My Divorce Changed My Opinion on Marriage — For Better and For Worse

M. Brown
Patrick Schneider via Unsplash

**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I was a good wife in my first marriage. A loyal wife. A wife who never strayed and a wife who absolutely tried her best to be a compassionate partner.

Alas, all of these well-meaning wifely qualities could not save me from what was at the root of it all — which was a severely damaged partnership. A marriage that was sick at its core no matter how much love, care, concern, and compassion I attempted to infuse into it.

No matter how much I played nursemaid to this ailing marriage I could not cure it — certainly not on my own.

It does indeed take two to tango, as the saying goes.

The darkness of my first marriage laid down some valuable lessons for me. It taught me that when people say you can’t change someone — you need to believe them.

My fatal flaw was choosing to stay with this person time and time again. As time went on, and the longer I chose to tolerate the toxicity, I became just as toxic.

Subsequently, my first marriage ended with all of the ugliness that suits a traditionally bad ending.

After leaving my first husband and later filing for divorce, I went through the many stages of grief, like anyone else who has been through the traumatic experience of putting a marriage into the dumpster of lost dreams.

Only my first marriage wasn’t trash. There were good moments too. The problem was that most of the goodness took a whole lot of effort to extract from the bad parts. The shade in that marriage constantly overtook any light.

I simply couldn’t create something pleasant out of the broken parts.

I’ve often thought that my disappointment over being the 'good wife’ yet still ‘failing’ at marriage took me to an incredibly dark place, mentally.

It’s almost as if I scorned the whole idea of marriage for several years after that. All of those years I spent in my first marriage, mostly miserable, I probably could have cheated on my then-husband or even left multiple times. But I didn't. I kept beating that dead horse, so to speak.

My opinion on marriage went from viewing it as a sacred union that meant everything to an institution that meant nothing. However, what I realized after shunning away from the idea of the sanctity of marriage was that marriage itself can never be perfect just as the people who get married aren’t perfect.

My first marriage fell apart was because my ex-husband and I were just not equipped to be together in that kind of long-term commitment. The odds were stacked against us. It didn’t mean there wasn’t love there. We were just not compatible.

And that's okay.

It’s okay to end something that’s not working. It’s not so much a failure as it is a realization that you made an honest mistake. Admitting that and moving on is not only admirable, but it’s also very necessary for everyone’s health and well-being.

Throwing the marriage out with the bathwater is sometimes necessary.

Marriage can still be sacred. It just takes two people willing to make and keep that partnership alive. If you can find a partner who wants to be with you and you both feel fulfilled together, it is entirely possible to accomplish a loving and productive union on a long-term basis.

Now that I’m in my second marriage going on a decade, I know that I do possess the qualities needed to manage a committed and healthy relationship. I just needed a partner who shares my values and dreams to build something better.

I also needed to grow up — a lot. I can’t stress that enough.

There is no fairytale marriage. But there are those of us who are capable of being dedicated and loyal partners — despite being jaded, despite being betrayed, and despite making colossal mistakes in the past.

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