It's a time of the year that always hits me as strange. Not because I miss him, or am nostalgic for the past or anything like that - in fact I can say that in the five years we were together, the decision to get divorced was probably the best that we made as a couple - but because it does cause me to reflect.
I've written about my previous marriage before, albeit briefly, and have said more or less all I feel I need to say about it, at least for the time being. My ex husband and I parted as friends, sad for our loss but knowing it was the right decision, and over the years we've lost touch - which is weird to say of someone you were once married and planning the rest of your life with, but it's true.
Still, whenever my ex-anniversary comes up, it causes me to think. I learned a lot in those few years of marriage, in the divorce, and in my life since. And in hopes that somehow it may help someone else, I thought I'd share them.
- Two rights can still make a wrong. By which I mean you can have two good people who are trying their hardest and that doesn't mean they're right for each other. Neither of you is at fault, and hopefully, you can come to this realization together and part amicably.
- Opposites can attract, but not always. It depends on what the differences are, and if you are willing to learn from each other and truly listen to the other person. If you aren't, forget it.
- Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. It's ok not to see eye to on everything, as long respect the other person's right to have an opinion that's not yours. It's not right or wrong, it's different.
- Genuinely good people can do bad things. There's a difference between doing a bad thing and being a bad person. One is the situation. The other is the person's heart and soul. Learn to recognize the difference.
- Forgive, learn from it, and move on in whichever direction you choose. Notice I didn't say forgive and forget. If you forget, neither of you will learn from the situation and it will almost certainly repeat itself.
- Barring actual amnesia, there's no such thing as a completely clean slate when you stay in the same situation. You can move forward, but you'll always be somehow shaped by the past. See the above point about learning from situations and moving forward.
- Love may be blind, but it is not all-powerful. It would be wonderful if loving someone enough made everything work, but it doesn't. Love can make you choose to stay together, even in a toxic situation. But it can't make you happy in that same situation. Sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, it's best for you both to walk away.
- Never, ever, ever lose your identity for someone else. Don't let them convince you you're someone you're not, or that you should be anyone besides yourself. People can be very persuasive, and so can love. It's great to have an open mind, but maintain your you-ness. Once lost, it becomes increasingly difficult to re-discover.
- Fight fair. Anything that is said or done to get your agenda across, to win instead of the address the issue(s) at hand, is not doing so.
- Make sure you're actually fighting the same battle. Listen carefully to the underlying theme of their argument. Are they feeling hurt, sad, ignored, unimportant, under-valued? Perhaps that tiny thing that set them off isn't the issue, just the last straw. Pay attention.
- Never be dismissive of someone's feelings. When someone opens up to you, they're offering you a place in their inner lives that most people are excluded from. If someone spent time and effort picking out a gift for you, would you throw it back in their face? Hopefully not. And if you did, it's probably the last time they'd ever get you a gift, with good reason.
- Love, and life, are hard work. Anyone who wants either to be easy will be sorely disappointed. Love itself may come naturally, especially at first, but making it work through all of the stresses of daily life may not at times. Nothing great ever happens, or at least lasts, if you're unwilling to venture out of your comfort zone. That includes lasting relationships.