5 Things I Learned About Marriage From My Divorce

I was 27 when I decided I wanted a divorce. 27 years old. I was devastatingly embarrassed. The embarrassment was so crippling I could only even admit it to a few close friends. After, I really thought I would never get married again and how could I? It was clearly too big of a risk to take. Three years later, I am remarried and in a relationship that is completely different than they first. I often wonder if my ex peeked in on it, if he would even recognize me. I learned so much from my previous marriage and divorce that has affected my marriage today.

1. Being Your Honest Self Is Vital to Everyone’s Happiness

There’s sacrifice and then there’s sacrifice. I had been raised to believe that marriage required relentless sacrifice – putting the other person before yourself in order to succeed. Two problems with this mindset arose in my first marriage – I sacrificed until I no longer recognized myself and I resented the hell out of my partner for it. Keep your sacrifices in check, while it’s important to be giving it’s toxic to not be true to yourself.

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2. Escape Your Routine Together

It’s easy to forget when you live with someone that mini-vacations from the routine and even your home are important. Every time my husband and I sneak off for a weekend we return rejuvenated, asking each other, “why don’t we remember to do that more?!”

3. You Should Not Have to Sacrifice Friendships for Your Marriage

My ex wanted me to stop being friends with a particular guy friend with whom I was very close at the time. I happily complied because I came from an upbringing that taught friendships like that as a form of cheating. When we got divorced I realized not only how hurtful it was to this very important person in my life, but I realized how hurtful it had been for me. If there is jealousy caused by a friendship it should be discussed and treated delicately not simply ignored – because that does not make it truly disappear.

4. Be a Safe Place for Your Partner

This might be the most important lesson I learned and the biggest mistake I made. We were “pushing” each other to be better people and better partners way too hard. Eventually, I was no longer was a safe place for my ex. I’ve since noticed how common this is in relationships. If you push your own desires or expectations of how a relationship should be or look on your partner, you are setting yourself up for a relationship full of secrets.

5. Your Partner Can’t Be Your Everything

Lover & best friend, safe & mysterious, predicable & surprising? What an order! I truly believe we have come to expect way too much from one person in modern marriages and our expectations are causing unnecessary suffering. I now know my husband cannot be everything and try to rely on other outlets for the variety of interests and needs I have. It reduces the pressure on him and creates a healthy independence for both of us.

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Sarah Hughes is a freelance writer and co-creator of The Sex Talk podcast and blog. She is also a divorced mother and step-daughter and decided to take actions and help others here at Smart Divorce Network.

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