Some women have a good radar for inappropriate men early on. I wasn't one of them.
As a female friend of mine put it (who was briefly married while very young), "I came into my own after my divorce. I was married to someone who was a terribly wrong match and now feel a freedom to set the bar higher and look for a partnership that's really good. My divorce was about freeing myself from society's expectations and learning to dictate my own expectations." In Defense Of Starter Marriage
Once I was "complete" within myself (in contrast to the sappy "You complete me" from Jerry Maguire, which implies we're all incomplete alone), I was more ready to find a truly "right" partner. I also pursued having a child on my own (though ultimately I ended up having a baby the old-fashioned way—even after inheriting a friend's frozen vial of unused donor sperm).
Now, a decade after my divorce, I'm remarried and have a 5-year-old son. I might have gotten lucky, but I also got smart.
After the heartbreak and self-blame brought on by my divorce, I realized that I could have a life that's better than I would have hoped for. But much of the good came after I received the hard gift of my divorce. For that, for getting shoved out of my former life, I raise a toast to my ex-husband: "Stuart, thanks. I might not have escaped on my own!"
Beth Jones is the co-author of Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood (Little, Brown & Co.)