Dominique Andersen is the founder of STRETCH+BLOOM, where she helps unfulfilled high-achieving women reinvent their lives. As a divorcee herself, she's a strong believer in 'if it doesn't fit, change it!'. She is based In Berlin, Germany where she lives with her current partner. www.stretchandbloom.com
Divorce has become an extremely common occurrence in the past 50 years. And while the stigma has gone, one thing that remains anchored in people's mind is the idea that somehow you have failed.
After my separation, I never resonated with the word failure. It was so loaded, so negative and most of all it didn't seem to reflect the reality of the experience I was going through.
As painful as it was for me, that separation was a rebirth.
It wasn't a failure of a marriage, it was the just the natural end of a relationship that had run its course. And I was happy to be able to start my life anew.
Here's how I see things: although a human being has the potential to live more than 120 years most people never reach this age. Some pass away in their 20s, some in their 50s, some in their 80s. And no one would imagine calling them a failure for not turning out to be centenarians.
I fell a bit the same way about relationships.
I had a mostly wonderful time in the 10+ years I lived with my ex-husband. We had a lot of fun, exciting moments together. However, problems lurking in the background took the life out of the relationship and eventually the whole thing died.
Do I feel like a failure, or do I feel like the relationship was a failure because it ended when it ended?
I feel the relationship just died when its time came.
'Until death do us part'. Well, that's exactly what happened, the death of the relationship did us apart.
A crucial distinction
The reason I find this distinction so crucial is that it makes it so much easier to heal when you are not adding unnecessary weight to the whole situation.
If you gave it your best and things still didn't work out, all you can do is find peace with this and learn from your mistakes. No point in beating yourself down!
It took a long time to rebuild my life after the separation and it took years for the divorce to get final (that's France for you...). In all this time I had plenty of opportunities to go over what happened and analyze the mistakes that were made.
Retrospectively I realize that there were seeds of discord present at the very beginning of the relationship. But you know how it is, you're in luuuuuve and you're blind.
The way things were set up the relationship could only have lasted as long as it did. The foundations weren't right. The lifespan of the relationship was clear from its onset, at least if you had eyes to see.
A learning opportunity
In life you learn from your mistakes, you learn how to walk by falling, you learn how to make good choices by making the wrong ones.
That's how you evolve.
I can call myself all sorts of names and label the whole thing a failure, but is this really helping me evolve?
Personally, I prefer being grateful for the experience as it gave me the tools, the insights and the wisdom to know what to look(-out!) for so I was able to create the amazing relationship I now enjoy.
Just like all the times you fell taught you how to walk.
Something to have in mind next time someone mentions the failure of your marriage.