Recently, Reddit user u/itzFruity asked divorced people to share the thing that could have saved their marriage, and their responses were honest, heartbreaking, and deeeeeep:
1. "Being aware that marriage should be 'us' as a unit, not 'me versus them.' It took me a while to process that lesson, but I did better the second time around."
"Oooh, I feel this one! My first husband's friend told him never to compromise or let me have what I wanted, because then he would have 'lost control' of the relationship. That went about as well as you'd expect, if the 'first' in front of 'husband' wasn't a hint."
3. "Not sweating the small shit. It's not worth it to either of you. Instead, being willing to make compromises and look at things from my partner's perspective or simply in a way that didn't put my views and feelings on a pedestal."
"I've been married for 26 years — and almost divorced twice — and I know that trying your hardest to support each other and work as a team through the difficulties will allow you to be able to conquer anything together."
4. "I literally just asked for a divorce yesterday, and the thing that would have saved our marriage is communication. She didn't tell me she was unhappy for two years, and I didn't hear about anything she disliked about our relationship until after she kissed someone else! And by then, she was too unhappy to work on it."
"I never told her when I was upset, either — I would just bury it until everything came out at once. This created an environment where she felt like she was walking on eggshells. So she felt unhappy and unloved, and she never communicated what she was feeling. So both sides were at fault."
5. "If I hadn't chosen poorly...twice. I could blame my two former spouses, and they could both certainly point their fingers at me, but few relationships involve one 'great' partner and one 'bad' one — both parties usually contribute to the meltdown. So afterward, I spent a lot of time alone, learning about what makes these kinds of partners attractive to me, and now I avoid these types."
6. "Respect for what each person brought to the relationship, instead of inflating what we brought and playing down what the other person contributed. For example, one person goes to work and earns the money, while the other stays home and cares for the kids/house. The worker thinks they have the harder job because the responsibility to provide resources for the family is all on them. They see staying home and hanging out with the kids as the much easier task. The caregiver thinks they have the harder job because there is no start and end time and they are always on duty. They see going to work as a nice change of scenery — getting to interact with other adults and sitting all day at a desk. Both roles are critical, and they need to make sure they respect the value and challenges each role brings and faces."
7. "I used to travel internationally 150 to 200 days a year for work. I would be gone for a few weeks and then come back for a week, but I was never really present when I was at home because I was so tired. So she developed interests outside of our marriage."
"The money was so good, and I thought that ultimately it would make us happy, but I think I should have turned down a few of the travel opportunities to balance things out and be more present."
8. "If we'd had regular, annual reviews of our finances and been willing to work together on a financial plan."
"It annoys my wife, who'd rather I just handle the finances, but I make it a point to tell her about every transaction that moves money between accounts. I know she doesn't care, but being disciplined about financial transparency is one of the reasons we trust each other."
9. "We got married for all the wrong reasons. He struggled with addiction, and I thought a baby and a marriage would save him. It didn't. About a year after we split, he got sober, and we are best friends and coparents now. But our marriage likely would've been saved if he'd hit rock bottom sooner. My rock bottom came before his."
11. "My marriage could've been saved if we'd waited a lot longer to get married in the first place. My ex was like a good friend I really shouldn't have been married to but instead should have just stayed friends with. We divorced amicably, but at the time, I felt like a failure. I've since realized that if you're with someone you could have a good marriage with, waiting doesn't hurt anything."
12. "If his family had realized that by supporting his behavior, they were working against me and our marriage."
13. "If I had stood up for myself and valued who I was and what I wanted more than the fear that he'd leave me and no one else would ever want me. That way, I would have been a lot happier and more well adjusted during my marriage."
14. "Absolutely nothing. We married young, and eight years later, we were fundamentally different people who would never have talked to each other in the first place had we met then and there. Some marriages are not meant to last."
"We simply grew apart. It was the most amicable relationship, marriage, childbirth, and divorce that you could imagine, even 10 years later. I still stay at their new family's house when I visit Spain, their family stays with me when they come back to this country, I'm best friends with my ex–father-in-law, and we even go on vacation together! Grown adults don't need to be bitter to split up, they don't need to be nasty after parting, and they don't need to avoid each other for the rest of their lives. There doesn't need to be anything 'wrong' for you to realize that it just isn't working anymore."
16. "She really needed to work on her mental health, and she refused to do so until I had already been checked out of our marriage for months. She had years of temperamental mood swings in which she'd want a divorce every six months because when I was working 60-hour weeks, I wasn't making enough money, and when I was working 80-hour weeks, I wasn't home enough to clean the apartment or spend enough time with her. Finally, I told her the next time she said she wanted a divorce, I would too, because I had been killing myself to make her happy."
"All it would have taken was her being willing to work on her mental health instead of creating unrealistic expectations. Within two weeks of her moving out, my mental health had gotten significantly better. I realized it when I took a lunch break and I felt light. I knew this was because all the stress that I had before had been lifted."
"My husband would do this over and over again. He would get into these down moods where he literally would not speak to me for days at a time. I begged him to get help; I got help, and I did everything I could think of until I had nothing else left. I realized I was holding our marriage together all by myself."
17. "Not thinking that having kids could 'fix' him."
18. "I was married to the sweetest man, but he was always trying to prove himself to the world, was always unhappy with his achievements, and always thought he wasn't masculine enough. Well, we divorced four years ago, but a few months ago, he told me for the first time that he'd been abused as a child by a 'friend' of the family and recently began therapy. I wonder, if he had confided in me or gotten therapy earlier, if we would have made it."
19. "Recognizing the signs of controlling behavior when they started. We weren't good for each other, and we didn't help each other grow as people. I was afraid of him when he was angry, so I had a hard time standing up for myself, and I put up with a lot of bullshit to avoid confrontations."
20. "If my ex hadn't given up during therapy after we started working on our issues and things didn't magically get better right away. That made it apparent that she had issues to work on as well, but she just didn't want to."
21. "It would have saved our marriage if I had been more aware of the 'them.' I was selfish back then. Twenty years later, I have grown up a lot."
23. "My marriage didn't need 'saving' — it needed to be put down, and it was. I needed saving, and I was."
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.