Those who marry young are more likely to divorce ( Benokraitis, 2011) so I think we should talk about it. When divorce is usually talked it is after 10 years, 4 children, and careers later. However, I was 22, in college, with a child under one (we split when I was pregnant). If you marry young chances are you also split young. It almost seems like a taboo thing to talk about. But I have taken on the task and here are the things to keep in mind after a divorce when you're young.
Don’t be guilted into staying, going back, or making it work. The number one thing I heard (mind you mostly from men) was that I need to make it work. Coming from abuse and then having someone tell you to make it work is hurtful and it makes the assumption that women is always to blame for the break up. Don’t feel like for a child, for your parents, hell for your misplaced ideas of better or worse stay. If you are unhappy, unsafe, or just not sure why you are married let it go.
Life happens. The issues with getting married young is you change, and not in small ways. This is a lot easier to see looking back on my late teens and early twenties. You can of revert back to this selfish all about me mindset, can you imagine two married people with that mindset.
Own your stuff. Don’t go pointing fingers at your ex (or soon to be ex) like everything is their fault. I talked about this in my 7 Steps to Learning Forgiveness. Owning one’s part of a bad situation is hard but it takes control from the other person. When you can say I saw the red flags of abuse and over looked it you own it thus leading to learning from it.
Learn from it. Do not try keep making the same mistake over and over. If the new person you are dating has some of the traits as your ex, question if you need to be together. Learn from a failed marriage, grow from it.
Don’t be ashamed. This is something that can be hard, but do not feel shame for what you have been through. I got the weird looks and side glances when people found out I was divorced at 22 and I will admit I was a bit ashamed. I grew up in a family where marriage was pushed, but you know what got me through? I deserved better. Staying with someone for the sake of a child and staying in an abusive relationship is 100% a deal breaker and I stuck to that. There is no reason to be ashamed of that.
Don’t be bitter. At twenty something you are very young. So many people get this “I am never getting married again” mindset, and most of the time it is out of bitterness. I went through a brief moment of this (as I am sure many have) but the point is not to hold on to this. You don’t want to look at every future relationship with that anger, distrust, and hurt. Instead of saying “I’ll never get married again” say “you never know.” You do not know what life will bring you.
Forgive them and yourself. As I have said many times forgiveness is for you but forgiving yourself and the other person are two different things. Don’t mistake forgiving them and yourself as forgetting or letting them get away with something. Think of it as letting go of the hurt so you can let in more love. You can remember, still be hurt, and forgive.
As someone who separated while pregnant and was divorced a year (almost to the date) of marriage. I know it is hard, the judgments are there making things harder, but you can make it through.
If you went through divorce young what got you through? What advice would you give to someone else going through it?
ReferenceBenokraitis, Nijole V. 2011. Marriages and Families: Changes, Choices, and Constraints (7th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
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