First Marriage Road is ToughI remember the morning that my husband and I gingerly approached the subject of what went wrong in our first marriages.  We had been dating for a few months and had reached the first crossroad in growing into a lasting and committed relationship.  In order to best understand how we progressed to this point, after our first marriages ended,  you might want to catch up and read Chapter 1 and then Chapter 2 of this Blended Family Beginnings Series.  

It is such a transitional time in a relationship when time together awakens the thought that you might have a future together.  I think the first step is when you realize that dating others would hurt each other. The second step is when you start to ask questions about each other’s past lives and relationships.  When you have kids and a lot of emotional feelings from a failed first marriage, though, the thought of starting a new family is not all candles and romantic dinners.  Real life is present every moment.  As I described in a previous blog on my definition of a “Blended Family” , it requires a lot of care and time to develop.   If not, the risk of another failed marriage is usually inevitable.

I don’t know why I suddenly knew to ask– but we were sitting at breakfast and I told him that we could not move forward until we discussed what broke up our first marriages.  It wasn’t an ultimatum, it was a natural progression to see if there was a future for us.  It was the beginning of learning about each other without the pretense of always having our best foot forward.  He was very guarded about his feelings and I was an open book, wearing my heart on my sleeve.  We both needed to learn how to talk to each other without becoming defensive or uncomfortable. Since we had not known each other long, we were able to unfold the details without worry about expectations or disappointment.  We found common ground in the fact that we had both grieved our losses and were able to honestly expose not only our personal mistakes but our disappointment at failure in our first marriages.   With three kids between us, there was not much room for fantasy.   I was heartened to see him open up after rarely discussing his past and I learned from him not to dwell on the past but set goals for the future.   Our first success was communicating much better than we had in our past relationships and being more realistic about what a committed relationship needed to survive.

Youth; immaturity; lack of life experience; unrealistic expectations — this is a start to the list of all of the factors that contributed to not only the demise of our first marriages but the defeat we felt as individuals.   We were coming together with dashed hopes of our first lives that were supposed to last a lifetime.  With the beginnings of our discussions about what we had learned from those years, we had won the first battle by bringing our individual concerns and dreams into the conversation and learning to appreciate the individual in us before we were a couple.

The biggest lesson I have learned in all my years of marriage, is that it is so important to develop as an individual first.  Maturity and knowing yourself is key to success not only in a first marriage but in your daily life.  What are some lessons you have learned about yourself?  What issues come up in your own relationship that need to be resolved?  We started out great in the first six months of our relationship and then real life issues were sending us in different directions.



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