After 20 years of marriage, I found myself a member of a group I never – ever – thought I’d be a part of. I’m not sure what bothered me more: The word “single” or the word “single mom.” (One was about me. The other was about the two people I treasured more than anything on this earth.)
But over those eight years being single, I would learn a lot about marriage.
Here’s my top five:
1. Loneliness is not a marital status.
I guess I came to this realization when I didn’t feel any different. Even during those first two years when the kids would go to their dad’s on weekends. I didn’t feel any more lonely than I had when I was married. I didn’t feel sorry for myself. And I didn’t feel alone. I felt…well, the same. Then that part made me really sad. I realized that I had been alone for a very long time. It was then I realized that some of the loneliest people in the world are married.
2. Married parenting isn’t much different than single parenting.
With single parenting, the workload is more, the taxing around is harder, the money is a stretch. But the actual “parenting” isn’t different. Being divorced didn’t change what I thought should be the core values I would instill in my sons. I still disciplined the same, encouraged the same, expected chores and homework to be done. Now, there are things I missed out on (someone to bounce things off of, someone to help me think through my approach to a problem, etc.) But the actual parenting was no different.
3. Staying together “for the kids sake” is a pretty darn good reason to stay together.
I wrote an earlier post on kids not being as resilient as people think. I suspect people just say that to feel better about the situation, whether they are at fault or not. Unless there is an affair(s), abuse to someone or of something: Hang. In. There. For the kids. Divorce is just trading one set of problems for another. Get some counseling. Read, read, read as many marriage books as you can get your hands on before you call it quits. And don’t expect your spouse to come along to counseling or read books. Do this on your own. For the kids. They are precious, vulnerable and formative. An intact home is a gift.
4. Life is really hard.
Once again, this isn’t a marital status. Marriage is hard work. Single life is rough. Life is just hard sometimes. To quote one of my single friends: “The grass isn’t greener. Green grass, needs to be mowed, fertilized, watered.” No matter what side of the fence you’re on.
5. The bouquet and garter toss thing at weddings is really, really stupid.
Please don’t ever do this to your single friends.
If you’re single, what things do you feel like you’ve learned?
Do some things look different? Some the same?