#LikeAMother: Stop feeling guilty for divorcing a really nice guy

guilty divorce nice guy


Divorce often comes with a lot of guilt. But when you make the decision to leave. And when you divorce a really nice guy? The guilt can just kill. 

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.

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.


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Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

4 thoughts on “#LikeAMother: Stop feeling guilty for divorcing a really nice guy

  1. I actually referenced the original WTF Wednesday post in this one! :)


    People change, man. Rare is the human being who’s ever totally static. Even if your (ex)spouse is the nicest person in the world, your priorities and desires may simply just not line up anymore. It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good person, or even aren’t a great SO…but just that they’d be great for someone else.

  2. I divorced and broke up with many “nice” guys. They were nice on the outside for show or to make people like them. But they didn’t seem to care if I or the children liked them. The words and behavior was so incongruent it was laughable.

    I learned that my values and theirs didn’t line up, never mind the changes people naturally go through. I felt less and less me in order to accommodate and appease them. YUCK!!!

    At the end of the day aligning my values, being with a man that is actually kind, and feeling like a flower that blooms instead of withers and fades is what I’ll happily wait for.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and journey and allowing me to share mine

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