It’s not uncommon for people – predominantly women – to change, acquiesce, and lose themselves in their marriage only to find themselves once again while going through a divorce. Although this is a difficult life transition for most people, many seize this an opportunity and not a challenge. They use this time person as a springboard to create greater introspection, necessary changes, healthier and happier relationships and personal growth. They want to be hopeful about their future. Not so bad when you think about it. It can be a very empowering time. Eventually.
Yet I must admit I have mixed feelings about it. Let me explain. I applaud all those who use their divorce as a time of renewal, awakening, and growth. However, the one question that continues to naw at me is – how did that happen? And more importantly, why does it continue to happen over and over? What is it about people (generally speaking, mostly women) that we continue to dumb down our power, acquiesce, and forgo and give up what is rightfully ours – our voice? I ask these questions of others because they are the very same questions I asked myself many years ago while going through my divorce.
What I hear from others going through a divorce are common realizations others. They became a version of themselves they grew to resent and over time didn’t recognize the reflection in the mirror staring back at them. They said yes when they wanted to say no. They would forgo time with friends and family to be with their partner or spouse because they felt it would upset him – all for the sake of couple hood. They gave up a part of themselves for the sake of the couple. But the irony in all that? In giving up of self, they lost themselves and ultimately the relationship. I certainly did. (Read my story here).
By asking yourself how did I allow that to happen and what can I do differently moving forward, here are a few necessary questions to ask yourself before you embark on your next relationship:
- What is it about me – history, personality, and attachment style – that prevented me from being honest with my partner and more importantly myself? Did I give him/her a fair chance?
- Why did I allow myself to change? Why did I neglect what’s important in my life?
- What was I fearful of? Him or her leaving? If so, why? When did I become so fearful?
- What factors made it difficult to be myself?
- If I were my authentic self what would that have looked like? What prevented me from staying true to my values, opinions, and what I find important in life?
- Why couldn’t I communicate how I was feeling to my partner?
- How will I communicate my needs and feelings to my next partner to prevent this from happening again? What are my challenges doing that and why?
And remember to:
Spend time with friends and family without your partner. Don’t neglect those relationships. They were there before the relationship and need time and attention too.
Have individual hobbies and interests. Spend some alone time. This creates the space that couples need that relationships need to thrive.
Be open to new things, experiences, and opportunities.
Don’t allow the status of your relationship to affect other things in your life (too much) or your outlook. This is one (though very important) aspect of your life.
Learning to live an authentic and true life, one that means being honest about what is important to you is key not just for the health and growth of the relationship, but for you!