After Louise has her solo experience with the Heptapod "Abbott," She tells Ian she knows why her husband left her. What did I miss?


5 Answers 5


Her husband left her because he found out that she knew about their daughters death but did nothing to try and prevent it.

Are you gonna leave me like Daddy did?

Louise snaps back to full attention on her daughter.

Hannah, honey, your father didn't leave you. You'll spend time with him this weekend.

He doesn't look at me the same way anymore.


I'm... That was my fault. I told him something he wasn't ready to hear.
Believe it or not, I know something that's going to happen. I can't explain how I know, I just do. When I shared it with daddy, he got real mad. Said I made the wrong choice.
It has to do with a real rare disease...

Louise then returns to the present and tells Ian her realisation.

I remembered something
Why my husband left me.


Louise wipes her eyes and struggles to find her game face.

Unfortunately, the source novella, Story of Your Life, doesn't address why Ian and Louise eventually split, suggesting it was merely an invention for the film.

  • Your answer implies that Ian is angry that Louise "did nothing" to prevent their daughter's death, when he's actually angry that she did nothing to prevent their daughter's birth. These are somewhat different concepts.
    – tbrookside
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 18:34
  • @MikeScott I apologise, you are correct. You can just edit that in in the future.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 18:43

The other questions touch on the dialogue but the answer, here, is really the crux of the movie itself. I added spoilers, since there's no way to talk about it otherwise

Louise is experiencing time in reverse. That's the gift of Abbott and his kind. Once you understand the language, you can "think outside of time". That's how Louise knows what to say to the Chinese general and stop the pointless fight that was coming.

As to the question

Louise's daughter has a rare and incurable disease. We know this because her daughter dies. But it's an incredible burden to bear to know what sorrow is to come, and yet to choose it anyways. But at some point she tells Ian she knows their daughter will die. But how would you feel to know that someone made a choice, involving you, that would one day lead to your heart being broken? For Ian, the answer is he felt anger. Anger that she went ahead in having a child she knew would die.

  • 4
    Not "in reverse" but "all at once". Other than that, +1 :)
    – Andres F.
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 3:32
  • 1
    I'm not seeing what your answer adds that isn't already there?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 21:21

Her husband haven't left her, yet, but he will.

She had visions of her future self with her daughter being treated for cancer. In future, her husband, Ian leaves her when he comes to know about their daughter's illness. She knows this in present time already, and still chooses Ian as her life partner.

"If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?"

  • Yes, of course. When Louise is talking to Hannah at the lake, she tells her, " I told daddy something that was going to happen and he told me I made the wrong choice." Are you saying this is the reason Ian left her? Because Ian was definitely curious enough to want to KNOW the insights Louise had after her "breakthrough" with Abbott, so he would know much of what Louise knows about their future.
    – M.Mat
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 7:38
  • Good answer, but you should really cite the quote.
    – Möoz
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 3:04

He left because he didn't agree with bringing their daughter into the world knowing she would die from cancer at so young an age. I'm guessing Hannah felt the difference because her dad couldn't look at her without feeling his heart break knowing they'd be losing her so soon. Amy Adams' character, though, chose to know her daughter and experience what time they had together despite knowing where that journey would lead. The time they had was worth the grief and pain and loss. It's a beautiful movie.

  • Do you have any evidence that this was indeed the case, such as quotes, that you could edit in?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 17:40

I think it’s a little bit deeper than that. Louise was so deeply in love with her daughter and cherished every moment that they had, even knowing the painful loss to come. And knowing how telling him is what destroyed their marriage, she has the opportunity to change that outcome, in the same why she was able to change the outcome with the Chinese General. The general is a parallel for her personal story.

In some ways she’s a bit like the Greek goddess Cassandra; knowing the future and knowing the futility of telling.

And I believe that her tenderness with Ian at the end is her coming to understand how difficult losing Hannah is going to be for him, and that she must be strong and keep the bad news to herself if she wants to be a part of his healing. It could be a form of torture but she chooses to cherish the journey. And to love. To give so much love.

Also brings up a profound question about choice. She made the choice for him, instead of with him, knowing full well he wouldn’t have had Hannah if he had known. How do you balance that? Making such a choice for the two people you love most in the world, and want to share this important journey with? Me? I would have blabbed and spoiled everything ;0/

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question wasn't about Louise's motivation or state of mind, the question was about why Louise's husband (who we eventually realize is Ian in the future) left/leaves her. If you are posting an answer, please focus on the question and reserve the commentary for comments.
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 19:16

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