Is Divorce Failure?

I have a love/hate relationship with F-words. A whole bunch of F-words inspired by a single D-word. Divorce.

The particular F-word that you are thinking of is not far off. If you’re reading this, then your divorce was probably like mine in the way that it involved several expletive-laden shouting matches and tirades and arguments about who knows what, and heaven knows why. But for the moment, those aren’t the F’s I’m really thinking of.

Failure. After my divorce, I felt like a failure. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t make my marriage work. And, I felt like I didn’t know where to begin again.  Divorce affects all aspects of our lives — from career, to finance, to health. But it doesn’t make us failures. One in five American adults is now divorced. Does that mean 20% of people are failures? Absolutely not.

But that’s the fear, right? Fear. Another nasty F-word. Fear of things never being as good as they once were. Fear, however, isn’t such a bad thing.  In fact, we can use fear as a motivator to get better.  We all have a desire to hearken back to the good old days.  But just maybe the good old days weren’t all that good. The moral of just about every fairy tale, fable, and formulaic rom-com ever made is that it’s never too late to change your future. Another F-word. The future.

In my transformation from a married person to a single person, I realized that my past was getting in the way of my future. So, I made a list. And I made a journey back to the past, to think about it logically in the present, and to plan for future relationships.

I like making lists. I always have, and even more so now because my ex told me they were a waste of time. Once we separated, I started making lists again. So, grab a laptop or a pen and pad, and make a list of all the allegedly wondrous, glorious, delicious things about your past life with your future ex.

Here are some examples:

1. He cooked dinner for me.

2. He knew great wine.

3. He was selfless.

4. He knew great restaurants.

5. My family liked him.

Maybe you have a list of ten or even twenty things that you miss about your ex; that’s only natural. In fact, it is a beautiful and healthy thing to be able to understand and accept that he or she had a number of positive qualities. Unhealthy, though, is our human nature to romanticize the past.

So, go back and take a long, hard look at the first list. Now, make another list, and be honest. Make a realistic, un-glossed, and not at all romanticized list.

For example…

1. He cooked dinner for me… but I had to clean up for hours after the meal.

2. He knew great wine… which is why he drank two bottles a night.

3. He was good to himself in the relationship and I was secondary.

4. He knew great restaurants but wouldn’t try any new ones because they were “just too loud.”

5. He liked (making fun of) my family.

Welcome back to reality. And welcome to the final and most important F-word.  Forward. Moving forward can be a scary proposition, but essential to your surviving and thriving.

Tamsen Fadal is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.