Adele revealed that she was so "obsessed" with having a "nuclear family" that she ignored her unhappiness in her marriage for a long time - as well as keeping it a secret from her loved ones.
In an interview with Oprah that aired on Monday (NZ time), the singer recalled the moment she dropped a bombshell on her close friends when she revealed things in her relationship weren't as they seemed.
"I've been obsessed with a nuclear family my whole life because I never came from one," said Adele, who shares a young son with her now ex-husband Simon Konecki.
"I, from a very young age, promised myself that when I had kids that we'd stay together. We would be that united family.
"I was so disappointed for my son, I was so disappointed for myself, I just thought I was going to be the one that stopped doing those bloody patterns all the time," she added.
The 'Someone Like You' singer recalled the moment she knew she needed to end her marriage, when taking a quiz in a magazine with her girlfriends that asked: "What's something that no one would ever know about you?"
"And I just said it in front of three of my friends, I was like, 'I'm really not happy. I'm not living, I'm just plodding along'," she said.
Referencing a lyric from her song 2015 Love in the Dark - "I want to live and not just survive" - the 33-year-old said she "definitely felt like that".
"And it was when I admitted to my own friends, who thought I was really happy, that actually I'm really unhappy, and they were all aghast.
"I felt like it was sort of, from there, that I was like, what am I doing it for?"
Elsewhere in the interview, Adele told Oprah of her deep "disappointment" in not being able to keep her family together, and revealed she had suffered "the most terrifying anxiety attacks" during the divorce - which led to her throwing herself into a new exercise regime.
Despite the painful split, the Grammy winner said she still trusts Konecki - who now lives across the road from her in Los Angeles - "with her life", and says he and their son Angelo were "angels" sent to her during an unstable time in her life.
Asked by Oprah how Konecki felt about the new album, 30, which chronicles the dissolution of their marriage, Adele said: "He knows what kind of artist I am, that I have to dig deep and tell my stories."
The 'Hello' star acknowledged that while she had some worries about sharing details of her private life through her music, "nothing is as scary" as what she had been through over the past few years "behind closed doors".