If I could tell the younger me one thing about marriage, I would tell her to not take for granted all the things that her husband does.
After 14 years of marriage–in 2003–my husband and I filed for divorce. The circumstances of our divorce were not the typical circumstances. However, like all divorces, once the paperwork was signed, we were no longer married.
Dating seemed more complicated at 35 than 21. To say I was totally unprepared for what single life would be like is an understatement. What happened to I love you; do you love me; check yes or no?
I felt like the comedian Ron White as he told his infamous story about getting arrested one night. He was thrown out of a bar for fighting, and when he made his way outside a police officer arrested him for being drunk in public. Ron, in his humorous voice, tries to talk his way out of the charges by saying he did not want to be drunk in public he wanted to be drunk in the bar. Well in Ron White fashion… I did not want to be divorced in public; I wanted to be married at home.
I soon realized that the “I” in divorce stood for–if things got done–I would have to do them myself. There was no more team. It was just me. When you get that first glimpse of reality, it makes you start to think about all the things your spouse did that you did not recognize. Better yet, it makes you realize what you now have to do. Here is what I learned.
1. There Is No Lawn Fairy
I am not sure who I thought cut the grass, but during the time we were trying to sell our marital home, I noticed the grass was knee high. It was that moment that brought clarity to me. There was no Lawn Fairy. The only way the grass was going to get cut is if I hired someone, or if I got brave enough to cut it myself. I think knowing that our lawnmower was self-propelled would have been nicer. Instead, I spent three hours attempting to cut the grass myself. I felt utterly defeated when I called the lawn guy.
2. The Grass In Not Greener On The Other Side
People often look at other’s lives and think the grass is greener on the other side. Having been on the other side of marriage, AKA divorced, I can tell you that the grass is not always greener on the other side. If people have green grass, it is because they took the time to fertilize, water and maintain the grass. You have to continuously pull weeds, and put Weed and Feed on your lawn so that the weeds don’t overpower it. That is what one must do in a marriage, too. You have to feed your relationship. You have to continuously do the things that keep your marriage healthy and alive. The minute you forget to do those special things in your relationship, then problems pop up.
3. Objects Are Not That Important
A lot of couples place a high value of obtaining more things. I will be the first to say I like nice things. But in the end, having a big house, a fancy car, and the membership at the country club are not as important as having a good relationship. I think people sometimes get lost in the American Dream and forget that things can be replaced but people can not.
4. Parenting Is Plural
There is a reason kids are born with two parents. Parenting was meant for two. Being a single mom was perhaps one of the hardest lessons I had to learn. I know a lot of single parents out there that do a wonderful job, but for me I will say having a partner to share the joys of parenting and responsibility is a lot easier than doing it alone.
5. Little Things Mean A lot
After 14 years of marriage, and 11 years of divorce, I came to realize that all the little things that my husband did were actually things that freed my time. If I could tell the younger me one thing about marriage, I would tell her to not take for granted all the things that her husband does, because all the little things mean a lot.
Photo: Flickr/ Ed Yourdon