When I look back at my divorce, there are so many emotions that rush through me. Divorce is a sad time when most people are at their worst. But while divorce is the sad ending of one story, it is also a new beginning.
And in order for me to be a better person in my new life, one day I sat down and just wrote out what I learned from my divorce. Some people may disagree, but divorce is rarely just one-sided (of course there are always exceptions). No matter what the reason for divorce, I think it’s important that both parties take responsibility for their shortcomings.
Make sure to put your marriage first
After the “I do’s” and the honeymoon, all the realities of marriage come pouring in. From the refrigerator breaking (which just happened yesterday) to shuttling the kids to gymnastics and helping with homework, there is constantly things fighting for your attention.
Make sure at the end of the day, your spouse knows that he is your priority. I think I did a very poor job of that in my first marriage. Honestly, the kids were my first priority and that wasn’t fair for him. Don’t let kids, family or friends get in the way of your marriage. Everyone deserves to be the priority of their significant other. We are all worth it.
Never become an assistant or roommate
This is a partnership. As a stay-at-home mom or work-at-home professional, it can feel like it many days, but you are not your husband’s assistant. When life gets to this point, bitterness can start to take over.
Communicate with your spouse that you both have valuable roles. If things need to get adjusted, talk about it. And don’t just talk about it after you’ve given up, talk about it early on. A marriage partnership is an amazing thing, but it does take work.
Fighting is a form of communication and not always a bad thing
When I was growing up, I saw my parents fight pretty often. I now realize they weren’t really fighting, but just really passionately discussing and obviously disagreeing.
So basically, there are times that you are going to disagree. Of course, if you can calmly discuss and resolve the dispute, that’s best. But if not, there is nothing wrong with fighting for what you believe in. Now I don’t mean being verbally physically abusive in any way, but arguing happens.
I learned in my first marriage, a little too late, that fighting was better than silence. I never really fought or argued in my first marriage. It’s okay to fight for your marriage.
Stand up for yourself, even when it is the last thing you want to do
Most people who know me, see me as an outgoing and outspoken individual. That is true to a certain extent, but there is also another side to me. I consider myself a very traditional wife. I want to be led by my husband.
I know that sounds a little strange in this society, but growing up in the church, that’s what I thought a healthy marriage was (and after everything, I still believe in it). After I got married, I didn’t want to be seen as a nagging wife or a bully (as my family used to describe me). I thought that if I gave everything I had, it would be reciprocated and a good wife does what their husband wants.
Well, life is not that simple. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and be heard. It isn’t always easy to do, at least for me, but it’s not fair to your spouse to hold back your feelings either. They deserve your honesty.
Communicate, communicate, communicate with your spouse
Tell your spouse what makes you happy and tell them what makes you sad. No matter what we think, men can’t read our minds and are horrible at picking up on hints. And after we tell them how we feel, tell them again in a different way.
Don’t be afraid of sounding silly. Don’t be afraid of being made fun of. Don’t be afraid of getting what you deserve. And the hardest part is, don’t be afraid of the unknown. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Don’t let kids, jobs, hobbies, Facebook, get in the middle of your marriage
Let’s face it, life is crazy busy. And whether you are a stay-at-home mom, single mother, married woman working outside of the home, or starting your own business, there never seems to be enough time in the day.
Don’t assume your spouse has it harder than you. Their work is just different from yours, not harder or easier, just different. With the bombardment of family life, after school activities, and even social networking, sometimes we need a break from our own realities.
Don’t let this be a habit. Communicate with your spouse that you need a little alone time. Don’t just hide and expect them to understand. At the same time allow your spouse down time as well.
Don’t forget the good times
I remember my first wedding anniversary after my divorce. My mother called me up and said “How are you doing today?” I was confused. I said “Why?”.
My mother explained that she was worried about me because this was my old wedding anniversary. I giggled and told her I didn’t even remember. And then I said that I wasn’t sad at all. I told her that my wedding day was absolutely wonderful and I didn’t want to forget it. It was a wonderful memory that I would always hold close to my heart. It was a great day. But I also told her “If wedding days were like marriages, the divorce rate would be almost nothing.” She laughed.
I have so many wonderful memories of my first marriage and I don’t want to forget them. Just because my marriage didn’t work out, and it was messy at the end, I don’t want to forget about all of the good times: Disney World, Reno, Las Vegas, Black Butte and many good times at home. I was blessed with amazing step-kids, in-laws and friends. Don’t forget the good times
Obviously I didn’t set out to be divorced, but I think it made me into a stronger woman. I feel thankful and blessed for that.