What kind of marriage advice could divorced people possible give you?
Friends, you’d be surprised. In fact, I think you should consider dating someone who’s been through a divorce. Wait. Wait. I FULL ON RECOMMEND IT.
Here are my completely subjective and anecdote-based reasons that you should go out with that divorced cutie from OkCupid.
1. Divorced people are more likely to take relationships seriously
When you tell your 24-year-old boyfriend that you feel disrespected when he flirts with other girls, he might think you’re an uptight nag.
But a divorced dude know that flirting/trust/fidelity issues can crack the foundation of a marriage. Divorced people realize that the little, every day arguments can lead to larger, deeper issues. They’re more likely to take your concerns seriously.
2. Divorced people are more likely to talk about their feelings + needs
Because they (hopefully) went to therapy before, during, or after their divorce.
3. Divorced people are more likely to know what they’re looking for in a partner + what works for them
Less time devoted to relationships that aren’t going anywhere. Less time figuring out if you two are the right match. They’ve (hopefully) learned what does and doesn’t work for them and how to communicate those needs.
Of course, divorcees are just like any other group of people – huge, diverse, un-sterio-typeable- there are 1.2 million divorces in America every year. I’m sure there are thousands of douchy, inconsiderate, clueless divorced people who you should never date. But there are just as many smart, kind, amazing divorced people who are better for having been married.
As the second wife of a divorced guy, I’m particularly interested in the topic. So I asked five of my divorced friends what they learned from their first marriages.
Marriage advice from divorced people
Jessica and her current partner Nick
I have learned to pause and check in with my partner when I sense a silence on his end. Sometimes I find that I’m making decisions and forging ahead in life without consulting him and he feels left out or that his opinions aren’t important to me.
Just because you and your spouse are getting along does not mean you are communicating Click To Tweet In fact, it’s probably healthy to have a good, heated discussion bordering on (nonviolent/non-abusive) arguing every now and again. It forces you to do a bit of a reset, to focus on your priorities, and to re-learn what your spouse’s priorities are.
Even if you are getting along just fine, you need to check in with each other. See if there are any wrinkles that need ironing out.
Pick a night every once in a while, crack open a bottle of wine, and make sure there aren’t any grievances that need airing. Give each other a safe space to air those and listen to each other.
I completely disagree with the “don’t go to bed angry” piece of advice that people often dispense. You’re not going to die in your sleep. Go ahead, go to bed angry. Often times, people are arguing because they’re tired. They’re worked up about something and it’s snowballing in a major issue.
Go to sleep, and in the morning, the both of you will probably feel like asses and apologize to each other. Then you can talk calmly about what it was that upset you in the first place (and maybe have amazing morning make-up sex).
It’s fine to have a shared checking account for bills or savings account for your future together (nest egg, vacation fund, etc), but also have your own money, too.
Don’t share everything. You are still your own people with your own pasts, credit histories, and (possibly) separate futures! Decide how you want to share expenses/bills/savings and then keep your other money separate. This will actually spare you from some of the money arguments many couples have.
There is no such thing as “the one.” Not for anyone. There are seven billion people on Earth, and zero of them are a perfect 10 for you.
If you’ve found someone that’s a 9.2 for you (but dang, you really wish he had a retirement plan and liked cats!), round that person up to a 10 and count yourself lucky!
However, keep in mind that that means you CAN NOT get lazy and take that person for granted or allow yourself to be taken for granted.
David and his second wife Cleo
I really like increasing other people’s happiness – most especially that of the person I love – and lots of times that takes the form of doing things for them. Self-sacrifice is a habit worth cultivating, right?
However, it falls off the rails if you’re always the “no, whatever YOU want” person, or aren’t confident about your wants, your needs, and what you’d like to spend your time doing. Your partner wants you to be their partner, not their puppy.
Ask “how was your day” and really mean it. When your partner asks that question, don’t just summarize with “fine” – actually tell them what interested you, challenged you, annoyed you that day.
If something’s bothering the other person, they may not tell you, but you know when there’s just a hint of them being short with you, bummed, irritated, etc? It’s probably not your imagination and don’t get in the habit of just ignoring it or waiting for them to bring up the issue. Ask what’s up.
Be ready to hear an answer you might not like. Don’t get defensive. Don’t be too hasty to accept an “I don’t want to talk about it.”
There are cases where it actually is not a good time to talk about something. But if you’re in the habit of letting smaller moments like that slide, never to be resolved, they build up into a pile of either lost opportunities to grow closer/better. Or they get brought up later in seemingly-unrelated arguments when everyone is even less inclined to be charitable.
You want to feel wanted. Your partner does too. The only part you really have control over is how you demonstrate that to your honey, though – so do a bang-up job of that.
You need to upset the mundane brush-your-teeth-and-take-out-the-recycling-first habits every once in a while. Don’t let sex become something you only do once you’re in bed at night, after the usual routine.
Put your bills on auto-pay.
You won’t always feel exhilarated, and will probably even feel let down. You’ll annoy the shit out of each other sometimes. And that’s going to be the case even with the truest, longest-lasting love.
Do you feel like you need to hide something from your spouse (and I’m not talking surprise birthday party plans)? That should be a huge warning sign that you need to get honest with yourself (and them) about it. Get attuned.
Don’t waste time nurturing fond memories of Ones That Got Away. Make the most of delighting in the person you’re with now. The grass is greener where you water it.
Put your trust in another human and there’s a chance you’ll end up with heartbreak and disappointment. Do it anyway.
Kathleen, her second husband Jeremy and their little boy Fox
In my first marriage, I assumed that because we had “forever” that I could give my marriage the attention it needed to thrive later. So now I give my husband and our relationship daily consideration.
It’s easier to like each other when you’re giving each other orgasms regularly. Just saying.
In my first marriage chores and responsibilities were kind of all willy-nilly. There were no defined roles like there are in my marriage now.
I think part of that comes with just being young and figuring out how to be an adult. I will say in my marriage now, especially having a kid together, I’ve learned that dividing chores and being okay with how someone else does things is key.
I know that my husband isn’t great at making decisions but instead of getting resentful I recognize that decision-making is kind of my superpower and my job within our marriage. On the flip side, he’s really good at being tidy and organized but doesn’t get mad at me when my closet is a mess.
Kenny and his second wife – me!
During my first marriage I think I may have thought I was supposed to be perfect, and since I wasn’t and couldn’t be, I just made-believe, by ignoring and not dealing with things.
Communication is by far the most important component of any serious relationship. Of course, we need to listen and try to understand the other person, but at least as importantly, we need to be very clear ourselves, about our hopes, our expectations, our intentions, and what we really mean. Assumptions may actually be the root of marital evil.
Everyone should schedule meetings or check-ins, every month at least, to make sure nothing is going unmentioned.
For any marriage to work, you will probably have to understand yourself in ways you never imagined. Your partner will have to do the same.
There is no way one person can 'run' the communication in a marriage. Click To Tweet It may work in the short-term, but if you don’t have two people working consistently and fairly, it will fail. Marriage ends when one person stops trying.
Intimacy makes or breaks a marriage. You live with other people, you see movies with other people, you shop with other people, you share meals with other people. Intimacy is the only thing that sets your partnership apart from friendships and other relationships you have. Make space for it in spades.
Being on time is an incredibly loving act. And eliminating conversations about ins and outs of our day by using tools like lists and calendars are incredibly helpful in lessening the doldrums of a marriage and raising a family.
If you are getting married, for the love of gods don’t change your name. Trust me.
It’s essential to continue being yourself inside a marriage. And if you feel like you can’t be, follow your gut and get out. You never will. Your life is waiting on the other side.
What have you learned from your previous relationships? Do you date divorced people – and have you noticed a difference between The Divorced and The Never Marrieds?
P.S. If you have a habit of dating unsuitable people, this might help. And it’s free!