Is your divorce making you feel like a failure? Do you ever find yourself talking or thinking about “your failed marriage?” Is your divorce triggering feelings of guilt or low self-esteem?
In this post, I will debunk the myth of the failed marriage, so you can liberate yourself from these harmful emotions and get ready for a life of unapologetic joy.
Shortly after my divorce, I overheard my mother talking to someone about “Sonia’s failed marriage.”
Failed marriage? I was infuriated. I certainly didn’t see my marriage (or my divorce) as a failure. On the contrary, I considered my divorce to be an act of courage and was proud to leave behind seven years of toxicity and abuse.
More importantly, I valued how this terrible experience led me to discover unlimited inner strength and gave me the resolve to rebuild my life free, on my own terms.
Unfortunately, many of us buy into these negative messages, whether they come from our families, our teachers, or our communities of faith.
The perfect example arrived in my inbox the other day.
A writing expert offered tips to give the characters in your story more depth and to highlight their personal shortcomings and subsequent transformation.
To illustrate her point, she alluded to a dynamic of her “failed marriage.” She made an excellent point, indeed, but the reference to her failed marriage left me a bit sad.
Here we have one of the leading experts in her field, widely respected by her peers and beloved by followers, referring to her first marriage as a failure.
The saddest part about it is that she’s not alone.
In a culture that’s obsessed with success, that segregates people into winners and losers, those of us who made a mistake picking our life partner can spend the rest of our lives married instead to a label of failure.
The concept of the “failed marriage” causes needless suffering: to people recovering from divorce and to those who hang on to unsalvageable marriages to spare themselves of embarrassing feelings of failure.
The myth of the failed marriage is only one of the many negative beliefs society inflicts on us and that we accept as truth.
But you don’t have to accept this or any other myth that does not serve you. Ending your marriage doesn’t make you a terrible person or a loser; it only makes you and your spouse incompatible.
Let go of this myth, so you, too, can live a successful life on your own terms.
There is no such thing as failure
Firstly, let go of the idea that failure is real.
Dr. Wayne Dyer used to say that there is no such thing as failure; you only achieve a result.
Whether the results you get are the results you intended makes no difference. The key is learning from the results you get and, if they’re not what you were hoping for, figure out why, learn from your mistakes and try again.
A historical footnote is helpful here.
Did you know that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before successfully inventing the incandescent lightbulb?
In response to a question about his missteps, this is what Edison had to say: “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
Failure is only a state of mind. Feelings of failure exist only in your imagination. Evict them!
The end of a bad thing is not necessarily bad
Ironically, the same society that tells us divorce is a failure sees ending other relationships in a favorable light.
My mother, who lamented my “failed marriage,” had no qualms about my giving up a dead-end corporate career to become a lawyer. Actually, that divorce was a source of pride.
See the irony?
Countless times, people change jobs to end their personal dissatisfaction and try new careers to achieve their highest potential.
Unlike a bad marriage, nobody expects you to stick around a job where you are underpaid, underappreciated or abused.
If the dream job you hoped for turned into a nightmare, after giving it your best shot, you get another job, add your old job to your resume, and move on.
If leaving a bad job and taking on a new career that makes you happy is good, why is ending a marriage that makes you unhappy a failure? It isn’t!
Dare to start over and let go of the attachments that prevent you from reaching your highest potential.
Failure is just a label: peel it off!
Learn your lessons and create a life you love
Rather than a failure, divorce is an opportunity to start over, wiser, and stronger than when you tied the knot.
Take a cue from Thomas Edison. Your spouse and your marriage had powerful lessons to teach you.
Unpack those lessons and carry on with confidence!
It’s easy to get started and it’s never too late!
Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed, pick a pen and paper and ask yourself:
What has your marital experience taught you about yourself? About your spouse? About your attitudes towards marriage?
What aspects of your marriage were positive and what would you do differently?
What hurts, dreams, and emotions should you let go?
Most importantly, what do you want to create from this moment on? And start doing it, one baby step at a time!
The rest of your life awaits you. There’s no better place to start than where you are, nor a better time than right now.
Step forward and claim the joyful, successful life you deserve. On your own terms.