I grew up with a fairytale idea about marriage – two people who would love each other forever. I had a wonderful example in my parents who had been happily married for over 50 years when my father passed away.
Divorce was a completely foreign concept to me. When I married my best friend, I knew that our love would last – and it did for many years. Then my marriage ended abruptly, and my illusions were destroyed. I’ve learned a few things since then about love that I’d like to share with you.
Love stories do end
I realized that it’s possible for love stories to end. Just because you’ve stopped loving someone does not mean you were never in love. You will always share a history, and if you have children, you may even continue to love one another even if it’s in a different way.
I know I will always love my ex as the father of my children and care about what happens to him, but the romantic love I used to feel for him is dead. Romantic love comes and goes but true, unconditional love does not.
You have to love yourself first
It was a rude awakening when I was left entirely alone in a big, empty house. I realized that I had spent so many years focusing on my husband and my children that I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I no longer had a husband to lean on or children to protect. I needed to discover who I was and what I wanted out of life.
I had sacrificed so much of myself over the years – and I can’t blame anyone but myself as no-one forced me to do so. I do believe that true love is sacrificial and I know that when it comes to my children, I am happy to make sacrifices for them. What I think I realize now is that you can’t afford to lose yourself in the process.
You have to spend every moment of every day with one person – yourself. Loving yourself enables you to love others. When you discover who you truly are, you’re unlikely to settle for mediocrity in any relationship.
Sometimes everything you do is still not enough to make it work
Part of the stigma that comes with divorce is the idea that a couple did not work hard enough at their marriage. They should have just sucked it up or gone for therapy. I certainly didn’t ever expect to get divorced. I worked hard at my marriage, and we went through many difficulties together. It was only when I realized my husband no longer loved me and was not interested in working on our marriage that I knew I had to let go or I wouldn’t survive.
Yes, I’m divorced now but if anything, it has taught me how to value great relationships. I now value the relationships I have with my friends, my family and all those who have supported me, offered me love and stuck with me through thick and thin.
Live life fully and love will find you
After my divorce, I shed tears because I felt lonely without a partner with whom I could share my life. I had to realize that it was important for me was to focus on creating a good life for myself and making the most of it, rather than trying to find a partner.
After all, I don’t want the kind of love born out of an inability to live on my own. I don’t want to cling to someone else because of my own insecurities.
I’ve heard of so many cases of people finding love when they’re just living their lives, and they really aren’t looking for it. Love seems to find you, rather than you finding love – and when you find true love, you need to treasure it because it’s rare.