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Learn from the Past Moving on is never easy. And moving on from a marriage—whether it lasted a few months or many years—can be quite challenging. However, you can take comfort in the fact that your experience with your first marriage actually can pave the way to a happy and fulfilling second union. “Just because your first marriage ended doesn’t mean it was a failure,” observes Crystal Bradshaw, MA, LPC, NCC, Gottman 7 Principles Educator and couples therapist with Synergy Counseling Innovations, LLC. “A lot of marriages create families. Is that a failure? A lot of marriages create friendships and businesses. Are those failures? No.” In fact, Campbell believes that people should look at divorce as a sign of personal strength instead of failure, as it takes courage to walk away from a relationship that is not working. It also takes great fortitude to examine the reasons that first relationship fell apart and what can be learned from that experience. “Some people learn about themselves, including what’s negotiable or nonnegotiable and their stance on unexpected variables such as friends, in-laws and the 26

FEBRUARY / MARCH 2017

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preferred balance of individual and couple time,” Thomas says of first marriages. In many cases, the issues that contributed to the end of that first relationship— whether they involved a lack of intimacy or sex, financial disagreements, differing parenting styles or diverging values—can’t or won’t be recognized until after it has ended. But then there is enlightenment about the role each party played in that situation. “People typically can tell you about the red flags they overlooked in their first marriage, what they are not willing to endure the second time around and what kind of partner they want next time. They are better at identifying what they want from a relationship and what qualities they are looking for in a partner. They can use that information as they embark on their next relationship,” Bradshaw says. “Learn from your past so you don’t repeat it. Recognize how you may have contributed to the deterioration of the relationship, own your part (no matter how small or big) and vow to be an active participant in your next relationship.”

Take a Time Out Thinking about “getting out there” again can be both exciting and frightening. That’s why experts suggest that an individual take some time before taking the plunge again. “Take time to get to know yourself after a breakup,” says Julie Trujillo, MA, LPC, of Northeast Georgia Counseling. “Allow yourself to grieve the losses associated with ending a relationship instead of attempting to

BEST SELF ATLANTA

True Life Love Stories: Se The best advice can come from those who have already been down the road you are traveling. Here, we explore three second marriages and relay the lessons learned and advice offered for those who are ready to enjoy love the second time around.

Grow Together Patrick Shell and his wife, Hala, have known each other since they were 15 year olds at Roswell High School. They were fast friends and kept in touch after graduation, but the timing was never right for them to be a couple. Both married other people and ultimately lost touch. However, while living in Colorado after his divorce, Patrick received a Facebook message from Hala, who also was recently divorced. She had one question: “I thought you were hitched. What’s the deal?” When he called her to respond, they knew instantly that they were meant to be together. Patrick relocated to Atlanta to be with Hala, and they married in May of 2010. He became a stepfather to her daughter, and the couple also now have a 5-year-old son. For the Shells, the key was building their marriage from the ground up—together. “When I moved back to Atlanta to be with Hala, we basically had to start over. I had to start back at the bottom of my career, and she had to change careers due to the economy. We had no real savings and were living check to check at the age of 34,” Patrick says. “We literally built our marriage foundation from the ground up. Our growth as a couple and our careers have gone hand-in-hand. We helped each other with both of those aspects. She also taught me how to be a dad to my new daughter. We have always just been learning from and about each other since we got back together. Our biggest hurdle was my fear of leaving all that I had rebuilt after my divorce: my friends, my job, my independence. But I knew deep down that Hala was the one. I had to jump, and I am so happy that I did.”

Photography by Catrina Maxwell, CatMax Photography.

“Second marriages are challenging and face complexity,” says Lisa Pope Campbell, MSW, LCSW, owner of Northeast Georgia Counseling. “You’ve learned that marriage isn’t easy, and now you must learn that experience alone won’t divorce-proof your marriage.” That’s why it’s key to recognize how a second marriage will be different from a first marriage and take all of those elements into consideration as you move forward. There are certain steps that you will need to take to ensure that you are not only prepared to get married again, but also that you are ready to be a fully engaged spouse. Because according to Shatavia A. Thomas, DMFT, LMFT, owner of Buckhead’s Dr. Shay Speaks, LLC, “Second marriages are about learning how to be a better you with someone new.”

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Best Self Atlanta 0217-0317  

Best Self Atlanta magazine is your resource for health, fitness, beauty and giving back to your community. The February/March issue includes...

Best Self Atlanta 0217-0317  

Best Self Atlanta magazine is your resource for health, fitness, beauty and giving back to your community. The February/March issue includes...