By Shela Dean, Bestselling Author and Speaker at The Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce Mountain Retreat.
Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Makes sense, right? And yet that’s what people too often do. They haul the baggage they brought to their first marriage—such as low self-esteem—into new relationships but expect a different outcome.
It’s admittedly difficult to take an objective look at yourself and how you, your choices, and your behavior may have contributed to your divorce. But its only when you do that the odds of successfully remarrying are high.
There are valid reasons for divorce. Indeed, I have been divorced myself. Having said that, I believe marriage is the best environment for personal growth because working on marriage forces you to face your fiercest demons. It’s too late to work on an ended marriage, but it’s not too late to use that marriage as a classroom. And it’s that post-divorce classroom that can actually make you grow into a better person.
Are You Subconsciously Sabotaging Your Relationships?
I’m speaking from life experience. My upbringing left me with subterranean self-esteem and an almost unshakable belief in my unlovability. Those false beliefs led me into more disastrous relationships than I care to count, to marry for the wrong reasons, and to behave in ways that destroyed, rather than supported, my marriage. I am almost embarrassed to recount this example but here goes:
My ex-husband and I were driving in horrendous traffic. I had a craving for an It’s It ice cream bar and wanted my husband to stop and buy one for me. He wanted to press on to our destination—perfectly reasonable under the traffic and timing conditions. What did I do? First I pouted and then I gave him grief for not fulfilling my request. You see, I wanted him to prove how much he loved me (and, thus, that I was indeed lovable) by making a detour to buy me a stupid ice cream bar. Ridiculous behavior? Yes, of course. At the time, however, that’s not how I saw it. It’s only in retrospect, after doing work to build my self-esteem, that I see the behavior for what it was.
My ex-husband is a wonderful man, but we were not a good match. Had I been emotionally healthy enough to make good choices, I would not have married him.
Crucial Questions to Ask Yourself
What about you? Why did you choose your ex? Was that choice based on good, healthy reasons? If you hope to remarry, what attributes are you looking for and why?
Do you have growing-up baggage that got in the way? Answer that question by revisiting arguments and painful incidents from your marriage. Step back, observe from an objective distance. Were your actions and reactions appropriate? If not, how could you have changed the outcome? Be honest. It’s the only way to experience the personal growth that leads to a healthier you, a you who is capable of choosing and being in the right relationship for the right reasons. How do I know? I faced my demons and I am now remarried to the man of my dreams in a marriage that I have no doubt will endure. I did it. You can, too.
Believe me, I get it that your ex did plenty to contribute to your divorce. There’s nothing you can do about that. But, remember this: the best revenge is success. Do the work on yourself that ensures your success in the next relationship. It’s so worth it. And there's no better place to do this self-growth work than at a retreat. I look forward to showing you how you can conquer your own relationship challenges at The Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce Mountain Retreat.
Shela Dean is a Relationship Coach, author and speaker. She has counseled more than 2,000 couples since 1983 and is the bestselling author of Frequent Foreplay Miles, Your Ticket to Total Intimacy, a guide to improving intimacy for couples; Frequent Foreplay Miles for the Remarried; and ReDate Your Mate, 4 Steps to Falling in Love All Over Again (Boomer Edition). Find out more about her at www.sheladean.com
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