Going through a divorce was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It nearly broke me. I did get through it, though, and I learned so much about myself, what I really wanted, and — probably more importantly — what I didn't want from a partner, co-parent, and lover. I wish I could have learned these things sooner. Before I got married in the first place, perhaps. Unfortunately, though, there are some things you can only learn about marriage after going through a divorce.
It's kind of ironic, but I learned how to be a way better wife and partner, not to mention how to make a marriage work, from my failed marriage. I learned how to compromise without compromising myself or the things that were important to me. I learned how to fight fair, owning the things that were mine to own and not blaming them on my former partner, and figuring out which things were worth fighting for and which proverbial hills I wasn't willing to die on. I learned how to forgive my partner and how to forgive myself. Trust me when I say I am so much better at marriage the second time around.
Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself, what I valued, and what kind of family I wanted to build for my children. It has not been easy, and I wouldn't wish my experience on anyone, but I am a way better, stronger, more confident person after my divorce, than I ever was when I was married.
What You Want In A Partner...
I always wanted the "bad boy," but then I married him and it turned out he was a really bad guy. I learned that what I really wanted was kindness, intelligence, and stability (which I totally found when I met my second husband).
It doesn't hurt that my second husband is also smoking hot.
...And What You Don't Want From A Partner
It's hard to see clearly from inside a marriage, especially when your spouse keeps telling you that no one will ever love you. When you separate, though, all of their faults come into focus because you're finally on the outside looking in. I finally knew what I was looking for and, to put it simply, it was someone completely unlike my husband.
How To Fight Fair
Divorce shows you the ugly side of marriage. When you fight with someone who knows you well, they know how to push all of your buttons and expose your vulnerabilities. Now that I know what it feels like to have someone use that knowledge to their advantage, I am way more fair in conflicts with people I care about.
How To Know When Your Marriage Is Over
For me, my marriage didn't feel over until the day I left. Going through a divorce taught me the signs that I should have seen all along.
What Your Bottom Lines Are
Divorce teaches you how much you are willing to take and what things will finally be the last straw. So, why did I finally leave? Cheating, lying, stealing, violence towards me, and aggression towards my kids. Yep. Deal-breakers.
How To Compromise
Divorce is an exercise in compromise. Most of the time, neither party gets exactly what they want, and everyone loses to a certain degree, but it was a crash course in knowing what I wanted, prioritizing, expressing my needs, negotiating, and knowing when to make concessions — all important lessons for future relationships.
How A Bad Marriage Can Be Bad For Your Kids
After my divorce I realized that being a stable, happy parent for my kids was way easier when I was single than it was when I was married. My relationship with my kids grew stronger when we were living in a safe, calm, and loving home. I learned that staying together for the kids is not worth it. In my current marriage, we stay together for us.
How Important Communication Is
My ex-husband and I couldn't agree on anything in our divorce. It dragged on for 18 months of bickering, mediation, court dates, and lawyer fees. I learned a lot about why our marriage had failed — mostly, I think, because we ignored the small stuff until it was too big to let go. Now, in my second marriage, we work hard to communicate and be honest with each other about things both small and big.
How Important Your Own Happiness Is
I own my own happiness. I was terrified to file for divorce and be left alone to raise my kids as a single mom. Once I left, though, I realized that I had spent so much time trying to find happiness from another person, that I didn't think about owning my own. I was totally capable of being happy without him. In fact, it was easier without having to work so hard to love someone who didn't really love me back.