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5 Things I Learned About Marriage After My Divorce

5 Things I Learned About Marriage After My Divorce

A divorce is not a breakup. It is more like a death. It is the death of your relationship, and the death of who you once were. But unlike death, divorce also brings a new beginning, and you have the beautiful opportunity to take some of the most difficult lessons you have learned into your new life with you.

1. Marriage Is Not 50/50

Many of us enter into a marriage thinking that being one half of a whole means that you will do one half of the work. But, marriage is not an even split of obligations, duties, and affection. Maybe it is on your best days, but your best days are not your everyday.

There will be days that you barely have the energy to muster up 10 percent of what you need to contribute. Those days where work is crazy and your kids are crazier can bring you down low. There may be weeks where your partner feels the same way. What makes a marriage work is not the equal division of two parts, but the willingness to forgive and make up the rest of the work when that equal division does not happen.

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Do not sit around and wait for your partner to meet you at the half way point. Be prepared to meet them where they need you, and consider it a gift, not a loan.

2. Go to Bed Angry

You never understand how to be truly mad at someone until you have been disappointed by the person you married. There is no anger like the one that is fueled by the fire of being let down. It is this kind of anger that makes you want to let the world know how you feel. Don’t.

Going to bed angry is sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and for your marriage. Even if eight hours of time, distance, and perspective doesn’t allow you to calm down, it will help you to realize what it is you are really feeling and why their behavior has caused such a deep wound. Without this, you are only gearing up for another pointless argument that results in half-hearted apologies and more hurt feelings.

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3. Romance Is Essential

Think back to when you first started dating. Things were electric. You spent all day thinking of the right thing to say to the person that you wanted to have around for the rest of your life. Then, the chase was over. You won, and there is no need to be the smartest, wittiest, or best looking person in the room anymore. Right?

A little bit of romance, or a lot depending on your needs, goes a long way in your marriage. It gives you the opportunity to present the best part of yourself to your spouse over and over again, and you remind them why you made such an important decision. Neglecting it makes you question everything, and soon those questions become doubts which too often lead you halfway out the door.

4. Live Your Life Now

Waiting around to live your life until your spouse does x or the stars align makes you unhappy. Moreover, it is almost always unnecessary.

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Many people have had to deal with expensive divorces for not paying attention to this point. Just because you have agreed to live as a partner to another person does not mean that you are conjoined twins. Doing things for yourself when you are ready for them helps you continue to progress as an individual, and ultimately, it helps you give back more graciously to your marriage.

So, if it does not eliminate your joint resources, use your own life to accomplish your personal goals. Take that trip. Write your book. Finish that class. Build yourself up so that you can build your marriage up, and by doing so, you will inspire rather than push your partner to get on your level.

5. You Don’t Get a Gold Sticker for Staying in a Bad Marriage

Divorce is a hard idea to cope with when you promised yourself and your partner forever. While divorce is a defining life event that is hard, avoiding it is not the answer. A hopeless marriage is a hopeless marriage, and you only get one life to live. So, if after you have exhausted every option available to you, you cannot see even a moderately happy future with your spouse, end your marriage.

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Unhappy marriages often make for unhappy people, but it is not only you who suffers. Your kids, family members, friends, colleagues, and probably even your barista will feel it when your marriage has brought you to the lowest of lows.

Divorce is a defining life event, and it becomes woven into the fabric of who you are. It will change you, but let it change you into the person you need to be.

Featured photo credit: Kumon via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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“Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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