The word "contradiction" probably comes to mind when reading the title of this article. What marriage advice could a divorced mom possibly give? Being divorced means she failed at marriage, right?
“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
Failure is a harsh term. I like to think that I’ve simply figured out at least one way marriage doesn’t work. So, if you are willing to listen to a divorced mom then here are some things I’ve learned about marriage since my divorce:
Focus on the now in order to achieve forever
Being together forever is the goal, right? Yet so many couples forget that forever isn’t just a word. It doesn’t just happen. I think to achieve forever we must actually focus on the now. Those fleeting moments that offer us the opportunity to either deepen our connection or add another crack to it. Each day is filled with opportunities to be gentle, understanding, and to work together toward your common goal of “death do us part”. You have an equal chance of choosing to yell, blame and build up resentments. The goal is to make those small choices every day that take your relationship closer to forever.
Treat each other like teammates
Both of you are on the same side. You have the same goal: a healthy and happy marriage. You might have different ways of showing love or solving problems. You might respond differently to conflict. But you are both on the same team. It’s not you against him or her way versus your way. Your actions move you both either toward happiness on one side or sadness on the other. Treat each other like teammates and you will always step closer to your goal.
Don’t treat your marriage like the end of a Disney movie
Disney loves to end movies with a happy marriage. All the conflict and struggle comes first and only after the characters have overcome the struggles can they finally experience the joy of love and marriage. Marriage, in a Disney movie, is a magical ending to all the fighting, conflict and struggle. Only love, sunshine and happiness are in the future.
Let go of the Disney-fied Love Story version of marriage. Real love and marriage will never live up to the hype. My own marriage crumbled under the weight and pressure of such unrealistic and transient notions. Sink your feet into the reality of marriage and the everyday minutia of sharing your life with someone else. The realities of marriage might not be as glamourous as a Disney marriage but they are far more satisfying and fulfilling.
Take it from someone who has gone through the painful task of dividing everything: marriage is ultimately a choice. It’s a choice to choose the real, gritty, sometimes lackluster yet beautiful, surprising, and satisfying experience of sharing your life with someone else. Choose wisely.