5 Truths About Marriage & Happiness That I Learned After Getting Divorced

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What Getting Divorced Taught Me About Love, Marriage, Happiness, & Relationships
Love, Self

Divorce can teach you a lot about marriage, love, relationships, and happiness.

In 2012, not only did I graduate as a marriage and family therapist, but I married my longtime boyfriend of four years. I’d like to say it was the happiest two weeks of my life, but in reality, my graduation was way more exciting.

Well, I enjoyed my honeymoon. But honestly, I was not excited about my wedding; That should have been a sign by itself.

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I remember thinking after we returned home and all the excitement settled, “What did I just do?!” But by then it was too late.

Three and a half years later, I was separated from my husband, moving into my parents' home, and filing for a divorce. It was a rough few months, but I was grateful when it was finalized in June of 2016.

After working through the emotions of it all, I realized that I’m not only a better woman because of it; but that I have learned a lot after going through it.

Here are 5 things that you can learn from going through a divorce that will make you stronger:

1. There’s no such thing as Mr. Right, but there is a Mr. Wrong!

Sometimes when you're young and dating, you're so excited for the future that you often overlook red flags in your partners.

You look at qualities and characteristics as though they're minor because you focus on the butterflies in your stomach. The reality is that one day the butterflies will fly away and you're stuck with the person with the awful qualities.

Then you realize how wrong they are for you. You used to think he was Mr. Right, but you were very wrong.

2. A ring doesn't change the relationship

The relationship before the wedding is how it will be afterward. A wedding and a ring are not going to change how the relationship is, how you relate to one another, or treat one another.

If you treat each other poorly before the marriage, you will treat each other poorly after. A ring does not fix the issues or patch up the cracks in the relationship. If he’s a cheater before, he will be a cheater afterward.

If he’s a jerk before, he will be a jerk after the wedding. You don’t get married for the ring — at least you shouldn’t.

The point of getting married is because you want that person to be your forever person. You want them in your life in every situation. If you can’t wholeheartedly say that, then re-think why you are getting married.

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3. There is no shame in ending a relationship that is not working

Sometimes you go through things and experiences in life that are unpleasant. So what? That's life!

Suck it up, dry your tears and don’t listen to what other people tell you. They aren’t in your shoes. You have to do what's right and authentic for you.

If it's the right decision, you will feel at peace with it and everything else will fall into place. There will still be hard times, but as old folks say, tough times don’t always last, but tough people do.

People don’t necessarily get divorced because they woke up one morning and decided that they didn’t want their spouse anymore. While I’m sure that happens, that is not the case for everyone.

Divorce becomes an option when the vows both people made are not being upheld. Marriage is an agreement, a contract. When the terms of a contract are violated, the contract is often made void. That's the same thing that happens with divorce.

And frankly, most people don’t enter a divorce without having wrestled with the idea and what it means for them and their family. The reality is, people consider divorce only after struggling in marriage and dealing with a lot of heartache and pain.

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4. Love doesn't equal compatibility

I had a professor in college who told our class an interesting theory about marriage. He said, “Romance without finance is a nuisance.”

While it seemed funny at the time, it is something I have come to agree with. Love is not always enough. You can love someone all you want, but there are other factors and circumstances to consider.

Relationships have a practical side as well, it's not all roses, rainbows, and butterflies. Compatibility is more than just interests. It’s also the ability to agree and be on the same page regarding decisions to be made in the marriage.

It’s the ability to negotiate and share ideas; the ability to be teammates. Compatibility means having to navigate challenging issues and communicate all the time — communication doesn’t work if your compatibility isn’t working.

5. It’s not just about love

If I haven’t learned anything else from my divorce, it’s that relationships are tough and they take a tremendous amount of work. When you say you love someone there needs to be action behind it.

You can’t just say it and cross your fingers hoping that it works out for the best. It takes love, commitment, dedication, patience, communication, and determination. Sometimes you just marry the wrong person and that’s OK. You have to heal and learn from it.

While divorce is painful the healing that can come from it is liberating and beautiful. It has not only taught me lessons about relationships and what to look for, but also so much about myself and the woman I choose to be. I wish that anyone who has had a similar journey find their healing, lesson, and same beautiful path.

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Janika Veasley is a counselor and therapist who works with people to make their relationships better. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website here.