When you’ve lived through a marriage and made the tough decision to part ways with your spouse, there will be heartache. But with time and hindsight also comes wisdom. Read on to learn what these candid divorcées learned about marriage, having been there and done that. (For no-nonsense relationship advice, easy-to-follow weight loss tips, and more, sign up for Prevention’s FREE email newsletters!)
Finding a new partner won’t necessarily make you any happier.
“Neither of you is perfect. Once you’ve decided to be committed to one another, whatever bumps in the road come along, hang in there and work it out. The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. Those folks just decided to put the work into their relationship, and you can do the same.”
Loving your spouse might feel like work sometimes. And that’s OK.
“The reality in marriage is that sometimes you won’t feel love toward your spouse, especially when you hit the rough patches. Those times can pull you closer together or drive you apart. Love is a choice, it’s not a feeling. During your marriage there will be days when you have to intentionally love your spouse.”
Don’t forget your vows.
“A marriage is a living entity. It is a union of two individuals who have decided to walk life’s path side by side. Your vows, promises, and commitments should guide your own thoughts and behaviors and be part of your daily conversations with one another even in the smallest of ways. Write down your vows—frame those words and hang them prominently where you will see them daily. Hold each other accountable.” (Take a look at these 7 signs you’re with the right person, according to people married for 30+ years.)
Don’t get lost in your relationship.
“By caring for yourself, you are more able to take care of others. Make time for yourself so you don’t get lost in the marriage and eventually become resentful. Keep your identity, develop and nurture your own interests, connect with your girlfriends, take time to tend to your spirit and soul.”
Infidelity doesn’t have to spell the end.
“Individual needs change over time which will cause many to look outside the marriage for fulfillment, both sexually and emotionally. Therefore, the likelihood of infidelity is a real possibility. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to spell the end of the marriage if the two still love each other. Infidelity can act as a catalyst to open the lines of communication.” (Here are 4 ways to overcome infidelity, from Prevention Premium.)
Marriage doesn’t fix anything.
“If you don’t know what you want your life to look like when you’re single, you won’t magically figure it out when you’re married.”
There’s a lot your spouse can’t give you.
“You cannot look to your spouse to complete you. You must complete yourself.”
Strive to be equals.
“You don’t have to lose yourself to your partner to be a good spouse. The best marriages are partnerships where each spouse is equal; their careers are equally important, their thoughts are equally heard, their opinions equally valued.”
Nothing is ever just your partner’s fault.
“Take full responsibility for what is going on in your marriage. Just telling your partner to change rarely works. Change yourself and you will change how your spouse reacts to you. And you will grow as a person.”
If you want a career, follow your instincts.
“I have seen many people, usually women, who have elected to be homemakers, a valuable contribution, then find themselves at a distinct disadvantage during and after divorce proceedings. I advise people to continue their education and at least part-time employment so that in case of a divorce they are better able to move into a position of financial independence.”