My Divorce At 21 Taught Me All I Needed To Know About Love

I've been married before, and even though I'm just 26 years old, I learned a lot about life and love.

See, the love you experience at 18 years old is unsteady. I loved my ex because of his attributes. He was the opposite of me, but what I later realized is that he wasn't opposite in a way that fulfilled me — the constant opposition is what broke us apart.

When the two of us decided to separate, I was 21 years old and confused because my only identity was a wife — his wife — and then suddenly I was lost without it.

His title, his last name and our home filled with pictures was my comfort zone. I thought we'd love each other forever. That's what I promised. That's what I believed would carry us through the financial struggles, the journey of self-discovery and the arguments that lasted hours.

However, our opposition in beliefs, though once attractive, did little to sustain either of us when our marriage called for it.

When the two of us decided to separate, I was 21 years old and confused because my only identity was a wife — his wife — and then suddenly I was lost without it.

So then, I spent four years as a single lady. Did I crave love? Yes. But was I willing to sacrifice for a second time the values that were significant to me in the long term? Absolutely not.

While I missed him, I was on a journey to discover myself. I thought love was complicated. I thought it involves sacrifice. But, real love actually comes quite naturally.

Sacrifice isn't a true sacrifice when you're in love with your soulmate; it's compromise and you just feel compelled to work harder to ensure your lover has it easy.

Arguments are not fueled by anger and regret, as I had previously known, they're because you love each other so much that you're immediately willing to talk it out. You seek resolutions rather than winning.

The love I have today continually inspires me to become a better person. It doesn't bound me to a limited expectation. It doesn't control me. It doesn't belittle or laugh at a topic I'm clearly concerned about.

This love is gracious, it's caring, it's genuine — and it makes me wonder how in the world I could have ever compared the two.

At 18 years old, I believed my husband and I would spend eternity together, but the love you share as teens eventually dissipates because you've yet to discover who you are.

Your dreams, your aspirations, your values have yet to be outlined. It takes maturity and personal growth to view love — and life — from a different angle.

The love I have today, eight years later almost to the day, is filled with constant admiration.

While I had previously experienced the dangers of having too much opposition, I see now that the opposites between myself and my current love merely fill the gaps we have in one another.

My outspokenness encourages him to speak his mind. His openness is what encourages me to try new things, and to expand myself to further grow. To me, that's the way an opposite attraction needs to work.

I've learned that while marriage and divorce can happen over and over again, it takes a bad love to make you see and appreciate the good. It takes an unsteady love to make you jump for joy and want to shout it from the rooftops that you've finally found the one.

Because at the end of the day — and at the end of our terrible love stories — I've always believed that there is a happy ending.