I don’t know how else to say what I’m about to say without just saying it. Do yourself a favor and don’t date someone right after divorce. Yes, I know they may seem nice. I know they may say it’s their former spouse or almost former spouses fault (that’s a WHOLE ‘nother post about NOT dating people who are separated because separated people are still married and with that comes a bunch of guck and stuff you do not want to deal with. I know.) Anywho, I know this newly “free” male or female may seem to have it all together. I know they may appear to be an answered prayer. I know they may be so caring and kind and fun to hang out with. I even know they may be lonely, and you may be too, but I know that they are NOT ready for a new relationship right out of an old one.
A conversation recently with a counterpart who is dating a man with ink still wet on his divorce decree reminded me of the year and a half I spent in a Church of the Highlands Restoration Small Group for men and women who had experienced divorce and separation. Hearing her gush about how nice he was, how mean the ex-wife was, how they’d known each other for just a little while but bonded so beautifully and how she really wanted to be with someone took me back to that chilly, Autumn Sunday where we discussed dating and marriage after divorce in my small group. It took me back to the moment when the hosts of the small group read the writing on the papers we were discussing and the words about how much time we should take and wait before dating and definitely before marriage rang in my ear like a whistle from an overzealous, courtside referee. I remember shock and awe sitting next to my friend who was going through the same trial. (Hey, girl, hey! Thanks for helping me get through that stage with my lipgloss and high heels on point.) Speaking of lips…I remember “exercising my eyes in the upper part of my head” and sucking my lips like a defeated school girl thinking there was NO WAY IN THE WORLD I was going to wait one year for every two years I was formerly married to get re-married like the wise couple recommended. I had been married nine years so you do the math to see how my mind calculated that to=TOO LONG TO WAIT!
I’m so glad God saw fit to thwart my fast plans. I felt like I deserved a real, and good marriage. And I did/do. I’d gone through the extended small group. I had personal counseling with an amazing Christian counselor. I’d gone to counseling with my former spouse when I was begging him to reconcile. (yep, you read correctly.) I’d prayed. I didn’t have anybody beat anybody up when all of this was unfolding. I didn’t succumb to pressures attempt at depression. I kept eating and in fact, didn’t lose a single pound through the trying ordeal. I didn’t fall out with God, the church or church people. All of this, and you mean to tell me I STILL wasn’t ready regardless of how many times I tried to prove otherwise? I was a hot mess being made better and simply wasn’t ready to come right back out of the gate trying to stroll down the aisle with the first man who spelled my middle name correctly. Neither is anyone else right out of a covenant union stitched, snatched, weaved, orchestrated and ordained by God regardless of what happened to tear it apart. Healing of this nature takes time…lots of time.
So, as I sat and listened to my associate I thought:
- I wonder how she’s going to handle navigating through the imminent ex-wife and the children situations…also known as drama.
- I wonder how she’ll feel on holidays, if she’s alone as the man and his former spouse figure out how to do what’s best for the children (and the children deserve the best.)
- I wonder what will happen if he decides to go back to his ex-wife.
- I wonder what would happen if he shuts down communication with her because of the pressures of his new and reduced financial arrangements.
- I wonder if she’s even asked him if he’s gone to counseling and still going.
- I wonder how she’ll respond if she gets the side eye from friends or his family members who prefer the former wife.
- I wonder what’s going to happen the first time he accidentally calls her the ex-wife’s name or makes an unfair comparison of her macaroni and how she folds clothes.
In all my wondering regarding her I remembered that I used to wonder why God would dislike divorce so much, and have in place all of these “rules” for the extended restoration process. The truth is, divorce stings like a MOTHER…pinching her child in church after he/she smacked on a Jolly Rancher too loudly. So I wonder no more. I know that He loves us and has a unique process of healing for His children, especially those who have endured this kind of loss. His timing may not seem fair, but God is doing us a favor. There are some messes He simply doesn’t want us messing with. So, with that I will say again…don’t date someone right after divorce.