People Who Got Divorced After 20 Years of Marriage Reveal What Made Them Change Their Minds | 22 Words

Ready for some serious relationship drama? Well, a whole bunch of people on Reddit shared their marriage woes – specifically, why they, as couples, divorced after many years! You'd think that once a couple has survived for a good twenty years, they're pretty much golden, right? But as these couples go to show, that's just not always the case.

Sometimes it's just not meant to be. Sometimes, one partner goes absolutely insane...or always was! And sometimes, circumstances beyond either partner's control force them apart. Relationships can have a million reasons for why they do or don't work out, as you'll soon see. But some of these stories are so intense you'll be holding your breath as you read!

Check out these stories from couples who changed their minds on marriage, and learn why they divorced after so many years.

This couple just didn't seem happy...

My husband's parents did this. He said he knew his parents weren't happy for a long time. Said they went to family therapy together but ultimately once my husband went to the Army (he was the younger of 2) they divorced and both later married other people. These 2 could not get along for anything, they HATED each other. At our wedding, we had to take separate family pictures with the dad and new wife and then with the mom and my sister in law. It was insane...



Cut to about 2 years after our wedding and I get a phone call from father in law's wife of 10 years, she is in hysterics. She had caught him in bed with my mother in law. My husband would not believe it until he talked to his father.

That was over 10 years ago. My in-laws both divorced their partners and have been together ever since. My mother in law has all their old family pictures on display everywhere and acts like they never divorced and have been together for over 4 decades hahaha


This bombshell was just sitting as a post all its own:

He tried to kill me, which I feel is impolite. -BigYearColorado (Don't worry, they came back later and added some context!)

And here's that wild, wild context:

He had a mistress with a taste for crappy overpriced mall jewelry and lingerie designed to hold a 400-pound sack of crap. (She was a con artist and not a nice person.) He took out credit cards and store accounts in my name and drained his retirement account for her. At a certain point, my credit was so trashed that he couldn’t do any more damage, so he decided to have me killed before I could find out and divorce him.

I still have a garnishment I can’t afford to fight for about $8K ($1K/month) plus another $16K in various stages of collection. Plus he didn’t pay his spousal support so I can’t afford a lawyer to challenge this stuff.


This pair of grandparents have a tragic story of marriage and divorce.

Grandparents got divorced after 30+ years of marriage. Met in the early 1950s in a really small town. Both about 19 or 20 and got married 2 years later. I think that was kind of just what you did back then. They had a pretty traditional marriage with 7 children.

I think my Grandmother grew up and became more independent and my Grandpa really just wanted a traditional stay-at-home wife. When the kids were old enough, she got a job as a secretary. She had lots of friends and a social circle. My grandfather pretty much just worked and came home and watched TV. In his 50s, he slipped and broke his back and couldn't work anymore. He really just stopped doing much of anything after that. Sat on the couch all day chain-smoking cigars and watching TV. He was also becoming more and more of a hoarder as he got older. I think even before this point they were already more-or-less roommates.


Divorce was inevitable.

Eventually, grandma had just had it with him. She filed for divorce. He had a hard time accepting it. He was supposed to be staying with one of his adult kids, while his other kids were working on purchasing a small house for him in the neighborhood where a few of his kids and grandkids lived. He kept breaking back into the house he had lived in with my grandma. -PleasantSalad

And that's where things went from bad to worst.

She confronted him during one of these break-ins and he killed her. I think he was probably depressed through much of his life, but because he grew up with that small-town 1950s mentality he was just taught to bury that down. I'm not sure they ever loved each other, but they had a marriage of convenience that worked ok for some time. He was pretty detached from raising the kids and when he no longer felt useful he just unraveled. It's too bad because he lived over 10 more years in prison. He could have had a relationship with his grandkids, but one impulsive act crushed that. I always felt robbed of having a relationship with either of those grandparents. -PleasantSalad

Thankfully, Grandmother's memory is alive and well.

My grandmother was one of the most independent, fierce and intelligent people I've ever met. She went back to school while she had children to get her degree and started a career with 7 children at home and little help from her husband. She never complained. She always walked with her head up, dressed pristinely and always carried a book. Most of her family lived to be in their 90s so she likely had 25 or more years left to live. She could have been at my wedding and instead, she never got to see me grow into an adult. My family talks of her often. Her memory is very much alive, while he is almost never discussed and we have no pictures of him in the house. I know he was at fault, but that didn't make it easier to lose him. I mourned both grandparents at the time. He robbed me of BOTH grandparents. He had a choice to move past a difficult time in his life and instead he chose the cowardly way out. -PleasantSalad

One father issued a horrible ultimatum.

When I was 8, my dad threatened to leave my mom because he was threatened by her brother. My uncle didn’t do anything wrong, but my dad didn’t like another man in his kids’ lives because he had fears of abandonment and “getting replaced" (still has those fears). So he gave my mom an ultimatum: “It’s your brother or me. you gotta chose."


And once the choice was made, things got worse.

My mom, fearing to hold together a family, chose my dad. My uncle was broken about it because my mom was forced to shut him due to reasons he didn’t even understand.

Fast forward 6 years and my older brother now in college develops an outside view of the family life and began to understand the “a**holery" of my dad. So my brother called my dad and gave him his full mind on what he thinks of my dad and how he’s done petty things out of fear. My dad flipped and blamed my mom for that because he thought “she was putting words in his mouth". Things were tense for a bit between my dad, brother, and mother until my dad decided to move out officially because he felt not welcome in the family.


Honestly, let's be glad it's over now!

That was 5 years ago and he’s been living separately since then, but my parents are still legally married due to joint-owning a lot of assets. A year ago, however, I found out that my dad had been dating a 25-year-old for over a year (he’s 60). The scary thing was that my mom knew the whole time but she didn’t tell us because she feared how it would make us view our dad.

My mom is still very broken up about the fact that it was my dad that left her, despite him having toxic and manipulative behavior toward her, me, and my brothers for the latter part of their 25-year marriage.


Addiction takes its toll on relationships.

23 years. I had lied to her several times over the years, and she always forgave me. The last time I lied to her about accruing a severe amount of debt due to gambling addiction. I think she might have forgiven the lie, but she couldn’t forgive the addiction and the chance I’d start gambling again.

I started attending Gambler’s Anonymous after I told her, but it was too little too late for her. On the plus side, I haven’t gambled in almost 3 years.

Edit: I wanted to thank everyone for the support. It was a struggle at first, but it gets easier as long as I take it one day at a time. I’ve made some amazing friends in my local recovery community, and I run a meeting once a week to help others that are suffering.


This was the end of the marriage, but not the relationship.

I had to watch my parents go through the paperwork to get divorced after my dad had a massive stroke and was forced to retire. It was the only way for them to keep the money from his pension AND maintain his health insurance coverage.

My parents got a divorce of convenience so pops could make the mortgage payments and get his insulin. Thankfully my parents' insurance agent is a close friend and found every possible form and loophole so they could stay in the house together. It took almost two years to get everything settled.


In fact, everything happened BECAUSE of love.

I'll never forget my dad's statement after it was all done. "The Church still says we're married, and that's what matters to us. At least now, your mother can still get her hearing aids and pay the mortgage if something happens to me."


Of course, it's still sad they were in that position.

I was so disgusted with it all. I never forgave my dad's union for it, and we now make sure someone from our family shows up to their annual open meeting when they discuss the health insurance plan to shame them in explicit detail with how the board f***s over the roughnecks. -bumblebeesnotface

Well, that's one way to stick it to your ex-spouse.

There's a guy in my town that everyone knows about because he owns this huge-ass mansion in a middle-class neighborhood. Apparently he was married to a woman for a long time but she left him calling him a "loser" because his business hadn't taken off yet. After she left him his business finally took off (he sells medical equipment to hospitals) and he became f*** you levels of rich in a few years. The reason he built the mansion in that neighborhood was that that is where she lives so she has to drive by the mansion on her way to work every day. -Harley_Atom

And sometimes, there's not even love in the first place.

My parents got divorced after 22 years of marriage. They were never in love and didn’t even like each other. They had me and then my sister a few years later and wanted to stay together for the kids. 12 years after I was born they had my brother and that kept the cycle going. I wish I could say they are happy now, but they still like to cause trouble for each other. We’re due with our first child soon and they’re gonna have to figure out how to be grandparents together. Thankfully I’m 1500 miles from them so it won’t be a headache often. -shalste2

This law firm employee noticed a trend:

I worked at a law firm that only practiced family law (divorces, child custody, wills & estates, etc). At one time we had like 8 clients getting divorced after 20+ years of marriage and they were all high ranking military men whose wives came out of the closet after all their kids had grown up and moved out of the house and the guys were getting ready to retire. -AfghanHokie

But what was the cause of it?

I thought it was so weird, but I guess for whatever reason the women thought that their duties to their husbands and families were coming to an end and they wanted to live for themselves. I guess I know why they couldn't come out 30 years ago, it was a different time but I was curious why they were all attracted to military guys? I assume maybe cause it meant their husbands would be away for years at a time during their service? -AfghanHokie

Well, here's the more likely theory:

I think it depends more on how old the women were when they first married. Military people often tend to marry young and quickly. You don't know yourself when you're young. 20 years will do that to you! -whatyouwant22

And here's the confirmation.

I am one of those women who in my 40's discovered that I was gay. I married super young and was in a very strict religious system. My husband and I got along well for the most part, but he was always emotionally disconnected. When we got to the place where the kids were grown I asked myself if I would be happy living with this man, just the two of us, for the next 30+ years. -0utandab0ut

Sometimes, you don't figure out who you really are until later in life.

After therapy and a lot of conversations, the answer was no. I've always had the niggling that I was attracted to women, so I decided to start dating. My first relationship with a woman was incredible - the emotional connection was like nothing I'd ever experienced. I'm single now, but I have no intention of going back to dating men - ever. My ex-husband of 20 years and I have managed to remain friends. -0utandab0ut

It's scary to start over!

My parents split up after nearly 30 years. My dad was an a**hole my entire life, so when they finally divorced when I was 18, there was no surprise. He’d been cheating for years and I think he was the one who finally asked for it.

I think my mom stayed because she couldn’t afford to start over. She spent her life putting my dad through school and wasn’t educated herself. She had no family or anyone who could help her either. There were definitely some confidence issues on her part too.


But sometimes even the kids know that starting over is for the best!

My parents divorced when I was 12. They thought I'd be devastated but the only thing I could say was "Thank God. What took you so long?" I don't think I could have endured 6 more years. -Meowzebub666

This marriage still exists...but not for long.

My husband began surreptitiously going to strip clubs. He stole about $200 a week from various accounts and a business I owned to fund these activities. He lost his job because he went there so often at lunch and would just stay. We had young kids and so I stayed after he got some therapy. He was never honest with the therapist. About a year ago I learned he was doing it again. Plus texting strippers. My youngest kid graduates high school this year.


Now, this mother is ready to live for herself!

I’ve done what’s best for everyone else for 20 years now. This September was 21 years. I don’t anticipate having our 22nd anniversary.

It’s really scary to think of being alone. I don’t hate him. I feel sorry for him. I know he will feel very sad and lonely when I’m gone. But being near him feels like having my soul ripped from my body every day.


Therapy does wonders.

Therapy changed my mind. After more than a decade of being miserable, I finally got help. When I was able to really talk about my marriage was when I realized that I needed to get the f*** out.

At the end of the day, I stayed in a bad marriage because the thought of ‘being alone’ scared me. Through therapy, I was clued into how many wonderfully supportive friends and family members I had if I just reached out to them. I wasn’t going to be in a relationship anymore but I wasn’t alone either.


This father's rigidity doomed the marriage.

Not myself, but my parents. They were married for 22 years when they separated, 24 years by the time the divorce was final. From the perspective of a child in the situation, there was no way that they were happy people together. There was hardly ever a quiet moment in the house because of my father’s temper, but my mother knew how to serve it back too.

However, the final straw was more of a chain of events. My father had a very rigid view of the family. The man works, the woman stays home, cares for the home and children.


Mom took the initiative to help the whole family.

When I was in high school my father got injured at work and needed surgery. He worked a physically demanding job and would be out for six months. My mother, knowing that we were already falling behind on vehicle and house payments decided to find part-time employment. She worked while the kids were in school. It was still important to her to see her kids get on the bus and be there when they got home.


And dad went pretty much NUTS.

My father immediately believed that she was cheating on him. He installed a tracker and tape recorder in her car. He showed up at her workplace and caused a scene multiple times. He questioned her coworkers. He spent most of time at the house drinking. This was not an equal partnership, and it really never was. You should have seen how hurt he acted when my mom finally asked for a divorce.

But he rebounded real quick. All he had to do was tell some woman on Plenty of Fish his sob story, and he moved right into her house. He spent a couple of years treating her and her children horribly before she kicked him out. It only took him a couple of weeks in a hotel to find another woman to let him move in.


Unfortunately, this mother suffered from an untreated mental illness that affected her marriage.

Parents divorced after 25 years when my mom had what we thought at the time was a midlife crisis. She told my dad by draining $3k from the joint checking account to fund her divorce lawyer. Six years later they were officially divorced since she blew through that money on different lawyers that kept firing her as a client.

We later ruled out mid-life crisis when her behavior started to become more odd, erratic, and paranoid. She was in her early 50s when this behavior started.


Well, that's what they THINK happened, anyway.

Now we (myself and my sister in law with psychology experience) think she has late-onset bipolar and I say "think" since we can't get her officially diagnosed since she believes nothing is wrong with her. She lives in NY and it is super hard to commit someone there unless they are a danger to themselves or other people. She's not dangerous, just can't hold down a job and lives in her car due to her own insubordinate sporadic paranoid behavior but blames everyone else.

No, she's not a narcissist, just mentally ill since she was never like this when we were growing up. She was very selfless and caring when she was younger.


This is probably one of the more reasonable divorce stories on this list!

We were together for 20 years, married for 15. We started as high school sweethearts, but we eventually realized that we weren't the same people we were when we fell in love. We also realized that that wasn't going to change. We decided that the best way for everyone to be happy for the rest of our lives was to end it on peaceful terms before we were both 70 and resentful of each other for trapping each other in an unhappy marriage for 40+ years. -VA_Wineaux

This couple divorced after 22 years and thought that was it.

Well, funny story. My parents were high school sweethearts and married for 22 years. Then they got divorced when I was 6. My dad remarried and had another kid, and got divorced again. My mom never did.

Fast forward about 30 years. I got married. My parents were in the same room for the first time in 30 years and were flirting like teenagers. I have a video of it. It really is pretty amusing to watch. Until I remember it's my parents.


It's like "The Parent Trap" except the kid doesn't even have to try!

They have been "dating" since I got married. That was more than 5 years ago. They are virtually living together, and both of them think it's funny to allude to their sex life around me so that I'll be embarrassed. Which still works, despite my age.

As to your question. My mom says that my dad has mellowed and turned into "not a bad guy". My dad says my mom is exactly the same, except her waist. I think they both never found anyone they liked as much as each other. Or hated as much as each other. And if that isn't marriage, I don't know what the hell is.

-RoboOverlord Share these fascinating stories with your friends!