I read an article the other day about newlyweds. It advised newlyweds to seek advice from divorced people about how to make a marriage work.
This made so much sense to me! There really is no one else out there
who could tell you better on what, why and how a marriage failed.
Likely, if they made it as far as quitting, they spent a lot of time
agonizing over all of the details of what went wrong, what they could
have done better, etc etc.
Of course, as with anything, there are the
exceptions to these rules, but those people are pretty obvious. The
rush to the alter types usually end with several failed marriages under
their belts and no wisdom to convey other than "Do not do as I do's"
(I Do's, get it? Haha! Sorry, could not help myself)
I feel like I learned a lot from my marriage and even more from my
divorce. I don't mind sharing some of what I learned with the small
masses that read my blog, as I think it is all useful in it's own way.
Having had a 7 year marriage and almost 16 years of an on and off
relationship with one person under my belt, I feel like I have some
authority on the "what not to do".
1- Be accountable. Know how to admit when you are wrong. I
spent so many years with, "It wasn't me. I didn't do it" or
just an excuse for everything and "Not my fault!". I have to
say, that is the one thing I miss the very least about being married and
am so relieved I no longer have to deal with.
If someone tries to
"It's not my fault" me nowadays, I react like a person with PTSD
and go to a bad place in my brain. I just want to
shake them and scream, "I KNOW IT WAS YOU! JUST ADMIT IT ALREADY SO WE
CAN MOVE ON!"
When you mess up, lose the remote, take a left instead of a right on the
road, forget to take out the trash, forget to pay a bill, just say "I'm
sorry" or "Oops!" Don't rattle off a laundry list of all of the reasons
why it is not your fault, and why the other person is actually the one
to blame. This goes all the way from forgot to take out the trash to serious marriage issues.
All issues take two people, but every now and
then, we all mess up. Be the better person and just fess up when it is
2- Be loving. I know that the person you are with does not look
like they did when they are 25 (Unless they actually are 25, then this
advice is for the future married you). I know that you may even get to
the point where you are sick of looking at them. But make a point of
telling the person or showing them each and every day that you
appreciate them and you love them.
Even when you are fighting over
something stupid. It really only takes a millisecond. But I will tell you,
after several years of marriage, there will be times where you could
easily go three weeks without exchanging so much as a handshake and not
even realize it. What you are missing when that happens is the growing rift
between you, and how you are slowly getting over one another right under
both of your noses.
If you let it go too long, one day you might wake
up and realize that you have literally, "lost that loving feeling."
And for God's sake, whatever you do, NEVER use the Jack Nicholson quote:
"Show me a beautiful woman and I will show you a man who is sick of f*cking
her." That is not an point to win an argument, unless the argument you
are trying to win is how to beat land speed records to divorce court.
3- Cohabitation. Live together for at least 2 years before you get married. Physically live together for at least a
year before you even think about getting engaged. I don't care what
anyone says, you can't really know someone, or if you can put up with
that someone for the rest of your life, until you live with them for a
couple of years.
When I got married, even though we had been off and on for many years
and I really thought he was the great love of my life, I realize,
looking back, that we never really spent a ton of time together before
we got married. We saw each other all of the time, and we spent a
lot of time together, but we didn't live in the same house for very
long before we got hitched.
We moved in together in August, were engaged by January and married by
Our relationship started out as one of those most perfect long
distance relationships. Where you only get to spend small chunk of time
together and all of the rest of the time you spend missing each other.
And then with the amount he traveled for work, we continued to spend
amazing amounts of time apart when we were actually living together.
At about year three, I had the epiphany that we were a great couple when
he was away because he had the long distance thing down. The sweet
phone calls, the longing for, the love and misses, everything that makes
up the statement "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." He was a master at the long distance thing.
But what I learned was that even though we were pros and being apart, we royally sucked at being together.
I know, it sounds backwards, but it is true.
I thought I could not know
a person better after all of those years, but when we lived in the same
house, I learned things I never knew, and never would have been OK
with, and I am certain he would say the same about me. And it isn't
even anything dramatic, it is just compatibility things that we would have figured out had we taken the time to live together!
Examples for anyone might be: how you like your house to look, how many
pets you actually want in your house, do you want a TV in your bedroom,
do you ever want to live in another state or city, how do you feel about
the hours your partner keeps, personal hygiene, food habits, health and
weight management, how loud they snore, how they spend their free time,
how often either of you expect to have sex, weird kinks, how many hours
a day you want the TV on, etc etc... there could be a million things
you can never know about a person until you actually live with them. You may
even find out they have a psychiatric disorder like BPD, BiPolar,
Depression, etc, that you never would have know before you lived with
them. Don't find these things out after you get married!!
4- Expectations. I'm talking the big stuff here. Children. Taxes.
Money. Religion... Whatever it is that means the most to you. Make a
list of your future dreams that you know you can't live without and make sure your future partner is happy and willing to go in that same direction with you, or you will have a life
filled with regret to look forward to.
One of the biggest reasons I finally filed for divorce was that he
promised children before we got married, which was super important to
me, and what felt like minutes after we were wed, he told me what he actually said was that, "He would
consider it, and he considered it and decided he didn't want any."
made it very clear that if I were to get married, I wanted another child
as it has always been my dream to actually have one baby the old
fashioned way, with two parents who both wanted a child and planned it
together and went through all of that fun pregnancy stuff together. When I turned
35, been married for over 5 years and saw no progress or children on the horizon and so much wasted time behind
me, I thought my dream of having one more child had been killed, and I
saw the assassin as the person I was married to.
By killing that dream,
he killed my feelings for him and I am certain it was not because he
was trying to hurt me or doing it on purpose, it was because not having
children was as important to him as having them was to me.
As much as
he was a disappointment to me, I am certain I was to him in this area.
Luckily, my story had a happy ending. I've won the lottery and met a man who shared the same dream
before I got too old, and am now living that, but I do think about all
of the people who stay married and are as miserable as I was because the
person they chose to marry are the main roadblock to one of their
For me, him standing in the way of my dream to be a
mother one more time would have been the equivalent of me standing in
the way of him making music. Unacceptable.
Make sure you know all of
the answers to all of the biggest questions before you say, "I Do",
because if you don't, and you get surprised with the "wrong" answer after the fact, it
will ruin your whole life.
5- Get a great therapist! Love yourself, know yourself, know
what you want and expect, and be honest with yourself about your own
flaws before handing them to someone else to fix for you. Because no
one but you is going to be able to make you a whole person. Don't go
into a marriage expecting the marriage to save the relationship, or fix
the parts of you that are broken. Adding the stress of marriage on top
of all of the voices that are already telling you you are not good
enough to be loved, will just make that manifest in your marriage.
Individuation. It is a word you will hear a lot when things start to go
south. Look it up, learn it, own it, way before it becomes homework
from your marriage counselor.
That is all I've got, future newlyweds, or the small corner of the
internet that actually reads my blog.
I hope no one sees this as some
kind of character assassination or something, I don't mean it that way at all, this is just my attempt to
be as honest as possible about what I see as useful information for
other people who are about to take the plunge. Learn from my mistakes as that is all history is good for.
If anyone learns from my mistakes and the years I had to suffer through
unhappiness before I could come out the other side, than maybe it was a
little more than wasted time.
I still love and respect my ex-husband in a lot of ways, and I hope for
nothing but his future happiness. I just know beyond a shadow
of a doubt that he was so entirely the wrong person for me. And taking
away from those years what I have, I swear they have made my new
partnership stronger and more loving than anything I ever imagined
Everything I ever wanted and dreamed of is coming true. I have an
amazing family, I'm having the baby I always wanted, the way I always
wanted, and I am with a partner who is more like me and understands me
better than anyone I've ever met. I wake up happy every day instead of
angry and in pain and uncertainty. I never question the love I have,
because I chose wisely this time around and I chose correctly.
I don't know if I will ever marry again. Right now, it doesn't seem
important to either of us at this time as we have everything we want and
we've both lived through broken marriages before, and agree that the
best part or those marriages were the weddings.
And anyhow, we have only lived together for 1.5 years, I'm not about to start breaking my own rules now! ;-)