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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

A Tale of Two Marriages

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Today is our 6th wedding anniversary.

That number has some meat to it. It feels substantial. Like we’re past the appetizer and into the main meal.

For some reason, I’ve been particularly reflective this year, looking at this marriage and my first one from the perspective of today.

I don’t remember my 6th anniversary in my first marriage. But that’s not surprising. Not only did we not make a big deal out anniversaries, but both time and trauma have significantly dulled my memories of much of the sixteen years I was with him.

Even without specific memories or knowledge, I suspect that he started living a double life in earnest around our 6th anniversary. It was around that time that he was laid off from his latest job and he decided to go solo. And as I learned later, the company that he started never was profitable. Of course, he worked hard to hide that from me at the time and shared extensive details about projects that he was working on. Projects that I don’t think ever existed.

I can’t help but contrast that with my now-husband. He’s had a couple down years at work due to certain accounts. And I’ve known about it every step of the way. He’s been frustrated about the cuts, but instead of hiding the finances, he’s strategized and worked harder. All while being open with me about what has been happening.

From my perspective at the time, my first marriage was good. If I was to graph its happiness and our connection over time, it would be a horizontal line with only the most minor of deviations. The marriage was steady and we were consistent.

My marriage now is different. When I look back over our 9+ years together, it’s been a positive trajectory. We’re closer now than we were when we married. There’s more intimacy. Better teamwork and communication. More awareness of our own triggers and baggage, which we’ve both made major strides on addressing.

There’s been some hard times, but ultimately, we have both grown as individuals (with the support and encouragement of the other) and the marriage has grown as well.

In my first marriage, we never talked about the marriage. It just was. Something as certain and inevitable as the sunrise.

In contrast, my now-husband and I talk about our marriage quite a bit. What’s working. What’s not. What we appreciate and what we observe. It’s not something we take for granted; it’s something that we make an effort to nurture and grow every single day.

I used to worry that I would never have love like my first husband again. What I couldn’t have imagined was that I would find better. Realer. This love is more challenging and also so much more rewarding. And I would trade this for anything.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Marriages

  1. Funny how you mention the differences in your marriages. My only marriage of 25-plus years has been one where my wife has felt that I have just needed to relax and not get so caught up in trying to improve our relationship (I am the type that listens to the marriage podcasts and reads all the “how to have a better marriage” type books throughout our relationship).

    The irony is that she was the one who had the affair when the marriage started getting rocky and I was not reacting to life in the best possible way. I have always strived for — and longed for — closer intimacy spiritually, emotionally and physically knowing that it can be better if we actually communicate and try to work on ourselves and our relationship. But it takes two to tango and I’ve been, as David Bowie would say, “Dancing with myself” for the vast majority of our 2-plus decades.

    At some point, you just wonder when you should find a new place to dance with a spouse who actually wants to join dance with you.

    1. Reminds of the differences between having a growth mindset vs a fixed one. There’s only so much you can do when somebody has the latter and refuses to change.

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