July 2007

Dr. Patricia Love offers advice on how to date after a divorce or a separation, the reasons for divorce and unsuccessful relationships and how to talk to your children about a new partner in your life.

By Divorce Magazine
Updated: March 06, 2015

I've been separated from my husband for six months and will be divorcing. I have absolutely no desire to date or have a relationship again. I have several friends who were dating very soon after they were separated. What's wrong with them? Or is there something wrong with me?

There is certainly nothing wrong with you for having no desire to date or have a relationship, especially at this time. And since you are not divorced yet, the clock hasn't started ticking on your new single life; who knows how you will feel 12 months after you are officially divorced. Besides, marriage is an extremely important commitment; you are wise to make changes slowly and thoughtfully.

As for your friends, it might be helpful to remember that the transition from being married to single is unique to each individual. People handle it in very different ways. It's also an ever-changing process. Your friends who are dating may find that a few months from now they feel just as you do now. The important fact is that you know your own mind and hold on to your integrity.

I've noticed since my own marital separation and divorce that very few couples seem to be happy these days. The issues between the men and women seem consistent: Women want personal growth; men want to maintain status quo. What's going on?

I can certainly understand why it appears to you that women want personal growth while men want to maintain the status quo. After all, it's women who talk to each other about relationships; women who buy the majority of self-help books; and women who seek help in therapy more often. In addition, men certainly do cling to routine far more than the average female. Research indicates, however, that a man wants to maintain the status quo in relationships only if his partner is happy with him. Men don't like heartache any more than women, and a man who looks like he is clinging to the status quo is far more likely to be feeling helpless and hopeless about making his partner happy. Men have a lot to gain from being married. They live longer, make more money, have fewer accidents, drink less and spend more time with their kids and family. I have a new book out that I would like to recommend to you. I wrote it with a male colleague, Steven Stosny. The research we used for the book regarding gender differences is fascinating. I learned so much about men and relationships and I think you might also. The title of the book is How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It: Creating Love Beyond Words. I think you will find it a good read and it will shed light on the phenomenon you are seeing with couples since your separation.

I've been divorced for several years and have recently begun dating. I have a teenage daughter and I don't know how to approach her about the intimacy issues. Can you help?

The first question I suggest you ask yourself regarding your daughter is this: "When she is my age, how do I want her to be conducting her dating life?" If you could write a script for her, i.e. a script that would lead her to a loving, respectful relationship, what would it look like? After all, modeling is the greatest teacher. Having said that, there are some very practical issues you might consider. One is that teens can be easily embarrassed by private details of parents' lives. Let her know you'll be dating and spending time with someone but save the particulars for your friends. Second, your daughter needs the protection of the intergenerational boundary between you. She will feel more comfortable if you use discretion and move slowly when introducing another person into your family unit. Going slow will also prevent you from moving into a relationship too quickly, after all, you are making a decision that affects you and your daughter. In terms of intimacy, sex, romance -- plan ahead. Don't wait until the heat of the moment to decide how you are going to conduct this aspect of dating. Be proper, private and prepared. Lastly, even though teens appear to be moving toward independence at this stage, they still need you around a lot. Take advantage of daytime dating or early evening events. Plan your dates when she is busy with her own activities, and most of all make sure there is still plenty of time for the two of you alone.

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By Divorce Magazine| January 21, 2008
Categories:  General

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