Divorced. I never thought it’d be me. Especially twice divorced. Yet, here I am, single again after two failed marriages. I say failed because the marriages didn’t last. But were they really failures?

Failure is defined as a “lack of success.” But by what yardstick is success measured? I know plenty of people in absolutely miserable marriages that I would not consider successful. So is it really fair to call my two marriages failures? I guess it depends on who you ask and what they see as a failure versus a success. Just because a marriage is legally intact doesn’t make it a success in my book.

I’m a Christian, and both times, I married Christian men. And Christians aren’t supposed to get divorced. But a common faith and common belief system isn’t all that is necessary for a successful marriage. Depending on which study you choose to believe, the divorce rate amongst Christians is roughly the same as that for non-Christians.

I could go into the reasons my marriages didn’t last. I know what they are and I also know the role I played in their terminations. After all, I’m the one who filed for divorce in both instances. But because of my daughters and the respect I have for their opinions of their fathers, I refuse to go into the particulars of how and why I think I was wronged and what ultimately led me to make those excruciating decisions.

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What I do feel comfortable sharing is that I ignored certain red flags. Both times. I ignored that small voice telling me there was something wrong or off. I brushed it aside. Twice. Even after the end of my first marriage, I ignored the red flags the second time around.

I should know better than to ignore my gut. The first time I remember ignoring my gut resulted in me being kidnapped by a sexual predator. I was 19 years old and had observed a strange man watching me. I immediately felt uncomfortable, but I ignored that feeling and didn’t leave the area. Only minutes later, I was blindfolded and handcuffed in the back of his car. I should’ve listened to my gut. And only by the grace of God, hours later, I was able to escape.

Less than a year later, I was engaged to someone I had no business marrying. Really, I had no business marrying anyone at that time because I was suicidal and suffering from severe PTSD. I was in no mental state to be making lifelong commitments, especially when there were red flags already in our relationship. But once again, I ignored my inner voice, ignored my gut, and walked down that aisle into the unknown.

Those red flags never went away. In fact, they only got worse. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had hoped that having a baby would change everything. That he would change and the red flags would disappear. But they didn’t. Except I could no longer ignore them. It wasn’t just my life anymore, it was also my daughter’s life. And I knew I couldn’t raise her in that type of environment or in that type of marriage. As much as it pained me, I knew it would be better to divorce. That marriage lasted nine years.

While my first divorce was still pending, I met who would later become my second husband. Once again, there were red flags. But he was persistent and actually asked me out five different times before I finally agreed and said yes. Even though I had initially listened to my gut and turned him down, I backtracked and caved to his charms. Because he was certainly charming.

But, as had been the previous case, the red flags never went away, even after we married. What I had been able to explain away during our courtship became reality once we were living under the same roof as husband and wife. Nonetheless, I stuck it out for 13 years before deciding I couldn’t take it anymore.

I would like to say that after three bad experiences of not trusting myself, I’ve finally learned to listen to that inner voice. But I guess I won’t really know until another opportunity arises for me to put it to the test.

I will say that divorce is hard. It’s hard for the divorcing couple, and it’s even harder for the kids. But I’m also now happier twice-divorced than I was married. Will I ever marry again? I honestly don’t know. I believe in love. And despite how it may appear, I believe in marriage and life-long commitment.

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But marriage should not be entered into when there are red flags. I’m not referring to pre-marriage jitters or cold feet, I’m referring to the red flags. The ones that tell you that deep down, there’s something amiss. I’m referring to not being 100% certain you want to get married to this particular person at this particular time.

I now have to live with the negative stigma that comes with being twice divorced. The judgment, maybe even from well-meaning friends, is hard to take. While friends are celebrating 20 to 25 years of being married, I have to swallow the hard pill that I may never get to that milestone with a marriage. I didn’t, couldn’t, stick it out just for the sake of staying married. In fact, I stayed married longer than I probably should have both times around. But I’m now twice divorced for my own mental health’s sake and happiness.

Do I sometimes wish it were different? Of course. But I try not to live my life with regrets. Both marriages were learning experiences. And each marriage provided me with a daughter I love and adore. So while some people may look down their noses disapprovingly at me for being twice divorced, I know I did the best I could, and I won’t apologize to anyone for that.

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