Getting married a month after high school graduation wasn't my best decision to date. While a lot of high school sweethearts marry and enjoy long, fulfilling relationships, it simply wasn't the case for me. When I accepted my boyfriend's proposal, I never anticipated a future without him. Starry-eyed and hopeful, I was sure we'd make it. As we fizzled though, there were things I'm glad I didn't know about divorce because, eventually, they'd become my new normal and would take major adjustments in order for me to regain any sort of hope to love again.
After just a few months of marriage, there were clues we wouldn't last as my (then) husband and I began to drift apart. At the time, it felt like the end of the world but when I think back now, I see two young kids who cared for one another but shouldn't have committed to such a promise. We had a lot of disagreements and suffered financial woes before getting kicked out of our rental and separating for some time. This, just about six months into our "ever after" and we couldn't have a mature conversation about our relationship (because we weren't yet mature). After a few months of living apart, we figured out how to talk through some of our issues and even started dating again. Eventually, we moved back in together with a "fresh start" in mind, even though I always felt, deep down, we could never really mend all that had been damaged.
Four years in, it still wasn't working. We'd grown up a bit but we'd also grown apart. There's no blame to be cast as we both made mistakes and, in the aftermath, both tried to salvage the remnants of what had been broken. When it came down to it, we just weren't right together. We both needed time to grow into ourselves and it couldn't happen while together. So, we did what we felt best — get divorced. I didn't know some of the after-effects at the time because, honestly, I was naive, but now that I'm older and re-married, I'm glad I wasn't fully aware of all I'd have to deal with. It wouldn't have made it any easier to go through and might've kept me in a situation I wasn't happy in that much longer. In this case, I'm thankful for that naivety because it might've helped me move on with my life, and he with his.
I'll Doubt The Decision Forever
When you're going through a divorce, there will be times you might doubt your choice to leave (or stay). Even when I knew it was for the best to end things, I often caved to the fleeting thoughts of, "Is this really the right decision?" Years after the fact, married to my second husband for nearly 10 years and a mother of two now, I look back on my 18th year on earth as a newly married woman, wondering if there's something else we should've done to stay together.
In the end, all I can do is know and accept that we're better off now. Had I known beforehand how tortuous the feelings of guilt and doubt would be, I may have stayed married longer in hopes of something changing (though I know in my heart nothing would have).
I'll Lose Friends
My previous husband and I shared a small group of friends but even in our decision to split, I never thought about what would happen to those relationships as a result. I guess I assumed we'd still be close because, well, friendship and bonds and promises. Had I known I'd lose most, if not all of those people, I would've taken it pretty hard.
Of course I knew some things would change through all of that mess, but because we parted amicably, I was foolish to assume those friends would still be there for me when they clearly sided with his position. I say this with all the love in my heart now that I've grown and evolved: I'm glad they were there for him. I see now maybe he needed them more than I did at the time but back then, I didn't realize.
Money Issues Will Get Worse
As I said, we'd already struggled with money long before we separated. I couldn't seem to land a job that paid enough or gave me the hours I needed and our expenses only accumulated. I had a great job towards the end of our relationship and thought, after leaving, the financial part of us would dissolve. Not only did it get worse, it linked us long after we'd separated. If I knew then what I know now, I might not have worked so hard to settle into a career and make a name for myself.
So in a way, I'm grateful I didn't yet know the impact a divorce would have on my finances.
Some People Just Won't Get It
In amidst frustration within our coupledom, we also had to navigate all those around us who never thought we'd last anyway, as well as the juxtaposition of those confused/shocked by our divorce. I'm thankful I didn't realize how tricky it was going to be because, honestly, it would've taken away from trying to figure out my own feelings on the permanent separation and that's what was most important at the time.
Being Single Isn't That Fun
Because neither of us really got to date around, there was always a lingering curiosity about what being single felt like. He and I were bound to one another at such a crucial time, we missed the "self-journey" thing where we'd discover what we wanted out of life. Once we decided we weren't going to be together, I'd built up being single in my mind to something it truly wasn't. I thought it'd be fun and freeing. Instead, it was lonely, frustrating, and sometimes lacking the connection I'd been missing.
However, had I known how frustrating it was going to be, I might not have met my current husband. I'm happy to not have been cynical before ever trying it because I had the chance to figure myself, and my heart, out.
The Process Will Last A Long Time
Again, naive me thought we'd get divorced and that would be the end of it. I didn't realize how long the whole process can take (a year for us) and that, through it, we'd still have to occasionally speak or meet to sign papers for something.
I figured we'd file, be divorced, and that would be "the end." Nothing is ever that simple. Had I know how long it was going to take, knowing my mindset at the time, I might've delayed everything hoping we could find a way to heal or, at the very least, live as companions. I'm not a patient person so not knowing was for the best in this case.
Years Later, It Will Still Hurt
My first husband and I have long since moved on. I wish him well and want nothing but the best for him. Even still, he was my first real love during a time I was trying to find my place in the world. That's a pretty special thing. Every now and then, I get a little pang in my chest and a small twitch of undeniable hurt. It's not becauseI miss him, but because we failed.
Again, our divorce wasn't anyone's fault and we were young, fell out of love, and destined to be with other people but if I knew many years later, I'd sometimes still sad about the loss of the unity, I wouldn't have believed it. Now that I've gone through it, I know. Yes, it does still hurt at times, but also yes—it was the right decision for the both of us.