When I was younger, my parents shared custody of me after their divorce. I was a toddler when it happened so I don't remember what it was like around that time, but I know they weren't the right people for each other based on their decision to divorce.

For a lot of my life, I let that determine how I looked at relationships.

I had to split up my week between houses so I could be with both of my parents as equally as possible. Sometimes it would depend on my parents' work schedules when it fluctuated between seasons, but for the most part, it was pretty consistent.

That didn't mean it was easy for me, though.

I was a very involved kid all the way through high school. I was on a sports team and in several student organizations, meaning my parents had a hell of a time running me around until I got a car. It was a balance of a dance I had choreographed pretty well, but it was exhausting.

All this time, I vowed to myself that my first marriage would be my last marriage, that I wouldn't ever get a divorce. Especially if I had a kid.

Now, I think of how not only was that absolutely stupid of me to think, it was also so rude to my parents. They might not even know that's what I had thought, but it was. The idea that I thought of myself to be someone so above the possibility of divorce, that I thought I could practically force my future spouse into staying with me and working things out no matter what is idiotic.

I think this realization came to me after I ended my first major, long-term relationship. If I hadn't finally grown sick of the toxic behaviors, I probably would've eventually married him. I think about how unhappy I was in that relationship when there wasn't even really anything forcing me to stay in it besides comfort and fear, let alone a legal binding.

Sometimes, relationships just aren't able to be saved and maintained. And that's OK.

I look at both my mom and dad now and can see just how happy they both are in their second marriages. There are rough times, sure, but no relationship can ever completely avoid hardship. There's a difference between hardship and toxicity. There's a difference between going through a rough patch and being mistreated.

It's OK for things to not work out sometimes, even if it's your marriage. Of course, it's important to fight and do everything you can for someone you love, but there's a point where things just can't turn around sometimes. Sometimes, leaving is better than enduring. Sometimes, there's something better for you out there than what you're settling for. You deserve that something that's better than what you're settling for, especially if that something is marriage.

You deserve someone who truly loves you.

Because I grew up in a divorced family, I always saw it as a bad thing. I remember seeing the court document that finalized my parents' divorce and crying at the language that declared it dissolved. I saw it as a burden for me, a hassle I had to endure instead of what was best for my parents. I used to swear that I would never let my future spouse divorce me, firmly holding the opinion that no matter what happens, my marriage would endure. I realize now, as an adult who grew up in a divorced family, how toxic that viewpoint actually is.

Now, I've learned to value a loving relationship over just being in a relationship.

The fear of being alone or going through something so hard as a breakup or a divorce isn't going to keep me trapped in a marriage that isn't what's best for me, hypothetically. I know now that my parents made a tough but good decision for not only themselves but for me. They wanted me to learn what love actually was, not what forced love was.

For that, I thank them and love them so much.

I hope to one day have a marriage that is half of what my parents' second marriages are. I've gained incredible additions to my family over the course of my life through these remarriages. I don't think of growing up in a divorced household as something that necessarily hurt me anymore. It made me stronger, it made my parents stronger, and it gave me the perception of love that I know they've always hoped I'd have.

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