Is the Time Spent In a “Failed” Married Wasted?


When my math students first start to tackle more difficult algebra problems, they retain their elementary focus on determining the single correct answer. While this difficult work is still relatively new to them, they have a tendency to completely erase or even tear up an entire page of work that led to this incorrect value of “x.”

One of my goals during this time is to help the students focus on the process. Once they recreate the steps that led to the wrong answer that made them quit in frustration, I’m able to show them that, more often than not, they completed every step correctly with one simple mistake that led to the wrong answer. I point out the correct reasoning that I see in their work and also highlight the errors that led them astray.

They learn that it’s not only about the end goal; it’s also about the process. And by analyzing their work that led them to the wrong answer, they learn how to recreate what they did well and how to avoid the mistakes.

I see marriage as much the same.

It’s easy to see a “failed” end as a sign that all the years invested were wasted. It’s easy to get frustrated and to want to erase all of the memories or tear it up in anger. It’s easy to focus on the mistakes and neglect to see all of things that went right.


Here’s how I learned how to reframe the sixteen years spent in my failed marriage as a lesson rather than a waste.


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