Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dating After Divorce: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself

summer 2015 

names have been omitted in this post 


The back of the SUV was packed with all the essentials… there was a small soft insulated cooler of ice holding bottled waters, a brown paper bag filled with snacks; some snacks were gluten free for my mother and some were loaded with glorious gluten for me. There were oversized canvas bags holding clothes, swimsuits, sandals and the essential toiletries.

As we headed to our destination and the navigation lady gave her guidance en route the radio played… songs of love, loss and all the hurts tender hearts sometimes endure despite being so brave to make that awesomely huge jump into the pool of vulnerability again.

Johnny Cash sang on the radio a song that Neil Diamond had written… Solitary Man… and I loved it… Cash's voice is like a deep pool of rough open wounds meeting up with the healing velvet touch of luxurious love… his voice is such a bittersweet mix of the beauty of two worlds colliding… I savored the lyrics like a fine wine.

Belinda was mine 'til the time that I found her
Holdin' Jim
And lovin' him
Then Sue came along, loved me strong, that's what I thought
Me and Sue,
But that died, too
Don't know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man
I've had it here, being where love's a small word
A part time thing
A paper ring
I know it's been done havin' one girl who loves me
Right or wrong
Weak or strong
Don't know that I will but until I can find me
The girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
Don't know that I will but until love can find me
And the girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
Solitary man

Johnny Cash - Solitary Man Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

"I've had it here, being where love's a small word"… the lyrics spun in my head like a lit ferris wheel… we have made love become such a small word, haven't we? We have taken love and made it mean nearly nothing… not true and long lasting but instead often broken. Humans have a way of messing up the absolute most beautiful thing ever… saying "I love you" but clinging to the idea of someone else. Loving someone with as much finite love as we possibly can because part of it is allotted to someone else. Showing love in the most intimate forms and yet not really being mentally present. Naively believing we are dearly loved by someone and yet coming to discover we are nothing more than just another notch on someones belt or one of many forgettable fantasies in someones mind. 

The only one who has truly perfected love is Jesus. 

Who wants a part time love? Who wants to be with someone who doesn't know what love truly is? No one that I know of. Yet we may be with someone who loves us with one foot in the door and one out… maybe we squander away something beautiful with someone special because our selfish egos outweigh the love were willing to give… the extra mile were willing to go. Or maybe we thought we were someone's whole world only to regrettably realize that we were considered just a boring spouse whom they used to procreate children with all the while chasing every skirt or John in town behind our back unbeknownst to us. 

As I drove and gazed into the pale blue-hued sky streaked with clouds my mother spoke and snapped me out of my mental reverie. "Have you found any options on the dating sites?"

"Ha!" I laughed then soberly replied "Ummm, that would be a no." I told her. "I mean, I've messaged a few guys back and forth… there's been some communication, but nothing viable."

"There's just not any that match up what you're looking for?" She asked.

"MmmmmHmmm" I mumurred as we jumped on the freeway. I checked my speed and surveyed the vehicles. "I just don't think there is anyone out there who is going to match up on everything." I told her  matter of fact.

"Well, what's been the issues with the ones you've messaged?" She asked as she dug around in her purse for lip balm. It's a universal issue for women that keys and lip balm always mysteriously disappear into the depths of handbags never to be found again.

"Well one guy seemed okay until I found out he has an alcohol issue. That's a no go. Then there was the guy who seemed really great until I found out he doesn't see his kids except for just holidays, they live out of state with the mother. That was a no go. Then there was the guy who seemed like a good choice except he smokes. I can't handle smoke, I'll end up hacking and have to use an inhaler. Then there was the guy who stated he was a Christian but his questionnaire contradicted that because he expected sex after the third date. That was a big no."

"Okay, that all seems reasonable. " She agreed "But I still think the best way is to just meet someone."

"Yeah…" I trailed off then spoke, changing lanes to the left to pass someone. "Where would that be? I have too many deal breakers and must haves. I mean, if you get on there and look at those dating sites there are literally maybe a handful of Christian men to choose from and those don't always match up on the other criteria I'm looking for. I'd like to find someone with a daughter but most of them seem to have boys. It's like there was a plethora of boys being born in the age range I'd want. I want someone who isn't addicted to anything, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. I really don't think that's asking for too much. Somebody down to earth, who can work with his hands so I don't emasculate him with my wonder bar, "I told her with a grin and she laughed.

I turned the air up a couple notches so she wouldn't get cold because I'm a hothead and didn't want to hog the thermostat. "Somebody who doesn't live for TCU football and had their Daddy pay for everything they have because that just makes me nauseous," I smirked "Someone with a beard because I'm not attracted to waxed and primped, someone who lives for Christ, someone who is kind and sees the beauty in a person not just the exterior. So many of the guys on these sites haven't even had kids yet… I'm amazed that by nearly forty so many men are just now wanting to start a family. I mean, that doesn't work for me…" I paused with exasperation "I'm done having babies… so to be with someone who wants to have them is out of the question for me. I'd be open to adoption but that's it… I don't know… "I sighed and she spoke...

"I think you do have too many must haves. Maybe a guy with younger boys is someone you should consider. If you think a step-daughter who will one day be a teenager is going to be a picnic think again. A guy who is a good match might not be available right now… he might be married right now and divorced in a few years when you meet him. Either that or everything you're looking for simply doesn't exist." She told me. 

I glanced over at her "It really isn't a big deal… I do fine being on my own and in some ways I like it that way… if it happens, great, but I'd be shocked if it does. At the end of the day I'm not willing to settle for so so…  I want someone amazing and I'm not agreeing to anything less… gee, it'd be a whole lot easier if God just sent down a memo saying who to pick. I think the free will thing is bit overrated."

Free will. It's too bad God doesn't stick a post-it note on our bedside table to let us know who we should choose to marry. But thankfully there are some things we can follow in relation to God's guidance in choosing a mate. We can read our bibles and find advice after concrete advice of what makes up a godly man (or proverbs wife). Just like we can pick up a map to find the way in our travels or with the press of a button have a voice guide us to our next destination, we have God's word to lead us in making wise sound decisions. 

What we learn the second time around when dating and choosing a potential mate… we may wish we had that wisdom and clarity back when we were younger on the first go-round. We may not realize when were twenty-two and naive as a baby lamb what were truly signing up for when we say "I do." We may not know God well when we marry, we may not know what unequally yoked means, we may not know much of anything including very little about ourselves. 

Instead we get our britches in a wad and want everything to happen now… we want the wedding, the house, the babies and the white picket fence and we want it asap. We fall in love. We are perhaps to our own detriment idealistic. Then when everything doesn't turn out quite how we pictured it because we picked out someone who is not a good soul but maybe more like Lucifer himself… we wail in despair wanting out of the big ole mess we are in… we cry out to God and ask for assistance. Or maybe we pick someone who isn't evil at all but just wasn't a wise choice (darn that free will thing sneaking up to bite us in the butt)... and now we're dealing with the fallout of that choice years in.

The most important thing we can do when we are open to dating someone aka finding our potential mate is to just. be. patient. Impatience can bring forth a slew of nasty problems in our life as the result of hurrying to find someone. 

If we go into a potential relationship we can ask ourselves 5 important questions to save ourselves much heartache and trouble. 

1. Would this relationship please God? If it's not going to please Him then it won't work. 

2. Is this person a believer? We can stamp anything on something… we can stamp green beans on a can and people will tell you it's green beans. But what if it's really not? Someone telling you their a Christian isn't enough; actions always speak louder than words. There are people disguised as sheep who are truly wolves underneath; an unbeliever could potentially fake being a Christian to be with you. Then later as the relationship progresses or worse after you've become husband and wife they will reveal their true belief and character to you. 

3. If you've been a Christian for quite some time and you find yourself interested in pursuing a relationship with a new Christian, beware. A new Christian will not have the same level of spiritual maturity as you do… you're both at entirely different places in your growth as followers of Christ and one will inevitably drag down the other; one of you will have to be the sounding board all the time i.e.; one of you will have to be the one who gives all the spiritual direction. Instead of two equal partners we now have a parent-child relationship.

4. If you're dating someone who has been married previously how does their past impact your relationship? How as a couple and individually are you going to come together as a reflection of Christ and work through the various challenges? If children are present is the co-parenting with their other parent amicable or contentious? Realize that if you sign up to marry someone who is in continual custody issues it will likely affect your spouses mood and at times they may need extra emotional support from you; are you able and willing to give it? Are you willing to put in the effort for the long haul? You may be the only positive role model his/her children have; are you up to that responsibility?

5. I have heard from countless folks who never dreamed of loving someone again or ever marrying after divorce and yet they have found a partner who is such a blessing in their life. They have learned the hard way what works in marriage and what doesn't and thankfully can actively use that knowledge positively in their second marriage. For some it's the first time they have experienced true safety and intimacy in a relationship. Marriage does not fix or remove our baggage we have from past relationships, emotional or physical abuse, etc… it will not act as a bandaid… but ask yourself this: Is this person is open to healing? Are they open to dealing with what they've experienced? If they are that's half the battle… make the effort to go to pre-marital counseling and see if there are any issues that still need addressing. What your partner has been through has partly made them who they are today… celebrate them and the love you have together in Christ.

© ~ 2015