Or, What’d I Do To Deserve This
Francine Russo contributed an article to TIME Magazine’s Health & Family section.
With the title Lessons for a Good Marriage, from the Divorced Who Finally Got It Right, it is compelling reading.
Can divorced people find love again?
If they remarry, will they say the same vows again, especially the ’til death do us part’ section?
The good news is love is an open book at any age as long as you turn the page.
Baby boomers bought a poster and hung it on their walls when they were young. Maybe you’ve heard it.
“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.”
There’s a new addition that works for this post:
“But, if it just sits in your living room,
messes up your stuff, eats your food,
uses your telephone, takes your money,
and doesn’t appear to realize that you had set it free…..
You either married it or gave birth to it.”
Now you’re ready for the five steps to finding relationship success. My remarks come after each bold entry.
- 1. Reach out to others to talk about your breakup and seek advice about how to cope and move on.
This works for people who haven’t been breaking up for the last twenty years. If that’s you, and you’ve been telling friends how rotten your spouse is for years, you’re wearing them out.
Divorce, like not divorcing, is a choice, not a parlor game for others to guess your real intentions. Resist agreeing or disagreeing with someone taking over a decade to dump their mate.
You don’t want to be the reason they stay together, or not.
- 2. Change some old habits.
The new you doesn’t need the old baggage. You’ve had great luck finding bad people in dive bars? Stop.
You use football season as an excuse to start drinking beer for your ten in the morning tailgater? Stop.
Your closet is full of 80’s pants with cuffs and pleats that still fit if you don’t breathe? Stop.
You still judge a book by its cover? Take a chance and read a few pages.
- 3. Find a new way to talk with your partner about money.
If you have a new partner, you have a new future. Do you need a pre-nup? Don’t be afraid to say it first, or offended if they do.
Boomers on the rebound have had life plans go up in smoke. They have kids to consider.
If your new partner gives you a nice smile each time you bring up the money subject, and feeds you bacon every meal, be on guard.
If they know you quit smoking, yet give you a carton of Marlborough Reds for your birthday with an extra in the freezer, be wary.
Getting your money is one thing. Getting your money and getting you out of the way is another.
- 4. Improve how you communicate with your partner.
Marriage is about communication. Divorce is about lack of communication. If you are divorced, work on communication.
If you are married and divorced seven times, communication might not be the problem.
Learn to say NO without it sounding like, “I can’t believe you’d ask something so stupid. Is this what caused your first divorce?”
Learn to say YES without it sounding like, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask. After all the prompts and clues, you finally asked? Where is your intuition?”
Talk like friends. If the new guy says, “Lets go to the Mixed Martial Arts fight at Roseland,” step up the feedback with “Is this where two adults crawl into a cage and beat each other bloody? Okay.”
If the new girl says, “Let’s go to Nordstrom’s and you can watch me try on clothes,” be adventurous with, “Do you think we’ll both fit into one dressing room? Okay.”
- 5. Learn to handle conflict better.
The days of the strong, silent, man ended decades ago, but not every got the message. If you come out of a disagreement and still feel disagreeable, don’t shut down. Don’t just eat it.
If you’re hurt, say so. We all know guys can play hurt, but it’s not necessary. Talk it out. Put some ice on your ouchie.
Ladies, if you come out of a difficult discussion that didn’t go your way, keep talking it out. Instead of turning on the tears and sobbing, “This is just what happened with my last husband,” use the feedback.
When new Boomer husband tells new wife, “I’m buying a truck and slapping on huge tires with a five inch lift,” don’t make jokes about his junk-size or tell him he’s not in high school so grow up.
Instead, tell him, “I love Monster Trucks. Let’s get tickets for the Advanced Auto Parts Monster Jam at the Rose Garden. Look out Grave Digger. Back off Destroyer. There’s a new dog on the street.”
Even if you don’t mean it, he’ll love your enthusiasm. Tell him you want to drive the big rig and he’ll probably make another choice in cars.
Divorced people on their next marriage need all the help they can get. Married couples on their first rodeo need even more.
Where ever you are in your relationship, listen for good advice, change your game, open up about delicate subjects, and be a good listener instead of the one who waits for the other person to take a breath and changes the subject.
If nothing else, remember this: Any obstacle to overcome is a chance to show your skills, and see your partner’s skills. Make it a game the other person wins, then see if they know the difference.