It’s been almost three years since mutual friends set my new wife and me up on a not so blind date and 7 years since my divorce from my first wife. That turned out pretty well I’d have to say!
A few weeks ago we made it official and tied the knot. In all honesty, we’ve been committed to each other in a marital sort of way for almost two years. It didn’t take long for us to realize we were going to be together forever. We are both fiercely loyal and when we commit, we commit.
Actually going through the wedding process recently felt more like a big celebration of life, than a starting point for any sort of “new” life. It got me thinking about how what I had been through in my previous marriage and divorce has influenced this relationship.
Here are four ways I think my divorce has improved my marriage.
1. Communicating Love
I’ve been very careful to avoid the blame game in this project. As I’ve stated, I have no ill will toward my ex. Additionally, I’m eager to own my part in the relationship ending. One of the things I learned most about myself was the immaturity I had regarding communicating love adequately with my spouse. That’s why it’s the most frequent thing my wife and I now talk and check in with each other about.
What does that mean and what does that functionally look like? We took time early on in our relationship to identify and communicate each other’s love language. This is the way we each give and receive love. And understanding each other’s is vital in a marriage. Then, we actively do our best to communicate in that way and occasionally ask each other if they’re feeling loved. It seems simple enough, and it is! But only if you make it a priority.
2. Speaking Your Mind
You can’t hold things against your spouse if you never tell them the truth. I had a horrible habit of holding grudges for things my ex did or didn’t do (and vice versa). This all stemmed from our inability to tell the other person what it was we were struggling with. We must be able to honestly communicate our thoughts, feeling and desires on all subjects without feeling as though it’s an imposition.
If you can’t be honest with them, something is wrong! If you can’t speak your mind, something is wrong! Evaluate why it is you’re holding back your true feelings, and fix it. ASAP. This will eliminate these grudges from growing into toxic explosions of bitterness.
3. Trashing the Score Board
If you find yourself keeping score of all of the things you’re doing and all of the things she’s not, you’re heading for trouble. I did this way too much in my past. I’m a bit of neat freak and have set ways in my head that everything should be done. Whether it’s doing the dishes and laundry or planning a trip.
Choosing to be with your spouse also means choosing to accept that not everything will go according to the set of rules you have in your head. It means recognizing that those details that can drive you bonkers, actually have little to no true value.
So instead of focusing on who’s winning the service game, shift your energy toward that which is most important. Love, respect, fun, and adventure. Which brings me to the final lesson.
4. Recognizing the Adventure
Too many people talk about marriage as a battle to be survived. I’ve totally reframed my beliefs around marriage. It is an adventure to be explored, not a war to endure. When you approach life as an adventure, it immediately diffuses all of life’s little annoyances. Think about how you were as a kid with your best friend. You didn’t freak out if they left the toothpaste cap off during the sleepover. You were too busy seeing who could shove the most gummy bears in your mouth at once.
Learn to let the small stuff go. I’m not glossing over the fact that it can be challenging at times to live with another person. But, if you view life as an adventure to explore, it can help you see the big picture.
And that landscape can be an absolutely beautiful one.