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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Zunter

Getting Divorced Saved My Second Marriage

My Generation Z kids say they don’t believe in marriage. It’s an outdated institution and they don’t need it.

Fair enough. Every generation is certainly entitled to their views and opinions about how those who came before them managed things, including relationships.

I have a more nuanced perspective on marriage as a once-divorced and twice-married woman.

According to Forbes, half of all first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. That sounds about right. Out of my four closest friends, two of us were married and then divorced by the time we were in our thirties.

Divorce changes a person differently than other relationship breakups do. Of course, all breakups are difficult but getting married to someone, doing the official ceremony, and paperwork, and possibly merging assets, bank accounts, children, and pets means that all these things essentially become casualties in a divorce. Painful casualties.

Going through the dissolution of something you had sincere hope for — and I believe that the idea of marriage to many people is still that of hopefulness — can be debilitating.

The concept of finding that one person to be your teammate for life is a dream for many. Finding someone who cares for you. Finding someone who represents you out in the world as your official person and partner. Movies, books, poetry, and movies have always been devoted to this idea. The vision of true, everlasting love.

Going through the trauma of leaving my first husband and then subsequently divorcing him taught me a lot about endings. Things don’t ever end in a closing-the-book way of ending. I chose to leave him and I also chose to not go back. The not going back part is a way bigger deal, as many reading this probably know.

I chose to file the divorce paperwork and send it to him. That took time, energy, and money. I knew he would never file for divorce. He simply wouldn’t put in the effort. There was never any real closure, there was just the work of creating a different chapter. And it was work.

The act of going through the real-world, mechanical motions of getting a divorce and filling out all the paperwork showed me that I was capable of making decisions when I had to, even when I was in pain. That sticks with you. I wasn’t just sitting around in limbo. I knew what I had to do and I did it even when I would rather have hidden under my covers for several months.

For months I went to work every day. I paid my bills. Then when I got home at night I would drink too much wine and feel the loneliness of not having a person who was in my corner. The important thing I always remembered was that even when I was inside the marriage that person wasn’t in my corner.

And that was the nail in the proverbial coffin that kept me going daily and eventually led me to a healthier place.

Divorce altered my wiring and rebuilt my inner voice. It gave me the wisdom to know that moving on wasn’t death. It forced me to tap into my independent self — the one who got trampled by an unhealthy relationship and marriage.

Divorce was a teacher and an ally when I needed it most.

When I eventually got married for a second time, the experience of divorce deepened my understanding of commitment and relationships. I was well aware that marriages don’t always last, yet I was also keenly in tune with what maintaining a long-lasting relationship entailed.

I knew that holding onto a toxic marriage just for the sake of staying married was foolish and I had come to a place where I could truly value a healthy partner — as well as be one.

My second marriage is stronger because of the mistakes I made in my first marriage as well as the arduous and painful journey of becoming divorced.

I don’t recommend the process of divorce as a form of self-help, but I can tell you that, for me, my divorce became my vehicle for personal fortitude that I still carry around with me today.


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