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"No addictions." 7 divorced women share the absolute ‘must-haves’ for their next relationship.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, as anyone who’s been married, and then divorced, will attest.

With it comes wisdom, self-awareness and an understanding of others, which are all handy when a new relationship comes along.

We spoke to seven women about the lessons they learnt from their first marriages, and what their must-have qualities for their next relationship would be.

Team Mamamia confess: When they knew it was time for a divorce. Post continues below.

Video by MMC

Someone who likes themselves – Nicola

This sounds basic, but someone who doesn’t like themselves is insecure, which causes problems in the relationship.

My first husband would make snide comments when he was feeling threatened – for example, if I spoke to another man at a party. It was exhausting and petty, and I realised he was like that because he wasn’t confident in himself. He was threatened by other men.

I remember we even had a fight on the way to a Peter Helliar show because my ex didn’t want to go, because he knew the comedian made me laugh and I was so excited to see him. Ridiculous.

Zero tolerance on lies – Jocelyn

My ex-husband lied about his age for months, until I saw his driver’s license. He’d lied by three years, saying he was 28 instead of 31.

What was weird at the time was his reaction to being discovered; he felt justified in lying and told me it was none of my business.

I guess that is true, and I let it go. But me accepting the lie without resistance set the stage for more lies to come – and boy, did they ever!

A compatible sense of humour – Amali

Everyone loves to laugh, but as a jokey, sarcastic kind of person myself, I’m always having a chuckle at things – it’s how I cope with sad times, too.

But I realised after my marriage ended that my husband had not really ever made me laugh. He had other qualities which I’d appreciated, and I guess they were enough to make us happy at the time.

Having said that, he would often tell me that others (i.e. his friends who didn’t like me) found my sarcasm ‘aggressive’… which I now realise sounds like their problem more than mine.

So, I promised myself with my next partner, that would be a must-have; someone who could make me laugh, understood my humour, and who would laugh with me during the tough times.

Common goals for the future – Deanna

You’re always told to talk about financial goals and kids before you get married, but it’s hard, because you never know what, or who, will change. You either grow together, or you don’t.

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But if you’re thinking about getting married, you have to really think about the details, because that’s what helps you get whether this person is on the same path as you.

So, not just ‘do we want kids’, but how many? Private or public school? Religion or not?

And not just, ‘yes we want a house and an investment property’, but how much debt are we comfortable with? Are we investing for retirement, or our kids’ futures?

A lot of it is unknown, but his answers to all of these questions will help you see whether you at least have a common idea on the big things.

How to start dating again after divorce. Do you try Tinder? A dating website? Going down the pub? And what if you don’t want to date again? Mandy Nolan explores the dicey topic on The Spill, our podcast about all things separation and divorce. Post continues below.

Unwavering respect – Alice

I want consistent respect for me as an individual; not just when we’re happy – but all the time, including during arguments.

I didn’t have that in my first marriage; he would become really mean – calling me names – very quickly. It was horrible, and it meant he held a lot of the power, so I lost my voice a bit because I didn’t want to cause conflict.

In my next marriage or relationship, I would ensure not only that he genuinely respects me and demonstrates that consistently, but I’ve vowed to also never stop respecting myself enough to accept that sort of behaviour again.

No addictions – Karmen

My ex used to talk about himself as a ‘medical miracle’, because he’d drunk heavily for two decades, and seemed to be in perfect health.

It meant that still, in his mid-40s with two children old enough to understand that daddy was in bed every Saturday with a hangover, he wouldn’t change his habits. I realised that’s because he was an addict – weekly binge drinking was his addiction – and it was not something he was in control of.

Nor did he think he needed to control it. Which is exactly why he’s now single, and any sign of addiction would be a red flag for me in the future.

Brilliant conflict resolution skills – Annabel

I’m a very direct person, and my marriage taught me that not everyone wants to hear the truth.

I would try to sit down with my husband and explain what I needed from him, and he would become so defensive – and really personal and nasty. I eventually gave up trying to talk to him about anything, which is one of the reasons we broke up.

It’s strange, because I have that kind of relationship with my best girlfriend: we call each other on our sh*t and respect that we can do so. It’s a constructive conversation; it’s never intentionally hurtful.

What I want in my next relationship is someone who’s grown up enough to handle that.


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Tags: divorce , features , motherhood , parenting-2
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