Love is wonderful. Finding love is such an important part of being alive. Most of us want a loving, lasting relationship. But, falling in love is a lot different from being and staying in love in an ongoing stable relationship. You think you want to be together forever when you’re in love. But sometimes, the reasons you fall in love are just not enough to keep you in a steady, stable relationship.
We often marry or settle down with someone we think we love enough to want to live with for the rest of our lives. But, sometimes, that’s not the case. Sometimes the physical side of love is so compelling that we don’t bother to understand all the other essential things necessary to keep a relationship going. We haven’t explored all of that we may or may not have in common, the ideals we share or don’t, and issues life brings our way where we may or may not agree.
Sometimes, love feels so strong and right that there is nothing else to do but stay together and commit to each other regardless of our differences. Sometimes, things work out, and we choose to stay together through thick and thin.
But, sometimes, the strains of life expose all of those issues we may never have considered, talked about, or worked out, and we find ourselves somewhere down the line unable to sustain a loving, committed relationship.
Often, life’s unfolding events surprise us, and we may find ourselves on different sides of an issue. We may find ourselves in conflict over family, children, money, careers, where to live, etc. In addition, there are individual personal differences, choices, decisions, beliefs, philosophies, and perspectives. Sometimes these differences prove to be too much for individuals and couples to handle. And when that happens, a relationship may end.
So after the dust has settled and you’ve been alone for a while, you may decide it’s time to find that special someone to share the rest of your life with. It is by no means easy to jump back into the ring when you’ve been hurt, feel emotionally spent, and maybe afraid to trust again. But you won’t know until you try.
Here are some ways to ensure you get a better relationship the second time.
Know yourself. Who are you now after all you’ve lived through, especially in a relationship? Are you clear about what you want out of life? Do you understand what attracted you to your first partner (and maybe other people along the way)? Are you a different person than when you first met and fell in love with your first partner? How did you change as a result of the relationship? What do you plan on doing differently in a new relationship?
If you don’t know enough about yourself, it will be hard to know about another person. Be clear about who you are, what is essential to you in life—your aspirations and goals, and your beliefs and values. Make sure significant conflicts are addressed, and there is a reasonable resolution. When you’re sure you know the answers to these questions, then you’re ready to be in a relationship again.
Understand why your relationship failed. Do you have insight into why your relationship didn’t work out? Did you marry too young before you knew more about life? What were the major differences and disagreements that developed over your time together? Was there a communication failure? Did you seek help to work out your issues and differences, or did things get worse until they were irreparable?
You must understand what went wrong, so you don’t mistake repeating the same patterns. Sometimes, life disappoints us, and we’re left angry and bitter. If that has happened, try to work on overcoming that attitude, or you risk bringing it into the next relationship.
On the bright side, a relationship that didn’t work out hopefully taught you a lot about yourself, and what you want and don’t want. In other words, the lessons you learned from that relationship gave you confidence in yourself, in what you believe in and desire.
Find a better match. Now that you know what went wrong look for someone for all the right reasons. Yes, attraction is important, but you want someone on the same page regarding key issues. You want to know all this about another person before considering them seriously as a life partner.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll be able to work it out later if it’s not right from the beginning. Does this person appreciate who you are and all that you’ve gone through in your life? Are you on the same page about family, children, where to live, and honoring each other’s careers? Are your life and worldviews similar?
Leave your baggage at the door. Make sure not to carry old grievances with you. Whatever you went through in a difficult relationship is over. You’re starting fresh with someone who was not part of all the old drama. Don’t dump unhealthy patterns on your new partner. Let the new relationship strive for understanding, trust, and positivity.
Be open. From the beginning, let it all hang out. Say who you are and what you need. No deception, no secrets, no hiding. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. If you’ve chosen well, your partner will show understanding and kindness. Communicate consciously and constantly. Respect and civility are key. Listen attentively. Check in with each other frequently. Don’t let differences fester. Address them as soon as they are recognized and course correct when necessary.
Appreciate everything. You have a second chance to love again. Having felt hurt, angry, and defeated, you have another chance. Your partner is sacred to you and your life. Appreciate all that they are and all that they do for you. Too often, we take things for granted only to discover how much we miss them when they’re gone. This second time is an opportunity to grab each moment with gusto and appreciation and enjoy and celebrate life and love.