Divorce is a difficult experience: partners can have love and resentment, irritation and shared memories, joint children, property and debts. Four women told how a breakup can look different: when it is possible to remain friends with an ex-husband, and when communication is interrupted forever, what is behind the decision to dissolve a marriage, and whether every family is worth saving.
“When I pressed, they criticized me, when I supported me in a difficult situation, it turned out that I was also behaving incorrectly”
Us with Ivan (name changed) was introduced by my friend when I was 17 years old. I was in my first year of college, he was a little older than me. In fact, we grew up together, got used to each other in our lives.
Before the wedding, we met for four years and quickly moved in together. We had an unstable relationship: we parted, then converged again. It seems to me that we were too young and immature, but then marriage seemed like an organic stage of the relationship. After all, we already lived together, and all relatives are used to the fact that we are a couple.
One day we went to a small sushi restaurant near our house. Their bonus cards changed, and in order to get a new one, Vanya had to fill out a questionnaire. In the marital status column, he wrote that he was single. I pleaded that I needed to fix the situation. And he replied: “Indeed, why aren’t we married yet?” Thus began the preparations for the wedding.
We did not have jealousy, betrayal, but at the same time we constantly tried to change each other. My husband often acted in his own way, and I was angry. And he was indignant that I constantly criticize his decisions.
For example, at eleven o’clock in the evening, Vanya could say that a family friend from another city would come to spend the night with us. We lived in a one-room apartment, and, of course, I was against it: why do I need a stranger whom I have never seen? I insisted that a family friend spend the night with Vanya’s mother, but my husband got angry and also left for her. Then we had a serious fight.
In the seventh year of marriage, we had a daughter, Ira (name changed). If someone thinks that children help glue a marriage together, then I can say that this is nonsense. The birth of a child is a real test of relationships, and if something is thin somewhere, then during this period it will definitely break. So it happened with us.
If, before the birth of the child, we argued often and loudly, now we have learned to swear in a whisper while the baby is sleeping, or did not raise sensitive topics at all. So we gradually stopped talking and solving problems. Discontent was building up.
When Ira was a year and a half, I left. We had a party, Vanya did not like my remark in the conversation. I was tired of his condemnation, I freaked out, took the child and went to my parents. The husband came a week later and asked to return. But I refused. Because I realized: he asks because of his daughter, and not because he wants to build a family relationship with me. And we took a break.
For several years we lived separately: we did not get divorced, but we were not in a relationship. During this period, everyone tried to build a personal life, but, apparently, both did not succeed very well. Vanya came to visit three or four times a week, talked with his daughter. We constantly saw each other and two years later decided that both had changed, become wiser and could return the family.
But as soon as we moved in together, I realized that my husband remained the same: he did not need my advice and my opinion. He simply did not listen to them and acted as he saw fit. Then I stopped putting pressure on him, was silent, even if I thought that he was wrong.
One day Vanya came and asked for advice on a matter related to his business. I wrote down how I see the situation, what needs to be done to save the case. The husband nodded, said that I was saying everything right, but he would do it his own way. As a result, he lost his business, big money, real estate, remained unemployed and plunged into despondency. But the decision was only his!
For the next few years, I supported my child and husband, working as a sales manager in a large trading holding. I decided to give Vanya time to suffer, to survive the defeat.
Over time, he found a job with a night schedule. I worked during the day. We actually did not intersect and lived in parallel. At some point, I realized that we had nothing in common. We talked honestly and decided to file a divorce. Shortly before day X, he said that he should have been pressured into looking for a job earlier. It turns out that when I pressed, I was criticized, when I was supported in a difficult situation, it turned out that I was also behaving incorrectly.
When we got divorced, my daughter went to first grade. We began to live with my parents, where we spent a lot of time before. Since Ira is used to the fact that we often visit her grandparents, she did not immediately understand that now we are staying here forever.
I told my daughter that I was divorcing my dad, she nodded. And in the evening she asked when we would go home.
Soon after our divorce, Vanya found a job in and moved. He has a good relationship with his daughter. He comes infrequently, but constantly calls up his daughter.
My ex-husband and I are on good terms. Previously called up and could talk for an hour and a half. Now he has a girlfriend, so long conversations have stopped. I do not think that his other half is pleased with our close communication.
Vanya introduced our daughter to the girl. Before that, he called me and explained how important it was to him that they get along. I myself talked to Ira and explained everything to her. I sincerely want Vanya to be fine, and her daughter also accepts her father’s new relationship.
I haven’t had a serious relationship since my divorce. I went into self-reflection. It is important for me to understand what I want, who I am, what I can give to another person. Now I continue to look for myself: I listen to my desires, I change my profession, I spend a lot of time alone and I get incredibly high from this. Perhaps someday I will come to the conclusion that I need a serious relationship, but that will be later. Now one is fine.
“He called every hour and asked where I was and why it was so quiet around. But I worked in the library!”
I got married when I was not even twenty: my husband became the first serious hobby. Many of my female acquaintances at that time sought to build a family with the military, it was prestigious, they went to discos in military schools. I, on the contrary, said: “Marry a military man? Well, I do not!” But never say never.
Once a friend offered to celebrate the New Year with me, I agreed. The day before, I called her on a pay phone and found out that she would bring her friend for company. He was a cadet of a military school in our city, he asked for leave for a holiday, but he knew almost no one. It was inconvenient to refuse – that’s how I met Anton (name changed).
The handsome stately cadet was four years older than me. He reminded me of my dad: he seemed reserved, calm and, according to him, instantly fell in love with me. Relations spun. My family was complete and loving, and I dreamed of creating the same.
We met for a year and a half: military schools were closed in those days, layoffs were rare and were a holiday. Then he trained for several months in the North and the Far East, we only exchanged letters.
Anton hurried me with the wedding so that we could go together to a military town near Novosibirsk after his graduation. The first bells appeared even then: he tried to forbid me a lot and constantly criticized me. Either the skirt is too short, or the lipstick is too bright, or she laughed too much in the company. But then it all seemed like a joke to me: I scolded him, he apologized.
And only sometimes the thought slipped through: he fell in love with me, a laugher, in a short skirt and with bright lipstick, why should I change? Later it turned out that he was pathologically jealous.
He was jealous of me even at our wedding. A family holiday is a meeting place for distant relatives, and I suddenly ran into a second cousin. We had not seen each other for many years, we stood and chatted about everything. And my husband turned pale, he was shaking because I was talking to a strange man. He was reassured, explained that this is a relative, and he clenched his fists. Then I thought that what had happened was an accident, just nerves, but it was no longer a bell, but a ringing of bells.
After the wedding, I, as the wife of a Decembrist, went with my husband to his place of service. I studied at the correspondence department as a librarian in Leningrad, every six months I went to sessions. Nobody needs such a worker, so I stayed at home. But even here Anton found someone to be jealous of. For example, if we were going to a party and I was dancing with one of his friends, then later I would be asked why I was so cheerful. But did we come to the party to be sad? To punish me and show that he was dissatisfied, my husband was silent for several days and ignored me. At first I tried to talk and find out what was happening, and then I also learned to be silent. The silence sometimes lasted for days.
In 1995 our daughter Katya was born. (name changed), relations became warmer, Anton was less jealous and ignored me. In 1996 we returned to St. Petersburg and settled with my parents. Then it seemed that we had overcome the crisis and everything would be fine. A few years were quite calm and almost happy. But soon my daughter grew up, went to kindergarten, and I went to work. Troubled times again came for my husband, he again began to tightly control me. Often called to work for no reason. Colleagues took it for attention, some even envied.
Later, when we had mobile phones, control increased. My husband called every hour and asked where I was and why it was so quiet around. But I worked in the library!
When my daughter was five years old, I realized that I could no longer stay married. After a petty domestic quarrel, I told Anton that we were breaking up. I have accumulated too much frustration and fatigue from our relationship. It was already evening, but he freaked out, packed his things and slammed the door. The husband left, and I was glad, as if the holiday had come.
I did not immediately file for divorce, and this was my mistake. My husband decided that if I do not formalize everything officially, then I can be returned. We lived separately for two years, and he told his family and friends how he loves me, suffers and wants to start all over again. His complaints were passed on to me, urging me to change my mind for the sake of the child.
I really thought: after ten years of marriage, a man is so desperately seeking me, maybe he really loves me. The Soviet attitude influenced that it was necessary to save the family, especially if there was a child. At some point, I faltered and allowed him to return.
As soon as he entered the apartment again, I realized that I did not want to see him and that he was a complete stranger to me. But you can’t let them in first, and then immediately kick them out, right?
He tried very hard to be a good husband, bought theater tickets for premieres, took care of Katya. But for me, those years were daily violence against myself. I did not feel love and just endured for the sake of the family.
He didn’t drink, he didn’t cheat on me, he didn’t beat me – I have nothing to blame him for, but it was bad next to him. Even our intimate relationships have become a “marital duty.” However, quite rare … I stayed in the kitchen, washed, cooked, then washed something, washed again, if only he would fall asleep first.
I endured for another four years, although I saw that we couldn’t have any family and close relationships. And she started talking about divorce again. He was surprised, because he thought that everything was fine with us. This time the husband behaved aggressively and persistently. An application for divorce had already been filed, but for some reason he gave me a ring, which I later took for a buy-up – I didn’t want memories. He threatened that at the meeting he would oppose the divorce. Again he sought out lovers from me, saying that it would be easier for him if I went to another, because then he could justify his jealousy and suspicions. But I didn’t have anyone.
We were bred on February 14th. Anton accused me that I deliberately guessed the date for the divorce on Valentine’s Day. When I went to the meeting, I received an SMS from him that as a gift he would not appear in court. And I am grateful to him for that. Now, many years later, I can say with confidence that on the day of the divorce, I felt happier than on the day of the wedding.
Now I would have no problem meeting with my ex-husband in a cafe, perhaps talking about life. I don’t have any negative feelings towards him. And if I was offered to fix something in my past, I would not change anything, except perhaps I would have left early and not given a second chance. Thanks to this marriage, I have my Katya.
I can say that marriage completely discouraged the desire to enter into a new relationship, and today this topic simply does not exist for me. And despite the fact that I never suffered from loneliness and always liked men. After the divorce, I received several proposals to marry, but did not even consider them.
“In marriage, I felt trapped in a cage”
Igor and Iname changed) dated for three years. We had a good even relationship. Shortly after we met, we started living together in his apartment, and our parents quickly became friends.
Igor never wanted to get married: he said that the stamp in the passport would not change anything, everything is fine with us anyway. But I argued: I argued that there is such an ancient – to get married. In my opinion, marriage shows everyone else that you are in a serious relationship, gives social guarantees. In addition, parents pressed. In the past, my relationships never ended with a happy ending, and it seemed to piss them off. In Igor, mom and dad saw an adequate person with a reliable job and a wonderful salary – he received six times more than mom. Relatives asked about the wedding every time I came to visit them.
In the end, I convinced him. We decided that we would get married in three years, and so we did. Just did not expect that the marriage itself would last only six months.
The first month after registration, it was cool to call each other “husband” and “wife”, to travel to different cities in this status. And then our relationship began to develop strangely. For example, I conditionally had some family responsibilities, but he seemed not to. After the divorce, I asked Igor what he loved about me, to which he replied: “You always cooked for me and always organized our travels.” I really woke up at six in the morning and cooked dinner for him, I considered this my first duty. And every weekend I figured out where and with which of my friends we would go.
The husband’s contribution to family life was money. We could go to a cafe or a restaurant at any time, I received valuable gifts: phones, a laptop, expensive headphones, money for courses. So Igor expressed his love. But I wanted not money, but communication. He began to gradually close himself off from me. It got to the point that he didn’t even want to hug me and justified himself with anything: busy, eating, smoking. We talked less and less. We talked when friends came to visit us, but when we were left alone, they simply remained silent.
I wanted love and understanding, but Igor moved away from me more and more. And a few months after the wedding, to my shame, I entered into a relationship with another person.
The lover gave me support, which at that time I could not dream of. I incredibly liked our conversations: about everything and nothing, discussions about the psychology of thinking, about nature, about us. He believed in me and accepted everything in me: appearance, work, habits.
We became so close that I even introduced my lover to my father. After their meeting, dad made me understand that if I leave my husband for this man, he will not condemn me. But I did not leave: I was afraid of the unknown.
I was less and less at home and more and more late for meetings. And one day my husband offered to discuss our problems and explain why I do this to him. In a conversation, for the first time, I openly told him about my feelings. About how I miss understanding, hugs, conversations that do not boil down to a discussion of everyday life. He mentioned a divorce and I agreed.
But before that, Igor asked if there was anything that could be done to save our marriage, and I suggested a “test week.” We agreed that he would pay more attention to me, and I would stop seeing my girlfriends so often and work late – my husband did not know about his lover.
During this time, Igor and I went to the restaurant several times. I tried to get him to talk, I asked questions. The husband tried to answer them correctly, but in the end he looked like a first grader at the blackboard. By Friday of this week, I could not stand it and instead of work I went to my lover, spent the day with him, and continued to communicate on the Internet in the evening. After that, I left the phone in the kitchen, and at night, when I fell asleep, Igor read the chat and found out about the betrayals. He woke me up and said he wanted a divorce. I didn’t mind.
We filed for divorce, and I flew away on vacation, alone. About a week before my return from vacation, my husband called me and offered to return to him. My family also pressed: my mother and grandmother said that a woman, in principle, should not get divorced if her husband is not an alcoholic and does not beat her. I tried to explain that it would be easier for me alone: after a divorce, I would have my own life, because in marriage I felt trapped. But they didn’t understand me.
Six months have passed since the divorce, we no longer communicate with the ex-husband. He said that he was not interested in the details of my life, and two weeks after the divorce, he deleted our dialogue in the messenger from both sides. Maybe our correspondence hurt him. Since our mothers continue to communicate, I know that the ex-husband lives in isolation, does not leave the house and does not see anyone.
I changed my job, now I can earn for my own needs: food, clothes, concerts, a dentist, I even manage to save my salary for traveling abroad. The relationship with my lover was not very successful, so now I live alone.
Coming home at nine or ten in the evening, I am glad that I can just relax, and not cook or try to come up with joint leisure. Of course, the attitude that by thirty a woman should be married is a little pressing. I am already twenty-eight, and I do not know with whom to start a family and whether I need it in principle. It’s better not to think about it for now.
“If I have to do everything myself, then why do I need a family?”
From adolescence, my mother convinced me that marriage was the only light in the window. Nevertheless, I entered the medical institute, studied, took up hobbies and purposefully did not look for a husband.
But she met him when she moved from her native Tomsk to Miass, a small town in the Chelyabinsk region. I worked as a therapist in a hospital at the plant. The head of the department was my husband’s mother, and he periodically visited her. We didn’t have any of the romance described in the books. We went to meetings at the local House of Culture. It was somewhat repulsive that he invited me only on free tickets, which were distributed to all hospital staff. That is, for himself, he took a ticket from his mother, and I had my own.
Artyom (name changed) was a more or less good option for marriage: close to my age, non-smoker, non-drinker, with a job. I decided to fulfill my mother’s wishes and start a family.
After the wedding, I moved to an apartment where my husband lived with his parents and younger brother. We had the coldest possible relationship with my mother-in-law. In the hospital, we kept our distance and had no difficulty maintaining highly professional communication. But nothing changed at home: communication with “you” and no emotional conversations. Both at work and at home, the mother-in-law was used to commanding and did not tolerate any objections.
The husband did only what his mother said. At the request of his mother, he got a job at the construction site of a residential building. Decisions on large purchases were made in approximately the same way – after the approval of the mother-in-law.
Somehow Artyom received money, and together they decided where to spend it. Winter was coming and I was wearing a coat. And then the whole family decided what to buy: a sheepskin coat for me for the winter or manure for the dacha for my mother. The money was spent on manure.
When I got pregnant, I clearly realized that it was not at all to the court. I had a risk of giving birth prematurely, there were health problems. I did not feel well and often lay on the conservation. The doctor recommended to change the diet, eat more vegetables, fruits, rest more often. When I came home, my mother-in-law, the doctor, said that all this was nonsense, it was enough to drink vitamins, and you could go to work again. I continued to work in the department almost until the very birth with breaks for maintenance. At home, too, I was on my feet all the time: I was cleaning and washing.
It was 1991, everything was collapsing, it was difficult with money, I was preparing for the birth of a child alone. My mother helped me: she sewed diapers and clothes for the newborn and sent it all to the Urals.
In January 1992, it was time to give birth. When my contractions started, I called an ambulance for myself and went to the hospital – alone. The whole family went about their business: someone was watching TV, someone went out to drive the car away, the husband was visiting and they didn’t get through to him. No one met me from the maternity hospital either: I returned home on foot with a baby in my arms. I have no doubt that I’m out of place here. If I have to do everything myself, then why do I need a family?
It was difficult for me to recover from childbirth. From cold, anemia and stress, there was little milk. The daughter cried all the time. Crying irritated her husband and his family, and Artyom tried to spend as little time at home as possible. Soon my mother came to help me and see my granddaughter. At that moment, I felt like a driven horse.
I just packed my things and went to my hometown. It was not planned, but I could no longer be alone with the baby.
I lived at home for six months, and all this time my parents kept repeating that it was necessary to save the family and get back together with my husband. At the same time, we did not communicate with Artyom. But one day I still succumbed to persuasion and went to Miass to improve relations. As soon as I entered the apartment, I heard the whisper of my mother-in-law, and only then my husband came into the kitchen. He did not pick up his daughter, did not offer tea. He sat down opposite and offered to talk.
The conversation became chaotic. I could no longer live with his parents, he was not ready to move in with mine. We didn’t think of any other options. He said how important the family was to him, but these phrases seemed memorized. And at some point he confessed that it was his mother-in-law who insisted on talking to me. I realized that I had nothing to restore, bought a train ticket and left Miass forever. My husband and I never saw each other or talked.
I returned to Tomsk and almost immediately went to work. A year later, I received a court summons for a divorce. I took off duty for a couple of hours and went to the meeting. Artyom filed for divorce, but did not even pay the state fee, leaving it to me. They divorced us quickly, because I did not claim any property, and he was not interested in the child. I didn’t file for child support.
After the divorce, the ex-husband did not communicate with me or with his daughter. I didn’t get married again: I had to provide for my daughter and survive on my own. Work required a lot of time, I was often on duty at the hospital on weekends, taking daily shifts. And I have not yet found a person who would be able to take responsibility, be the support of the family and support in difficult times, and not just a nominal husband. Such men, of course, exist, I just have not met.
Cover: frame from the movie Break up, 2006