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Country star Reba McEntire and her first husband, Charlie Battles, got a divorce after more than a decade of marriage and a romance that grew so cold that it was “unbearable” for her. She decided to leave when she faced a moment in which she thought he might cross the line from harsh words to actual violence. And after all the “hairsplitting” was done over property, she didn’t see why Battles “deserved so much of [their] net worth.”

Reba McEntire | ABC/Getty Images

Reba McEntire said it was a big ‘no-no’ to confront Charlie Battles about money before their divorce

As McEntire recounted in Reba: My Story, her marriage to Battles started with the best intentions in 1976. She was ten years younger than him, and he had children from a previous marriage. But they both enjoyed life on the ranch and the excitement of the rodeo.

But Battles grew resentful. The more she succeeded, the more he seemed to talk down to her — even in front of her band. And since he was part of her career, he went everywhere with her. She eventually asked him for some time alone and he was “furious.”

He said he would get his things off her bus and leave. Then, she asked him if he needed money, and he confessed he’d already taken $400 out of her purse. She confronted him, and she said it was the first time she’d done so about their finances even though she had “clearly [been] the breadwinner.”

“That was a big no-no,” she shared. “One thing led to another and for the first time in our life together, I thought Charlie was going to hit me as he reared back with his shaving kit in his hand.”

He eventually packed up his things and left for home, and the shaving kit, which she’d given him as a gift, became a “symbol of all that had become unbearable” about their marriage

Reba McEntire was ‘astounded at the inequity’ of her divorce from Charlie Battles

McEntire filed for divorce in 1987. And by the time it was all said and done, she was “astounded by the inequity” of the legal process.

“Charlie had been a benefit to my career,” she shared in her autobiography, “and I had testified as much.”

“But it was hard for me to see why he deserved so much of our net worth,” she concluded.

The judge noted the couple amassed “substantial assets” over 11 years of marriage, “primarily due” to the “Can’t Even Get the Blues” singer’s career. McEntire agreed to give Battles their 215-acre ranch and house in Oklahoma. And the judge “still awarded him what turned out to be $580,000.”

By the way, that would have had the same buying power as more than $1.4 million in February of 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics inflation calculator.

And the “hairsplitting” over the former couple’s things continued into the following year. Throughout the process, Battles insisted on keeping things that “meant nothing to anyone” but her, she said.

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After the divorce was finalized, the press spread the story fast. McEntire soon received a “scolding letter” from a fan who was personally offended by the divorce. She told McEntire she’d looked to her as a role model.

“Certainly I believe that marriage should be for life,” she wrote in Reba: My Story, “but things don’t always work out according to our beliefs.”

Though she didn’t say marrying Battles was the wrong choice, she did say she changed her plans to stay with him forever when she wasn’t happy in the marriage anymore.

“I am very uncomfortable being seen as a role model in that way,” she said about that individual’s letter.

“No one is perfect but God,” she concluded, “and that’s what I told that fan when I answered her letter.”