The Real Reason Amy And Matt Roloff Got Divorced

Amy and Matt Roloff were introduced to the world in 2006 on their hit TLC reality series Little People, Big World. The Roloffs, who were born with dwarfism, ran the family business,  Roloff Farms, and raised their four kids, twins Zach and Jeremy, Molly, and Jacob in front of the cameras. 

The husband and wife dealt with typical family issues on the show, including teenage angst, the struggles of raising their son Zach, who was also born with dwarfism, and marital discord, but no one would have predicted that after almost 30 years of marriage, Amy and Matt would call it quits. 

There has been a lot of speculation about what went wrong. Let's take a look. 

He had problems with the law

In 2003, three years before the debut of their hit show, Matt landed himself behind bars when he was pulled over and later convicted of drunken driving, according to Oregon Live. The charge was later dismissed after he completed an alcohol diversion program.

We all make mistakes, and some viewers thought it was unfair to judge Matt for his flawed past, but the tide turned in 2007, when he was pulled over again when police in Washington County noticed his van struggling to stay in its lane. According to Today, officers administered a field sobriety test, which Matt reportedly failed. He was taken to the country jail and cited for DUI.

The odds were in his favor once again. By 2008, a judge had found Matt not guilty of driving under the influence, according to TMZ. Although he got off scot-free, we wouldn't be surprised if the legal proceedings and his alleged alcohol issues caused stress within his marriage.  

Did he get too close to a family friend?

Caryn Chandler was a longtime friend of the family, the manager of their pumpkin farm, and Matt's personal assistant for many years. After Amy and Matt announced their separation in 2014, Matt hopped back into the dating world. Shockingly, he found love with Chandler and went public with their romance in 2017.

On an episode of their reality series (via the Daily Mail), Amy reveals how "hurtful" Matt's new relationship is, considering how close Chandler was to her and their family. 

Whether or not Matt and Chandler's romance crossed a line, it's doubtful that Amy cares at this point. She has since moved on and is madly in love with her new beau, real estate broker Chris Marek.

They had different views on commitment

Insight into Matt and Amy's differing relationship priorities was further provided by his 1999 book, Against Tall Odds: Being a David in a Goliath World (via InTouch Weekly), which resurfaced after the family's fame skyrocketed.

In the book, Roloff was blunt about his relationship with his then-wife, and he shared some candid insight on what the word "commitment" means to him.

"While Amy puts commitment at or near the top of her list, I would put it further down," he writes. "Amy tends to be more of a committed-to-a-fault kind of person, while I see most commitments — with some very notable exceptions — as flexible and negotiable."

With two different viewpoints on the value of commitment, it's not shocking that their marriage eventually splintered.

Did his health issues cause stress?

Due to his disability, Matt is rarely seen walking and standing without the aid of two crutches. He has also suffered from various health issues while filming, some of which could have placed a burden on his marriage.

In 2010, Matt collapsed in his family home on an episode of the reality series (via E! Online). His health crisis was filmed as a cliffhanger for the Season 5 finale. Some fans feared he'd suffered a heart attack; others wondered if it was all just a bunch of scripted drama.

After their divorce, Matt's health issues continued. In 2016, he checked himself into a medical center to undergo an emergency spinal procedure. "I'm just down here, me, myself and I," he said (via Us Weekly). "In the old days, you know, Amy would have come along for something like this. We are living in a different time and a different life."

One son blamed them for his 'tainted' childhood

Their youngest son, Jacob, was just 9-years-old when the show started filming, according to Radar Online. After a decade of being in front of the cameras, he reportedly became disgusted with the show, stopped filming, and became somewhat estranged from his family. He shared his thoughts about his life, his family, and the series on his blog, Rock and Roloff.

In one entry, Jacob considers himself lucky to be able to make money and go on lavish vacations that the show funds, but judging by his blog entries, it appears he believes the cons of being on reality TV outweigh the pros. He considers the series a catalyst for his "tainted childhood."

"I had tons of fun and so many opportunities and friendships, and also anger, frustration... the myriad of emotions," he writes. "However; money, things, and trips — all material — cannot ultimately compensate for the immaterial experiences of a childhood innocently experienced." Jacob also confesses that he was eventually able to let go of "bitterness" directed at his parents and at the show's production company.

It has to be difficult for any parent to hear that their child blamed them for a stunted childhood. We can't imagine how much turmoil and regret this created within Matt and Amy's marriage.

They became empty nesters

As their kids grew up, married, and moved away from home, many suspected Matt and Amy's union suffered from empty nest syndrome — the term commonly used to describe the grief parents feel when their children grow up and leave home.

Without their kids as a buffer, it's possible Matt and Amy realized their partnership was on its last leg. As TMZ reported, "Kinda looks like they waited to become empty nesters before ending things."

They didn't enjoy traveling together

Vacations are a time when families can relax and have some fun while enjoying each other's company, but during the tail end of Matt and Amy's marriage, their family vacations became another source of stress and discontentment.

During an episode of their television show (via the Daily Mail), the couple travels to Costa Rica with their kids. While surrounded by the beauty of the Central American country, Matt and Amy argue over dinner.

"The kids seem to be having a good time. Am I the only one not having a good time?" Matt asks Amy. The physical demands of their trip had taken a toll on Matt, who suffers from diastrophic dysplasia, a disorder of the bone and cartilage that restricts movement. His disability made it difficult for him to take part in the family's kayaking excursion, and he was contemplating if he should skip a planned horseback riding adventure.

"You will always feel like we left you, Matt," Amy says to him in frustration. "So pretty much we're kind of stuck in this feeling guilty mode."

Matt claps back, "I don't think you and I travel well together."

Amy defiantly responds, "Then we don't travel together. We could always go that route too."

Death threats and harassment added more tension

Being placed in the spotlight can sometimes bring out the cray-cray in fans...and foes. Matt and Amy found this out firsthand in 2013 when they became the targets of disturbing death threats and harassing phone calls.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Matt speculated as to who the suspect might be. "They've been to the farm. They know it," he said. "Is it somebody on our farm? Someone in our own network of people we know, or some random individual? We don't know who's up to it, and it's spooky." 

Law enforcement got involved when the threats became "more hateful and more graphic in nature," according to Sergeant Bob Ray of the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Any kind of unwanted attention can be terrifying to deal with, so threats directed at one's family are sure to sow tension within a household. When Matt began receiving abusive phone calls and noticing suspicious cars in their driveway, he said it made the whole family feel "uneasy."

Matt and Amy announced their separation less than a year after going public about the harassment and threats. In a special episode of their reality show (via People), Matt calls 2013 a "long and tough" year. He also says he and Amy "had a lot of tension" during that period of their marriage.

He never felt at home in their house

Home was the last place Matt wanted to be at the end of their marriage. When the couple announced its separation on a special episode of the reality show (via People), Matt tells the cameras that he "never quite felt at home" in his own house. The discord reportedly prompted him to pack up and live in the family's "bridal house" on Thanksgiving 2013. 

Amy later reveals that it wasn't her choice for Matt to leave, saying she was "saddened" by his decision. 

Though they continued to remain business partners, Matt and Amy finalized their divorce in 2016.

They tried marriage counseling, but it didn't work

During one of the most heartbreaking episodes of the series (via The Wrap), Matt has a long discussion with his brother about how he's dealing with his separation from Amy. He reveals in the clip from 2015 that he and Amy had attended marriage counseling, but after being separated for 19 months, they had stopped attending after the counselor had said, "I don't think there's anything else I can help you with." 

Matt went on to explain in a confessional: "We're not working to fix our marriage, but neither of us are ready to throw in the towel yet." He concludes the conversation with his brother by saying, "At what point do you say, 'Hey, it's not meant to be'?"

He couldn't separate his work and family life

Even after the divorce, Amy and Matt continued to put on a united front for the sake of their kids. On a June 2016 episode of their show (via Us Weekly), the family goes on a tropical vacation together. While enjoying dinner at a beach-side restaurant, Matt asks Amy about an email involving their divorce attorney.

Amy feels like Matt's question is uncalled for and later reveals during an on-camera interview that she didn't feel it was a conversation they needed to have right at that moment. 

Matt saw things differently. "Even when I'm on vacation half a globe away," he says, "It's still hard for me to separate business from personal." 

Much of the couple's life was consumed by running their farm and their various businesses, so it's quite possible that mixing business with pleasure was the kiss of death for their marriage.

He had a drug problem

In his memoir, Against Tall Odds: Being A David In A Goliath World (via Radar Online), Matt reveals that he suffered from a drug problem in the '80s.

The reality star considered his battle with addiction to be a "relatively short time" in his life, yet he abused hardcore drugs, including cocaine, during that time. His addiction led him into debt, until his grandmother helped him manage his finances and get back on track.

It's unclear if Matt's hard times occurred prior to meeting Amy at a Little People of America convention in 1987. Even though he fought and presumably conquered his drug addiction, his troubles were far from over.

At the time his book was released in 1999, Matt admitted to still having an "addictive-type personality." He was committed to making an effort to make healthier life choices, but his numerous run-ins with the law for driving under the influence lead some to believe that his struggles with substance abuse may have continued throughout his marriage.