In the aftermath of my divorce, I've been trying to pick up the pieces of what I have learned in an attempt to fashion it into some sort of semblance of personal progression. I have been thinking about what I wish I could have known without learning it the hard way. I think I have learned a lot about not only what is important in a marriage, but what is important in any relationship.

True love comes from respect. If someone respects and admires me, and I respect and admire them, that is the sort of love that lasts. It is the sort of love that forgives. It is the sort of love that trusts. It can be platonic or not, but either way, it is what combats loneliness and binds hearts together.

I learned that what can sometimes seem not important to begin with, ends up being important. For example, although I'm drawn to men who are taller than me, I made it a point not to fixate on that. I married someone a little shorter than I am, which truly didn't matter to me, but manifested every so often as one of his insecurities. It could be argued that it was the insecurity which was to blame, but I think it wasn't so much the insecurity itself, or what he was insecure about, as it was about his tendency to fix the blame for his insecurity on external things. When I was married, I was the most convenient external thing in most cases. So if I were to go through it again, I'd pay attention to the little things he mentioned, the (to me silly) little things he "joked" about or wanted to prove himself in. I wouldn't just dismiss such things out of hand. I wouldn't mistake lack of importance as lack of significance.

I discovered that when a man who has a romantic interest in you tells you that you are different from other women, you should run. Sooner or later, he will remember that you are a woman, too.

I also have become determined not to give a sewer rat's flea-infested behind about how HE feels about ME until I've felt something for him. And if a man you hardly know suddenly declares his love for you out of the blue, it is not like Jane Austin. It is his attempt to control you. It deserves disbelieving laughter, not to be taken seriously or with compassion. True love grows gradually as you get to know someone. There is no such thing as love at first sight, though there is possibly sight at first love.

I learned that external conditions often have very little to do with personal worth or life's choices, but sometimes they are clues to a person's true nature. I learned to look at overall patterns of behavior, not individual instances, apologies, or declarations of love.

Most of all, I learned that divorce is evil, but sometimes it's not as evil as being married.
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