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Divorce EducationFiling divorce papers can teach you a lot about yourself and wholly transform you as a person. It’s unfortunate that it ever has to happen, but if it must, it’s good to learn as much as you can from the experience. What you learn will ultimately be left to personal experience, but after listening to survivors of divorce, you can start to notice the patterns for yourself. Here are some of the most common lessons learned from actual survivors. Consider this your divorce education!

Life doesn’t move in a straight line. 

When you’re young and idealistic, you still believe that your first marriage will be the only one you ever need. Then, for whatever reason, you or your spouse decide to file for divorce. For Abbie Redmon, the experience taught her that “life doesn’t move in a straight line.”

“I’ve always been pretty good at following instructions, but after my divorce, I realized that life has no instructions,” Redmon explained. “Be kind, help others, and do no harm, but otherwise, it’s a grab bag.”

“Right after my divorce, I needed a space to myself to alternatingly [sic] mourn, explore, hibernate, binge, and grow. Several years later, happy with the changes in my life but still in need of a community, I find comfort in living with others again,” Redmon said.

Feelings change. Only promise behaviors. 

One divorce survivor sees, “I promise I will love you forever” as a bit of an overreach and states that divorce taught her the difference between feelings and behaviors.

“Life is not only short, it’s also very, very long. You can’t actually see into the future — so promising to love someone forever is a bit bizarre,” said Jessica Margolin. “Be careful about what risks you take on, and treat your responsibilities with the respect they deserve. Love is not everything. On the other hand, it’s exactly bonding and sharing experience that makes life worth living in the first place.”

Past is past. 

Perhaps one of the hardest lessons you’ll learn from your divorce is how to forgive an ex for something they did to you. That’s something I can personally vouch for, and something Jennifer Miller states eloquently in a recent Quora post: “Make sure you have exhausted all possible options before finalizing the decision and learn to forgive your ex. Let the past stay in the past.”

Particularly if your spouse cheated, it can seem impossible to ever wish the best for them. You want to see his or her life barbecued on the bonfire of their mistakes. But the more you try to watch for that, the less you carry on living your own life and making the most of the day ahead of you. Don’t fall into the trap of bitterness.

Even by going the uncontested online divorce route, you’ll find that you need time to heal and learn from the end of your marriage. Allow yourself to hear those lessons and internalize them before you share your life with another person.

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