By Tracy M
I’ve been divorced for nearly 15 months now. Last Sunday, I reluctantly attended my first Single Adults fireside at my stake while my home teachers watched my children. Since it was Sunday night, I dressed in Sunday clothes and made myself presentable, and heading off with great recalcitrance to my unknown future. Let me tell you: It’s grim. My intent is not to bag on the LDS singles scene- that’s a book in and of itself. Rather, I want to offer some unsolicited advice to those of you with good husbands…
I was with my now ex-husband for almost 20 years. We met when I was seventeen, and divorced last year. Do the math. I know what it means to be with someone for a long time, to know their quirks and idiosyncrasies. I understand how life can be, and how hard it is to balance motherhood, bills, stress, life and marriage- and clearly something went wrong, because I am parenting three children now on my own. But I think I still have something valuable to contribute, and I’d like to place my offering on the altar, where you are free to pick through it and take whatever might be helpful or useful to you.
First: take care of yourselves. It’s so easy to allow the tidal wave of mothering to overtake who you were before you became mama. But your children are small for such a short time, and when we lose ourselves completely, we lose something irreplaceable. We are not just creators of little people- we are individual daughters of God with worth outside of motherhood and who have been given unique and divine talents and traits. If the sole focus of our lives becomes children and home, what are we when those things leave? Motherhood is important- it’s a role we are blessed to fulfill- but don’t forget it’s only one facet of who you are.
Second: Make yourself a priority every once in a while. This dovetails with remembering who your were before you became a mama- but it also stands alone. It doesn’t take a lot of money or time to do small things to make yourself feel good. Sleepless nights with a little one make some days impossible to get through- I get that- but on regular days, treat yourself to five minutes. Have a girlfriend highlight your hair with a home kit, read a novel you love, try a new recipe, call an old friend, write, paint your toes, or do whatever small indulgence that makes you happy. Toss on some mascara or lipstick- feeling pretty makes us carry ourselves differently- and gives us a tiny boost of confidence that helps us recall being something besides the Human Napkin. You might be surprised what a difference small indulgences make.
Third: If you have a good husband, love him. If you married a decent man that you love, and he works to fulfill his roll as husband and father, to provide, care for your children, and be an active part of your lives- love him for it. Of course he’s not perfect and does things that drive you daft- that’s part and parcel of living with someone forever. But step back and try and see the big picture- is he kind? Is he a good father? Is he faithful? Does he fulfill his obligations to you and your children? If the answer is yes… love him. My husband opted out of all those things, and it breaks my heart when I see women I know focusing on their husband’s short-comings when those men are meeting all the requirements and pulling all the weight they signed on to take. To be clear, I am not saying just to be grateful you are married- sometimes situations are truly bad and part of taking care of yourself is knowing and removing yourself if you are in a bad relationship. But it’s amazing what a difference focusing on and remembering what initially drew you to your partner can make. Why did you love him before he was your husband and the father of your kids?
Fourth: I’m not sure how to be oblique about this, so I’m going to go for blunt: Physically LOVE your husband. And let him love you. In the crush of life and children and chaos, do not forget about this incredibly important part of intimacy. There can be a lot wrong in lives, but if you have that physical intimacy, that place where you can both be open with each other, it creates a life-raft that helps the two of you gloss over some of the other bumps of life. Allow yourselves to create time and space for intimacy- you don’t have to hearken back to your dating days- that’s unrealistic and your life doesn’t look like that anymore- but do allow open spaces for each other to fill. And sisters? Take the initiative. Think outside the box. You can- within the boundaries of marriage- you can. And you should- you might be surprised how good it makes you feel.
And any random guys reading? This all applies to you too. Every single word.
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