I knew I was having a boy the moment I saw those two pink lines appear on that pregnancy test. I think most of us have an inkling, but I never had any doubt that I was going to be raising a son. What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the fact that I’d be raising him as a single mom.
The fact that my marriage ended in divorce has given me a whole new mindset when it comes to how I’m raising my son. I want him to learn from my mistakes, so that he grows up to have a loving, healthy, long-lasting relationship. Just because he comes from a broken home doesn’t mean he needs to become a broken adult.
I want him to know that the little things matter in a marriage.
It’s easy to get caught up in the big things: work, finances, home repairs, raising children, etc. Focusing too much on the big things, which are often stressful, can take away from the little things, which are often the tiny threads that hold a marriage together.
We didn’t have enough of the little things in my marriage, and that led to the whole thing unraveling when the hard times became too much. I’m teaching my son that the little things matter just as much, if not more, than the big things. Taking out the trash, buying an unexpected bouquet of flowers, eating dinner together, holding hands, binge-watching shows on Netflix- they all bring a couple closer together and can help you reconnect when the big things try to drive you apart.
I stress the importance of respecting your significant other.
Even though his father and I are divorced, we try hard to show that we still respect each other. I think it’s important that he knows that you can disagree with a person, but still respect what they have to say.
All too often when things get difficult in a marriage, one or both partners resorts to low blows. Those hurtful words can last long after the disagreement is over. Teaching my son how to keep his cool, even when his significant other is saying or doing something he doesn’t agree with, will help him build a solid foundation of respect and understanding in his relationship that will hopefully help it survive for the long haul.
I tell him every night that I love him before he falls asleep.
When I first got married, a frequent piece of advice that I received was to “never go to bed angry.” Unfortunately, I didn’t take that advice to heart and there were many frustrating nights spent on the couch during my marriage that eventually contributed to its demise.
Since I know all too well what it’s like to go to bed wondering if the most important person in your life loves you, I make it a point to tell my son that I love him every night before he falls asleep. I want this to become routine for him, so that when he grows up and his wife becomes the most important woman in his life, he always makes sure to tell her. I don’t want either of them to ever doubt their love for each other, even if it’s only for a night.
I’m focusing more on him being kind than him being tough.
Gender roles in society have led many parents to teach their daughters to be soft and their sons to be strong. While I certainly want my son to grow up to be able to defend and take care of his family, my main focus is for him to grow up to be kind and loving.
When kindness is lacking, a marriage can become a very lonely, miserable place. I want him to know he can be vulnerable and open with his feelings, but still be a strong man. In fact, him being kind and vulnerable actually makes him tougher because it shows he is willing to admit when he is wrong or when he is struggling instead of covering it up or avoiding the situation entirely.
I don’t want him to be afraid of failure, but I also don’t want him to expect it.
Although children that come from broken homes are more likely to get a divorce themselves, it’s not a guarantee. I want my son to learn from my failed marriage and do better. I want the pattern of divorce to end with him.
While I certainly won’t ever shame him if he ends up getting a divorce, I will encourage him to do all that he can to not set his marriage up for success. That means taking the time to really get to know his potential spouse before settling down. It also means knowing that marriage is hard work and that you get out of it what you put into it. Finally, it means forgiving himself when he falls a little short and knowing that even on his worst days, he’s still a good man.
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