In Both Sides of a Breakup, the Cut talks to exes about how they got together and why they split up. Anne, 41, and Vincent, 44, both art directors, had two children under 2 and knew divorce was inevitable.
Anne: I am surprised anyone survives marriage when they have young children. It truly baffles me that some people can do it without giving divorced.
Vincent: Anne likes to talk about divorce like it’s a regular breakup … and I always saw it as like a huge, last-resort decision. Like, very, very, very last-resort decision. She threw the divorce word around so easily, and it always scared me.
Anne: Long story long, we dated for a few years (met on match.com in 2008). I liked Vincent’s “sturdiness.” He was strong, both physically and mentally. He had a good work ethic, a normal family. He was pretty much textbook “the guy you marry.”
Vincent: We met and fell in love right away. I liked the way it felt being around her. She was fun and we laughed a lot. I thought she was so cute. She’s still cute! And then we got married … a small wedding at a New York restaurant. Things were still good then. She was a little bit bitchy to me, but I never really thought about it.
Anne: It was that thing where you’re always pissed at your boyfriend/husband. Like, I was always seething. And sometimes I didn’t even know why. I’d hang out with my girlfriends a lot, because it felt good to bitch about our men. It was like all this anger and annoyance toward him and I had to let it out. But I had to let it out on a daily basis, and that felt wrong to me. It’s normal to kinda hate on your husband … but I was hating on him all the time and, again, for no real reason. It was so hard to put my finger on the source of my anger.
Vincent: Look, I was new to marriage. And men don’t talk to each other. I assumed this is what it was like: Your wife is always pissed about something and you just … turn on the TV and try to forget about it.
Anne: I was really happy to get pregnant with him, a year or two after we got married. That part always felt right. He was made to be a dad and he was wonderful throughout my pregnancy. It was a happy time. Work, my relationship, my pregnancy — everything was moving in a positive direction.
Vincent: When our daughter was born, we were the happiest family. We were tired obviously, but she was so perfect and we loved her so much. I loved seeing Anne as a mother. There’s nothing bad to say about our kids or our roles as parents — we’re great at all that.
Anne: After the first few months of having our daughter, the bitch in me started coming out again. Vincent couldn’t do anything right. Everything he did infuriated me, from forgetting the static-cling sheets in the dryer to … I don’t know … taking too long to email back a client (at this point, we started working together a little bit). I was ready to bite his head off with almost anything other than the way he fathered our daughter — because he’s the best at that.
Vincent: I chalked it all up to exhaustion and adjusting to parenting. I wished she would be nicer to me, but I didn’t want to go to couples’ therapy over it.
Anne: I pushed and pushed for couples’ therapy. He wouldn’t make time for it.
Vincent: I didn’t have one free second to breathe during my weeks or weekends. Not one second. So the idea of an hour of therapy seemed impossible and, frankly, not interesting to me at all. I would rather take that free hour and just breathe and do nothing for once — that would have been my idea of therapy.
Anne: I got pregnant while I was still breastfeeding. So, suddenly, we had another one coming. Everything was magnified a million. Money stresses, relationship stresses, my anger and resentment, my hate for him …
Vincent: Our issues were always outside of the bedroom. It’s weird but we always had a good sex life, even in the worst of it. Even with two kids under age 2. Now that’s something to brag about. Maybe the only thing we can brag about …
Anne: I remember calling a divorce lawyer when I was eight months pregnant with our second daughter. I wanted to know … I don’t know what I wanted to know … I guess I just wanted to have some options. Of course when Vincent came home from work that night, we fought about who knows what, and I told him I had retained a divorce lawyer. I just shouted in his face … to be mean, I guess. He looked like he was hit by a bus.
Vincent: You know, she threatened to divorce me so many times that I stopped believing her. But when she said she had a lawyer on speed-dial or whatever … I was just like, okay Anne, do it, divorce me. Maybe I didn’t take it seriously enough or maybe deep down, I knew that was our destiny and why fight it.
Anne: It’s really weird but the minute we knew we were probably getting divorced, we got along so much better. It was like the pressure was off. I was pregnant, we had a 1-year-old, we were getting divorced and finally, I was calm. Life is crazy!
Vincent: After our second daughter was born, we did everything we needed to do to take good care of both our girls. We redid our apartment so that they’d have their own room. We got our finances in order. We just stayed focused on very unemotional things … and we both knew, when the time was right, we’d move forward with the divorce. It hung over our heads, but it was out there now. There was nothing left to fear.
Anne: Because I knew I’d be single soon, I did start looking around a little. No affairs, but I was curious to see who I’d be attracted to after all these years with Vincent.
Vincent: I didn’t think about dating until our divorce was official. I had my hands full with the girls and work.
Anne: We got divorced when the girls were 3 and 2. We got lucky because an apartment became available not too far from our place. It was affordable, so Vincent took it and the girls didn’t know what was going on. They just knew they had a new space to hang out in. By that point, it wasn’t “sad” to break up, it was just like, yup, we’re doing this … it’s right … let’s not be dramatic. I did cry the day he moved out, but then you get busy with the kids and it’s back to basic survival skills.
Vincent: I cried a lot when I moved out. I missed my girls. All of them, even Anne. Fortunately, we shared all our time with the kids. There’s never been any custody issues … I see them every day, one way or another. Thank god, I don’t have to worry about feeling apart from them.
Anne: We’re both dating now. He has a girlfriend who I met a few times and seems great. My girls love her, and I love that. There are no issues with him falling in love again. I really want it for him, actually.
Vincent: Do I love the idea of her dating a bunch of guys? No! Is it my business? Not really. She’s a phenomenal mom and she’s supportive of my girlfriend and that’s really cool. And really, that’s all I need to concern myself with anymore, when it comes to Anne.