The biggest mistake of my life was when I suggested to my husband that we should separate. My husband, Mike, and I were living in Boston at the time. Things were so bad, I was really serious about going home to California and getting away – and maybe even staying away – from the toxicity that had built up in our marriage.

Once those words came out of my mouth, I immediately regretted them. I knew that I didn’t really want a separation, but I was so afraid we couldn’t get out from under the mess we’d made of our marriage.

This was our rock bottom. Neither one of us wanted to see our marriage end, but we were so lost, confused, hurt, and broken that it was hard to see a way out.

This rock bottom marked the beginning of a new chapter for us, though.  It marked the turning point in our relationship, that lead us to healing our marriage when it was heading toward disaster.

Here are 3 of the most powerful lessons I learned from healing my broken marriage:

Recognize & appreciate the value that good relationships bring to your life.

At the end of our lives, I know that the year-and-a-half of marriage hell Mike & I endured will be only a small part of our story.  But still, taking Mike for granted for any amount of time has become one of my greatest regrets.  

Only now do I understand the magnitude of what I was so ready to throw away back then: unwavering trust, companionship, peace, comfort, security, laughter, memories, and unconditional love. 

I’ve learned not only to appreciate Mike for his virtues and strengths, but also for the color he brings to my life – even when that means disagreements, squabbles, and frustration.  This is what brings meaning to my life.  It’s what makes life worth living: knowing that I have a partner to share all of life’s ups and downs with, who is there to lift me up when I need it.

The grass is greener where you water it.

We all know the saying, “the grass isn’t greener on the other side.”  All our lives we’ve been warned against believing that somebody else, somewhere else has it better.  I understood this concept, even though I failed at it (see above).

I came across a community forum, comprised of individuals seeking similar wisdom.  One of the commenters said, “A lot of people contemplate divorce because they’re sure they can find something better somewhere else. Don’t fall into this trap.  The grass isn’t greener on the other side – it’s greener where you water it.”

This blew my mind.  It seemed like this internet stranger was capable of reading my mind – he knew exactly what I was thinking, and feeling.  What’s more is, he knew exactly what I was afraid of: making the wrong decision.

The answer was immediately clear to me: running away would only cause Mike & I more pain and anguish.  If I wanted green grass in my marriage, I was going to have to create it.  The effort, the patience, the ferocity, and the love had to come from within me.  Once I learned to water my own grass, everything began to change for the better.

Love your journey. Love yourself.

Looking back on this chapter of our marriage, I take full responsibility for causing it.  Why?  Because I did not love myself enough.

If you had asked me if I was happy in my life back then, my response would have been a resounding, cynical “no”. Society had stacked the cards against me and was hellbent on seeing me suffer. 

This belief led me to be believe that nothing I ever did would be good enough to find the success and fulfillment I was looking for.  And therefore, I was not good enough. Period.

It wasn’t until an abrupt epiphany forced itself upon me that I realized this:

Everything I want in my life (a successful career, a peaceful marriage, joy and fulfillment) will come at the end of a journey rife with struggle and hardship.  I could travel that journey hating my path and hating myself.  Or I could choose to take on the challenge with love.

The answer was obvious. Chin up, move forward, choose love.