Eight Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Being Married And Divorced
We’re all fundamentally looking for love and fulfilment in life. We turn to various things in order to find them, with marriage and starting a family ranking at the top of the priority list for most people. But what I’ve come to learn the hard way is that love and fulfilment come from ourselves, first and foremost. Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned:
- Being married won’t magically make everything alright – If you enter into marriage with the misguided belief that it represents the peak of success and satisfaction and the cream of life, you will be sorely disappointed. The truth is that being married isn’t some cataclysmic, life-changing experience. It’s just an official record of your commitment to a relationship with another person, and a metal ring to go with and symbolise it. Being married, very simply, is just like any other long-term relationship, only harder to get out of. Getting married won’t suddenly make life wonderful. For the most part, things are the same as before getting married. Once the honeymoon is over and it’s all back to normal, it’s almost as if nothing’s changed at all. The idea that once we’re married everything will come together is an important bubble to burst, whether we do it the easy way or the hard way, because it’s going to burst eventually.
- Marriage is hard – Just like any long-term relationship, making a marriage work is difficult. No matter how many issues you work through together, there are always more just around the corner. There are so many complicated factors that come into any relationship, and in a marriage these are compounded and intensified by the pressure of the official and very public commitment that you’ve both made to each other. What’s needed above everything else is the right attitude – a full and complete acceptance of each other and a deep, mutual desire to make things work – otherwise a marriage doesn’t have a chance. Additionally, people change over time. This is especially true in our mid-to-late twenties, a period when many people begin to take the idea of marriage more seriously. This change can cause a lot of strain on a marriage, particularly when the person you married begins to resemble someone completely different. The type of person we’re attracted to also changes during this period, because the things that matter to us change as we grow older; we begin to value qualities such as honesty, maturity, integrity, responsibility, and understanding far more than we might have done previously as we build the foundation for the rest of our lives with someone. Many people find themselves in the position of being married to someone who they thought was the one, but begin to realise is very far from it, for exactly this reason.
- The importance of being sure of what you want before you pull the trigger – While being married isn’t a life sentence, the whole ordeal of getting married to someone only to realise at some point along the line that things aren’t working out and you don’t want to be married to them anymore isn’t a particularly pleasant experience. That’s why it’s so important to wait until you’re absolutely sure that you want to marry someone before you commit to it – something that applies to both you and your partner. Being sure doesn’t just involve some abstract feeling of things being right. It means the two of you knowing who you are and understanding yourselves and each other completely. Being married to someone is a big commitment, and you’ll be spending a lot of time in each other’s company. It’s therefore important to be each other’s best friends, first and foremost. Knowing how they handle stress and pressure is also important. It’s foolish to enter into a marriage without first witnessing how your partner handles stressful situations. Financial pressure, long road trips, and difficult circumstances such as losing a loved one all give profound insight into how someone handles stress. If you haven’t seen your partner at their worst, how can you be sure that you want to spend your life with them?
- Staying single is better than settling for the wrong person – so many people settle for marrying someone who isn’t right for them out of desperation because they’re afraid of ending up alone. But as someone who’s felt that way, gotten married, got divorced, and is now single again, I can confirm that being single is by far preferable to being married to the wrong person. It’s far better to be alone and free than cooped up together with someone who you resent. There’s a big difference between being married to the right person and the wrong person. The fear of being on your own stems from the assumption that you need somebody else to feel whole, which just isn’t true. In fact, being married to the wrong person will go a long way in making you feel more alone and separate than ever.
- Good friends are invaluable – nothing shows you the value of friendship quite like marriage and divorce. Having a few close, reliable friends makes all the difference when it comes to handling the difficulties of life. There’s a common theme in our culture that getting married or being involved in a serious relationship means the end of close friendships – or at least, a new chapter. But in my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Friendships are a matter of priority, and good friends are only ever a text or phone call away. It’s certainly true that being single makes you appreciate your friends much more. When we’re wrapped up in the world of marriage and honeymoons and families, we don’t have as much of a need to be in close contact with our friends. But in the end, we always return to the understanding that our friends are the ones who will always be there for us, even if that understanding only comes when our marriage comes crashing down. Appreciate your friends, because they’re more important than any marriage.
- You can make things happen all by yourself – you don’t need to be married to live your life to its fullest and unlock your full potential. You don’t need anybody else to progress in your career, go travelling, or even own your dream home. You can do all of those things on your own, and you might even find that you’re happier for the experience. Only you hold the keys to your life, not someone else. Even in a great marriage, all the other person can do is provide support and help you to grow. All of the growth comes from you, not them, so being on your own is no hindrance when it comes to living life to its fullest.
- Having kids won’t solve anything – one of the main go-to’s of a failing marriage or serious relationship is to have kids. It’s right up there with getting a place or dog together. But having children in order to save your marriage or solve your problems and make you feel less empty and lost is just doubling down on a bad decision. Having kids only makes things harder and more complicated. It’s hard enough being a parent even in a stable, loving, successful marriage, let alone one that isn’t working. Just as getting married doesn’t magically make everything alright, neither does having kids.
Happiness and fulfilment come from within, not from without – the most important lesson I’ve learned is that nothing and no one can bring you lasting happiness and fulfilment. These things are already there, already present inside of you. The things that we think make us happy simply reveal the happiness and fulfilment that already exists inside of us, all along. Happiness, fulfilment, and unconditional love are the nature of our being, rather than distant, unreachable qualities that we have to try to search for and find. Marriage won’t make you complete, because nothing can complete you – you’re already complete. Once you come to this understanding, you’re free to enjoy life and marriage and all of that stuff in a way that’s free from the hang-up that is the idea that happiness and fulfilment have to be found from the experiences you have in life. They’re already there inside you, and have been all along.
Written by Maverick, Staff writer at Lessons Learned In Life Inc. ©