Manifesting in March continues with this week's topic “Daring to Think Differently.” I was raised in a household where my parents were married to each other. It was each of their first marriages, and they remained together until my father’s death in 2006. Even though I wasn’t raised Catholic, my parents instilled in me very traditional beliefs about marriage. I was supposed to be a virgin when I got married. The person I married…this would be his first marriage too. When I got married, this person would be the only one I’d ever be married to. My mother often reminded me that out of her 33 Italian Catholic cousins, only 2 had ever divorced. I never questioned any of this…it’s just how it was supposed to be.
Growing up with these ideals, I did my best to maintain the family status quo as long as I could. Except for the guy, I was interested in marrying for the first time already had a marriage under his belt. My mother said all kinds of things like “Why did someone throw him away if he was so amazing?” which twisted my heart and I began to doubt my decision to be with him in the first place.
10 years into my marriage, I became very depressed and ended up on anti-depressants. I went to my doctor to make the pain go away, instead of looking inside myself to see what was wrong. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell anyone what it was. I began to look for attention from other men. I now know that I wasn’t happy in my marriage, but I hung in there another 10 years because I was raised with the expectation that I was only supposed to be married once, and that I would be with this person until one of us died. I was caught right between what was expected of me and my unhappiness. I was a mess because what I was taught was not what was happening to me.
My marriage crashed and burned. While we had many happy times over the 20 years we were together, I had to admit that the person I needed 20 years earlier was not the person that I needed now. I spent 10 years trying to uphold a belief system that wasn’t even mine. If I was to find happiness, I had to dare to think differently and thrust off these expectations that I actually never chose for myself.
I began studying what had happened and realized I was asking the wrong questions of myself.
I asked questions like “What can I do to keep this marriage going?” “What’s wrong with me?”
“Why am I so miserable?” “What am I doing wrong?” My unconscious mind had all kinds of awful reasons why my marriage was failing. “You’re a horrible cook and housekeeper.” “You’re not sexy.” “You’ve gained weight and he’s not attracted to you.” “You must be a failure, and soon you’ll be a disappointment to the family.”
During and after my divorce, I learned how to ask different questions, productive questions. I began asking questions like, “What kind of relationship would make me happy?” “What if relationships aren’t supposed to last forever?” “What if it was okay for a marriage to be temporary?” “Could a marriage that ends in divorce still be considered successful?” “What would it feel like if I put my family values aside and just pursued my happiness?”
Once I started asking these questions…my world began turning around.
“What kind of relationship would make me happy?” A relationship that would make me happy, is one where I enjoyed being with my partner, and he and I enjoyed doing the same things.
“What if it was okay for a marriage to be temporary?” Many marriages end in divorce. No one goes into marriage wanting to be a divorce statistic. I decided to acknowledge we had some good times, but it was time to move on.
“Could a marriage that ends in divorce still be considered successful?” This one took some time to wrap around my mind around. My marriage was successful in many aspects. I learned some valuable things from him. I became a better person as a result of being with him. But I didn’t feel I would ever reach my potential staying in that relationship.
“What would it feel like if I put my family values aside and just pursued my happiness?” I decided pursuing my happiness was the right choice. Not everyone agreed with me! When I told my mother we were splitting, she said “Did you ever think about what this (divorce) would do to me?” She felt I was bringing shame on her and possibly the entire family. I decided I could not change her views about marriage and divorce. I took a deep breath in and told her my decision was final and then proceeded to plan what I needed to do to get back to a mindset of happiness.
The journey of questioning your beliefs and daring to think differently is a tough one, but well worth it. I am now in my 4th week of marriage to my second husband. I’m his third wife. We have had countless people tell us we make a great team. With my first husband, one friend remarked after our divorce that we were two great people that just didn’t seem to belong together.
If you are experiencing depression or conflict within, it may be time to check in with your belief systems and see if they still fit. Assessing what your belief systems are by asking yourself productive questions will begin setting yourself on a new path of daring to think differently.