What My Divorce Taught Me About Marriage

Divorce is not something I ever pictured myself having to deal with–and certainly not at 28 years old, and only two years into my marriage.

I thought my ex-husband and I had done everything right. We dated for six years, lived together for two and even went to a marriage preparation class. In class we were instructed not to expect anything to change after marriage. Except that after our wedding, everything did change.

Our newlywed phase was brought to a screeching halt when my father–in-law, who was also the boss at the family company where my husband and I both worked, was killed in a car accident. From that day forward, everything we experienced happened at an extreme level. We lived a heightened life of grief and stress and coped with it in all the wrong ways.

Our marriage was over within the year.

I’m not an expert on marriage or a couples counselor, but I do have something that married couples don’t: hindsight. Had we spent time focusing on our marriage, it may not have ended so quickly. Here are ten things my divorce taught me about marriage.

1. Admit when you are wrong. You both make mistakes. Own up to them, apologize, forgive and move on.

2. Ask your spouse how their day was, and then listen to their answer. On the flip side, take time to answer the question; a simple “good” doesn’t cut it.

3. Look at each other. Seriously. Turn off the TV, put down the phone, put the kids to bed and make eye contact with each other.

4. Close the bathroom door. Nobody should ever be that comfortable.

5. Compliment each other–often. Don’t just comment on your partner’s appearance, but on the things they accomplish in their daily lives, no matter how big or small. Tell them, “I am proud of you,” “You are special,” “You inspire me.”

6. Hug each other. Trade in one kiss per day for a hug. Hold on to each other, don’t talk, just enjoy the embrace.

7. Don’t let anything come between you, literally. Close the space between you when you’re sitting on the couch. Sit next to each other at the dinner table. Hold hands throughout the day.

8. Talk about money. Be open and clear about each other’s spending habits. Set limits, and goals. Save.

9. Spend time with friends. We all know its important to have Date Night, but it’s just as important to split up and have time apart, either alone or with friends. Talk to each other about what you did and who you saw while you were apart.

10. Give 100 percent. If you expect a relationship to be 50/50, then half the time you are not doing enough. Give, and you will receive.

Image(s): Gremlin

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