Any person who has achieved great things in this life will tell that one of the key elements to success is failure.
But most of us out there are so terrified of failing. We experience an incredible amount of shame when we feel that we somehow haven’t measured up.
The same holds true with relationships. So many of us wrestle with feelings of failure after divorce, making a difficult situation even worse.
Nearly 3 ½ years after my initial separation, I still have trouble letting it go. I still at times beat myself up over a decision I made almost 10 years ago to this day. Even now, I still have trouble completely healing from my divorce.
But, of course, these feelings of guilt and shame are completely unproductive. Getting weighed down by a mistake, no matter how big, serves no one at all.
So how can I, and others like me, really move on? In what ways can we start to view divorce differently? How can we let go of our baggage so we can bring other happier and healthier relationships into our lives?
Relationship site, YourTango, assembled a group of experts to debate the issue and explain why so many of us struggle with feelings of failure after divorce. They discussed the reality of marriage in our culture and how we need to think about separation differently if we want to eventually heal.
Learning From Our Mistakes
It stands to reason that if a relationship were healthy, it most likely wouldn’t end in divorce, as PhD., Rhoberta Shaler explains.
When we first fall in love, everything seems great. But after time has passed, and we realize that our belief systems don’t match our partner’s, we become bitter. Feelings of shame and self-loathing creep in. We start to think of ourselves as failures.
But it’s our marriage that was the failure. Not us.
If you’ve done everything possible to keep your relationship in tact, and it still doesn’t work, then moving on really can be the best thing. Thinking of your divorce as a stage of life, rather than a failure can bring you a lot of peace.
A New Age in Marriage
Society tells us that we are meant to settle down with one person for the majority of our adult lives, but is that even realistic?
According to licensed psychotherapist Jennifer Maddox, it’s not.
In our constantly changing modern culture and our new focus on quality of life, we now view relationships completely differently. As Maddox explains, marriage has evolved more in the past 20 years, than the previous 200. We now need to look at relationships in a whole new light.
Many people wake up to discover they are stuck in marriages where they haven’t so much failed their spouse, but failed themselves. They simply lost who they are. And it is that separation that can help them find themselves once again. After taking the time alone they are ready to either return to the relationship or begin a life on their own.
And, as Shaler explains, “ a breakdown can often lead to a breakthrough”.
Only by approaching the next stage of life without blame, accusation and shame, will you be able to really move on.
If you take the time to look deep, learn from your mistakes, and bring self-love into the process, then your divorce can actually be a blessing.
Part of Every Success Story
John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women from Venus, also points out that failure plays an essential role in every success story.
Now in a 30 yearlong marriage, he couldn’t be happier. Living with his soul mate, he plans on spending the remainder of his days with his wife.
But this successful union came after his failed first marriage.
Although he still has love for his ex-wife, he understands that they were never right for each other. He looks at the relationship as one where he learned and grew a great deal. The mistakes he made in his first marriage gave him the experience to make his second one even stronger.
As difficult as it can be, we need to follow the changing tides of our lives. If you are in a healthy relationship, stay in it and grow from it. If not, than you need to move on and take a different path.
Divorce doesn’t have to always be about blame or guilt or failure. It can be about change and growth. It can be about learning how to manage expectations of oneself and of each other throughout a relationship.
So how do us divorcees keep from feeling like failures? Perhaps it’s as simple as adjusting how we define divorce itself.