Submitted by Janeen Diamond
My kids threaten that when I die my obituary will read: Janeen Kaye Severson Rider Secrist Golightly Diamond. They like to make light of the fact that I have been married four times and divorced thrice. But, hey! If we didn’t laugh about it all the time, we’d probably all be more messed up over it than we already are.
So this is my story. And by the end of it, I hope you will come to realize that living a happy, healthy, vibrant life, whether as a partner in a successful marriage or alone after a divorce, isn’t about luck. It’s entirely up to you!
It all started when I was seventeen years old. I met the ‘man of my dreams’ and fell instantly in love. It didn’t hurt that his best friend was dating my best friend which made for some really fun times. And it didn’t even dawn on me, when we went rabbit hunting and actually ate our catch for dinner, that this wasn’t really my idea of a good time. After all, my best friend was right there with me, and the relationship was really just an extension of our friendship. It all felt good, and getting married was what I had thought about for most of my high school years. I couldn’t wait to get started on being an adult and living my own life. I thought marriage was the fastest way to achieve this.
My first husband and I were married just shy of my nineteenth birthday. I was blissfully happy those first few hours. I loved the wedding, the dress, the gifts, the cake, and all our friends showing up to wish us well and telling me how beautiful I looked. I was actually pretty excited a lot during that first year of marriage: when we moved into our first apartment, when I cooked my first dinner, when our best friends moved in next door.
That first year was full of a lot of good times and a few bad times. I think I truly expected marriage to contain a nonstop, endless supply of “me” worship. Everything was supposed to be about me, and I wanted my husband to see it that way too. And when it wasn’t, well, there were plenty of “men” in the workplace who were willing to fill in where he was lacking.
All the male attention made me realize that I had so many more options out there. Why had I settled? What was I thinking? So, six years and two kids later I asked my husband for a divorce.
Now, here’s the part I really want you to pay attention to. I knew I would get to keep the house and any belongings I wanted. I knew I could take the best car. I knew the kids would be with me all the time except for every other weekend. I knew my parents would pick up the slack and help me out with the kids when I was working or taking classes. I had a pretty good job and could afford my lifestyle, and I knew my ex-husband would be required to pay some kind of child support. So, hey, what was the problem? I had it made!
How lucky could I possibly be?
Well, all these years later, I realize I should have been asking, “How selfish could I possibly be?”
I didn’t leave my marriage because it was terrible. It certainly wasn’t perfect. We had our problems like everyone does, but ultimately, I left because I believed I could do better.
The details of the rest of the story don’t matter much . . . I hung onto the house for two years until I had build up enough equity to sell it, to pay my parents back, and to put a decent amount into savings. I knew I had become stronger and more self-reliant. I could handle anything now.
This was one of those life-changing experiences that made me a better person. I may not be a smarter person, but I’m definitely a better person.
I truly believe that with some hard work and a lot of desire we can begin to make changes in ourselves and in our marriages almost immediately.
– Janeen Diamond is the author of “Save Your Marriage in 30” which offers no-nonsense advice regarding marriage and divorced based on her own experiences. To learn more about Janeen and her book please visit her website.
* Check out the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center
* What’s the relationship between marriage and health? This article investigates