UNFORTUNATELY, AFTER A RELATIONSHIP ENDS IS TYPICALLY THE TIME YOU START TO GAIN SOME PERSPECTIVE. HINDSIGHT IS 20/20, RIGHT?
It is much easier, once it’s all over, to look back and reflect on what went wrong, what went right (if anything at all), and discover what your part was in the marriage failing.
Honestly, asking yourself the hard questions about your faults, your insecurities, and your habits is challenging and convicting work, but so essential.
Once you do, however, you will hopefully learn some important lessons and not make the same mistakes for your future relationship.
We decided to get real and vulnerable with some of our friends and followers who have experienced divorce. We believe that stories are powerful and can teach others valuable lessons. We asked them to share some of the things they would’ve done differently, and here’s what they said:
“I wish I had not tried so hard to fix my wife. She would talk to me and share, and immediately I would start working out how I was going to solve the issue. Looking back, I never was there for her in the moments she needed me most. She told me after our divorce that she never felt heard… and she was right.”
“I wish I wasn’t a cheap ass. I’m a saver to the core and I never put a penny to my marriage. No date nights, excursions, or counseling. I kept telling her that we just didn’t have it in our budget, which we did. I worked so hard at buying our gorgeous home and giving our 4 kids private education that I lost sight of what matters most – my family. If I could go back, I would’ve lived in an apartment and kept my family together.”
“I wish I had nagged less and said more positive words to my husband. I didn’t want to admit it while we were married but now that I have space, I can see why he felt constantly nagged. Nothing was perfect for me and I let him know. Through counseling I’ve learned that my expectations were way too high and he could never ever have met them, no matter how hard he tried.”
“I wish I would’ve forgiven him. He cheated on me and it hurt. When I caught him, I could tell he was sorry and wanted to save our marriage. He was willing to do anything to get me back and keep our family together. I just kept holding onto the pain and stayed angry at him. I let him know that he was a terrible person by my daily bad attitude. I didn’t want to admit it to him, but he truly changed overtime. He got healthy. The problem was that I did not. My un-forgiveness got the best of me and kept me from living. I am still angry and sad because I couldn’t forgive him. I couldn’t let it go. It’s the biggest regret I’ll live with forever. Now I don’t see my kids on certain holidays and their birthdays and all because I couldn’t forgive.”
“I wish I had done premarital counseling. I saw red flags when we were dating and ignored them. Looking back, I was naive and way too optimistic about our relationship. I know he wasn’t a good fit for me and later on, he admitted that he knew I wasn’t a good fit for him. Once we got married, things got bad and we were only married two years. Two years… that’s it! Thankfully we didn’t have kids but the emotional stress has been overwhelming. I wish I had been wiser, smarter, more self-aware in those dating years.”
“I wish I had been honest about my religious views. I kept them hidden because I loved my husband so much and didn’t think it would be a big deal. Then I grew more deep in my faith and had kids and wanted to raise them in the church and he did not. It became the biggest issue in our marriage and I built up a lot of resentment towards him, which is unfair to him since I never talked about my religious expectations.”
“I wish I had been more proactive. I truly believed that if we loved each other, we’d be fine. I now can see that we didn’t have a plan. We weren’t intentional with our time and rarely did we make our marriage a priority. We just kind of fell into a slump and slowly drifted apart. I look back often and think our marriage could’ve been saved if we just fought harder and got off of auto-pilot.”
“I wish I had spoken up about my feelings. For my 15 years of marriage, I was very lonely and never said anything to my wife. I just went to work, hung out with the kids, helped with the house but deep down inside I was hurting. I pretended to be happy but was faking it in every area of my life. I wish I sat down with my wife over dinner and just told her, “I love you and I feel lonely. HELP!” I numbed my loneliness with alcohol and eventually drank my sorrows away. My wife left because I ended up drinking and driving with our kids in the car. That was it for her! She was done. If only I had told her I was lonely decades ago I would still have my family.”
“I wish I had stood up for myself more. My husband at the time (now ex-husband) never wanted me to work so I could stay at home with the kids. I didn’t mind and loved being a mom so I didn’t complain. Unfortunately he held it over my head that I did not help financially making me feel so worthless. Over the years, I taught him that he could make me feel less than and not once did I speak up until I had it! One day I just packed my bags with the kids and left. I go back and forth on that decision because even though it was wrong for him to do what he did, I NEVER, not once, told him to stop.”
“I wish I had looked in the mirror instead of blaming my husband for all of our issues. Through my recent counseling sessions, I have recognized that I blame everyone and everything on everyone else because it’s “never” my fault. I was so concerned with pointing fingers that I never realized my part in our marriage struggles. I have since apologized to my ex over and over again. Unfortunately it’s too late as he remarried someone just last month. The divorce has wrecked our kids and I live with so much regret.”
“I wished I had been open to getting outside help with a counselor. There is so much stigma around therapy and I fell into the trap of believing that we didn’t need it. There was no way I was going to share my personal issues with some stranger and pay $200. I had a lot of pride and it got the best of me. We ended up divorcing a year ago and it’s been painful. I would tell anyone who is stuck to get help. There’s no shame whatsoever and now I’m in counseling for myself and I’m learning a lot.”
If you know someone who is considering divorce, separation, or are not sure if your own relationship is worth fighting for, sign up for our 4-week online course right now!
Written by Meygan Caston
Meygan Caston is the co-founder of Marriage365 and lives in Orange County California with her husband Casey and their two children. She loves the beach, dance parties, writing, spa days, and helping couples connect in their marriage. Her life-long dream is to walk the Camino, have lunch with Brené Brown and get on The Price is Right.