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Choose your battlesThe breakup of a marriage — whether it’s a bitter, drawn out thing, or a simple online divorce — will leave a lasting effect on your life, and very few people, who’ve ever done it, can look back and say, “That was fun, I’d like to do it again.” Ideally, you would never get divorced at all. You’d live happily ever after with the person of your dreams, and that would be that.

But for those who’ve been there, here are some thoughts on choosing your battles to avoid it a second time.

Reflect On Past Arguments

As the American philosopher John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.” As a “next best thing” scenario, if you just had to get divorced it would only happen once. But to make sure that is your limit, you will need to make changes and learn from the things that are holding you back.

Even if you weren’t the driving force in filing for divorce, this is necessary. Think about the way that you fought with your ex. What did you say or do that may have escalated the altercation? Escalation isn’t necessary for “winning” an argument. Even when you’re right, you’ll go a lot further by listening and showing respect during a disagreement.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fight, But Realize You Can’t Always Be Right (Even If You Are) 

Just like no one is perfect in a relationship, they’re not always wrong either. But the drive to be “right” all the time — even during the moments when you are — can create hostility and resentment that lingers long after you think the argument is over. This was something I had to grow from as I remarried several years after learning how to file for divorce.

The first time around, when I was right about something, I by gosh wanted her to know it. But it was important for me to remember: being defeated is a humbling experience. I was never just ecstatic when she won an argument, so why did I have to spike the ball when it was my turn?

Find An Outlet For Your Aggression Before You ‘Do Battle’ 

Fighting happens. Show me a marriage where two people never disagree over anything, and I’ll show you a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. But how people fight is a great indicator of a marriage’s likelihood for success. Too often, spouses jump right in to an argument. They don’t think about what they’re saying, and instead look for an opening to land a verbal haymaker that’ll floor their opponent.

Your second marriage will be more productive than your first if you give it time before engaging your spouse in a disagreement. You may wish to write out everything that you’d like to say. Analyze the words. Ask yourself where you’re explaining your feelings, and where you’re simply lecturing. Then, get rid of the lecture.

Remember, it’s never too early to reflect on your experiences. Even if you’re just now going through an online divorce (or a bitter custody battle), start using the experience immediately to grow. And the next time you’re in a relationship, you’ll be able to choose your battles and be more productive in communicating with your spouse or significant other.

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