Everyone goes into marriage believing that their relationship will last forever, but with the divorce rate at roughly 50%, it’s clear that doesn’t always happen. I didn’t want to give up on my marriage, so I spent 10 long years in a toxic one and it definitely wasn’t worth it. If you’re unhappy, you need to get out now.
It will turn you into a different person. When I got married, I had unwavering morals and values. Everyone who knew me thought I was a good person, and I knew myself to feel sure of what I would or wouldn’t do in any theoretical situation. I had no idea what prolonged desperation could do to a person. After nearly a decade of forcing myself to be part of a marriage to someone I didn’t love and enduring years of isolation, manipulation, sexual abuse, and rage, I became someone I no longer recognized.
You’ll do things you never thought you’d be capable of. I resented my own child for keeping me trapped. I started drinking and smoking weed a lot and every day. Eventually, I had an affair with someone I didn’t even like and got pregnant. When everything came out and my husband and I finally got divorced, what do you think went down in the history books? The decade of misery and abuse I endured or the fact that I cheated and had another man’s child? Years later, I’m finally back to being the person I was before my marriage but my guilt will never go away and my reputation will never be repaired. If I’d found the courage to leave sooner, so much pain and humiliation could have been avoided.
You’ll screw your kids up badly. Part of being a parent is raising children to be successful, functioning adults. An important part of being an adult is knowing how relationships work. Kids who grow up in a household with parents who fight, cold-shoulder, cheat, lie, and resent each other will have no idea what a healthy relationship looks like. How will they ever have one of their own? Rather than setting kids up for success by staying together until they’re grown, you’re setting them up for failure. I saw this happening with my own child and I hated myself for it.
Plus, your kids aren’t dumb—they’ll know you’re unhappy. Everyone I know who grew up with their parents at each other’s throats still wishes they’d gotten divorced sooner. I was depressed and psychologically abused for years but my son had no idea. He grew up observing a cold, loveless marriage, but not a volatile one. I thought that meant it was better for him. In reality, that only meant that when we did call it quits when he was seven, he was absolutely shocked and shattered by the news. Whether you fight openly or behind closed doors, you’re not doing your children any favors by staying together.
Your future relationships will suffer. I’ve been divorced for over six years. Five years ago, I rekindled with my very first love from junior high. It’s the kind of fairy tale romance I never believed I could have. However, I brought my baggage with me. I was upfront and honest about how my marriage ended, and for the first couple of years of our relationship, I had to answer extra questions about where I was or who I was talking to. I didn’t blame him for being suspicious of my past and we worked past it in time. I also brought plenty of past trauma along with me, overreacting to and withdrawing from completely normal arguments because of the rage I often experienced during my marriage. Thankfully, my partner brought along his baggage as well, and we’ve both managed to unpack and deal with our issues together. But imagine where’d we could be if we could’ve skipped those terrible experiences and enjoyed a healthy relationship, untainted by our past failed marriages from the very beginning.
Time is the one thing you can never get back. I lost a decade of my life to an unhappy marriage. My entire twenties were wasted being miserable beyond words. I will never have the chance to be that young again. I continue to spend my early thirties undoing the damage inflicted by my marriage and re-establishing myself both emotionally and financially. Do you know the only thing that would have been worse than wasting ten years in my bad marriage? Spending ten years and one day. Your time is the most irreplaceable possession you’ll ever own in life—don’t waste it. If you’re reading this and you feel stuck in an unhappy relationship, learn from my mistake. Find a way to get out. Whatever you’re holding on for isn’t worth it. Trust me, I know.
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