Yes, you heard me. Everything you need to create your new and ideal life you learned in your marriage.
It wasn't until recently that I realized this. But as it happens, it's true. And, it doesn't matter what your marriage was like, you are and will learn everything you need to know from it.
While I was married I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought I knew what I wanted and how to get it. I even thought that while I wasn't perfect, I was certainly not to blame for the demise of my marriage, that it was clearly not my fault.
As it turns out, none of these are exactly true. I didn't know at all what I was doing, I didn't really know what I wanted (and needed), I had no idea of how to get it and although the divorce was not my "fault", I absolutely contributed to the deterioration of my marriage.
Looking back now, I realize that my divorce was the catalyst for massive personal growth and that ultimately, my ability to live the life I have now -- my ideal life -- I owe to all that I learned in my marriage.
While you may not know it yet, here is what you are and will learn as you move through and after your divorce:
1. You will learn what is most important to you.
I truly believed when I began dating my husband and as we started our life together, that I knew what was most important to me. Whether as a woman, wife or mother-to-be, I would have sworn that I knew exactly what it was supposed to look and feel like.
And yet, what I thought mattered most at that time was not accurate, nor does it hold true today.
I hadn't fully known my values and priorities. I thought I did, but it wasn't without incredibly hard work and being completely honest with myself that I learned my core values.
Over the course of my marriage, and through my increasing unhappiness, I realized that I had not, in fact, really known what mattered most. I had been guided by what I believed "should" matter most. If I knew then what I know now, my decisions and choices would have been vastly different. I know now what does matter most and it is this knowledge that has become the foundation upon which my new, amazing life has been built.
2. You learn what your greatest weaknesses are.
It is not that I thought I was "perfect", but it wasn't until my marriage ended and I began my journey towards creating what would come next that I truly learned what role I had played in its demise. The more I reflected on, explored and worked to understand what had happened in my marriage, the more I learned about the good, and the not so good.
It was easy at the time to blame my husband for our marriage failing and to defend my role it in. But that wasn't fair. We both contributed to its demise; and while he may or may not assume responsibility for his part, it was and is important for me to take responsibility for mine. What we often don't realize is that taking responsibility for our weaknesses will never diminish anyone else's bad behavior. Instead it just makes us stronger, wiser and ready for the juicy new life that is waiting for us!
I can't say that this part of the journey has been my favorite; it is sometimes painful to become aware of and accountable for our imperfections. I can say that the more I understand my imperfections, the more I embrace them. And the more I embrace them, the more I am able to grow and evolve, turning them into attributes that allow me to strengthen the relationships in my life and enjoy far more wonderful experiences than ever before.
3. You learn who you are and who you are not.
I hardly recognize the woman who was the "wife" in my marriage. As I mentioned, she had lost her sizzle, mojo and "sexy"! It happened slowly over time as I worked hard to be the kind of wife and mother that I believe I "should" be.
I didn't know who I was at my core, and therefore there was no way for me to be able to walk fully in the power of my amazingness! I wanted to be and do everything for everyone, waiting for affirmation of my hard work and sacrifice and to be granted permission to do and be all the things that make me giggle with joy!
Unfortunately, because I entered my marriage without knowing who I really was and am, there was no way that our union could work. And while my marriage did not work, the journey of learning who I am has opened the door to a life that I could have only imagined and that has allowed me bring my mojo and sexy back to all of the roles I have!
4. You learn all that you don't know.
This was the most challenging thing to learn and yet at the same time, it was in learning how much I don't know that the spark of curiosity in my soul was ignited.
When your marriage dissolves and you go through the process of divorce, you quickly realize how much you don't know. During that time I found myself asking the same question over and over again, "how did I get here?"
I simply didn't know. I didn't know what had happened. And now, I didn't know who to be, what to do and how to do it. So I started asking questions. I became curious. Before long my curiosity had taken over. I wanted to learn about me, what I do and why. I wanted to learn how to make choices that would be great for me. I also wanted to learn about those around me; my children, my friends, my family and men. I wanted to understand why they do what they do.
In my quest to understand, I have learned that there are amazing people and resources to support me along my journey and to help me be a better woman, mother, partner and friend.
I am still aware of how little I know and I take every opportunity to learn and to grow. It is this curiosity that has become the catalyst for my growth and has opened up amazing opportunities and possibilities.
So, take time to reflect on all that you learned in and from your marriage. Make a list of all of the things that you now know that will help you design your next chapter!
Laura Campbell, CEO and founder of The D Spot, LLC, www.discoverthedspot.com, is dedicated to helping women regroup, renew and reinvent themselves before, during and after divorce. She is a Divorce Expert and Life Reinvention Consultant, and the author of The Ultimate Divorce Organizer: The Complete, Interactive Guide to Achieving the Best Legal, Financial, and Personal Divorce. Laura helps women in transition manage their emotions, face their financial situation, and create balance in their life to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul. Through her support and guidance, women maintain the highest level of performance in both their personal and professional lives. Laura believes every woman deserves to be the champion of her own destiny and live an extraordinary life.