People Are Revealing The Heartbreaking Things They Found Out After Their Parents Decided To Break Up For Good

We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share what they learned about their parents' marriage once they divorced. Here are some of their responses:

Warning: This story mentions abuse and suicide. 

1."My father still loved my mother even though they couldn't live together. My mother died 13 years after they divorced. When my dad pulled into my driveway sobbing after he had heard the news, I asked him why he was crying so hard. I was 17 and naive. He looked at me and said, 'Just because we couldn't live together didn't mean I didn't love your mother. We had you and a life together, however brief it was.' They were married three years and I had no memory of them ever being married."

Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell sit at a bar, both holding drinks. Ryan is in a striped suit, and Steve wears a beige jacket over a shirt and tie

—Susan, New York City

Ben Glass / © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

2."All the qualities my mom thought my dad had she misinterpreted. His 'quietness' was him stewing over things he didn't like, but wouldn't talk about. They were married for almost 23 years but didn't know each other. There wasn't much communication."


3."My father cheated. My mom tried to stay for the sake of having a stable family and she never let us in on their marital problems or my father's infidelity. They were separated for some time, but my mom never wanted to go through with a divorce because she worried about how it would affect us. My dad continued to be unfaithful and eventually said my mom deserved better and filed for divorce. We would later learn the real reason was because one of his side girls got pregnant and he wanted to pursue a family with her."

Tasha Smith, Michael Jai White in a living room setting while she looks at his phone looking shocked and wearing a purple dress. He has a suit and tie on

4."I didn't know my parents were divorced until one of my cousins told me. They still lived together and didn't act any different. They never sat us four kids down and told us what was happening."

—A, Kentucky

5."My parents didn't share core values and their marriage revolved around having fun with their friends. After they divorced, their friends chose sides or ended it due to social stigma. I learned the importance of choosing the right partner based on things that don't change — core values and prioritizing family over friends."

Vince Vaughn in a casual shirt and jeans, and Jennifer Aniston in a casual top and jeans, are sitting on a couch in a living room, appearing distant from each other

—Cassie, California

© Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

6."My parents taught me what a good co-parenting relationship looks like when you know you can't be civil with your ex. The 'ideal' co-parenting relationship pushed online is that you're parenting with your ex like nothing ever happened. You and the new stepmom are BFFs, but that's not realistic. My parents loathe each other and their marriage was incredibly toxic, but I didn't know that until I was an adult. They divorced when I was quite small mostly because they were basically 'parallel parenting.'"

"Each one doing their own thing and as much as possible, letting the other parent do the same. Since they couldn't be civil even for five minutes, custody was split between the school year and summer. The exchange was always done through a third party. Phone calls, too. I can count on one hand the number of times my parents have been in the same room since they divorced 35 years ago. They both married after and never met each other's new spouses. It was unorthodox but it worked."


7."It was pretty much a sham. Dad was sleeping around with other men who were his students. He was a high school teacher, and my mom eventually had an affair of her own that convinced her to end it."

Kathryn Hahn stands in an art gallery wearing a sleeveless, high-neck dress, looking contemplative. Several abstract paintings and sculptures are in the background

—Anonymous, Connecticut

John Wilson / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

8."When my parents got divorced I was 17. My dad was cheating and becoming extremely aggressive towards my mom. She finally asked for the divorce I had been insisting on since I was 13. Well, I think my having to physically put my body in front of hers to protect her from him did the trick. He's been unstable for his entire life, but never physically abusive. I think he went crazy because this time she was going through with the divorce."

"She took my four brothers and moved to my grandma's. I stayed. I was scared he was going to kill himself, to be honest. He would cry in my arms and say my mom was destroying his life, but he had no idea I already knew about his affair. My mom used me as a therapist to vent. I knew EVERYTHING. I wish I didn't. It f--ked with my head. I'm 26 and can't stand men crying."


9."My parents divorced when I was 15 and a freshman in high school. What made it hard was the finality of it all, the knowledge that we would never be a family again. At first, it was tough and I rebelled. But as time went on I saw how happy they each were. My mom cried a lot less and my dad told jokes again. It was as if they found themselves after years of being lost."

Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, and a child lie in bed. Scarlett is in the foreground, looking emotional. A teddy bear lies near the child and Adam is reading a book

10."Everything I had believed about our family at the time was false. On the day they separated, my father admitted to us kids that he'd been cheating on my mom, and not just with one person. Since that day, I've learned that my dad has never been faithful to my mom. I have also learned that there was a cyclical history on my dad's side of the men being raised that they could do whatever they wanted. My parents both went through years of therapy, came a long way, and are friends today. In hindsight, I wish they had made me do the same."

"Even recently I've learned more about certain events that happened during their marriage, how awful my dad treated their marriage, and how my mom stayed far longer than she should have. I have relationships with my parents today and as the eldest, I'm closer to my dad than my siblings, but my mom is our hero. She was our main caregiver. She went back to college after the separation then divorce, got a career, and eventually found love again about 15 years post-divorce. She never spoke badly about our father as we grew up or kept us from seeing him. It's amazing knowing what I know now how hard that must have been!"

—Anonymous, Minnesota

11."I was 17, and my parents were married for 19 years before my mom decided to call it quits. They divorced shortly after my mom was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. I thought that they had a happy marriage, and I had zero clue about why they divorced until my mom's deathbed confession. She died about six months after the divorce was finalized. The divorce and her death broke my dad's heart into millions of pieces. My mom told me that she was never in love with my father, and she saw him as more of a best friend than a romantic partner. She only married him because she didn't want to hurt him or get judged by her family. So, she got married and kept quiet about her feelings for almost two decades."

Richard Gere sits at a desk, looking stressed with his hand on his forehead, holding a phone. A yellow mug and documents are on the desk

12."My dad is a completely changed man without my mother's manipulation. In the following years, I have come to witness how many men have their mental health decline simply by being sucked into her toxicity."


13."My dad cheated on my mom multiple times. This one time was purely physical but the other one was love. My dad has no problem talking about it. He's even kind of happy about what he's done. Five years later, he's still obsessed with the second woman. My mom has no idea. I've been keeping this to myself for years. She also knows the woman well."

Olivier Martinez, Diane Lane embracing each other in an intimate close-up scene
© 20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

14."My mom explained it as they 'drank at each other.' In other words, they were always drunk to be around each other. But even then, they never spent time with each other. I don't remember a time in my teen years when they were in the same room. It's been five years since, and I'm still learning things my dad did to my mom that explain a lot of their behaviors (manipulation, narcissism, etc.). It explains why my mom was always involved in our sports and activities, and my dad never was. My dad still blames my mom for the divorce."

"I might believe it, if those behaviors weren't rolling onto me and my family now. I talk to him as little as possible because I can't stand to hear another 'pity me' story when he's the one who brings these feelings and events on himself. I will say, I love my dad as a grandpa to my kids, but it's hard loving him as a dad who was never really there in the first place and doesn't want to be around unless the kids are involved."


15."I learned how important it is to be present and invest time in your family. My dad was an AOL chatroom monitor in his free time and he eventually chose his AOL duties over spending time with us. He would have my mom bring his dinner plate down to the basement to eat while he was online and ignoring the rest of us. When they divorced I spent every other weekend with him. At the end of all of them, he would give my mom a recap of how I had annoyed him, knowing I could hear him. The last time I saw him he once again told me what a disappointment I was, and how I'd 'be different' if he had raised me. Never make your child feel like they're not good enough for you."

Greg Kinnear, Abigail Breslin talking to each other in a scene from Little Miss Sunshine
© Fox Searchlight / Courtesy Everett Collection

16."Not my parents but my aunt. I learned never to expect your partner to change their mind. She wanted kids. He had a low sperm count and wanted to keep smoking, virtually ensuring that they couldn't conceive naturally. They couldn't afford adoption or IVF. She kept expecting him to quit and change his lifestyle for their family, but I think he expected her to change her mind, too. They didn't make it to 10 years."


17."After my parents divorced, my father took my brother and me out. He explained that he loved us and always would, but he and my mother couldn't be together, and that it wasn't our fault. My mother told us that my father left because of us kids, that he didn't love us, and couldn't stand to be around us any longer. Then, at my grandmother's house, while they thought I was asleep, I heard my mother tell my grandmother that my father had his wisdom teeth removed and was given pain medication."

John C. Reilly, seated in a formal setting, looking directly at the camera while resting his head on his hand. Others in formal attire are in the background

18."I learned that my father had cheated on my mother with their bank manager, who was also married and had children. The two of them were ready to run off and start a new life together, leaving their kids and spouses behind, but the bank manager could not bring herself to do it. After I learned that, I found out that my father had taken all of my mother's retirement money to rent an apartment for his affair."

"He's an alcoholic. I learned about how his drinking habits came to be, and that the little dent in the fridge wasn't there my whole life. He had punched it and left a mark when he was belligerent. Their marriage was far from perfect, even if that's what they made everyone else around them believe."


19.And finally, "I honestly don't remember them together. I was less than six months old when my mother left us. I will say a lesson I have always taken from their 'marriage' is don't marry someone just because of a pregnancy."

Gina Rodriguez is lying in a hospital bed, wearing a hospital gown, and smiling warmly while holding a newborn baby wrapped in a striped blanket
© CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

Did you learn any important lessons about your parents' marriage after they broke up? Share your story in the comments!

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.