Why John Lennon Said He ‘Would Never Bother’ Divorcing Yoko Ono

Though John Lennon divorced his first wife, he said he probably would never have done the same in his marriage to Yoko Ono. Even after he and Ono split and were somewhat detached, he didn’t see a reason to terminate their relationship legally. He once explained why they “probably would never bother” divorcing each other, even if they decided to live separate lives.

John Lennon said he probably wouldn't have bothered divorcing Yoko Ono after separation
Yoko Ono and John Lennon | Dennis Oulds/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s marriage began after his first divorce

In November 1966, Lennon and Ono met at a London gallery where she was preparing for an exhibition (per Vogue.) They had an immediate connection, though he was married to his first wife, Cynthia Lennon.

Cynthia eventually found out about the affair when she came home, and Ono was there. Lennon filed for divorce from his first wife and supposedly tried to get custody of their son, Julian Lennon, by accusing her of adultery.

“This is … the madness of it all — to this day I don’t understand that, but it’s almost as though … John’s attitude in life was: The best form of defense is attack,” Cynthia told NPR’s Fresh Air in 1985. She added, “It was one of those situations I will never understand.”

Cynthia said Lennon hurt her, but she wasn’t angry or bitter. And she thought “he found his space” with Ono, whom he married in 1969.

Why John Lennon and Yoko Ono ‘probably would have never bothered getting a divorce’

In a 1975 interview with SPIN, Lennon spoke about his marriage to Ono, which led to the birth of Sean Lennon and, eventually, a “failure” of a separation. “They always say, ‘Their marriage was a failure,’ at every divorce. Ours was the other way around,” he explained. “Our separation was a failure.”

He added, “We knew we would get together one day, but it could have been ten years.”

“… It was fate, or our decision, or whatever. I don’t know how it worked,” the former Beatle shared. “We knew we’d get back together one way or another, but had no idea when.”

Lennon said that legally ending their marriage wasn’t a priority for a simple reason. “We probably would never bother getting a divorce. I mean, if you’re living apart you are as divorced as can be.”

Furthermore, Lennon said he didn’t see himself marrying a third time.

John Lennon left The Beatles after he married Yoko Ono, and Paul McCartney had thoughts

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Lennon seemed to feel vastly different about his time with The Beatles than he did about marriage to Ono. That is, he ended his time with the band conclusively.

According to Paul McCartney, Lennon became antagonistic without explanation after bowing out of The Beatles. He told BBC Radio 4, “Everyone was flailing around, [and] John turned nasty. I don’t really understand why.”

McCartney guessed it might have been because they grew up in Liverpool, “where it was always good to get in the first punch in a fight.”

And though some have argued Ono broke up the band, McCartney said, “I’d been able to accept Yoko in the studio, sitting on a blanket in front of my amp.”

But he didn’t exactly buy into everything the couple was selling. For instance: “War is over.”

“Well, no it isn’t,” he pointed out. “But I get what you’re saying …”