What I Learned About How Relationships Work By Watching One Fail

by Elizabeth Caballero

It's often said that children of divorce wouldn't know a healthy relationship if it bit them in the ass. I am here to tell you that this statement couldn't be further from the truth. While I was doing my research prior to writing this piece, I found that everything written about divorce revolved around the negative effects it has on children.

I was hard pressed to find anything written on the positive effects divorce has on children. Granted, divorce is an extremely difficult thing for any family to go through, and it is not something I would ever wish on any family. However, how you choose to react to divorce is your choice.

Much like any other difficult experience in life, ultimately, divorce can make you better. You can overcome it, and it has the ability to make you a stronger version of yourself. Here are the top six lessons I've learned as a child of divorced parents:

1. People change.

In a marriage, no matter how old you are or how long you've been together, the only thing guaranteed is change. You and your partner will grow and evolve. You might have children, and you could very well uproot your family to different states. You could start chasing different jobs and dreams.

No one knows what will happen. But with each change, you can choose to either grow together or grow apart from your partner.

Most of the time, it is way easier to let yourselves grow apart. After a few years, you'll look back and say, “Who is this person I'm married to?” Put in the work to guarantee that you're growing with your partner.

2. You can't change people.

Yes, people change every day. However, you need to remember that you can't change the person you're with. You can't go into a marriage or relationship by thinking you'll be able to change your partner for the better, and that your relationship will magically be perfect. Relationships take work (and plenty of it), but none of this work should involve turning your partner into a different person entirely.

Starting a relationship with unrealistic expectations will only leave you with regret and disappointment. If you're entering a new relationship, enter it with someone who is wonderful the way he or she is, but who strives to be even better for you.

3. Not everything is worth an argument.

Whether it's a blowout argument or the occasional bicker, fights happen in relationships. I am a firm believer that the occasional fight is vital for relationships. It's important that you don't let your anger build up and turn into resentment toward your partner.

Air your grievances and talk it out by all means, but there's no reason to have a massive fight over your partner leaving the toilet seat up again. Fight when you need to, but know when to let the little things go. Not everything is worth your anger.

4. Never stop flirting with your partner.

I know this is a corny one, but I don't really think anyone takes the time out to consider how vital it is. Often, when people get married or have been in long-term relationships, they stop taking the time to compliment each other or show any sort of affection for each other. The fact of the matter is, people fall out of love for a multitude of different reasons.

People grow so comfortable with their partners and their routines, they forget to take the time out of their days to be with each other, or really mean it when they say “I love you.” Those three words should never be said simply out of habit.

5. Never lose your own identity.

It's so easy to get swept up in your relationship and slowly but surely lose yourself completely. You can go from having a strong sense of self to having no clue who you are outside of being a mother and partner.

Be the best mother and partner you can be, but don't forget about yourself. Take care of yourself, too.

6. Be partners.

I'm sure you've taken note that I've used the word “partner” multiple times in this piece, and that's because I firmly believe a relationship is a partnership. It shouldn't be one person calling the shots 100 percent of the time. It should be 50-50.

You should be able to compromise in order to get what you both want, but neither of you should always give up what you need or what you want in order to make the other person happy. Sacrifice is a big part of relationships, but it shouldn't be the only part.

Statistically speaking, couples get divorced in the US every 13 seconds. With every marriage, there is more than a 50 percent chance that it will end in divorce. Studies show that daughters of divorce have a 60 percent higher divorce rate. Sons of divorce have a 35 percent higher chance of divorce than someone who does not have divorced parents.

Knowing these facts, it is hard not be pessimistic and believe that love doesn't last. I believe that sometimes, love just isn't enough to make a marriage work. But I think that my parents' divorce was the best thing they have done for me.

I know many couples say, “Divorce is not an option.” To those people, I say, "More power to you." However, if there ever comes a day when I'm married and being mistreated – or if I am no longer in love – then divorce is definitely an option.

If it is simply no longer a healthy marriage, despite my efforts, there will be no hesitation in exploring this option. No one should ever feel stuck in something he or she is miserable in. Life is far too short to stay in a marriage because you're too embarrassed to be considered a divorcee.