Saying “divorce is hard” is a huge understatement. Many people come out of it believing they will never get married again. I was one of them. I had shared custody of my two children and planned out my new single life. My dating life would start when my last one went to college.
Then I promptly started dating. Maybe it was the lonely nights when the kids were at their dad’s that triggered it. But deep down I knew. I believe in love. I knew there had to be a love that satisfied my deep hunger for connection with another human being.
I dated some really great guys. I also dated ones that gave me butterflies so hard I felt like throwing up. Sometimes, you have to listen to your gut, and when you have a physical reaction to someone, don’t romanticize it. Run.
Then I met Joe. My first date with him ended with a make-out session in his car in the parking lot of the restaurant we went to. All our dates ended that way, and I strung him along for six months as we dated other people, dodging a commitment. It was okay that we did this because we did not, you know… consummate the relationship. I forced him into the friend zone and made sure we did not cross the line. I kept telling myself I wouldn’t go there with him, he was special.
One day, after making it abundantly clear to him that I did not want more than a friendship, I saw him on a date with someone else. I saw him differently in that moment. I saw him as possessing all the qualities and character traits I had on my “list” for my next serious relationship. I saw him as stunningly handsome. I pictured him with my kids. I saw him as the exact man of my dreams, and then I felt sick. I realized that I did not allow myself to feel like I deserved him.
While the green monster of envy took over my body, I sent him a simple text message, “Ouch.”
It was that moment that I gave up trying to be single until my kids were grown. I realized that this amazing man was exactly the man that could give me the relationship that I so desired. If only I could allow myself to be brave and vulnerable, then I could be the woman that deserved him.
That night, we went on our first official “real date” date. We got engaged two months later. As much as I wanted to keep the gossip at a minimum at my workplace, because he worked there too, I received a variety of congratulations. One was not so congratulatory but a warning. She expressed her concern over my fiancé’s several former “failed marriages.” In her opinion, I was taking on a sinking ship of a guy and I was the captain going down with the ship. Why would they all have left him?
It was as though he was already all used up, a secondhand man. His former wives rejected him, so why shouldn’t I? Look out, he will disappoint. She couldn’t have been more wrong. He learned valuable lessons from those relationships that make him the man he is today. He learned that he let other women choose him to be with them and he went with the flow, but with me it was different. We chose each other. My heart was so full of love that there was no room for any doubt at all.
By this time I know the ins and outs of his past relationships; we unveiled everything about each other in a short time. Hearing this opinion from someone that did not know him like I did left me seething to set her straight. This was my fiancée she was bashing. But I didn’t. I accepted that people will have opinions and they simply did not matter. He was also warned of getting married to me because I had two small children, as if that was a secret that I held from him. To say my children are part of the package would be insulting. They were the bonus, and he was in love with us all.
I chose him as a mature adult knowing now the things I wanted in a relationship. He exceeded all my wants, he surprised me with gifts, he did things for me to make me feel special. We fed each other’s love languages, and we were always kind and respectful to each other even when we did not agree.
We just celebrated our fifth-year anniversary a few months ago. I reflect on those early days because every day I am so grateful I took a chance on love a second time around.