Anyone over the age of 35 that has gone through a divorce has baggage– even if there were no children that resulted from that marriage.  We all have poured time and energy into a relationship that failed, and when all your hopes and dreams for that marriage are shattered, it is normal (and healthy) to take some time to wonder: What went wrong?  What could have been handled differently? And most importantly, what did this experience teach me?

First, let’s explore what might have gone wrong.  Did you argue about kids? Did you have conflicts over money?  Did someone do something to breech the trust or lose the respect you once had for each other?  Did you have issues with intimacy or communication?  Were you not on the same page about work-life balance, the division of labor, family or the future?  Were you unable to handle a crisis together?  Were expectations not met, or did someone drastically change?  Any one of these could cause a marriage to collapse instantly if not handled properly.

Now, what could you have done differently?  Did you seek the advice of an individual therapist, couple’s counselor or financial planner/CPA?  Did you read any books or talk to others with similar issues? Did you try to talk about your issues, and how did you bring up the subject?   Could you have been a bit too harsh or accusatory in your tone?  Did you come across as someone that was complaining or someone that was looking to solve a problem together?  Were you open to seeing the other person’s point of view, or were you stuck on advocating your position/desired outcome?  Did you try to compromise and meet your partner half-way?

Hind-sight of course is 20/20.  In the heat of an argument, none of us are able to see things clearly and in fact it is scientifically proven that we only retain about 25% of the information presented to us when we are upset.  Only when you are calm, and feel secure, can you really look back at a situation and see things more clearly.   And although none of us want to dwell in the past and relive painful experiences, it is important to think about what you have learned from your prior relationships before moving on to the next.   No one wants to repeat the same mistake, nor do any of us want to burden a new partner with unresolved issues from our past.

We all have baggage, just make sure before you embark on your next journey you deal with your dirty laundry.