When I divorced I was barely 22 with no plan, future, and few regrets. My husband and I had married immediately after I graduated high school, despite protests from friends and family, and though we thought we were old enough to understand the commitment we were making, we weren't ready for a responsibility like marriage. If you can relate, there's probably some things you'll want to say to your ex-husband, but won't, because the wounds are either too fresh, or they've long since healed. Why bring up the past anyway, right?
When the decision came for my husband I to part ways, it seemed sudden. To everyone else, we worked through so much in four short years (infidelity, separation, re-commitment), so how could we just give up? The truth is, we didn't. It was a long time coming, throughout a marriage that never should've happened. While I'm grateful for what the experience taught me, I often reflect on those days and wonder if things could've been different had we waited a few years and allowed ourselves to grow up before promising the rest of our lives together.
The last time I saw my ex, he drifted into my grandmother's funeral viewing unexpectedly. His presence comforted me in ways I've still not been able to verbalize. Having been part of my life when I lived with my grandmother, it was a nice reminder of how far we've come, however separate our lives are now. Since then, I've been thinking of things I wanted to say that evening, but never could, or would, because it doesn't really matter anymore. None of it is malicious or vindictive because, honestly, my ex-husband is a great guy. In the end, we just wren't meant to be.
I've been with my current husband 13 years, and we have two amazing children together. Still, those things I didn't have at 22 — a plan, future, and regret — are things I definitely have now. If you have an ex, you might want to say some of the following things, because refrain from doing so because your life is happening now. We can't erase our pasts, and what I've come to realize (and be grateful for) is that I don't want to.
Being married at 18 meant I was naive and immature, and had no real idea of what marriage meant. Though my ex-husband was a year older, he was pretty much in the same boat. We jumped into work and living together and all these things that, now that I look back, weren't remotely "real." We played house, essentially pretending to be this beautiful thing we weren't.
I own my part in the way things played out and and how I contributed. I know I owe my ex-husband an apology, and would love to tell him I'm so, so sorry. For everything.
"I Made Mistakes, Too"
Between the ages of 18 and 22, I was absolutely imperfect (still am). I know I made mistakes, too, and that it wasn't all him. For years, I've wanted to tell him that he's not the only one to blame. That if I could go back and re-do things, I would, because I know he deserved a little more kindness and forgiveness. We were just kids just looking for our place in the world, together.
"I Hope You've Found Happiness"
When I left my first marriage, I wasn't sure what I'd do with my life. I only knew that whatever I would end up doing, it wouldn't be with him. Something in my gut pulled and twisted until the decision set itself into motion. We'd grown so far apart, I wasn't sure where the love had gone. I just knew there had to be more than what we had. Ever since the day I packed my things, I've wished nothing but happiness for my ex-husband. I want him to fall in love with the one he'll spend the rest of his days with so he can experience what I've found with my current husband.
I'd never tell him this though, because in saying the words it almost feels sarcastic, or that I don't mean what I say. Maybe even thinking it diminishes the fact that he has moved on without me.
"I Sometimes Wonder What Might've Been"
I'd be lying if said I never think about the future my ex-husband and I could've had. I'm happy now, and I'd never move beyond having these natural curiosities, but I wonder. Would we have found our way to happiness, or wasted more time fizzling out? He was such an integral part of my formative years, it's hard to know where we'd have ended up if only we'd stuck it out to the other side.
I wonder if he thinks about what could have been, too.
"I Wish We'd Have Waited"
Some marry young and live their entire lives happily every after. That's great for them, truly. The one thing I wish my ex-husband and I would have done, though, is stay engaged long enough to see it wouldn't work. Instead, we rushed into the marriage like our lives depended on it, and in many ways, mine did. After graduation I had no real plans, my mom was moving to another city (and out of the place I'd called home), and it felt like I had no spot in the world. Marriage was the only way I could see my way out of an uncertain and scary time.
Maybe my ex-husband feels the same, or maybe he's fine with the way things happened. I want to tell him I wish we'd have waited, if only to finally realize if it really as love, or just kids holding onto a dream of something that never really was.
"Thank You For The Memories"
When I saw my ex-husband at my grandmother's viewing, I thought about telling him it wasn't all bad; that some of my favorite memories from my entire life were good ones with him. He and I met when I was a junior in high school. He was a senior, and it was electric almost immediately. In some ways, I felt like I did grow up with him by my side, but in others, I still had so much growing to do apart from him.
No matter how things turned out, I'd want him to know I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.
"I Don't Regret The Marriage"
I've said a lot of things over the years about marrying right out of high school, mostly because it's taken me this long to process it. When we initially split, I felt free. As if I'd been imprisoned by the unity, not emboldened. As time went on — even after I met my current husband — that feeling faded into something that resembles sheer gratitude.
Maybe it wasn't the best decision to marry like we did, but I don't regret it. If I did, it'd be like erasing all the pieces that led to the life I have now. So really, if there's anything I want to say to my ex-husband, it's that I'm grateful for him and the years together that prepared me for everything I have now.