A friend of mine–a professional woman in her early 30's with a toddler, has recently been considering getting out of her marriage, because she "just isn't feeling it anymore and she thinks she can do better." Now, I am by no means an expert, but I've been on my own for a year now. My advice to her–and to anyone else in the same boat? Don't…or at least, try really hard before you even think of that as an option. Do it all…go to counseling. Take a vacation together. Whatever it takes, just try to get it back. You've invested so much of your life and your time in this person, that if there's ANY hope, it makes sense to try. At the very least, you'll be glad that you did, whatever happens. One thing I can say with confidence…the grass isn't greener. It's not easy being back out there.
Dating isn't really fun…don't get me wrong, it can be, once you get to know and like someone. I've been lucky to have found a couple of those along the way. But meeting a nice person and getting to that point? That part is work…it doesn't matter WHO you are. If you haven't been out there in awhile, it may come as a surprise to learn that there are people who may not have the best intentions, and they are trying just as hard to get your attention as everyone else. The bigger issue, though, is that some people don't take it very seriously. I probably didn't at first. I hadn't been on a first date since 1995 when I found myself agreeing to meet The Rebound Guy for a drink a year ago. I was a senior in high school when I met my ex-husband. I had experiencd NONE of the real world. Finding someone you're actually both attracted to and compatible with, who is looking for the same things you are at the same time is quite a feat. Before, I was a clueless kid who didn't really know what I wanted. Now, I'm an independent, responsible, and ever-so-slightly cynical 35-year-old woman who is already recovering from a few War Wounds. My standards are a whole lot higher, as is the case with most people who find themselves single in their thirties. Don't be surprised if it takes a while to find the right one, because you know what? It's supposed to.
I didn't realize just how ill-prepared I was until I was knee-deep…at times, the frustrations and disappointments I've had have even seemed bigger than the discontent I experienced the last two years of my marriage. I didn't know how hard it would be to be on my own. I didn't realize that everything gets more complicated when you get divorced, which is why it should only be considered as a final measure when all other options have been exhausted.
Could I have saved my own marriage if I had insisted on counseling sooner? If I had noticed a little earlier just how off-track we were? If I had hung in there just a little longer? I don't know. I will ask myself those questions for the rest of my life. With two children and 16 years invested in each other, it would have been worthwhile had we been able to pull it off. Ultimately, though, that didn't happen, and that's okay. I am confident that it will all work out, and that eventually, I'll find someone awesome. I just wish someone had told ME that sometimes being divorced is a lot harder than being in a bad marriage. At least I would've been prepared…