How We Found Love After 7 Marriages
Meet my husband, Craig. He's a gem of a guy, truly. He is nurturing, generous, has superior communication and relationship skills, and easy on the eyes to boot. (To envision the look on my face while I write this, imagine the starry-eyed emoticon.) He's pretty perfect. And our relationship is exhilarating.
Before we got to the place where we finally found each other, Craig had been married three times, and I was married twice. Now that we are married, we have seven marriages between us.
So how did we get here?
First of all, I didn’t let the demise of my marriages pull me into the vortex of loathing and misery. I never considered the endings as a personal failure. Sure, I had many moments of soul-searching about what I could have done differently. But I learned the secrets to nurturing self-talk about divorce or any other failure in life.
I told myself, “I did my best and also I can do better next time.”
You see, most people fall short when they only concentrate on what they or someone else did wrong.
Other than positively reframing the experience, there is a life-changing exercise to go through, and I always take my clients through it after divorce.
Let me tell you about one of my clients, Jennifer. She came to me desolate--beating herself up about her decision to divorce her fourth husband. She was sure society deemed her as incapable of having a good relationship. She was right about the part that people were judging her. But she wasn't a failure.
My first advice was to ignore the opinions of every one else, including her children, and intentionally focus on herself.
Next, I asked her to focus on what those horrible relationships taught her about what she really wanted now.
Because the true purpose of negative experiences is—and this is super important—to lead us towards what we now want.
But she, like many of us, was in no mood to move past the negative aspects of it all. That’s okay, too. This little exercise can help you go forward gracefully.
It's what I call, "Don't Want, Do Want."
I told her to take out a piece of paper and fold it in half vertically, making two columns.
Then she was to write in the first column every single thing she hated, loathed, or was sad about in all of her previous relationships. After she completed her long list, I told her to write the opposite—the thing she learned from the experience—in the right hand column.
Jennifer wrote down many things she wanted to change about herself, but the most important thing learned was what she really wanted in a partner now, and that was incredibly valuable data.
There had been so many unkind partners, and now she wanted generous people in her life. Through the years of conflict, she now longed for ease and playfulness. Where there had previously been judgment and criticism, she now knew she needed support and encouragement.
Next, I told her to throw away the half of the paper that listed what she didn't want and keep the part that only contained what she wanted.
The new blueprint for her best life was now in her hands, and she was ready to find it.
My husband and I each took stock like this with our previous divorces, so we had a precise image of our perfect future partner. Without the baggage of the past, we were free to focus on creating our dream life.
Now we are just right for each other. We have a supportive, easy, fun relationship. We needed the experiences to grow us for one another and so that we could appreciate what we have.
Mistakes, divorce, and failure are none of those things. We are growing human beings, refining our preferences through experiences. Reframing your adventure in this way can release you from the past and help you set yourself up for your best future.
And somewhere out there is your perfect partner doing the same--getting ready just for you.