35 Years Old, and I Failed at Marriage

Until 2016, I felt like a fairy successful adult. I had never really failed — at least not as it concerns those life milestones. I followed a pretty traditional path of a kid who grew up in a suburban northern NJ town: earned high honor roll in high school, went to a reputable university in New England, secured a full-time job in the field I majored, got engaged to my college boyfriend.

Even at the start of 2016, I looked at my life and I felt secure. I was 34 years old, I owned a house in Queens, I out-earned my husband in a career that I enjoyed, I loved my family, I surrounded myself with amazing friends, I was a mentor in a rewarding teen mentorship program, I was running again. I was happy.

Unfortunately my husband was not happy; and he hadn’t been for a long time. I was shocked. We tried to make it work for a few months, but then in April 2016, I left Queens and moved back to that suburban northern NJ town, and literally back into the same house where I grew up. We were going to use this time apart to figure out how we could move forward. I wanted my marriage to work. I did not want to fail.

But not even an overachiever like me, not even with all my trying, my pride and my stubbornness — I could not save my marriage. And just weeks after my 35th birthday, I gifted my husband what he wanted most: a divorce.

Days later in therapy, I shared that I didn’t like losing, but I failed at marriage. And my therapist tried to assure me that I’m not a failure and I interrupted her and said something along the lines: “Oh, I’m not saying I’m a failure. I’m not. But simply the definition of a divorce is when a marriage ends; when a marriage fails. I failed at marriage.” Period. Fact.

Even though I hit some really low times in 2016, and my self-esteem took a huge blow, I knew I would come out of the situation stronger: reflecting on my decisions, being accountable for my actions, and learning from my mistakes. And that’s exactly what I have been doing.

Now five months into 2017: I’m still 35, and officially single for the first time since I was 22. I don’t own the apartment where I currently live (and love!), but being back in NJ, near my job, my family, and many of those amazingly-supportive friends — I feel like I’m finally back on that path toward finding real happiness.