Love can be a complicated emotion. We make it complicated and we read all sorts of messages into the actions of our loved ones. When your marriage ends, you look back over the years and wonder what your love meant, what your partner’s love meant, and even if it was real. It’s easy to let the emotional turmoil of divorce over-shadow the good times in your marriage.
My next guest, Elizabeth got married when she was twenty-four years old and was married for thirty-eight years. That’s a long time! She’s been divorced now for almost two years and as she reflects on marriage what’s interesting is how her perspective on love has changed. Here’s Elizabeth:
Looking back, I think I put up with a lot although I’d have to say there were many times where I felt happy.
But, I’m in such a different place now for what I consider happy. I was happy for who I was then. But, my perspective on happiness has changed radically.
I’ve been in a 12-step recovery program for a long time now. And what I learned was that, I felt like happiness had to be earned and that you had to perform to be happy and to be loved. Now I know that that’s not true, that just being who I am is enough.
I don’t have to perform and that I can just simply be loved and accept love.
I always thought that I had to go after love, do something and get love in return. Now, I don’t think that’s true. I think that love is a commodity that is out there in abundance and is something you have to plug into but it’s not something that you have to earn.
I’m in a wonderful relationship now with a man who gives so freely of himself and it’s not a quid pro quo where I have to do something to earn his attention and help. It’s just forthcoming. He is helping me.
If it were my ex I would have to be performing, making his favorite meal or going to ball games with him or something to make up for the work that he was doing for me. On the flip side, in my current situation he’s so happy to do it.
That was not my experience growing up or my experience in my marriage. Anything that I did was measured and there was a price to pay.
My approach to happiness came directly from my upbringing. I would go so far to say I married my mother on some level to correct the inequities from the past and failed. I failed with my mother and I failed with my relationship.
The bottom line is we can’t make anybody else happy. That I know for sure. And it’s not our job.
The Divorce Coach Says
I’ve also learned that being open to love from others starts with loving yourself, that as Elizabeth says, you are enough just the way you are. This was an eye-opener for me.
In the next segment, Elizabeth shares how she learned to start loving herself.
How has your perspective of love changed over the years? What has triggered that change? What has it meant to your self-confidence?
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