5 Divorced People Share The 'When You Know, You Know' Moments That Told Them Their Marriage Was Over

For some it took decades. But many knew before they even walked down the aisle.

couple the moment they knew their marriage was over Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

When it comes to falling in love and getting engaged, it's often said that "when you know, you know." That something inside tells you that this person is "the one" who you want to be with forever. 

But given how prevalent this narrative is, it stands to reason that a lot — maybe even most — people who have ended up in divorce court had that same kind of moment at one time or another.

When a person on Reddit asked users who were divorced how they decided to end their marriage, what emerged was a series of cautionary tales for those getting ready to walk down the aisle.


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A Reddit user asked, "To those who got divorced — did you experience the 'when you know you know' with your ex?" They went on to ask if people saw "potential divorce flags going in," or whether it took time for things to fall apart, and how their new marriage or relationships differ from their ex-partner. The responses were fascinating and revealing.

Five divorced people shared the moment when they knew their marriage was over.

1. He knew his marriage was over the moment he proposed but ignored his gut

For one man, his "when you know, you know" moment was about the opposite of what we'd usually assume. "I knew it was a mistake the moment I proposed," he wrote. I should have backed out because I could see the red flags, but I didn't have the heart or bravery to do it."


5 Divorced People Share The Moment They Knew Their Marriage Was OverPhoto: PeopleImages.com - Yuri A / Shutterstock

Now remarried, his experience with his second wife illustrates everything missing from his first. 

"I met someone five years ago who, after a lifetime of experience and growth in confidence, I knew was the elusive 'one,'" he wrote. "Every day is a joy," he added, sharing that he has no regrets.


2. An 'ah-ha' moment in a parking lot spelled the end for one woman

Things with her husband had been "a mess" for years. But it took a wake-up call in her car to know it was truly time to go. 

"I knew the day I pulled into a convenience store parking lot to just have a few more minutes of peace before going home," she wrote. Her next thought was to take a second dose of her antidepressant "to deal with" her husband.

5 Divorced People Share The Moment They Knew Their Marriage Was OverPhoto: Photoroyalty / Shutterstock


"A lightbulb went off in that parking lot, and it occurred to me I shouldn’t have to drug myself in order to simply go home and cope with my life," she continued. 

She called her best friend right then and there and made a plan. A year later, she remarried, and the happy couple have been together for a whopping 31 years. "The difference? Peace," she wrote. "I am my authentic self with him. I hide nothing."

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3. He settled because of low self-esteem, then learned from his mistakes in his second marriage

"I had low self-esteem, and she showed me attention, so I thought this was about as good as I can expect," a man in his 50s wrote. When his wife quickly began cheating on him early in their marriage, he knew he'd made a huge mistake.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, stories like this were a recurring theme among the responses — both men and women spoke of settling for someone they knew wasn't good for them simply because they thought they could never do better. 



But for this man, it led to soul-searching that changed his life, his current spouse, and a true "when you know, you know" moment. "I saw, felt, experienced something … I didn't know existed."

4. They had a fight over a kitten before the wedding even happened

A woman in her 40s also knew her marriage was over before it began. There were tons of red flags she "chose to ignore," the biggest arriving with the engagement. 


"The day he proposed, we had gotten a kitten. We fought that day because I paid too much attention to the kitten and not enough to him," she said. 



After they were married, "there were enough good times for me to ignore the bad ones," she wrote. "But those bad ones build up eventually until love fades." But she credited that experience with leading her to her current partner, and with him "there simply are no red flags."

5. He knew something wasn't right, but thought that's just how all relationships were

One man detailed an experience that is tragically common — he thought fundamental unhappiness was just the way marriage went. For him, a moment of clarity came from an unlikely place — podcasts.


"I was listening to one where the hosts and guests always talk about their relationships… the red flags… what is and isn't abuse." He also learned about "gaslighting" and how men can be abused in marriages, too — and quickly realized he was one of them. 



He credits societal changes and his efforts to seek out other viewpoints and information, awakening him to his mistake and giving him a path out.

RELATED: It Took Two Divorces For Me To Learn What Destroys A Marriage


John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.