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9 Relationship Experts Reveal What They Learned From Their Own Divorces
"The most important thing I learned was that you can get emotional closure without the other person's participation. Neither of my exes were interested in sitting down and having a discussion about what had been right about our marriage and what had gone terribly wrong. I longed for that experience; I thought it was necessary for me to move on. I've discovered that it's vital to realize your own healing isn't dependent on your former partner's agenda. I accepted my own mistakes, the shame decreased, and I moved on in my life."
—Margaret Rutherford, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Arkansas
"I learned that I had become a person who was unwilling to settle for a half life. My marriage was good, but not great. Comfort and security stopped working for me—I needed to feel every ounce of myself again, and going through my divorce was the only way that could happen. The most important question I ask my clients considering divorce is: 'Do you want to bet on certainty or possibility?' For some people, the thought of starting over is too daunting, and they decide they'd rather live with the certainty of some disappointment in their life than take a chance that they might find something better. Personally, I almost always lean toward possibility."
—Holly Richmond, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist and AASECT certified sex therapist in Southern California
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"After 17 years in an abusive situation, I finally found the courage to leave. When I walked away from that destructive relationship, it took time to heal and rebuild—and once I did, I realized I would never let anyone tear me down like that again. I later married a wonderful man who taught me what it was to be respected and to be treated as an equal. The first time we had a 'fight,' I literally didn't know we were fighting—I thought we were having a good debate. There was no name-calling, no berating, no gaslighting, no screaming. It was extraordinary to me."
—Kimberly Mishkin, a divorce coach and cofounder of SAS for Women, a divorce support service based in New York
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"I did not understand how to build intimacy before—and I mean emotionally, mostly. Knowing yourself enough to understand how you operate is key. The most important relationship I will ever have in life is with myself. Great love is not selfless in the way we think—healthy relationships require us to put our own needs first so that we maintain our boundaries and are true to ourselves. Loving ourselves first is the only way to truly love someone else." (Get stronger and fitter than you ever thought possible with ; try if for FREE today.)
—Deb Besinger, a love and dating coach at Kiss of Perspective in Raleigh, NC
"Surround yourself with positive, healthy, and supportive people. There's a group of fortunate people who get divorced and do not have any difficulty with the adjustment—but for those who do, I suggest having and engaging a support system. Divorce is about grief. People who get divorced lose a lot; money, their home, time with their children, in-laws, friends, even social status.
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