How I Lost My Marriage — But Found Myself

Going through a divorce is terrible, but it helped me find something rare.

Last updated on Jun 01, 2024

Woman finding herself after divorce Susannah Townsend | Canva

Clarity often comes like a bolt of lightning out of the blue. It's a shock that opens your eyes to a whole new perspective. A client of mine called hers a miracle. Mine was like waking up — the kind where you sit straight up, instantly awake, and look around, not recognizing where you are, even though it's the bedroom you've slept in for years. 

My bolt of lightning struck after nine years of marriage. I was having a reunion lunch with a very dear friend of mine from college. We had gone our separate ways and hadn't been in touch since well before either of us had gotten married.


It was one of those long, catch-up conversations where we tried to cram in as much as possible about the last ten years of our lives. And then... it happened. 

I saw myself through his eyes. It was the old me that he was seeing. 

The girl I used to be when I was single who loved traveling, seeing bands, curling up in a corner reading, or staying up late into the night in deep conversation with friends. It was a shock because I hadn't recognized her. And I realized that that girl was nowhere to be found in the stories I was telling about my life now. I had let her go somewhere along the line. I had replaced her with priorities, responsibilities, burdens, and pressure. I had unwittingly sacrificed myself trying to be the wife and mother I thought I was supposed to be.


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That was the moment when I knew deep in my heart that my marriage wasn't working, that I had been miserable for a very long time, and that I would wither away completely if I didn't do something about it. 

Unfortunately, my situation isn't unusual. As a divorce coach, I hear some form of this story from all of my clients. I, like so many people, had been caught in a common trap of trying to be what I thought I should be now that I was married. 

We all have ideas of what these roles entail as a result of television, magazines, and even fairy tales — the wife, mother, cook, housekeeper, and caregiver.


While I appreciate the equality gains made on behalf of my gender, the feminist movement swung the pendulum so far to the other side that now we all have to be a wife, mother, cook, housekeeper, caregiver, and executive. So now, Mrs. Cleaver, the stay-at-home mom, became Claire Huxtable, the attorney and mother of five children — both completely unrealistic, but influential characters that shaped my ideas about relationships. These ideas created my "love language" — all the things I felt I had to be and do to demonstrate my love for my husband.

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We all have our own love language. And as with all languages, there can be huge problems with translation. I believed that I was demonstrating my love by taking care of everything and giving him what he wanted. I made more money than he did, so I shouldered all responsibility for our finances when we got married. We bought a house based on his wish list. We took the vacations he wanted. When he wanted a purebreed golden retriever, I got it for him. Then, when we had our first child, we decided he would stay at home with the baby for the first few months, so he could look for a job closer to home.

@foffrussell Wondering where your love languages come from? 💕🗣️ They might show what you lacked as a child ☝️ But if that doesn't add up for you, be aware that they can also show you what you had plenty of as a child. For example, if your love language is gifts, it's possible that... a) You didn't receive many gifts or feel thought of as a child b) You received lots of gifts and tokens of appreciation as a child In both scenarios, you could crave gifts from your partner.Where do you think your love languages come from? Tell us in the comments ❤️ #lovelanguages #lovelanguage #lovelanguagetiktok #personaldevelopment ♬ origineel geluid - 𝐒𝐏𝐄𝐃𝐂𝐕𝐒𝐌𝐈𝐂𝐒

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Seven years later, he still hadn't gone back to work. Even though he was at home, I was the one who cooked, cleaned, and bathed the baby. I paid all the bills doing a job that I hated. I felt trapped and miserable. 

I was cracking under the pressure of so much responsibility. And I was so hurt that my love language was never reciprocated. 

I felt completely betrayed that he had never tried to ease or share these responsibilities with me. I know now, as a coach, that he didn't speak or understand my love language and I certainly didn't speak or understand his.


Our divorce was finalized in July 2013. It was a very long, challenging journey, but I can honestly say that I needed the experience. I needed to wake up. I needed to find myself. I needed to ditch my old love language and start creating something new. I needed to recognize and acknowledge my authentic self and not take her for granted — ever again. 

Sometimes, we don't realize how important something is until it is almost lost. 

I was allowing what I didn't want to enter my life, and I was hiding from myself. And yet, I can't help but see both my marriage and divorce as gifts in my life. I cherish my marriage. It gave me challenges, growth, insight, and learning that I wouldn't have had otherwise. It also gave me my two wonderful sons who make everything in my life bright and beautiful. My divorce gave me freedom. It gave me the gift of intention, of choosing to live my life wide awake. And it gave me myself, the best gift of all. 

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Laura Miolla is the founder and CEO of Smart Divorce Strategy, is a Professional Certified Coach (CPCC and PCC), Mediator and Parentology Coach. She's a contributor to Thought Catalog, Medium, Huffington Post, Babble, Parents Magazine, among many others.