Signs You Need A Divorce: When Your Husband Acts Like a Fraternity Kid

signs you need a divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

What are the signs you need a divorce? You and your spouse are angry at each other, you never talk, you hold tons of resentment, you have no respect for him or her, you don’t like your spouse, the two of you live separate lives, you have different interests, you suspect your spouse is cheating (or you know,) he/she is abusive – emotionally, physically, sexually, financially…

I could go on and on about what are the signs you need a divorce, but ultimately, you are the only person who can determine if your marital issues warrant a divorce.

In the case of this reader, she is asking, “What are the signs you need a divorce?” because her husband is basically acting like a fraternity kid (but with a mean streak).

My husband and I have been together for 10 years and we have 2 beautiful kids (8 and 5). I know in a relationship (marriage especially) it’s not supposed to be easy. But between his drinking, his drunken anger, his constant need to stay out till 2AM while I stay home raising our kids, and his ability to gaslight and stonewall like a pro whenever I go to him with my hurt, I have fallen out of love with him and actually have grown to really resent him. I am thinking about divorce.

It’s been a 10 year struggle to help him see that he needs to make some changes (although I don’t feel it’s my place to tell him he needs to change). He will make changes for a month or two, but that usually is when I am ready to get papers and the ball rolling on our divorce.

Where I am at now, I am ready to leave. I feel a strong sense of peace within me that this is what I need to do on my quest for a happy life (or at least a content life) but he doesn’t want a divorce and is certain that he will change in the ways he needs to and he’ll make it stick this time. And I’m so far gone out of the relationship that I don’t even want to attempt to try anymore, which makes me feel absolutely guilty and like I’m a failure. I don’t know what I’m necessarily trying to ask in this email.



Here is my response:

I would never tell someone to leave or to stay in a marriage, but here is what I can see from an outsider’s perspective:

First of all, drinking, drunken anger and staying out till 2AM in a marriage is a huge problem, and no one should have to put up with that for 10 years, or even 10 minutes for that matter. It is unacceptable, immature and hurtful.

There is a possibility that he’s an alcoholic. He is certainly displaying signs. But regardless of whether or not he’s an addict, what is he trying to cope with that he is literally running away from his family till 2AM, getting drunk, and then being mean to his wife? What pain is he trying to numb?

She says it’s not her place to tell him to change, but I say it definitely is. He is a husband and father and needs to start acting like one instead of a frat boy with a mean streak.

I actually have two friends who confronted their husbands with these same kinds of issues and basically said “If you don’t change, you need to leave.” One friend’s husband went to AA the next day and hasn’t had a drink in 4 years. They are very happy. I’ve actually run into the guy and he has said that his wife threatening to kick him out got him sober and it was the best thing she could have done. My other friend’s husband said, “OK, if you don’t like it, let’s get divorced” and that was it. So, if she lays it on the line, it could go one of these two ways.

Also, what kind of example is this father setting for his children? They are growing up thinking his behavior is normal–that Mommy takes care of us and Daddy can do whatever he wants and then be mean to her. Not good. That’s another reason I think there might be a drinking addiction issue. Because he can’t see the pain and damage he is causing his kids through the need for booze.

I also want to address something else. Why on earth is this woman feeling guilty and like she is a failure because she’s considering leaving a man who is acting in an abusive way and not living up to what a husband should be?? That is baffling to me, but the reason I think she is this way is because:

when  someone is in an unhealthy marriage for a long period of time, self-esteem suffers and expectations get to an all-time low. In other words, you forget that you deserve to be treated better because you are so used to being treated poorly that it almost becomes normal for you. That’s very sad to me and she needs to recognize it.

In closing, leaving is really really scary and the beginning of a divorce feels like a war. Financials, custody battles and all kinds of rage that comes out that can lead to bad judgment, poor decision making, intense resentment and anger, and doing things out of impulsive haste. Opening that divorce door is truly life changing and should be thought about carefully.

Then again, staying in a situation like this is really really scary too. Alcoholism only gets worse over the years, and as kids age, problems and personalities become so much more complex.

So, what are the signs you need a divorce? Each individual has to do what he or she thinks is right for them. So, if she decided not to leave ever, or if she decided to wait, no one should judge. She is the only one who should make the decision.

I wish this sweet woman all the best. She’s in a really tough spot.

Like this article? Check out, “Trying To Save Your Marriage? Chances are Good If You have These Three Things”



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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    2 Responses to “Signs You Need A Divorce: When Your Husband Acts Like a Fraternity Kid”

    1. Byron

      Sometimes, I find it difficult here not to generalize. That said, and not only in regard to my own failed marriage, but also the marriages around me that have also failed or are in the process of failing – it seems there’s very often one spouse who’s challenged by being an adult and taking on the bulk of the responsibilities, and another spouse who’s (for lack of a better way to describe it) having to act like a parent to the other spouse?

      The day my counselor asked me if I “was tired of feeling like _____’s dad?” That was a monumental day for me. That was the day I realized that I WAS tired. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. Once my youngest became a teenager, I caught myself thinking to myself “You are SO like your mother.” In reflection, the truth in that thought was profound, but it wasn’t that she behaved like her mother, it was reinforcement that her mother behaved like a teenager while we were married.

      While I’ve had discussions with mutual friends where we’ve all agreed that she’s “grown up” a lot since the divorce (meant in a positive, hopeful way), you couldn’t put me back into that situation for all the love or money in the world. It was a painful experience.

      One word in the letter catches me, though: “resent.” Once I reached the realization that I resented my former spouse, I was done. Maybe it’s my own character flaw, but just like I couldn’t trust her to be an adult, I realized that she probably shouldn’t trust me to treat her like one. Ever.

      If that’s where the writer finds herself, It might help to view things through that lens. If she “resents” him, does he have any reason to trust that she won’t always view him as a “frat boy?” And, with the responsibilities he should reasonably be stepping up to, I don’t blame her a bit for feeling that way. It’s a tough place to be.

    2. Alice

      Although I agree that 10yrs is far too long to put up with that kind of treatment/behavior from your spouse. I can almost feel the fear in her words about the unknown of divorce even if she’s not saying it out right.

      I gather this by her last few sentences about guilt and failure. This man has beaten her self-worth down for years so it makes sense that she’d try to blame herself for this as she calls “failed” marriage.
      I think it’s instances like this that women and men need to open up to their friends more about their struggles so someone can say, “let’s find you a counselor so you can get strong and leave them”.

      I know it’s embarrassing to admit when your husband treats you like dirt and walks all over you (trust me I’ve been there) but it’s either that and get some help or waste 10yrs being a doormat. I’ll take the latter.

      How I wish I could have been in this woman’s life to help her get some individual counseling, maybe it wouldn’t have helped but it would have been worth a try.

      I guess the benefit of growing up with divorced parents, showed me starting over and finding love again is possible. Still, I’ve had my weak moments and put up with way more than necessary from my husband. But I can’t imagine 10yrs of it!

      At some point we must look ourselves in the mirror and say “this isn’t marriage, so why are you married”. My husband is definitely acting like a frat boy lately and I’ve decided to take some time for myself and stay with friends. I’ve even called an attorney to get my rights. Sure it’s not filing for divorce but it’s taking the small steps. Hopefully some time away will enable me to have some self respect for a change and make my permanent exit plan!


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