Divorcées share what they’ve learned about marriage, and you might want to pay attention.
It’s common in our society for us to seek out the secret to a healthy marriage from older couples that have been together longer than we have been alive. I’ve seen clips of elderly couples on the news, television shows, and write-ups in articles where they share their one-liners on how they’ve managed to stay together for all those years. The advice is always simple and we all “ooo” and “ahh” and we marvel at their wisdom. You might think seeking the advice of happily married couples who have been together for many years are the only ones with great wisdom to share, but you could also learn a lot from couples who are divorced. I know, you may think to dismiss the advice from your divorced friends and family members, but I urge you to be open to hear what they have to say. We all know we learn from mistakes, and we can learn from people who have a different perspective and experience. Divorce may seem like a failure, but for many it was a necessary part of life that taught them a valuable lesson about love. These divorcees want to share what they’ve learned from being in a marriage that did not work out.
*some names have been changed for privacy.
(All images courtesy of Giphy.com)
I learned to never lose your independence. Love is about vulnerability but not depending on someone for happiness. I felt like I lost myself in my marriage. I let my husband take care of and control a lot of things. Now I know that being able to stand on my own two feet is really important. Marriage isn’t about two people becoming one, like I had previously thought, but it’s about two whole people loving each other. It’s not about finding ways to make each other happy…it’s about being happy with yourself and finding someone to enjoy that happiness with. When I find someone new I have learned the importance of remaining true to myself, finding someone I can trust, and learning when to talk and when to listen, when to compromise and when to let go.
I learned to really trust my gut. Pay attention to the little things in the beginning because it’s always the things from the start that will be the end of a relationship. From the beginning my husband was very possessive and jealous. He always accused me of cheating or thinking about cheating. My gut told me that he was the one who couldn’t be trusted. But I kept thinking it would get better, that I could help him get better. I kept trying to prove to him that I could be trusted but he never did the same. Ultimately he was the one that was cheating the entire time. But I married him because I thought I was “too old” to start over and I really wanted to have a family. I wish I would’ve followed my intuition. I’m not saying to end things at the first sign of trouble but if there’s ever a doubt or a gut feeling that things just are not right, slow down. Now I’m a single mother with a very difficult ex-husband to deal with. All of the signs were there from the start, but we women ignore the warnings in a way men never would. We always think we can fix someone and help someone. We take on projects.
I really learned the importance of taking my time. My husband and I only dated for a year, and I kind of put pressure on him to propose. I felt like I knew he was “the one” and that he should be just as sure as I was. I felt like, why wait? I was also saving myself for marriage and the temptation was hovering over my head. Shortly after he proposed we got married. From the moment we moved in together everything changed. I didn’t realize how different we were. I admit, I wasn’t ready to be a wife. I wish I would’ve enjoyed the dating and getting to know each other part a bit longer instead of being in a rush to get married. Things got so bad that we can’t even be cordial with each other. We avoid each other at all costs, which is difficult because we have a lot of friends in common and work in the same field. I used to judge people who dated for years, I thought it was dumb to wait around. I judged long engagements, too. My husband and I were unhappily married for six years. My advice? Take your time!
My advice? Learn from his baby mama. Instead of judging her and fighting with her, pay close attention. Even if she may seem bitter or vengeful, there’s some truth somewhere. Everything she warned me about was absolutely true. I thought I would be the change he needed, that his ex just wasn’t a good woman. I thought she was crazy. It says a lot when two people with children cannot get along even after years of separation. It took me years to realize that he was a terrible father and an even worse husband but all the signs were there if I had just put my pride to the side, I would’ve seen them all along.
If you can’t communicate with someone with out it always turning into a huge fight, that’s a red flag. I thought that couples were supposed to fight angrily and passionately. Don’t get me wrong, when you’re with someone all the time, you will have some heated arguments but my husband and I could never have a discussion or disagreement with out a huge blow up. We always fought dirty and every fight was more violent and more cruel than the last one. Nothing was ever solved. We were mistaking passionate make-up sex for love. We would cool off for a while and then go back to fighting. And we’d fight over the same things over and over never coming to a solution because all either or us cared about was winning.
Learn to let things go and move on, if you can’t then you’ll kill your relationship slowly. Whenever my wife and I would get into a fight, say it was about who forgot to take the trash out, somehow the argument would become about something I did 5 years ago. Move forward or just let go. I know I’ve done some things I’m not proud of, but if you’re willing to stay married to someone you have to work on forgiving and finding solutions not complaining and keeping tab of the other persons mistakes.
My advice is to know what you can handle as a couple. My wife and I had three children and demanding careers. We were spread very thin. We barely saw each other. We didn’t spend time alone together mostly because we didn’t have time. Eventually when more time to spend together became available we were two different people. We took on more than we could handle and we drifted apart. We didn’t prioritize our marriage and she eventually had an affair. I don’t think what she did was right and I still struggle to get over her, but all you young couples out there…you need to build a life together that lets your relationship strive or else life kind of takes over and we all just become too busy.
Men are simple. It’s all at the surface if you just open your eyes. Pay attention, they’re telling you exactly who they are by the way they treat you. I knew my husband had cheated on his ex before me, I knew he was terrible with money, and I knew he didn’t want children even though I did. Instead of seeing these things as a problem I ignored them all thinking they’d work themselves out. He was a sweet-talker and was always too busy but I found that fascinating. He had all these big dreams that never panned out but yet I rooted for him. Fast forward to eight years of marriage and I was alone a lot and in debt trying to care for our children while he was out cheating on me. Just pay attention and stop settling.
Move in with someone before you get married. I don’t care about tradition. Had I lived with my wife for a while before marriage, I would’ve known that things just wouldn’t have worked out. When we moved in together I realized how messy and spoiled she was. Before you guys think I’m sexist and that I expected my wife to cook and clean—-no. I believe in splitting responsibilities but she literally didn’t know how to clean, cook, or take care of herself and she didn’t want to learn either. The house was always filthy and she would only eat take-out. She had a ton of credit card debt that I had to take on and she was nothing like the woman I had been dating. I truly believe she married me because she thought I would take care of everything and she could be a house wife with hired staff. You don’t really know someone until you live with them.
Life has seasons so it should come as no surprise that love and relationships are the same. Go through those seasons and don’t rush down the aisle. Pay attention to the way you two talk and work out issues. Make sure you’re with someone who makes you love yourself even more not someone who makes you feel like everything about you needs to be changed. Don’t be with someone if you too hope that they’ll drastically change. You should be with someone who’s happy with themselves and happy with you. Marriage takes work but it should all be work.