Dating soon after divorce or annulment or getting into a relationship too soon after my husband left suddenly would not have been right, but I did enjoy getting on some of those dating sites, especially the faith-based sites. Just as there are those who criticize me for not dating sooner, there are those who might criticize me for getting on those dating sites too quickly, but in many ways, reading the forums, scanning the message boards and reaching out to others gave me hope, but it also provided temptation before I was strong enough, before I was ready. I backed off and waited for a sign, something to help me understand that I was ready to date again after my divorce and annulment. That was about two years ago.
The signs arrived over the course of about 10 months beginning with our annulment being finalized (which is very important to me since I definitely would want to be married in the Catholic church, a marriage that would be for real this time – still a confusing concept!). I got a teaching job. My house was more respectable than it had been (although with 5 boys, I don’t know that it will ever be as tidy as I’d wish it to be! lol). I’d gotten a new (used) car that I was happy with and proud of.
In one way or another, I’d replaced most of the furniture my husband and I shared. I realized that if he walked into our house now, he would have a hard time identifying anything that was “his.” Without the pictures of the boys, he would not even realize this was our house. What was more important was that I had pretty much undergone the same type of transformation. There was very little of the me I used to be left behind. He didn’t know or understand me six years ago when he left, but he really didn’t know or understand me now. I was no longer his, and I was thankful for that.
Before, I also had no time to date because every moment had been taken up by my children, which was as it should have been, but now, things were changing. I’d be Troy had graduated high school, and I’d be dropping him off at college in that new car too soon. Kaleb was almost six and had completed a year of kindergarten (How does time go by so quickly?!?!), and my ex had filed for partial custody.
I wanted to hold onto those children. I didn’t want to drop Troy off at college. I didn’t want to think about Matt, George, or Noah leaving too quickly after. I didn’t want to think about Kaleb growing up so fast. I didn’t want to think about my ex and the other woman “playing house,” as someone once put it, with my boys, but there was little I could do about any of it. The court system is not about justice. Justice, discovery of right and wrong, is not an issue. The court system uses lies like, “maintain the same quality of life,” and the worst lie ever, “do what is best for the children.”
But that is another topic and beside the point…if the court system decided the children should go with their father more often, it would give me a chance to get a life of my own – something I was secretly looking forward to. Perhaps dating after divorce and annulment would be part of that new life.
The final push into the dating world came in an email I received from out of the blue on Single Mom Smiling. The letter was from Brenna Schleuber, an editor at Ava Maria Press. Ms. Schleuber asked me to review Lisa Duffy’s new book, The Catholic Guide to Dating after Divorce. I am a big believer in researching and studying what works for others, and I don’t believe in coincidences so this seemed like the final sign I was waiting for.
It’s been over six years since my husband left. Things seem to be falling into place a bit for me, and dating after divorce seems to be the next logical step, something I’m cautiously optimistic about dipping my toes into – slowly, very slowly. I also know it would be a brave and patient man who would even consider dating me. I have scars and imperfections (too many and too humiliating to list in their entirety here) and I’ve put a lot out here on Single Mom Smiling with the hope that it helps others but also with the full realization that it will scare off many men. That’s okay. I stayed true to my belief, and whether I ever marry again or even date anyone ever again, I hope to always do what I believe is right and let God handle the outcome. I want a man who is also true to his beliefs, but who is also willing to learn and grow and change as I hope to also learn and grow and change. I’ll wait for that man.
All the pieces that I would have wanted in place before dating after divorce and annulment seem to fit right now. It may be years, decades, or never before I find the right person, the one God intended me to be with, the one who makes my heart flutter, the one who I smile secret smiles with, the one who…It was time for me to begin putting an effort into something outside of my job and my children. My children would continue to be first for a while, but it was time for me to take some risks for myself too. The Bible tells us to guard our hearts, not to keep them locked away. I am not jumping into anything. I will enter things slowly, cautiously, guardedly, with a better understanding of the fragility of the human heart (both mine and that of any man I meet), but it is time to open my heart and mind to possibilities. It is time…
Over the next few weeks, I will reviewing Lisa Duffy’s book The Catholic Guide to Dating After Divorce. I hope you join me and add to or begin conversations here. Even more importantly, I hope you pray for all the men and women, Catholics and others entering the world of dating after divorce and annulment.