Divorce was never in the plan for me. In fact, it was a concept I didn’t believe in, and truly I still don’t. When I got married I took it seriously. I said my vows, made my promises, and for a long time I believed I was doing the whole marriage thing right. We both did. That is until it just all fell apart. We spent years putting on happy faces, thinking that because we weren’t killing eachother that our marriage was a success, and one day it was as if I woke up and just knew it wasn’t right. I made a lot of mistakes. Big ones and little ones. Long story short, I’m a divorced woman. Through that I learned a lot about myself, about other people, about relationships, and about love. The fact of the matter is that I got it wrong the first time. I loved wrong. But in doing it wrong I learned a lot about how I could do it right. I love differently now. I thank God I went through what I did so that I have the chance to get it right this time around. For a long time I never thought I’d get out of the dark place I was in. If you’ve gone through a divorce or are going through one then you understand what I mean. But the beauty is that if you choose to take ownership of your faults and mistakes, you have the chance to learn, grow, and be a better person. Having a failed relationship isn’t a death sentence. It’s an opportunity.
5 Ways I Love Differently After Divorce
- I don’t assume he knows I love him: We often forget that being in a relationship and loving eachother are two different things. My ex-husband and I fell into the trap of thinking that because we were together then the other person knew we loved them, cared about them, and were thinking about them. I don’t do that anymore. I remind him that I love him non-stop. I say it more times than I care to count everyday. I’m a firm believer that actions speak louder than words, and showing someone you love them is obviously incredibly important, but don’t discount how important it is to hear those words as well.
- I understand respect: Most men’s number one need in a relationship is respect and to feel respected. My ex-husband used to tell me this all of the time. But all I heard was that he wanted me to cower down to him. I felt as if it was taking away my voice. Our relationship was a constant power trip. Now I understand that when you’re in a relationship you’re on the same side. If I “win” an argument, it’s not really winning. When the other person feels defeated, that’s not a win in any way. I want to compromise now. I want to work together. I don’t want to be the one to make the winning call. I want to make the call together. I’m not constantly fighting to be the one who “wears the pants”. Who cares? I understand now that I can give respect without depleting my own.
- It really is the little things: We hear it said all the time. It’s the little things that matter. I’d always heard that, but I didn’t put it into practice. I knew that coming home to a clean kitchen would’ve made all the difference in the world to my ex-husband, but you know what? I was tired and if he wanted it done that bad he could do it himself. Sound familiar? I try not to be like that anymore. I know that dishes in the sink stress him out. Loading a dishwasher isn’t that hard. I know that having a drawer full of clean underwear makes him happy. I try to make that happen as often as I can. I know that when he wakes up and has to leave for work at 5am, lunch is the last thing he wants to have to try and figure out so I try to make sure I make enough food for dinner so he has yummy leftovers. It’s the little things. They matter. They make a difference.
- I talk: Communication hasn’t ever been my strong suite. I struggle with attachment and abandonment issues. Vulnerability is hard for me and true communication requires vulnerability. In my marriage I communicated by yelling. A lot. If I wasn’t yelling I was probably being really passive aggressive. I didn’t know how to handle conflict in a healthy way. I didn’t know how to just talk about things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still no expert. I’m stumbling my way through this. But I talk. If something is bothering me I tell him before it’s turned into a burning rage inside of me. It’s amazing how something so simple can be so difficult, but simply talking is key.
- I’m a gardener: I spent 10 years with a man who I just assumed would always be there. We’d just always be married. We’d just kind of skate through life like we were supposed to. But life doesn’t work like that. Plans change. People change. I understand now that we can’t just skate through life. If we want something to last then we have to work hard to make it happen. You can’t plant a garden and just leave it and expect it to stay beautiful. Weeds will grow, droughts will come, floods will come, pests will invade, and it is our job as the gardeners to do what it takes to make sure that garden is taken care of and tended to so it can continue to grow and flourish. Relationships are a garden that takes two people who are willing to dedicate their lives to being gardeners. I want to be a gardener now. Not just someone who likes the idea of one, but never puts in the work to make it happen. That’s not me anymore.
So often we are met with pessimistic views of divorce and divorcees. Divorce is ugly and terrible, but life after divorce doesn’t have to be. Learn from it. Grow from it. Be better. Love better. Very seldom is anyone blameless in a failed relationship. Take a good, long, hard look at yourself and make the changes you need to make so that you can have your happy ending one day. They exist. But they only exist for the people willing to work for them.