Love = Complicated.
I didn’t fully understand that equation until we started a family and were about three years into our marriage. Even Facebook was more intuitive by giving their users the ability to divulge to the world that their relationship was complicated!
And while we divorcees continue to learn from our mistakes, it irks me that it had to be a lesson learned at all! I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent and intuitive person, and it would be nice that just for once, anything to do with relationships, love, life, and marriage was something I could have figured out from the start. While these learnings resonate with me now, it was done so with a heavy heart. Perhaps you may take some of these things divorce taught me away with you before it’s too late:
1. You Can’t Change A Man
You can’t change a man just because you say so and just because you want him to. You also can’t change a person’s innate personality, and if you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, that’ll change after we get married” or “I’m sure he won’t do that after we have kids,” you’re sorely mistaken. Your love for him has to encompass what you may deem as flaws, and understanding that you will need to find a way to deal with that. What you can however, try to do is appeal to his emotions, values and beliefs, and perhaps if you can make him understand the consequences of his actions and behaviours, that may help.
2. Love Yourself
Is it in our nature as mothers and wives that we worry so much about others that we forget to nurture ourselves? I have read so many stories of divorced women who suddenly realize they don’t have any self-worth, ability to financially look after themselves, and don’t have a network of their own friends or members of the community to help them. How did that happen? Well, we were too busy! We were too busy raising our children and ensuring they got the quality of life they so deserved. We were too busy maintaining a household, and for some, the need to create a façade of the perfect family. And we were too busy trying to make the marriage work. In the midst of all that, we lost ourselves. Love cannot possibly work if you don’t love yourself first. Without that inner strength, a relationship of any kind wouldn’t last.
3. Love is Tangible
Love can be quantified physically, with words and with actions. It’s funny how this came so naturally to me with my daughter, but I did not ensure I did the same with my ex-husband. Even the simple act of holding hands disappeared after some time. Would it have changed my circumstances? I guess I will never know.
4. Be the Bigger Person
Sometimes, we just have to let go, but having to be the bigger person all of the time is exhausting. I applaud those who are able to maintain this state of maturity. I think it comes from a place of great love for another or a sense of truly understanding what it means to maintain balance in a partnership. Being a bigger person means to let your partner be happy even if it may not make you happy, letting them win the argument, doing something even though it’s not your responsibility, or steering away from conflict to keep the peace.
5. Love is not About Banking Up Credits
I was very guilty of this. “I did that twice last week so it’s your turn this week.”
“You bought this so I can buy this.”
I’m sure all us have done this at some point in our relationships. While it makes sense to be fair, we also have to learn to do something we don’t want to more often than not, and we need to learn to enjoy the happiness our partners are feeling, even if it was at your expense. This comes down to generosity in time, money, and emotions.
6. Love Changes
While I obviously knew that how we love someone changes over time and fluctuates throughout the different periods in our lives, we are never quite prepared for it. I have learned that it’s so important to try our best to maintain that “crazy love” and to ensure the honeymoon period lasts a lifetime. Don’t let life get in the way of constantly rejuvenating this relationship.
I have taken these things that divorce taught me and I am trying my best to practise what I preach with my new partner. I don’t always succeed and old habits die hard, but I now constantly remind myself how I should love. I am not about to waste my divorce. Something positive needs to come out of that life challenge and I’ll be damned if I allow that to happen again.
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