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Divorce Dialogues: 'I Wasn't Married to the Right Person'

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Kate Meyers: Bruce R., a New England entrepreneur, has been married for 22 years. His first marriage (to his college sweetheart) ended after four.

sad couple
Kate Meyers: Why did you get divorced?

Bruce R.: I realized that I wasn't married to the right person. I had been with her for more than six years before we got married, and then [we were] married for almost four when I realized she would never come close to being a relatively happy, content person. Her life was always in crisis. I guess early on, there was a part of me that always thought that would change. But it never did. I felt like that song lyric: "She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly." And I had to get the weight off my shoulders. 

KM: What was the hardest part? 

BR: Realizing that all the good times that we had were over forever. Let's say you go to college and you loved your college and you realize all that you had there is gone. You've grown up and you're leaving something behind. Realizing it was over and that I was saying goodbye to the person I had had the best times in my life with up to that point .... 

KM: Was the divorce itself difficult?

BR: My divorce was probably a lot easier than most people's. I didn't especially believe in marriage; it was something I [had] decided to do. I loved the other person. I was 28, and looking back, I was very young for my age. I had no interest in having kids. We didn't have some dramatic issue; she and I never fought. We had one lawyer represent both of us, and we got divorced easily. 

KM: What helped you get through the aftermath? 

BR: Just spending as much time as possible with other people. And exercising. 

KM: Was there a moment when you knew you were OK again? 

BR: It was when I realized I didn't need another woman in my life. After I got divorced, I went through a series of relationships, and I felt that I needed that. And when I realized I didn't need it, I knew I had gotten over my divorce. It took about two to three years. 

KM: Looking back, what do you now think is most important when picking a life partner? 

BR: Chemistry and attraction should be there, but a person's character ... whether you trust them; the way they treat other people ... those things are just as important. You should feel that person's compatible with you on those sorts of qualities. I've been married for 22 years now, and there's a lot that you go through. It's not just about sex. It's about making thousands of decisions on how to raise your kids, sitting across the table at dinner and having something to talk about .... There are so many other things that go into a marriage

KM: What did you learn about yourself? 

BR: You can have physical chemistry and romantic infatuation with someone, but you shouldn't let it override your judgment about what kind of person they are. I learned that I was prone to making those kinds of mistakes. 

KM: What was the best advice you got during that time? 

BR: I remembered something I read in a psychology college course about how important it is to talk and communicate with people every day. I thought about that, and I tried not to spend too much time alone. 

KM: What advice would you give someone going through a divorce right now?

BR: It's important to realize that everyone makes mistakes, and when you get divorced, that means that at some level, everyone made mistakes. Be honest with yourself and let yourself off the hook for that. Also, make an effort to spend time with people you enjoy. And: It's probably not a good idea to get into an intense relationship right away. 

KM: What was the best thing to come out of the experience for you? 

BR: Ending up being married to someone that was much better for me, and having three children who make my life happier than I ever thought possible.

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