The Reason I Ended My Marriage To My Childhood Sweetheart Of 15 Years

Getting a divorce was the bravest thing I’d ever done.

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Looking back, I have to admit that I knew something was up with my husband, Eric, even before he sat me down and confessed his affair.

This was back when cell phones were a new thing. He’d tell me he was taking out the garbage, but he took the phone outside with him every time. A few times I woke up in the middle of the night and heard him talking in a low voice in the living room. Then there were the nights out with "the guys," something he’d never been interested in before.


Although I wasn’t stupid, I was terrified. I was afraid to confront him about it. I just hoped the affair would be short-lived, and after we could all get on with our lives.

We’d been married for 15 years. I didn’t think he would ever leave me and the kids for any reason. I was wrong.

RELATED: 5 Signs I Missed When My Husband Cheated On Me

He finally told me he wasn’t happy on a Saturday night when our two sons were at Grandma’s house, nearly ripping my heart in half. I mustered all the courage I could and asked him the obvious question.

"Is there somebody else?"

Eric looked down at his shoes, then back at me. "Yes. She’s not the reason I’m unhappy though. It’s not just an affair. She and I have a real relationship."


I started shaking and felt like I was about to throw up. Even though I’d had my suspicions, the news still hurt like a thousand knives in my back. I realized that nothing would be the same from that moment on, and I had no idea what to do.

When our oldest son was born, I suffered from severe postpartum depression that turned into a lifelong mental health struggle.

I hid a lot of my symptoms because I didn’t want to be a burden, especially around the kids. I knew it was sometimes a lot to deal with, but I always believed Eric and I would be together in sickness and in health. Apparently, that came with an expiration date.

Eric came home to me twice in an effort to do "the right thing." We even went to marriage counseling once, but Eric used the hour as a sounding board to list all the things that were wrong with me. I knew what he was doing. He was trying to justify his cheating while blaming it on me.


I just sat on the therapist’s couch and cried, afraid to confront Eric or stick up for myself. The mean things said sunk into my broken heart, and I started to believe them. Maybe I really was a bad wife. I never thought so before, but Eric’s complaints stuck with me and became my own beliefs for a long time.

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Eric moved into his girlfriend’s apartment straight from our house. We barely talked, but he kept our conversations very polite. He seemed closed off from discussing his feelings with me, probably because he didn’t have any.

The boys and I were shocked when Eric started showing up at our house on Sunday morning to sit on the couch and watch NASCAR.


He’d brag about going out to clubs and dancing. His new girlfriend was considerably younger than me and sounded like a lot more fun. Eric forbade me from drinking as a teenager because he didn’t think I could handle my alcohol. It had been so long without a single drink that I didn’t remember if he was right.

Eric and I had been best friends since we were fifteen and in high school, but in those days of our separation, he became incredibly cruel.

I felt like he was using me and the kids to have a place to get away. I wanted to tell him to get out and never come back. However, I still loved him and hoped we would reconcile. The thought of being a single mom to two boys scared me. I had enough trouble managing my own life, especially without Eric helping me.

Over time, my mental health deteriorated until it was a struggle to get out of bed. Family and friends took turns staying at my house to help me, but mostly to make sure I didn’t attempt suicide. They seemed to know it was a thought in the back of my mind, even though it went unspoken.


The next Sunday, Eric showed up as usual to stretch out on the couch and watch TV. When he started bragging again, I gave him the first ultimatum ever in our lives.

"If you’re going to stay with your girlfriend," I said in a shaky voice, "I’m going to divorce you." It was a bluff to get him back, but I knew I’d have to stick to it if he picked her.

Surprisingly, Eric was upset at the idea of divorce. "People sometimes get back together," he said meekly.

"Can I remind you that you’re sleeping with somebody else?" I shot back, suddenly feeling brave.

I generously gave Eric a week to make a decision and spent the whole time wondering what he would say. It seemed crazy that I would still want him after he betrayed me and blamed me for it. For the first time in my life, I was completely alone with two young sons. Eric and I had been childhood sweethearts and the focus of each other’s lives for years. The thought of being without him scared me to death.


RELATED: 12 Tough Things You Must Do When Your Husband Cheats

Eric showed up the next Sunday morning, and we went on the patio to talk.

"I’m not willing to give up my new relationship," he said quietly.

"Then I’m divorcing you," I shouted as I pushed back my chair so hard it fell over. I ran into what used to be our bedroom so he wouldn’t see me cry. I heard the back door slam loudly a few minutes later. Eric was gone.

It was the bravest thing I’d ever done.

As promised, I filed for divorce the next day. Eric wasn’t required to show up for the court date, and when the day came he wasn’t there. I cried in front of everybody in the courtroom. I lied to the judge that I wanted to be divorced, and she granted it on the spot. I put my head in my hands. The love of my life had abandoned me, and I would have to fend for myself for the first time in my life.


I remember Eric saying when we broke up that he wanted to be "friendly-but-not-friends" with me. It really hurt at the time, but that’s exactly what we both needed. Our two boys grew up, and Eric turned out to be an excellent father. I’m very proud of him and the times he stepped up when my mental health was on a downturn.

I don’t believe that marriage is a 50/50 deal. It’s more like 100/100 because sometimes one spouse has less to give than the other does.

Each of them needs to be the stronger person at certain times. I learned too late how to stop behaving like a shy little mouse who didn’t speak her mind when needed. Had I done that with Eric, things might have turned out quite differently. However, I’ve moved on with my life and don’t worry about that anymore.

Some marriages can survive cheating. There are couples who actually want to work through their problems in therapy rather than blame each other. As it turned out, there were some things I couldn’t live with, and today I’m still proud of myself for divorcing my husband.


Even though it was a struggle to let go, it was the best decision I ever made.

RELATED: Ending My Fairytale Marriage Was The Best Thing I Ever Did

Glenna Gill is a writer and blogger from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her articles have been featured in Scary Mommy and P.S. I Love You. When I Was Lost is her first full-length book, a memoir of love, loss and hope.