How To Not Get Divorced In Your 20s
"Sometimes life gives you two options: losing yourself or losing the one you love. Whatever it is, don't lose yourself."
I am 25 and divorced. Certainly this is not my easiest post to write. However, it is necessary in my own personal growth. My marriage was never a mistake or an accident. It was my hardest lesson. I have learned. I have grown. And now I am ready to share with any one reading this the steps you can take to avoid getting divorced in your 20s.
1. Take time to discover and be curious about your identity and personality.
What is it that you want? What are your goals, ambitions, morals, and values? Do you carry a true sense of self? One of the most difficult parts of beginning a new relationship is trying to understand how your identity both enmeshes with your parter and stays autonomous on your own. Not losing yourself within a flourishing relationship is a struggle. This factor was my short coming in my marriage. I lost myself because I did not begin with a strong self identity. And how could I? I was merely 22 when I became engaged. I barely had even an inkling of who I was as an individual. I have no way of knowing what the next 4 years would bring and the personal growth I would experience. Take time to discover your likes, dislikes, wishes, dreams, and what you want your life to look like when your in your 30s, 40s and beyond.
2. Take time in a relationship to learn, grow, change, and discover each other. There’s no rush.
SLOW DOWN. You have your entire lives to love and cherish one another. What's the rush? Yes, I got engaged at 22, but one of my greater mistakes was getting married just one year later at 23. Does it work for some? Absolutely. Did it work for me? Absolutely not. I contribute this to my insatiable need to uphold others views of me. I placed so much importance on reaching perceived success milestones in my life that I did not slow down to enjoy the process of getting to know my partner and nurture a successful marriage. Enjoy your time with one another. In that time, you may discover that you were not meant to be and the marriage will never occur which will cause much less heartache in the end, trust me.
3. Handle your shit first; Deal with your problems to avoid a co-dependent relationship.
Connecting back to number two, make sure you deal with any underlying self esteem, low confidence, trauma or abuse before you attempt to foster a blossoming engagement and eventual marriage. When you enter a relationship dragging behind you years of tumultuous issues, you are bound to breed an unhealthy and co-dependent relationship. If I had spent time to understand my own self identity, process my past struggles, and travel slowly through identifying the relationship, I may not be writing this post right now. Explore your emotions, consider therapy, question why you think and respond the way you do. You may discover you have more work than you thought before you are truly ready for a commitment.
4. Listen to family and friends opinions. They love and care for you and it matters.
My family and friends took to my ex very quickly. Many enjoyed witnessing me seemingly euphoric and almost everyone shared their support for the relationship. However, I was questioned on multiple occasions if the marriage was what I was ready for. I got defensive instead of seeing their questions for what they were, wisdom and concern. No one told me to avoid marriage, no one told me they hated my fiancé, no one told me the partnership would fail. But they inquired about what the relationship meant to me, what the rush was, and if I was genuinely, authentically happy. If I had engaged in their attempts at conversations, I may not have continued my blissful oblivion to red flags in the relationship.
5. Pay attention to red flags.
Enter point 5. My relationship was not perfect. My engagement was more often than not a struggle and I found myself questioning why we were carrying on with the cake tastings, table cloth colors, and dress fittings. What was I so afraid to say no to? What did I fear losing by stepping back and slowing down? I questioned up until the morning of our wedding if we were meant for one another. Everything leading to that point had been difficult and strenuous. My desire to try and fix everything I felt was wrong with him should have been the end of my waltz of wedding planning but, back to number three, I had abandonment issues I never dealt with. I figured I would attempt to change the things I did not like rather than let go of the relationship all together. In actuality, he is a fantastic man on his own, he is just not my fantastic man. And that took 4 years and one divorce later to learn. Don't ignore those red flags, they are connected to something bigger.
6. Don’t be afraid to hurt that person if it’s just not right.
Which leads me to my last and potentially most important tip of how to not get divorced in your 20s. Do not be afraid to hurt your partner. If you know in your truest heart that you two are just not meant to be, do not worry about hurting their feelings by ending it. Will you get any money back on deposits? No. Will you avoid fumbling with how to explain that you are 25 and divorced? Yes. I have spent countless months in unhealthy and dead end relationships for fear of harming the other person. I had never dealt with my own issues and feared letting go of my partner, even if that meant remaining unhappy. In the very end of it all, at the culmination of your life, you will look around and be surrounded with you and you alone. Will you be happy with the choices you have made?
"If it never rains, then we'll never grow."
I've passed the stage of embarrassment, guilt, and shame of being 25 and divorced. I placed myself in to this vulnerable place to potentially guide a few of you out there to avoid experiencing the same heartache. In actuality, many people tried to guide me towards each one of these points prior to getting married and I did not listen. Realistically, you have to experience life for yourself, no matter what that may mean for your heart. Everything happens for a reason.
Let me know your thoughts below.
xoxo Miranda from the Midwest