The first time I thought about asking my husband Dan for a divorce, our newborn son was in my arms. Chalking it up to postpartum disillusionment and pure exhaustion worked for a while—but by the time our daughter was born a couple of years later, the question was a near constant in my mind. So I put it to friends, my mother, therapists, Google—even Dan himself. But everyone’s idea of marriage is different. No one seemed to have a truly satisfying answer for me. Plus, I could never quite solve for this X factor: Am I inherently discontent overall, or just unhappy in this particular marriage?
One thing was certain—our union was not what I’d hoped for. Dan insisted my expectations were unreasonable. Everyone else was vague or pointed out better or worse marriages for comparison.
Then my sister died. Shocked, devastated, brokenhearted, I leaned on loved ones to understand the depth of my loss and give me strength. When the dust cleared a little, I couldn’t help but face the fact that Dan had not been part of that inner circle. I asked him if he wanted to talk about the state of our marriage—he didn’t. And there it was. I had my answer. After nearly two decades of deliberating, I decided: Marriage takes two. And as it turns out, so does divorce.