Just because your marriage didn't last, does not mean it was a failure. Here are some ways in which to look back at the experience and draw strength from it.
For many people, divorce is a crippling experience. Ashamed to face people who know them, they imagine all the judgmental thoughts on the other people's minds. If you're faced with the dreams of a happy marriage and old age with your soulmate shattered at your feet, the last thing you want to do is to deal with other people perceiving you as a failure. It's made even worse if you have children dealing with their own hurt, sadness, shame and grief.
But maybe, just maybe, you don't have to see your divorce as a failure. Maybe it's a misperception. Why do I say so?
The only couple who can really look at their marriage as a success (rather than a work in progress) is the couple in the next block, sipping on tea and looking back at their 50th anniversary. We all have the intention to be that couple, but marital success is subjective. Every partner is different, and even those couples who look perfect on Facebook, may well be miserable behind closed doors.
Take solace in the fact that you tried your hardest. Maybe not all your best efforts bore fruit, but if you did whatever you could with what you had, pat yourself on the back and say "I did my best."
In a relationship between two people, you are only responsible for your own actions, and not for those of your partner. They say marriage is 50/50, but that's completely wrong. It requires 100% effort from each spouse. If you put your spouse first, made an effort in every area of your marriage and did whatever you could, you need to feel no shame at the relationship breakdown.
We were brought up to believe that the marital ideal is to stay together forever, but statistics are not always in our favour. It's only natural to look at the situation as failure.
If you feel like that, remember that most things in life only lasts a season. Just because your marriage lasted only a few years, does not mean it was a failure. How long have you had your current job? And the one before that? Are you a failure because you did not stay at that job until retirement?
Rather look at the positives that came out of the brief marriage. Perhaps you learned something new. Perhaps you reached important goals. Maybe you met people who are important to you.
Sometimes experiences and relationships enter our lives for a short period so that we can learn something, and once it has fulfilled its purpose, it is time to move on.
Marriage is meant to be a joint venture, but many people feel alone in the partnership for the most part. When the relationship finally breaks down, many people realise that that was no way to live, and take the opportunity to start pursuing a new goal.
If you have put off your own goals in order to cater to your partner's priorities, you might look at the end of the marriage as a launching pad into a new life in which you feel happy and fulfilled.
Many people who have gone through divorce agree that it made them a better person. It teaches you to be stronger by forcing you to overcome terrible emotional pain. Getting to know who you really are as a person and figuring things out on your own can put your own self-worth into perspective. There's no failure in becoming a better, stronger person.