By Laura Lifshitz
After my divorce, I wanted to be better, not bitter. Loved, not lonely. Positive, not prattling on about how things didn’t turn out for me. Whining is not sexy and after age six, it’s downright dreadful, to be honest. Even before age six, but I like to try to give kids a benefit of the doubt until kindergarten. Wink.
I knew I didn’t want to be that angry chick at the bar pissing and moaning about her ex-husband.
What motivated me?
A million things, but one day, a girlfriend of mine and I went to a bar by the shore for a drink. It was a beautiful summer night, and a lecherous drunk dude kept bothering me. When he asked me out, I — surprise — said no, and he proceeded to curse me out. Thank god the bartender told him to back the heck off. Once drunk dude quit yelling at me, he went on to talk about his “whore ex-wife.”
That was not going to be me I thought, in the middle of finalizing my divorce.
I won’t lie and say there aren’t days I don’t remind myself that I am not a suitable prison candidate. I won’t lie and say there aren’t days that I doubt I will have the relationship I want and am looking for. But, at the core of it all, lies a positive spirit and heart that believes love still is out there for me. It could have totally ruined me, but I believe divorce has changed my outlook about love, and for the better.
I realized you can have a spark at first sight, but in order to keep the fire burning, you’ve got to keep adding stuff.
Just like a real fire requires tinder, kindling, and wood, for a real spark to keep burning, so do romantic relationships. It’s not that I didn’t know this when I was married, but that I realized once my marriage was over that we didn’t have what it took to keep the fire going. If you have a special spark with someone and a connection and it has withstood arguments, stressors and time, (by time I mean over a year) then you have something to work with.
Something maybe really special.
After all, you need to find enough tinder, kindling, and wood to keep going. This means you both have to be willing to invest in each other to keep the sexual and emotional intimacy going. You both have to have the same goals for the relationship and be willing to collect the “tinder and kindling” to meet these goals.
I realized that both people have to grow together, and as individuals.
To make the distance, two people have to be willing to invest in themselves as individuals, as much as they do in the relationship.
I feel more confident than I ever did in my former marriage. I feel I have invested time in myself in ways that I should have before I got married. Because of this, I can now be a better partner. I just wasn’t confident enough beforehand. I thought I was, but I wasn’t. I guess you can say I’m a late learner, but at least I learned.
I realized more than ever, that love is an act and not a romantic scene at the end of “When Harry Met Sally”.
Although I adore that movie!
Love is an act. It’s a verb more than it’s a noun. I realized that I wasn’t getting enough action/love in the verb sense that I needed. I know now that for me to enter into a serious commitment or even a general commitment of any kind, both myself and the other person has to be willing to act, act, act to keep that fire going.
And in reverse, I realized that perhaps I wasn’t always speaking the love language that my partner needed. That I may have been acting, but in the wrong way, if that makes sense. It is imperative to understand your partner’s love language.
Whether its acts of service, gifts, physical touch, verbal affection, and quality time together, you should know which language your lover speaks, and know it well. It may not come naturally to you, but you’ll have to learn. Remember: love is an action, not just a word.
I realized I’m a little afraid of commitment and having someone know me again.
As much as I believe in love and its power, I realized that overall in my life, commitment has scared me more than I realized it did.
I am hopeful and positive, but also a bit hesitant to let someone know me, the real me, completely.
I am an open person, but I still have a wall here or there. I am more cautious than I ever was when I was younger and to be honest, that’s not a bad thing.
I realized that I don’t have to be on anyone else’s timeline.
Before I got married, I felt very insecure about the fact that most of my close friends were married, and I wasn’t. I really let the pressure of “social norms and averages” get to me. I think to me I felt that I wasn’t as worthy as my friends because they were coupled.
Today? I don’t think that at all. I know that many coupled people aren’t as strong as I am, although some are. I know that relationship status has more to do with choice, confidence, and patience.
Choice- the willing to wait or the desire to dive in quickly.
Confidence- the ability to present yourself as a solid partner and not settle until you’re sure.
Patience-the tenacity to wait for someone that works for you, not to just take any available “train” passing by.
I could have allowed divorce to destroy my belief in love, but I haven’t. I wonder oftentimes if it will happen before I am eighty years old, but I always know that it is out there. In fact, I believe in it more today than I did when I got married. And that my friends, is pretty sweet.
About the Author
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated writer, comedienne, single mother and chocolate fanatic. A former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate, you can find her work in many places, like the New York Times, DivorceForce, Mom.Me, Women’s Health, Worthy, Working Mother and numerous other sites. Follow her on Facebook and her own website, frommtvtomommy.com.