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Learning from a Failed Marriage

It can be very useful to think about negative patterns in your past marriage to prevent them from recurring in your current relationship. For instance, if you felt unappreciated, you could use that information to help you figure out how you might have contributed. Did you tend to undervalue yourself? Did you let your ex-spouse know specifically how to show his or her appreciation? In this case, when you figure out your role in being unappreciated by your ex-spouse, you can take steps to prevent it from happening in your current marriage.

Think Twice

Don't blame your ex-spouse for everything that went wrong in your marriage. If you allow yourself to recognize how you contributed to the problems, you will learn from your mistakes. Putting that knowledge to use in your current marriage will maximize its potential.

The following questions are designed to help you identify possible destructive patterns in your past marriage. These are difficult questions that will require a lot of thought. Be sure to answer them when you have time and can give them your full attention:

  1. What was your main reason for getting a divorce?

  2. How did you contribute to this main conflict?

  3. List five major conflicts that you had with your ex-spouse.

  4. Could any of the conflicts have been worked out with better communication?

  5. Would you describe your role in the relationship with your ex-spouse as passive, controlling, or an equal in a partnership?

  6. Is your role different in your current marriage?

  7. List five major conflicts that you have with your current spouse.

  8. Are any of them the same ones you listed in question #3?

  9. Do you see any patterns in your relationships?

  10. Do you feel that with time and effort you would be able to overcome falling into the same pattern?

If you didn't notice any similarities in your relationships, you either have already learned from your mistakes (great!) or you are having trouble being objective. It's very important to think about the role you play in the relationship with your spouse. Repeating the same mistake over and over will only cause disappointment. When you are able to see patterns in your conflicts, you will have taken an important step toward resolving them.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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