First up in this Dating After Divorce Series, you have to figure out things that you could improve on and the type of person you’re weak against. Identifying your weaknesses can be tough. No one likes admitting what they aren’t good at. When it comes to dating after divorce, it’s imperative you figure out what exactly went wrong in your previous relationship and what you did to contribute to the outcome (divorce).
By no means am I saying that everything was your fault. We are not placing blame here. I am simply saying, take a minute to figure out what exactly caused your relationship to plummet. If there were things that you could have paid more attention to or acted on…take note of that.
Now, of course there’s always extenuating circumstances when it comes to this topic, for instance, if your ex abused drugs or there was violence that led to divorce. Whatever it was, what’s done is done.
You can’t change the past but you can certainly take steps to change the future.
The point of this is so you don’t repeat the same mistakes YOU made in your marriage. And the only way to do that is to be honest with yourself. This post When Does Divorce Get Easier will show you what questions you need to ask yourself for some deep, honest self-reflection.
For instance, I spent so much of my previous marriage comparing my relationship to everyone else’s marriage. I would compare us to the seemingly perfect social media relationships, romantic Pinterest images and our married friends that we hung out with. I mean, their house was always immaculate, they seemed to have great communication, they didn’t complain about the other, they didn’t argue over their baby like my husband and I did.
I created this image in my head of how my marriage was SUPPOSED to be that I actually thought we were doing so many things WRONG. But the reality is, every relationship is different. And on top of that, most of the time you don’t even know the truth of what goes on behind closed doors in your friends’ marriage. The more mature the person, the more they will keep the problems of their marriage to themselves or really close friends or family.
It isn’t fair to you or your partner to compare your relationship to anyone else’s. Because you never have the FULL story and there is no official right or wrong way to carry out being a married couple. If you weren’t happy for whatever reason, you need to figure out if it was really you or if it had some outside influence.
Here are some more things to consider that may have played into the outcome of your divorce (to help you start brainstorming):
You filled in blanks
If you didn’t spend tons of time getting to know the other person before you got married, you may have filled in the blanks for a lot of things regarding your ex. Maybe you were building them up to be the person you wanted them to be without realizing you didn’t really know them at all. Or they showed some red flags in the beginning that you chose to ignore because you were so excited to be in a relationship or your attraction to them clouded out the reality.
You didn’t address problems
Maybe you’re a non-confrontational person or decided to pick and choose your battles. Doing so, caused a lot of unresolved problems or built up anger. That anger and frustration may have lead to irreversible hate and judgment. Maybe it made you nitpick every little thing about your ex and caused you to make things into a way bigger deal than they actually were.
Your tone while communicating was all jacked up
90% of a conversation is interpreted through tone and the other 10% are the words used. That’s the calculation I came up with because tone is everything. I had to learn that the hard way…not just in my marriage but at work as well.
Changing tone while speaking is super hard. But the reality is, if you want people to interpret what you’re saying, the way you’re saying it…you have to pay attention to the tone you’re using.
“Can YOU pick up the kids today?” With the emphasis on the “you” it could be interpreted that your partner isn’t normally doing their part to take care of the kids and that you feel like you do everything.
“Can you pick up the kids today?” You could even add in “would you mind” and “please” so you seem even less attacking or frustrated.
Adding courteous things like that are important because it shows your partner that you have respect for them. And respect goes a long way.
Texting causes TONS of misinterpretation. As a rule of thumb, every single text you send…the recipient is going to always read it in the worst possible way.
“Did you cook dinner?” could be interpreted like you expect them to do it.
“Did you happen to cook dinner? Just wondering” Is a much less blunt approach.
You shouldn’t always have to tiptoe around conversations, but if the relationship is already rocky or you tend to fight over small things like that, it’s so easy to avoid them just by being more cognizant of how things could be interpreted.
You controlled the relationship
Maybe you called all the shots in your marriage and never gave your partner a chance to voice anything.
You took things out of context
When you let unresolved things pile up in your relationship, it gets easier and easier to take things out of context. Just like the tone we talked about, it’s possible that your partner had trouble using the correct tone in their words or texts and you blew things out of proportion.
You shut down emotionally
When your needs don’t get met for so long, the easiest thing to do is to shut down. That way, if you don’t expect anything anymore, you can’t get hurt. By doing so, you may have put yourself on autopilot and forgot what it’s even like to express love.
That’s what happened to me.
You sought attention
This one is huge. It could happen to both men and women. It goes hand in hand with physical/emotional needs not being met along with a confidence problem.
Sometimes, when we don’t feel wanted by our partner, it could cause us to spiral out of control searching for someone else’s approval.
We just want to feel wanted.
We want someone to recognize our qualities. We want someone to pay attention to our needs. We want someone to push us to be better people. We want a friend. We want someone to connect with.
If we don’t get that from our spouse, we could use it as an excuse to find it elsewhere.
Now, I say it goes hand in hand with confidence because if we were confident in ourselves, we wouldn’t need anyone else to make us feel like we’re worth something. So if you felt so alone in your marriage, and you always found yourself talking online, in person or even cheated with someone that flattered you, you need to take a lot of time to think about this one.
Just know, it wasn’t the person that made you feel good. It was the attention. It was the compliments. The confidence that the person gave you. It could have come from anyone.
Just because someone makes you feel good about yourself doesn’t mean that you are meant to be together.
Until you can figure out your weaknesses, why you have them and how to go about fixing them…you will find yourself in a relationship again with someone that doesn’t make you happy. Because you’ll continue to look for that same type of person.
It’s hard to tell you how to fix all of these things. The most important thing is that you IDENTIFY them. Recognize that it wasn’t all your ex’s fault for the marriage ending. Once you figure out your flaws, you can work on not repeating them.
We’ll talk more about confidence in my next post. Because you deserve to be deeply in love and happy!