I’ve been divorced 10 years now, and even though my ex and I parted amicably, ending my marriage was emotionally the most painful experience I ever went through. Separation from the kids, isolation from friends and neighbors, having to build a home environment by myself, living in suburbia as a single man – all had their challenges and brought frustrations.
Yet, there was a bright side to my divorce, beyond easing whatever problems existed in the marriage. Once divorced and on my own, I learned how to love myself and find happiness even when things didn’t go smoothly. Granted, many people learn those lessons in the context of a healthy marriage. But we each go through life in different ways.
Here are five things I learned after my marriage ended.
• Acceptance – before my divorce, I was part of a martial team that wouldn’t take no for an answer. If there was something my wife and I wanted – a new car, a house in a good neighborhood, a fantastic vacation – we found a way. Since my divorce, having to provide for myself and kids with no one to lean on for emotional or financial support, I’ve learned that the status quo is often enough. We already have exactly what we need. Life isn’t about acquiring experiences or accumulating material things. It’s about the time we share with our loved ones.
• Patience – when you’re married with kids, there can be give and take when things need to get done. Have to work late one night? No problem if your spouse can take care of the kids. As a single parent, it’s entirely different. You are the sole caretaker when it’s your custody turn. If the kids get sick, or that vacation you’re planning has to be delayed a year while you save up, it’s so much more pleasant if you can be patient and go with the flow. Things seem to work out just fine in the end.
• Humility – back when I was married, things went more smoothly when my wife and I collaborated on decisions and events. Whether it was planning a trip or a backyard barbeque, our combined efforts usually resulted in something we liked. After divorce, when it’s just me cooking dinner or picking the right hotel, chances are I might get it wrong. Admitting I screwed something up, and being okay with that, has led to a lot less stress. And displaying humility to my kids has helped make them nicer people. (How’s that for being humble!)rsquo ve