I remember proposing. And making those vows. Now what I tend to remember most is how I didn’t see or listen to the signs or warnings in front of me. While I didn’t know how it would turn out, I didn’t intend for what came next. The anger, the hurt, the resentment. I had no idea I’d be in for the intensity of the ride I’d be in for.
Divorce. It was quite an experience. One I’d never wish upon my worst enemy. Many people see divorce as a formality for people who don’t love each other. But I’d say people who have been divorced see it more as something else. A consequence. A penance for making an uninformed decision to marry. Well at least for some.
For me, divorce was definitely much more than a consequence for some of my decisions. It was more than just not being married. It was quite the humbling experience that even to this day has had a profound affect on me.
For those of you that have never been through it. Imagine what it could be like to tell someone how much you love them one moment, and in the next, over some built up time, what it was like to to say, hey by the way, I made a mistake. I don’t love you the way I said in front of all of those people. I thought I wanted marry you, but I really wasn’t sure. When you say it that way it sounds stupid. But it’s actually much more than that. It’s embarrassing to be there. It’s not just admitting you were wrong, because that would be simple. It’s literally a life changing experience. Not just for you, but for the families as well. I don’t know if there’s anything I could equate it to except for maybe a loss. A death maybe. Losing a special item you held dear and then deciding one day to discard that same sacred item. People will say, I thought you were in love. You’ll have all these questions from family and friends to answer. Most might say it’s none of their business, but the truth is, you made it their business when you included them or made them witness to your vows.
Crazy, huh. It’s one of those memories that doesn’t seem to go away. There are times I wish it would. It changed me. And not always for the better. It made me less secure about me. It made me less trusting and more suspicious of others’ motives. It also made me see how immature I was with certain things. And how far I actually had to go in terms of growth.
You see, marriage takes a special two individuals. Two people who are willing to sacrifice and compromise for the good of the team. They have to come together as one and truth be told. There’s no more I. Only a we. The most successful marriages I’ve seen are where I’ve seen two people working together. And no, it doesn’t always come easy in the beginning, but ultimately both parties tend to realize that they are stronger and more effective together than they are apart. And believe it or not, it’s just not very easy. Especially these days with all the rules and distractions out there. We live in a time where the only court that matters as law is the court of public opinion. Where people are so eager to judge one others for the way things get done. The truth of the matter is no one matters in your marriage except the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with. That’s it. Parents don’t matter and neither do friends and siblings. I’ve seen marriages where all they care about is what other couples have done to set the precedent in your own marriages. Those are the marriages I believe are destined to fail. You have to find a way to get things done your way. I would almost tell most newly married or engaged couples to live far enough away from family and friends so that the two of you had to figure things out yourselves. There’s just something to being able to say that although things were and are tough, we’re doing it all together.
Trust me when I tell you, no one gets married to get divorce. I certainly didn’t. But it seems like one day we’re laughing at a moment shared, and the next year’s have gone by and we barely even speak to one another. Marriage is a plant that constantly has to be watered and nurtured. Too much water without sunlight will drown it. And not enough will cause it to dry up and wither. Nobody wants to be in a marriage with someone who is just a roommate. If that’s the case then why get married in the first place? Far too many marriages fall into the trap that marriage slows in intensity over time and that’s just the way it has to me. While many couples have had things to adjust, most would contend that they found ways to re-invent their marriage. They definitely all say it was not an easy transition though.
And for those of us with children, who don’t believe there’s enough time to work on their marriage, I say remember this one key note: after X amount of time the children leave the house and guess who’s left. The spouse that you took for granted for all those years. Think about it.
Now while I didn’t have what it took to stay married the first time around, it doesn’t mean I didn’t learn (although some may debate this) anything. I learned there were some ideas I could take with me and be successful. Also that marriage is something that no one gets exactly right. You’re gonna fight. You’re gonna deal with things that can be uncomfortable, and most of all you’re gonna have to talk about things and come out of your comfort zone more than not. Yeah, that last one is so tough for me, as at times I have trouble getting down to exactly what I want to say. But if you go into marriage willing to be stretched and contorted in a bunch of directions for the sake of your marriage then you have what it takes to make it. One important thing to remember is that no matter who we marry, no person turns out to be the most ideal spouse. That’s just not the way things happen. However, hard work and dedication to being the best version of you possible can get you through any situation.
When I said divorce changed me, it’s completely true. It change me and made more cautious. It also made me better at loving. It also gave me a sense of what it means to be responsible for my actions in terms of relationships. And when I look back on it all, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.