Written by: Sara Woodard



Very rarely in life are we faced with events that force us to rethink our lives, relationships, values, and future. When these events do happen, we have two choices: run and cower, or fight and thrive. When my ex-husband and I separated, I chose to fight and thrive.


Before my divorce, I was basically going through the motions. I owned and managed a website design business that became stagnant and unfulfilling. I didn’t have to worry about working very hard because I had the “benefit” of a working spouse. “Benefit” is in quotations because what his financial support amounted to was my ability to become complacent. I had no real idea of what financial independence felt like. This was not his fault. It was mine.


I also had no idea of what real love felt like. Notice I say “real love” and not “true love”.


True love speaks of birds and butterflies circling your head while you kiss passionately in the rain. Real love is squeezing in a peck on the cheek while bills and children circle your feet. Real love is working as a team against all the stress and sadness of the world. Real love is choosing each other. Every. Single. Day.


“Marriage isn’t 50/50. Divorce is 50/50. Marriage has to be 100/100. It’s not about dividing everything but giving everything you’ve got.” 


I would not have understood the above quote without my divorce. Most people think that love and marriage is 50/50 because there are 2 people. Pure math tells us that if 2 people work on something that means each one only needs to carry half the load. The problem is that math doesn’t work with relationships.


In a marriage, 50 plus 50 does not equal 100. It barely equals 50. In a marriage, 50 plus 50 equals a chasm between you both.


A very wise friend explained it this way: His wife became gravely ill. While she was ill, he was forced to carry the duties of the relationship until his wife got better. If they had a 50/50 marriage, his 50% would not have been nearly enough to carry them through. If you aren’t giving 100% in the best of times, you won’t give 100% in the worst of times. Fortunately, they had a 100/100 marriage. My friend’s 100% was magically enough to carry them both through that tough time.


My marriage ended almost 2 years ago. These have been the hardest 21 months of my life. Pain and sadness are expected; Self-reflection is optional. During these months, I have chosen– and have had to decide to keep choosing– to face all the emotions, including pain, betrayal, and the emptiness of dying dreams. I chose to learn how to budget my money and pay my bills on time. I chose to learn how to file my own taxes. I’ve chosen to step into my role as a business owner. I choose to continue working on my fear of failure. I will keep choosing to thrive.


My divorce was the best thing to ever happen to me because it taught me the meaning of real love. It taught me I can endure more than I thought possible. Divorce has forced me to evaluate my expectation of love and marriage. Because of my divorce, I will continue to strive for a 100% in my relationship with myself and in my next marriage. I will never treat a marriage like a divorce again.



Sara Woodard-Ortiz lives in Danville, IL with her 3 year old daughter, Olivia, and their cat, Bianca. When Sara is not working on her business you can find her playing Minecraft or drinking coffee at a local cafè. Sara hopes to one day travel the country in a camper. Connect with her on Facebook at her page, Heartly Broken, where she works to encourage women having experienced divorce.


Editor: During Sara’s divorce, she created a wonderful coloring book to help her and her daughter come to terms with this new reality. Check it out!


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