11 Things I Learned About Marriage After My Divorce: A Beginner’s Guide to Love’s Journey

I have had this list in my head for many years. You see, I was only married the first time for a short moment, but in those five long years I learned many things about myself and what I wanted and needed out of life. I didn’t really get it while I was living it. My epiphany came much later when I met and married my second and last husband. So...here goes:

1. Listen to the voices in your head. This is a big one. Your voices know everything. The problem is we don’t listen to them. If your voices keep whispering to you, listen! They are  smart, those voices.

2. You can’t change your spouse. My ex was sloppy while I liked things in their place. I tried to clean up after him. I constantly picked up his mess. I reminded him to clean up this or wipe down that, but I was never going to change that about him. I knew it going into the agreement. I just thought he would change. Nope, didn’t happen. Truth is, I am sure he wanted to change a few things about me.

3. You marry his/her family. Get over it. No matter what, these people who raised your spouse are now your family. They may make you scream with frustration or cry with delight, but you can’t hide or escape them. Face them dead on. They are now yours.

4. Having children will not fix your marriage. We had children early on in our marriage, so we never really got to know each other as a couple. Kids are wonderful and fabulous, but they are also loud and gross and suck up all your time. If your marriage is rocky, babies don’t calm the seas.

5. Don’t ever bad mouth your spouse in public (or on social media). Even if you are unhappy, it does no good to talk smack about your spouse to others. This only makes you look like a wacky loon.

6. Date your spouse. Super important! Romance this person, even if you were both up late with school work or crying babies. Hire a babysitter. Call grandma. Go to a movie. Sit in a quiet restaurant. Hold hands and remember why you hooked up in the first place.

7. Money is SO important. Have discussions. Lay it all out. Fight, cry, and talk about it. Be Fair. Don’t lie. Know what you have and work together.

8. Don’t waste precious time envying other relationships. I would often look at our friends  and sigh. Why don’t we have that? They seem so happy. Why can’t we afford a nice house like that? I bet they never struggle. Ha! After my divorce, I gained this weird sixth sense that dropped the fog surrounding others. I now saw that everyone had some demons they were fighting, not just us. It was life altering. The green-eyed monster is a monster for a reason. 

9. Don’t pout. I grew up in a house where quiet pouting was how you fought. I didn’t really know how to fight honestly. My now husband quickly cured me of that. Early on in our relationship I began to pout about something, and he gently turned my face around and said that wouldn’t work with him. He told me he wasn’t a psychic and I needed to talk to him. Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind. That is not marriage. If you want something, just spell it out. Don’t be afraid to use your voice.

10. Be honest about what you want. This one sounds simple, but it takes work. Don’t push your wants, needs, and desires onto your spouse. Marriage is about compromise. Listen to each other. It’s not about winning; it’s about sharing life’s treats and hardships together.

11. Just love each other. A successful marriage is more than just a beautiful wedding. It is full of tremendous wonders, ultimate sorrows, and mind-bending boredom. The satisfaction comes from living though all of it together as true partners.

I have never claimed to be that smart. I just know a few things from walking a rocky road. In fact, at times those rocks were red hot and I had no idea where I put my shoes. But that road led me to the most wonderful, quirky, smart, gentle, and fabulous man. Both of us have lived through previous trials, but the secret has been we learned from those struggles. We enjoy every moment of every day together. It’s almost sickening, but it is ours. We have been there for each other through grief and glee and gladness. That is our joy. That is why we are drunk on love in the kitchen.

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

“Happiness is only real when shared.” -Jon Krakauer