It has been interesting, over the last two years or so, to be an outsider to the relationship world. The dust has settled on my divorce, I have had time to reflect on things, and it is so much easier to see certain situations from an emotionally detached vantage point.
Let’s start with something that I have been guilty of not doing in the past…
It’s easy to take stuff for granted — people, what they do for us, and life in general — especially when things are going well. Don’t! Show some appreciation. Even the smallest gesture can go a long way. Don’t underestimate what a word of thanks — or telling someone you appreciate them just being in your life — can do.
Don’t lose yourself in the process of finding or being in a relationship
This is a big one for me. Hopefully, you come into a relationship as a person with interests, passions, and friends (a life basically). Keep all of those things in your life. Balance is so important. A relationship is supposed to add to your life, not take away from it. You can be with someone and still see your friends and do the things you enjoy. Time for yourself is vital for your happiness and therefore the success of the relationship.
If you are not happy on your own, no relationship will fix that
Your relationship with someone else is a direct reflection of the relationship you have with yourself. If you are unhappy with yourself, then looking for external sources to fill a void will not work — someone else cannot fill you up. It may work temporarily, but deep down, the issues you have will still be there unless you actively do something about them.
Using someone else to recharge your batteries is not sustainable, for either of you. If you both show up to your relationship whole and complete, then you will complement each others’ lives, not simply try to make up for apparent deficiencies.
Don’t let the small things become big things
This is one of those relationship issues that I have only been able to see from the outside. Life is far too short for the stress we allow into our lives. A lot of things that bother us are really trivial in the greater scheme of things. I see people fighting (and this was something that happened in my own relationship) over the stupidest things! Another thing I have noticed (from both my own situation and watching others) is that always being right isn’t worth the drama it creates.
Expectations can ruin relationships
We attach expectations to all sorts of things. When we expect people to act or treat us a certain way and they don’t, what happens? We feel disappointed.
We’ve decided that because they’re our partner (or friend, brother, whatever), they should do things that go along with the particular label they’ve been given. It’s our thoughts about what has or hasn’t happened that make us disappointed. How can we be sure the person we have put this expectation on feels the same way about the situation? Was it even an issue for them? We can’t change the situation, but we can change how we think about it.
You teach people how to treat you
A relationship is supposed to add to your life — being happy is a perfect reason to be in a relationship. But you need to remember you’re accountable only for your own actions; you cannot control anyone else’s. If you are unhappy in a situation, then it’s up to you to do something about it. Sometimes it might be a matter of looking within — do you respect and love yourself? If not, start there. Create healthy boundaries. If you’re not happy with how you are being treated, staying simply reinforces to your partner that what they’re doing is okay. What you allow will continue.
You are not a label
“Single.” “Divorced.” Whatever. Some people will rejoice in that life situation while others will feel negatively about it. But single is just a word. We put weight on words, with judgment, fear, and perceived meaning. I would rather be happy or feel good in whatever situation I am in, rather than getting hung up on whether I am in a relationship or not.
Anyone else gain some valuable relationship lessons post-divorce or breakup?