because then your ability to co-parent and work together in that matter is so much easier than there being custody issues.

    Nobody’s saying that choice of leaving, but more often than not, the right choices are never the easy ones. Best of luck to you!

    1. Well said……after 26yrs, 3 children college age, moving several times and being married to a man devoted to his job, it was over. I needed someone to have a relationship with me. My marriage was a commitment. I believed in the vows. Believed it should be a partnership for life. But in the long run, I was alone in a marriage and needed to make myself a priority. It had become mundane, no affection, no friendship just ships passing in the night. I would lay in bed at night and sob and he would just go to sleep. He was so detatached and unpretentious to our children. They had moved on and just accepted dad was at work or to tired to be present for them.
      Two years later, after the divorce, the cloud has lifted. I’m almost 60yrs old now. My children are happy and moving on with there lives. They have accepted that relationships don’t always work and sometimes you have to move on. I can say I am happy! Yes, it’s hard to be alone, to loose friends because their uncomfortable with me being single. Hard to not have the income I did and to be independent, but I’m a better person for that.
      I know what I want. I know what I need. I know what I’m looking for in life and my future relationships. Yes, I’m judged because of my decision. But it was my decision. My ex was a good provider, he tried to be a good dad. He just wasn’t a good partner. I wish him well and hope he finds happiness. I am strong and I will be good. I am on my path………

  7. Courage and Faith! I could have written most of the letter above. Yes, I was married to a “good man” – an overall nice guy, good provider, great father and handsome to boot. And I was unhappy and felt caged. There was so much more I wanted to do/experience in my life and I knew I couldn’t do in my marriage.

    I found my courage in my sons future who were 8 and 5 at the time. I recognized that if I didn’t have the courage to be true to myself and take the risk to live my full potential despite what others may think/say, then how could I possibly be a role model to my sons for them to achieve everything they are possible of if I played it safe and let my fears rule me.

    Fast forward 3 years… Ex is happily remarried, our sons are thriving and I am happier than ever and my life is moving forward positively. Fortunately, the Ex and I are true co-parents and share equal custody, time and expenses for the boys.

    A good divorce is possible.

  8. It’s different, but my ex-husband isn’t the one I feel guilty about leaving. I keep having pangs of guilt related to leaving my last boyfriend. We’d been together for over two years and friends for a while before that. My kids love him and he loves them, but it was to the point where I was constantly questioning if he was with me to be with me or because he cared about my kids and didn’t want to hurt them. We would go WEEKS without sex and he lives less than five minutes from my house. He would show up for other things, like Christmas and shopping, we would go out to eat, but I felt like he wasn’t attracted to me anymore.

    He keeps texting and emailing me to say he still loves me and will always be around, but I just don’t feel happy with the relationship we were in, and he doesn’t see anything wrong with it.

  9. I have to say that I am kind of shocked and a little jealous of all you women who were once married to good men. It is so hard out here trying to find a decent man to go out with, much less start a serious relationship with. My child’s father and I were engaged for a year, but he left us before my daughter was born. I can’t imagine being married to what this woman described as a great guy, having a wonderful father and role model for my child, but ultimately leaving him because the men at work make me hot and horny. I guess the reason I am still single 10 years later is that my daughter comes first in everything I do. I can’t imagine putting a sexual fantasy before the needs of my child.

    1. Unfortunately, when some of us are unhappy sexually, it comes out in other ways. We end up short-tempered with our kids and resentful of our husbands/boyfriends who may be willing to take care of and be great towards the kids, but they aren’t willing/able to meet our needs. Kids are almost always better off with two happy parents than with one miserable, resentful parent and one who’s blissfully unaware or who’s happy despite the other parent’s feelings.

    2. “I can’t imagine putting a sexual fantasy before the needs of my child.”

      No one is saying that.

      I worry your idolization of your child has prevented you from attracting a quality man.

    3. Allison ,I want to commend you on being what a real woman and mother is and probably the only reply here that makes sense to me.It seems all these women seem to only care about themselves and what they want at the moment. Truth be told most off them are not happy with themselves and blame their partners for not being happy.Most will end up being alone and wonder why there is no good men out there when they get older

  10. Great post!

    My ex is a wonderful guy, but a little bit too Peter Pan-ish.

    He is still one of my best friends, yet it is a HUGE relief to be able to walk away from his drama and not be tied up in it.

    My sincerest hope is that he finds a woman who truly appreciates all that he has to offer in a way that I wasn’t able to.

  11. This post is exactly what I needed as a mother of two who is in the process of divorcing a “nice” guy. Despite marriage counseling over the years, we grew steadily in different directions and are no longer remotely compatible. I even tried ignoring the problem for two solid years, hoping it would go away. It didn’t. My guilt over deciding to end it and the subsequent effect on our kids is overwhelming at times. However, a dead marriage shouldn’t be a life sentence just because the other party is a decent person. I’m a decent person, too! I also know from childhood experience that it doesn’t do kids any good to see their mom (or dad) stay in a miserable relationship. Thank you for the reassurance that there is life and happiness on the other side.

  12. If I had a relationship like this where there was nothing really wrong with him at all, I would do everything in my power to make it work. Obviously, if we still couldn’t get it together, I’d still go through with a divorce. It might be better to part as friends than to build hate between each other. I would let him know what needs weren’t being met and talk about it.

    I didn’t marry my children’s father so there was no divorce but it was a horrible, god awful, terrible, dysfunctional, bad, bad, bad relationship. So if I even had something there with a nice guy, I do everything I could to make it work.

    1. Who is to say that these women didn’t do everything they could to make it work? Always easier to judge, and grass is always greener on the other side.

  13. I needed this article today! Yes I do feel guilty, but I also don’t want to be with him anymore. I wish I felt like this less and could just move on more easily. I never married my son’s father and I thank god for that everyday but we have done some bad bad things in the process of tearing each other apart and he just wants me to give in and go back to him so he can control me more. I’m so not into being controlled and need the freedom of not being with him. The guilt and mind games are not enough, but these feelings today she wrote are real feelings that could not be more true in the depths of my mind while going through a somewhat similar experience. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Brandi. Be strong — you know what you need to do, and best of all YOU ARE ALREADY DOING IT! Keep on keeping on. It gets easier.

  14. Great topic AND comments, Emma!

    While I understand the preachy crowd’s rap about it being selfish, self-indulgent, morally weak, etc., to walk away from one’s vows, in all fairness, larger cultural forces are at work. I assert that we’ve literally been rewired, arguably, neurologically, by 30-40 years of being bombarded by self-help books, programs, gurus and more, reminding us that “you deserve to be happy” (which, in the long history of marriage, has only very recently been a stated goal of the institution), along with visions of the “Ideal Partner” and the “Ideal Relationship” (which, often, bears little resemblance to reality).

    Together, these things have rocketed our expectations of a mate into the stratosphere, as well as having us forget that the grass isn’t always greener. And as a 50-something unmarried male (with a number of long-term relationships under my belt), I’m no better than your letter-writer in being able to resist those forces. Add in having the financial wherewithal to leave a marriage, and perhaps the knowledge that you’re still attractive (and as such, have “prospects”), and, in the face of a lack of desire, excitement, common interests, etc. in one’s marriage, and with our newly rewired brains, keeping one’s vows (broken by half of your fellow Americans) starts seeming increasingly pointless.

    Sad, perhaps, but I think it’s less a character weakness than a radically shifted paradigm – one that has created a new norm.

      1. This is brilliantly articulated thank you. I am 10 years on from leaving a ‘good man’ and I can honestly say the grass is no greener on this side. You exchange one set of unhappiness for a different set. I suspect it is the human condition. Now instead of constantly seeking to change my circumstances in search of an elusive satisfaction I try to be be in the moment, appreciate what I have in other words the age old advice – count my blessings

  15. Emma,
    This article resonated with me. I called our marriage over from a very low point after trying to make it work for two years. Our children suffered under our tense, conflict-fueled interactions. I hadn’t slept properly in months due to the stress of indecision and deep unhappiness. My hair was falling out and I could barely eat. My daughter asked me when I was going to stop crying. I knew I needed to do something to change the situation and separation was the only way to care for myself and become the good parent my kids needed. Today, I am happily divorced and have a new normal. My own peaceful house, a happy, stable disposition, my health and a new normal. The kids are good. And their dad is in their lives in a bigger way than he was when we were married. I will admit that I miss being married. And sometimes I wonder if I didn’t call it off, what would have happened. Sometimes I feel guilty because I took these vows and thought divorce was a failure. What can I say? Things change. I think feeling guilt as a mom is pre-programmed. If I didn’t feel guilt about my divorce, I’d feel guilt about something else. It’s important to remind myself of the facts: I did the best I could at the time and can’t regret the past. Especially because I am much happier and you can bet my kids feel that. My 8YO daughter doesn’t ask me when I’m going to stop crying. In fact, she tells me that she can see I’m much happier.

  16. Hey Emma, it’s been a while. I have mixed feelings about this one. Yes, life is short. I understand the urge to pull the plug on a mind-numbing dull marriage.

    Yet, I’m betting most of the women here knew what they were getting when they married Mr. Nice Guy. Perhaps there were cases where the ex was a dashing bad boy when they were dating and turned into a couch potato once married. Or maybe he made it seem like he was more ambitious than he really was. But by and large, my guess is what you saw when you dated was pretty much what you got after you married.

    I’m not denying how you feel. If he was as dull as watching paint dry, I believe you. But consciously or subconsciously, some of you pulled a bait and switch on Mr. Nice Guy. A defining training of Nice Guys is they play by the rules. And specifically, by your rules before you moved the goal post.

    Peter is correct. Decades of self-help and unrealistic expectations have had a powerful influence. The way a fair number of women talk negatively about their husbands doesn’t help either. Complaining begets more complaining.

    But, it is what it is. I sincerely wish you all the best.

    1. Great points, Harry (and great to see you again!). Bait and switch, or simply that life and people change, and what worked at age 25 when everyone was single and childless doesn’t work at 40 or 50 or 70. None of us have crystal balls about who we will be — or who our partners will be — or what we will need in the future. And as you and Peter point out, the world is changing so much, so quickly in unforeseeable ways. All relevant.

      1. I don’t disagree Emma. This still puts guys in a bind anyway, though. They can get married but run the risk of ending up divorced for vague reasons, while losing half their assets and seeing the kids every other weekend. But if they opt out of the whole getting married, having kids, and buying a big suburban house and tons of useless stuff paradigm, they’re raked over the coals as Peter Pans who won’t “man up.”

  17. I’m just confused. She wanted out, she left him, he was devastated. Then she says in order to get back together she would have to beg. Why? She left him. Wouldn’t he be begging her? I may have misread.

  18. I am going through a divorce with two young boys. One being under 1. I discovered my husband was seeing prostitutes on top of our relationship just not being a healthy one. I stayed with him for a year following the discovery and wanted to see if things would change or if he’d try harder. He didnt. He wanted me to just act as though I didn’t find out anything and also blamed me. Even with this, I am going through the regret phase where I am questioning my decision to divorce. I know I deserve better but it is that fear of the unknown ripple effect. My soon to be ex keeps asking me am I sure as if I am making a bad decision and he’s the victim. I don’t know, I’m not at the “fuck you, I deserve better “. I have my moments when I’m reminded but it is a struggle.

  19. I wish my husband was a nice guy, so I would never asked for divorce, but my story is very different, in fact I have waited around 7 years to finally ask him the divorce, I tried all this years to work on our marriage, but I’m convinced this is the right way to go! I want out!!! I need out!!!

  20. Thanks, Emma, for once again being so brave as to say what so many of us need to here. You’re on the forefront of our next feminist wave. And, yes, I had guilt for divorcing a nice guy too. But I also believe that he and I will be friends and family for life; and that that’s what’s important–the commitment to our kids. Meanwhile, women should be happy and sexually-fulfilled. We need to model being whole for our children. I can’t wait until we all view divorce as progress and a brave attempt at truly living this glorious life.

  21. Problem is that with women you are not really attractive to men once you hit 36 or 37. So odds are you are going to end up alone and sad.

  22. Although I’m not a single mom I could completely relate to your post, in terms of my last relationship. We were together on and off for 5 years and engaged twice. He was the quintessential nice guy and on paper and in everyone else’s opinion he was perfect for me. But I knew something just didn’t feel right for me. I found him boring and complacent, because I craved adventure, travel, passion and ambition and he was very “settled” with his mediocre job he liked to complain about but do nothing to change. He was always tired and easily stressed and was quite happy with me making the big bucks at my high powered job while he came home at 5, played video games online against teenagers and then complained about how stressful his day had been.

    Worse, there was no sexual passion and he wasn’t into sex whereas I totally was. I can relate to enjoying the attention of other men who stimulated me mentally and emotionally and who would have loved to have sex but my fiance was at home feeling stressed and being bored. We finally ended it and it was the best decision of my life. He is a good guy but is not the right guy for me. I still wish him all the best in life and in finding a more compatible partner.

    As for me, after a couple years of being a single party girl I met my now-husband. He is exciting, sexually adventurous, mentally stimulating and everything else I could ask for in a partner. It felt and still feels like the perfect fit. I was 30 when I met him and now I’m 35. We have a toddler and another baby on the way and I love raising children and fulfilling other life goals with my perfect partner. I am so glad I didn’t marry or procreate with my ex or I probably would have never known the truly satisfying relationship I’m in now. And more importantly, I wouldn’t have been being true p6y8y7y,

    1. Thanks so much for your honest note — reminds me of my college boyfriend, who was so sweet, smart, cute would have been a great dad. But not for me. Hard for most people to understand, and I’m glad to hear you found a great match!

      1. Thanks! I found your blog by your outsourcing the laundry post and enjoy all of it. And I don’t know what happened to the last part of my prior comment but it was supposed to say true to myself!

  23. My gf date me for over a year then dump me, never left her husband, mad at me cuz i slept with another girl after she broke up with me.
    so bad

  24. Is what you did OK?

    Well, no. You hurt a bunch of people, including your close family members, kids, husband and set their lives on a very difficult path. Any person who enters into a relationship of any kind with you, business included, should be wary of your ‘flaky’ behavior.

    Does this mean you deserve to be thrown in jail? Does it mean you aren’t meant to be loved? No, nothing so dramatic as that.

    What you deserve is heat. How about a few insults? Some distrust. A lot of people won’t be your friend or enter into business with you. You can certainly do whatever you like, but it’s not free of consequence. You hurt people by making bad, selfish weak willed decisions. Just because you didn’t have malice behind it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    Imagine you vomitted all over someone’s expensive leather couch, or you knocked over a TV. What you’ve done is some order of magnitudes greater than that. You don’t deserve a free pass.

      1. This comes across as a pretty nasty and controlling reply. It’s just that you don’t agree, nothing on the commenter.

        He/she’s right, it bears on her character, and people should act accordingly. If you thnk it’s fine, then do business/start a relationship with her. If you think it’s bad character, say so and avoid her.

  25. I want a divorce. But I will have to move back home and live with my mother. Ugh. I live in a very expensive area that I cannot afford on just my income. Stayed together all these years for the kid. She’s raised and I am not sorry that I took that bullet for her. Now I am so miserable but I am terrified of having to sell all the stuff and move back to my hometown (I hate) to regroup. I have let myself be isolated so I have no friends. I am totally alone. And he is a great guy for someone and a good provider. We just have absolutely nothing in-common. We were young and got pregnant. We would never have ended up together otherwise. How do I get the courage to do this all by myself? I am literally totally alone.

  26. the real lawrence looked a lot more like stan laurel.marlon brando and albert finney both turned down this movie; finney cause the producer wanted to lock him into a contract for more movies, and brando so he could be around exotic women for MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY.too bad david lean lost out on making that other desert epic—-DUNE; the producer of PLANET OF THE APES had it all planned out, and then he suddenly died.

  27. So glad to have found your site, Emma, and all of these comments. I have been struggling with the thought of divorce for a few years now. I have been married 22 years to a very good man. No one is perfect and he has hurt me in our past for sure. I have hurt him too. He wants it to work and I just can’t shake this feeling of wanting out. The children are absolutely the only reason I stay. I often wonder what is wrong with me. If I were to write down all of his good qualities, women would be lining up at the door to meet him! I am a very passionate, social person, and tend to thrive when he isn’t around. We were separated at one time and it was the happiest period of my life. I felt as though I could finally breathe and was enjoying the “real” me. However I came back due to guilt. Guilt over the fact that my children missed me when I was gone, guilt over the fact that he lost tons of weight due to loss of appetite, and was depressed. Damn that word “guilt!” It is so very difficult to deal with. It is sometimes hard to know if we are feeling guilt or unhappiness. I know to leave, I need to be selfish. I am an excellent mother and sometimes feel I need to sacrifice my happiness to make their lives complete. Then I think on the fact that children all leave someday….and then what? I know I am saying things other people have already said. It’s just good to say it out loud and a relief to hear from others who understand.

  28. And another article that hinges on the phenomenon that is “Eat, Pray, Love”.

    One question for you ladies: Why get married at all in the first place?

    There are times when divorce is absolutely warranted: Abuse. Child endangerment, etc.

    But to divorce because you are “bored”? REALLY?

    Lets be honest here. Its all about sex. It HAS to be. If you need to find fulfillment in your own life, nothing is stopping you! If your spouse truly is a “good guy”, and you have desires to better yourself, and grow as an independent person, I’m sure your good guy spouse would support you if you communicated your needs. Need time away? Want to travel? Do community service? Volunteer? Nothing is stopping you, except YOU. If your spouse is controlling, that is one thing…and you should RUN from that unhealthy relationship. But this is about divorcing “good guys”. Good guys aren’t controlling. So you have all the freedom you need to expand your horizons as an individual person. There is only one thing you aren’t supposed to do while your married: Sleep around. So in order to be free from being labeled a cheater you HAVE to get a divorce to ease that conscious.

    So lets be honest, and call it for what it is: Taking back your promise to be only with one person so you can @#$% around.

    And to the poster that posted way earlier: I’ve seen just as many kids get screwed up *BECAUSE* of their parents divorce.

    Maybe the institute of marriage is obsolete. With the divorce rate at 50% and rising, maybe people should say “I don’t” more.

    1. Another thing I wanted to point out: First world Problems…

      Notice the URL of this website itself “WEALTHY” single mommy. Emma, that is fortunate that you have the resources to stand on your own two feet and have thrived post divorce.

      Another problem (along with all those that get hurt) is the average American doesn’t have the means to slit up a marriage and yet still maintain their lifestyles. You are probably thinking money & success doesn’t make one happy, and therefore it is more important to be happy than have wealth. While true, you may not suffer because of your actions, your significant other will, and more importantly the children will ultimately lose out the most. One could argue that sending a message to the kids that it is okay to be happy rather than wealthy successful is a positive message. Then why bother at all with working to ensure our kids have a better future than we did? Make no mistake, the children suffer the most. The loss of the lifestyles they were accustomed to, and more importantly, the loss of precious time with BOTH parents. Time that can never be got back.

      If you are reading this and considering divorcing based on the sole fact that you are “unhappy”, then I ask you to consider this: Your can’t FORCE someone to be happy any more than you can force someone to jump off a bridge. Your feelings and emotions are under YOUR control and NO ONE ELSES. You are not responsible for making your spouse “happy” any more than they are for making you happy. They don’t “own” your emotions any more than you “own” theirs. So if you are truly unhappy, you need to take a DEEP look inside yourself and ask yourself exactly “WHY” you are unhappy, because the only one responsible for your own internal feelings is YOU. I pray some of you figure this out before making a huge mistake that you will certainly regret when you are on your death bed and you look at your past life and the choices you made. You think you are the first one to feel this way-stuck in a rut/the feeling that time is running out-your not. Do some research. This story has played out many, MANY times, and while there are exceptions to the rule, it rarely ends well.

  29. Hi Emma,

    I was so glad to see your post about divorcing a nice guy. I definitely divorced a nice guy. But we were so young when we met and I got completely consumed in that relationship, lost touch of who I was, even how to form my own opinions without consulting him. After the divorce I struggled with that but have slowly come into my own.

    My ex recently got remarried and I found that this event had me looking back with rose colored glasses. As childish as it is, when someone came and scooped him up I started to look at him again with more fondness. Could I have tried harder, could we be living the good life if I had chosen to stay? But honestly, that’s the difficulty with divorcing a nice guy. There’s no black and white, he was evil and I left, so it’s much easier to think back with some fondness and almost forget what brought you to that decision in the first place. We really brought out the worst in each other. He was more like a crappy roommate to me than my partner and although he was always a good dad, we had struggled to connect as a couple outside of our kids. We were broken and tried to fix it, but we couldn’t.

    The part about reading this post that makes me sad is all of the very judgmental comments below. I met another divorced woman recently that said she had such a difficult time after her divorce from a nice guy because no one could understand. The truth is, a nice guy doesn’t mean a good husband to you. And that’s the bottom line. Everyone’s relationships are their own. This woman said she had to give up all of their mutual friends to her ex because they just couldn’t understand her or support her. So she did, and has since moved on and married a great guy whom they have 3 kids, but remained friends with her “nice guy” ex. My point is, each relationship is different. Each marriage has it’s own life…sometimes it has no breath left and there’s no reviving it. For those on the outside looking in, it’s so easy to say one is being selfish by walking away. But the truth is, if you stayed because the guy is nice, or because everyone else thinks you should, then you are the one who has to suffer in your own life and marriage. So kudos to all the women who face that condemnation and brave the unknown to live the life they want to live.

  30. I am replying to this because I too am thinking about divorcing a “nice guy”. We met 23yrs ago and have been married for 17 of them. He was my first boyfriend/sexual experience and all of my firsts. When dating I knew that I was not attracted to him and that there had to be more to a relationship. I also had feelings of being attracted to women too. Because I did not know what to compare this relationship to while having guilt from possibly hurting him I decided to marry him. Once the children came I focused on them and not me. For years I would cry because I felt trapped. Two years ago I had an affair on him with a woman. She allowed me to feel a connection like I had never felt and only thought existed in fairy tales. I loved being with her sexually and as best friends. She has decided to be with her husband for the sake of her kids but I am feeling like it is best for me to get out of my relationship in order to explore my sexuality, to not cry anymore about the decision that I have made. He is a great guy, supporting, great looking and a great father. My daily questions to myself are: Are my children better off if their parents stay together? Should I continue to stay in this relationship in fear of hurting him? (then I would be doing the same thing I did 23 years ago. I want to have a connection with someone in and out of my bed.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. In short: The best gift you can give your kids is a mom who is fulfilled and living her best life. There will be so much pain, judgement, friends and family who do not understand, and heartache. But it is a gift to you, your kids, and the world. Because you will then live your truth. Now, you are living a lie.

      1. you really believe that?what a rationalizing bunch of bullshit…you,you..happy,happy…you are up to rude awakening in a couple of years when years catch up with you but you won’t be allowed back.you think your children won’t see the real reason for abandoning the family?i’ve seen that many times and at first i felt sorry for people like you but not any more.you deserve everything that happens to you…good luck.you ‘re going to need it.

  31. I support your descision I have a very similar cicumstance and I know how difficult it the choice is and all the confusion and guilt that is paired along with that choice but at the end of the day we only have one life on this earth

  32. Oh dear

    What did I just read. Marriage isn’t all sunshine and like the movies people. Sometimes it can be cruel unfair and lonely if your married to a person with this type of mentality. Now I understand people want things that make them feel good in life. A big mistake would be to keep it too your self and expect your unknowing spouse to be fine with your decision not knowing anything is going on at all. You make a commitment to God and your spouse on your wedding day for better or for WORSE !!!. I’m sure some of you are happier being divorced, from Husbands/Wives that you tire from. What you don’t see if the heart wrenching pain that causes that person and in the long run the children. Divorce Isn’t a good thing, now I understand that abusive relationships, affairs, drugs etc warrant a divorce when there’s no other option. But to celebrate the death of a marriage when you don’t know how its effected the spouse divorced from is just darn right cruel. Each to their own decisions, but don’t throw away your marriages because of selfish desires. It’s simple TALK to your spouse about what you lack in your marriage. My daughter was 1.5 years old when my wife ran off because I found out about her and plumber of all people, to have my daughter at that age say to me im sorry daddy im sorry im sorry please come home, will haunt me till I die. I HATE divorce and anybody who took marriage seriously would feel the same.

  33. It’s not okay Emma. You have no values or morals. And you do not know the concept of love which is loyalty. What do you think all the wedding vows come down to: loyalty. It is loyalty through better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, etc. It is women like you who have destroyed the concept of marriage for men like me. Do you want the future spouses of your children to feel and have to deal with the same pain you gave your husband? The fact is, you don’t care about anyone other than yourself.

    I am attorney, have a great job, am self supporting, and have multiple skills. I was married for 20 years and did not want to be divorced. But my ex-wife left for reasons similar to those stated by you. It devastated me and my boys. But the saving grace is that my two teenage boys are now familiar with the typical woman today, what to look out for, and what to avoid. I would never encourage them to marry. It is a game stacked in favor of women, who file for divorce 70% of the time.

    Enjoy your cheap and shallow relationships. I pray there is such a thing as karma for people like you.

    1. Its funny how Emma never responds to the reality set forth by respectable people calling her out on her selfish behavior. Women like you are becoming a dime a dozen. Riddled with insecurities and being duped by Disney with all their “fairy tails dreams”. Eventually you all will grow old and be lonely. Karma does go both ways. You get back what you put out there. So enjoy your high horse for now. It will eventually ride you to lonely town

  34. I think it’s great that y’all are so fulfilled in your divorces from good men. Mostly I appreciate that I can show this article to young men and explain to them why marriage is futile. I don’t believe many of the women that have expressed themselves here will pay a price. Their daughters will though, because young men are not going to make the same stupid investment of time and love, when they can only expect this empty future.

    1. sadly you are damn right about that.i’ve seen it time and time again.i also feel that marriage is something i wouldn’t recommend to young men these days.
      when i see all this shit i believe that instead of marriages we should make ten years contracts and see if we wanted to go on or break off because this is really discouraging and if things are going this way good people should be protected from these lazy,selfish people as much as they can.

  35. I’m crying as I’m writing this comment. Those of you that has never experienced how bad it is to be unhappy in a relationship with “Mr. Nice Guy” will never understand how bad it could be. Yes, possibly I could have a problem and contribute to my failing marriage, but I have the right to be happy in this life like any other. If having a marriage is more important than living a happy life, please be my guest. Although I’m still unhappily married to my Mr. nice Guy because I do not have the means, courage, and strength to divorce him yet. I understand each and everyone of you guys, and I applaud your courage. Please try not to judge anyone, at least until you have experienced their situation. Thank you.

    1. happy,happy.i,i ,i me,me,me….does he beat you?does he cheat on you?no?then fight for your man and marriage and don’t give up.what the hell is wrong with you people.you can rationalize as much as you want but one day you ‘ll be sorry for the choices you are about to make…trust me on this one..

  36. Ugh. He deserves better than this wench. Shameful that so many persons are connecting this with larger issues of “rights” when it’s just a personality mismatch being rationalized in umpteen different ways so that she can do her own thing. Of course she should feel guilty. People should not treat sexual excitement as a particularly valuable thing, especially when it causes a family to collapse. And conflating materialistic career aspirations with the notion that she’s on a higher intellectual level? Puh-leez! Morality should also count as an intellectual attribute, in which she’s clearly operating on an inferior level.

  37. All I see is women saying “I’m so much happier now” and me, me, me. What a bunch of selfish women. Narcissist much? Yikes. You did these nice guys you left a favor. You are all gross and disgusting people.

    I feel bad for your kids if you have them.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. My ex pulled the same me, me, me victim bullshit while my 2 daughters and I are left picking up the pieces. Then she wonders why my girls are unhappy with her breaking our family apart. The grass is definitely not greener. At least I’m free of such a shallow person and can focus on our daughters and make sure they grow up with much better morals and zero insecurities. What a bunch of selfish women out there. Hey Emma, any chance you could face your B.S. and actually admit it? I’m assuming not.

  38. Jesus Christ,what kind of people are you?i pray to God i never stumble on some one like you people.you are bunch of selfish cruel people who are giving each other props for breaking promises you gave to your partner and ruining your children’s lives by saying see through shit like it is better for the children to have two divorced happy parents.guess what?only you will be happy in this case and nobody else you selfish pricks.the one who wrote this garbage will find out what she has lost and that is 100% something she will eventually realize.
    just keep doing what you are doing but lease don’t get married any more.you are not evolved enough to realize that love is a choice.love changes through years,making full circles,falling down and raising up.life is not only eating cakes.it is about splitting a shit sometimes but staying together no matter what.
    you people should stay single and (fuck) explore your sexuality with your bosses,mailmen,bad boy drug dealers,..whatever rocks your boat but just don’t fuck up any more ,as you call them,good guys lives.you have no clue about commitment and love so maybe you should do what you do best.fuck around and leave your kids to better fitting parent who will give them better view on life,love,commitment,marriage,family and parenthood.you just ruined my day.you are just awful human beings and you deserve ,and you’ll probably get it,the same selfish asshole who will ruin your life at the end.you see,you think you are some kind of prize but come back in afew years and tell us all how it worked out for you when you find out that good divorced guys are much wanted among younger women who will appreciate what you clearly couldn’t.just a bunch of old rags pinning for their good old good guys husbands living their life with better partners.good luck and i hope you like cats…

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