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.
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.
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.
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.
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