A hot topic as this year's Oscars was the fact that Best Director nominees Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron used to be married. Talk about a competition between exes! But instead the focus was on the strong level of support the two continue to offer each other. Could this be a prime example of when divorce just works?
Editor Candace Walsh compiled essays from 28 women who rejoiced in the gifts their divorces brought them - healing, independence, and the blessing of starting over. Here's what they learned:
Divorce is an ending, but it's also a beginning.
"The women were able to see their divorce as evidence of growth," Walsh says. "When their marriage ended, they felt liberated - they renovated their homes, went back to school, traveled the world, or simply appreciated the ability to take a walk whenever they pleased." In beginning anew, they regained their sense of self and found happiness within. As Jessica Cerretani writes, "As sweet as my new guy is, he isn't the only reason for my joy. If we broke up, I'd be sad - but I know that I'd still have me."
Losing the marriage doesn't mean losing all that was good about it.
"Instead of sitting on what went wrong, I try to honor and appreciate what my marriage gave me: a wonderful wedding, two gorgeous children, and a person who knows me better than anyone else," Walsh says. She also took away life lessons that will stay with her. "One time I was in a terrible mood, and my husband suggested we go for a walk," she recalls. "We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and my mood disappeared in no time. He helped me realize that I had more mastery over my internal state than I'd thought. Instead of dwelling on my bad mood, I had the power to change it."
You are stronger than you think.
"The first time I changed a flat tire, I was terrified," Walsh says. "That used to be my husband's job. I had the tool kit and owner's manual in front of me and my kids watching me from the car window. From that moment, I knew I had to rely on myself. It's great to have a partner do a job you don't want to do, but it's even better when it's a choice to have him fix the tire, not a default. And there's satisfaction in knowing that you can do what needs to be done."
Breakups teach us what to do - and what not to do - next time.
"I've learned to be protective of my relationship in a way that I didn't understand during my first marriage," Walsh says. "I don't let things build up into something that causes resentment. I won't go to bed angry. Now that I've experienced this loss, I know what I have to lose. But I also realize what I have to gain by walking away from someone who doesn't meet my needs. Relationships take work, but when they're right, it's incredibly rewarding."
Do you have a divorce success story? Tell us if you think divorce can have positive effects.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.