This post was written by Sara Woodard-Ortiz, founder of The HeartFull Journey: Love yourself through divorce and beyond.

The word contradiction probably comes to mind when reading the title of this article. What marriage advice could a divorced mom possibly give? Being divorced means she failed at marriage, right?

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Failure is a harsh term. I like to think that I’ve simply figured out at least one way marriage doesn’t work. So, in hopes that your marriage doesn’t meet the same end mine did, here are just a few pieces of marriage advice from a divorced mom.

Focus on the now in order to achieve forever

Being together forever is the goal, right? Yet so many couples forget that forever isn’t just a word. It doesn’t just happen. I think to achieve forever we must actually focus on the now. Those fleeting moments that offer us the opportunity to either deepen our connection or add another crack to it. Each day is filled with opportunities to be gentle, understanding, and to work together toward your common goal of “death do us part”. You have an equal chance of choosing to yell, blame and build up resentments. The goal is to make those small choices every day that take your relationship closer to forever.

Treat each other like teammates

Both of you are on the same side. You have the same goal: a healthy and happy marriage. You might have different ways of showing love or solving problems. You might respond differently to conflict. But you are both on the same team. It’s not you against him or her way versus your way. Your actions move you both either toward happiness on one side or sadness on the other. Treat each other like teammates and you will always step closer to your goal.

Don’t treat your marriage like the end of a Disney movie

Disney loves to end movies with a happy marriage. All the conflict and struggle comes first and only after the characters have overcome the struggles can they finally experience the joy of love and marriage. Marriage, in a Disney movie, is a magical ending to all the fighting, conflict and struggle. Only love, sunshine and happiness are in the future.

Let go of the Disney-fied Love Story version of marriage. Real love and marriage will never live up to the hype. My own marriage crumbled under the weight and pressure of such unrealistic and transient notions. Sink your feet into the reality of marriage and the everyday minutia of sharing your life with someone else. The realities of marriage might not be as glamourous as a Disney marriage but they are far more satisfying and fulfilling.

“Marriage isn’t 50/50. Divorce is 50/50. Marriage has to be 100/100. It’s not about dividing everything but giving everything you’ve got.”

Take it from someone who has gone through the painful task of dividing everything: marriage is ultimately a choice. It’s a choice to choose the real, gritty, sometimes lackluster yet beautiful, surprising, and satisfying experience of sharing your life with someone else. Choose wisely.

About the author:
Sara Woodard-Ortiz started The HeartFull Journey after going through a painful divorce. Sara’s goal is to help moms learn to love themselves during and after divorce as a way to build a foundation to attract a new, satisfying relationship. Her first coloring book, Color Through Divorce, has helped many moms and children bond and grow together during this painful and stressful time. Sara continues to develop and publish coloring books, workbooks, and courses to support women through the pain of divorce.

Sara lives in Danville, IL with her 3 year old daughter, Olivia, and their 2 cats, Bianca and Katniss. When Sara is not working on her business you can find her playing Minecraft or drinking coffee at a local cafè. Sara hopes to travel the country in a camper someday.

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