Divorce is a harsh but thorough teacher. At the same time, divorce has brought me happiness in ways I didn't expect. In many ways, divorce raised me and turned me from girl to woman. I can't lie and say it has been easy for myself or my child, but I can say that there have been many positives and lessons I have gathered along the way. Especially about love.
Here are a few truths I've gathered about love after divorce, and none of them have made me doubt love exists. I believe love exists. I believe love is out there for everyone, if we are open to it. If we want it and cherish it.
1. Truth: Opposites Attract . . . For a While. Usually.
It is good to be different from your partner, and you don't need to be his or her twin. But if the two of you are opposite in every way, in order to succeed in love, you at least need to share common values and goals.
For example: You are an introvert and he is an extrovert. She likes art and you prefer to play in the woods and mud. Is this a match made in hell? NO! Of course not. This relationship will work if:
- They both share common goals in career and life.
- They both approach the world with a similar viewpoint.
- They both need a certain amount of interaction from the other — and it works for them.
You don't have to be the same, and in fact you can be very different, but at the end of the day, you both should view the world and your relationship needs in a similar fashion.
So don't worry if he's quiet and you're a bullhorn. Worry if you don't share common visions of how you envision your worlds to be as you grow old.
2. Attraction Is Great, but It's a Small Piece of the Pie
Yes, please. Be attracted to the person you partner with, but realize that it is such a small piece of the pie. Remember that hormones and chemistry can power a world . . . for a while, but be sure that the person you choose to love has a heart as beautiful as the face you are consumed with. Anyone can "clean up" nicely, but not everyone is good to his or her core.
3. In Order to Commit Long-Term, You Must Be Able to Envision the Future
Things are great today; awesome! Have you sat to think about what your future looks like with this person five, 10, 20, or 30 years down the line? Will the things that bother you today become bigger issues as your lives intertwine?
Pay attention to what you think are small red flags now as they could become mountainous flags down the line.
4. To Really Love, You Must Accept This Person Fully
You know this already. But do you really? Do you really accept this person's difficult family, anxiety, traveling career, desire to be kidless, etc.?
Do you really and truly love the person in front of you despite this person's limitations? Are you constantly hoping to change that person? Do you think this person is perfect, BUT . . . No, no, and no.
Love means accepting the good, bad, and ugly and understanding that those "ugly" things are, most likely, going nowhere, but still, you love the person.
5. Real Love Is Void of Any Abuse
Sure, he's really nice most of the time, but sometimes he's just not. Or sure, she's an angel and other times, she's shutting you out or playing games with your heart. No. I'm sorry, but that's not love. Love doesn't work that way. Ever. I promise you that while love is not perfect, it is never punitive.
6. If You Two Cannot Stand Alone, You Will Fall Apart Together
It takes two solid people to make a relationship work. The two of you must be able to stand alone as two solid individuals before you can really succeed together.
7. Love Cannot Conquer All
Does she have serious issues? Is he using drugs? Does her family hate you, and she's incredibly tied to them?
There are some things love cannot conquer because the person has to conquer those beasts on his or her own. You, of course, can be a friend and support to this person, but love cannot happen until this person has resolved these issues OR . . . you've decided to do what I said in my fourth point.
8. You Are Never Listening as Much as You Say You Are
We all say, "Yes, I'm listening," but are we really? So many of us, me included, listen with a soundtrack in our brain. While "listening," we are:
- Missing pieces of information because our emotions are in the way.
- Desperately seeking validation in the other's words.
- Getting defensive and preparing our rebuttal.
- Putting our desires through a filter as we listen.
It is really hard to actively listen. It's something I have been working on myself. And in order to really let love grow, you must practice listening. Use a timer and don't speak until the person's time is up. Write down the person's words and ask if that's what he or she said. Remind yourself that this person's agenda and feelings are different than your own.
9. Your Partner Will Accept You If He or She Really Loves You
If your partner has made you his or her project, keep in mind No. 4. My spouse didn't accept all of me, and I am sure I didn't all of him. If your partner doesn't accept you for all your nuances, please know this person doesn't truly love you. Acceptance doesn't mean "liking" the bad traits but accepting and loving you despite them.