Twenty seven years ago today I said “I do.” . Despite having spent most of three years with him, I had spent the four months prior to “I do” running from that relationship. Broken, I was young and honestly jumped into the marriage. It might have been the worst and best decision of my life.
Our marriage didn’t last. Within 16 months we were separated. I had filed for a divorce by nineteen month. We didn’t even make it two years. We have an amazing son from that union. The months that followed were the most challenging time in my life, and maybe his too.
From our failed marriage, I learned some great things.
God blesses broken places. When my husband left for work and didn’t come home for two weeks, I was beyond broken. It was in my brokenness that I turned to God. I needed answers only He could provide. I needed peace and comfort. I sought Him for myself and my children. He met me where I was and blessed me despite the struggles.
Growth comes through unexpected places. I didn’t realize how self centered, and what a spoiled brat I was going into marriage. One might think children would have changed that, and maybe to some extent it did. Self reflection started after my marriage ended. I knew the direct cause of the end of my marriage. I had to take time to recognize my actions that also contributed to the end of it. I needed to work on me. If I’m honest, I’m still working on me.
Marriage takes work. As a young adult I had a romanticized view of marriage. The movies make happily ever after seem easy. Two people are not always gonna try at the same time. Two people are gonna have bad days and weeks, and sometimes those coincide. Two people are gonna have separate wants and needs which often are opposing. It takes a lot of work to make it through those things.
Marriage takes communication. When we were dating we talked about what seemed like everything. I think we were comfortable and took for granted that the other knew what we were thinking and how we were feeling. Conversations ended up being more about problems that we were facing. We started talking at each other and stopped talking to each other. Resentments grow when what we need does not match what we get, especially when you don’t communicate to reconcile the difference. Mind readers aren’t real, no matter how well you know someone. Things have to be communicated.
Marriage requires boundaries. As two become one, it is easy to blur the lines of where I end and he begins. However, if I believe that my husband completes me then I can only be whole if I am with him. That belief can cause a lot of harm when there are things going on in a marriage that should not be. As much as I loved my husband, I could not permit what was going on in my life or our children’s lives. Without boundaries, there would be no reason for change. There are boundaries for a marriage of what is permissible and what is not that should be agreed upon by both parties. ( I am not talking about how much pepper is permissible on a steak . Yes, that was a major source of fighting at one point, going back to the growth topic). For most, there are hard stops like violence, infidelity, and illegal activities. They may not mean divorce, but do require boundaries.
Marriage takes commitment. It is easy to run away when things get hard if you are not committed. We had lived together before marriage, which ended in us not living together at times. We had broken up many times in our dating relationship. We were quick to throw around the D word during conflict as if that was the only option. We loved each other, but we didn’t have a clue what commitment was in marriage. Commitment is a necessity in marriage.
Endings don’t always mean it’s over. If anyone had told me we would end up back together when we divorced I would have laughed. Yet, nothing is impossible for God. Within six months of our divorce we started talking again. It took three and a half years and a lot out counseling and work, but God brought us back together. Friday we will celebrate twenty-one years of marriage. I think we both learned lessons from a failed marriage.