Submitted by Quintessence A Patterson of SpicyWifey.com
When people ask me how long I have been married and I reply, “almost 14 years”. The way eyes bulge out of sockets, you’d think I said something outrageous. I don’t know why people are so surprised. I am proud of my 14 years. But I think of my marriage as a lifetime commitment and 14 years is hardly a lifetime. We still have work and time to put in. When you consider that 50% of marriages end in divorce statistic, I guess that’s a lot of couples not making to 14. But on the other side of the 50% that divorce, there are 50% that don’t. To me, that means a lot of marriages are succeeding too!
Needless to say out my peer group, I have probably been married the longest. I get a lot of people asking for advice and such. Although, I am not an expert, I am an advocate for marriage, so I try. Lately, my single friends are really on me. I guess as women, once the clock starts to tick, we are eager to explore options and figure out if we are going to settle down on not. Most of my friends want to settle into relationships and eventually have families. They seem to be progressing quite nicely, I made add. Now, my divorced friends are experiencing more challenges. I have been single and married. But I have not been divorced and remarried. So my perspective comes from a more speculative place. I don’t have any experience to really substantiate my opinions. But I try! And so are they…trying to meet people, trying to prepare themselves to be spouses again, trying to find a real connection with a great man (just like my single friends). In addition to the single lady plight though, they are also trying to heal from their previous divorce, consider their children in the equation and learning from their past experiences in marriage without harping on them and holding the new perspective guy accountable. That’s A LOT!
We all just want to be loved! And just because you are divoreced doesn’t mean you don’t believe in marriage and commitment and more importanlty, doesn’t mean you are damaged goods. I asked a few of my male friends, what are there thoughts on divorced women and some of their responses surprised me and no wonder my girls are having such a hard time! Here is what they said…tell me what you think?
Are divorced women date-able? Why or why not?
Most said yes. Especailly if she is attractive and has her stuff together. (We can talk about what stuff means on another day) But the few that said “no, not really.” Said that divorced women have issues and they haven’t moved on from their divorce. They think they know everything about relationships because they have experienced a divorce and they play the expert card.
That response really didn’t surprise me. I don’t think that’s unique to divorced women. I think men feel that in general when it comes to dating and relationships, they want to be the boss. And as women, we generally do try to apply what we have learned from past experiences. Not because we are trying to be experts, we are just trying to be cautious, smart and protective ourselves.
Are kids an issue?
Again, most men said they would date a divorced woman with kids. A few even said, that they would prefer to date a divorced woman who had kids conceived in marriage vs. a “baby momma”. Now, those who said kids are an issue, said that usually a divorced Mom has an active father in an ex-husband and they may not want to compete with him. He’ll be around. He will be involved in the kids lives and therefore, in their lives as a new couple.
Now, maybe I am naive. But that surprised me! Seems like men should want and expect other men to be men and fathers. Take care of their kids and be in their lives. I thought most men would feel some type of way about having to take care of another mans children.
Why and how is dating a single woman with so called baggage different from dating a divorced woman with the same baggage?
I use the term baggage for lack of a better word. But in this conversation, I felt a lot of the issues being applied to divorced women could apply to single women too. So I asked,” how and why is the divorced woman’s issues different?” Here is what they said…
True, anyone can have issues from past relationships that they carry with them. But married women seem to be especially bitter because the break up was more involved. It takes longer to leave a marriage then it does a bad relationship. Lawyers are involved, money, property and usually kids. So its more heartache and headache and its hard to get over that. More has been invested, so you feel a greater loss when a marriage ends. Yes, single women experience break ups and some, from long term relationships, but their was no wedding, so you aren’t as emotionally invested. And even if you have acquired property together and kids, you don’t have to get lawyers to leave. You can just bounce!
So you see why I got a little steamy. Steamy, as in hot and mad. Its such a double standard! I know FABULOUS women single and single by divorce that will make amazing life partners to the right man. But when you are dating and having to navigate through all this, I see why it so hard to see what might be right in front of you! Now, once I calmed down and removed my emotion out of it. I listened to what the men were saying. Processed it and could appreciate the perspectives.
I will say, I am far more invested in my marriage than I was in my dating relationship. Yes, both financially and emotionally. A huge financial blow or emotional breakdown would be devastating! I certainly expect my husband and I to be active co-parents, so a divorce would complicate that. Not to mention, the grief it would cause my children. So their emotionally well being would have to be attended to. Lets not forget, somebody has to find a new place to live. Tell all your mutual friends and your families. Who’s side are they going to pick? How will those relationships change? And that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg…you haven’t even begun to deal with your individual needs, grief, depression and stress.
After going through all of that, the divorced wife may have some things to work through before she’s ready to date. If she is dating a man who has never been married, well she has earned some stripes and she would be NUTS to not attempt to value what she has learned from that experience. Her experience can be an asset to the new marriage. Although, her past may give the man a shorter leash to act up, you have tons of rope to be the greatest man alive!
- There is Life After this Marriage
As hard as it is to believe right now, one day this marriage will just be something you did once. You’ll go on and you’ll have what you create.
- Get out of denial
Ask yourself: Do you really want this marriage, or are you hanging onto it out of fear? If being alone is a scarier thought than staying in a broken marriage, you’re letting fear make your decisions. Are you mourning the loss of what your marriage was, or what you thought marriage would be?
- Don’t Burn Daylight
Grieving doesn’t have a time frame on it, but life does. Whether you realize it or not, life is marching on. There comes a time when you have to accept the fact and say, “I’ve got to get on with my life, I’ve got to get on with raising my children, I’ve got to get on with putting things together where I can be a happy, meaningful, productive member of society.” Find a way to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.
- Take the catastrophic language out of your mind
“My life is over,” “I’ve lost everything,” and “Things are horrible” are labels that can have a powerful impact on how you feel. Recognize that it’s factually not true. Your life isn’t over, it’s just a new beginning for you. Changing the negative tapes that run in your head can change how you physically feel.
- Don’t waste Time with Regret
At some point you have to say, “It is what it is.” You can’t do anything about what you did before; but you can do a lot about what you’re doing now.
- Be an example for your children
What kind of mom do you think your kids are experiencing when you’re sitting around and crying and looking over your shoulder at what was instead of what is?
You’ve Accepted It. Now It’s Time to Jump Start Your Life!
- Define a New Relationship with Your Ex for Your Children
Your old relationship was husband and wife, your new relationship is as common allies of your children.
- Talk to Your Kids
Divorce can create emotional wounds in children. Talk to them about what’s going on, what they’re feeling, and how things will get better. Involve them. If they know there are things they can do to help this transition, it will give them a feeling of power.
- Make a Plan
Assess your situation financially, look at your resources to see what your options are in terms of housing, job and finances.
- Create a Support Squad
Ask for help. People appreciate being asked for help. It’s a gift to them to allow them to be there for you. Create a support squad of your closest friends who won’t mind providing you with emotional support, professional guidance and ongoing inspiration. Realize that you’re not the first person to go through this.
- Get Your Resources and Assets Around You
Do everything you can to program yourself for success. Find out what your strengths and skills are and focus on them to help move you in a new and positive direction. Everybody has a personal truth ” what you believe about yourself when nobody’s watching. Remember that you will create the results in life that you believe you deserve.
- Make Time for Yourself
Make a priority to be a little selfish and do something just for yourself. The most important gift you can give your children is to take care of their parents. Try a new class, start exercising, or reconnect with an old hobby you’ve forgotten about.
- Make Your Dream Home
It’s not the end of the world if you have to change houses. Know that you and your kids are going to create memories there and that’s what makes it a dream home.
- Find Your Authentic Self
Although you may no longer be one half of a couple, you are still 100 percent the person who you are. Find that person again.
- Find Your Passion
What is it that will make you excited to get out of bed every day? Make a list of what you can do to reach your goals.
- Have Some Joy with Your Kids
Choose to live with some fun in your new life. Create new memories with your children that will carry them into the future with self-esteem, confidence and happiness.
- Protect yourself in the future
It’s important to always look at a relationship and ask yourself, “What’s it costing me to be in this relationship?” If you totally lose yourself in it, then the cost is too high.
That’s it. Feel free to share your thoughts!
*Dr. Phil McGraw, perhaps the most well-known mental health professional in the world, is the host of the new leader in daytime talk, Dr. Phil. Launched in 2002, Dr. Phil provides the most comprehensive forum on mental health issues in the history of television. For nine years, Dr. McGraw has used the Dr. Phil platform to make psychology accessible and understandable to the general public by addressing important personal and social issues. Using his top-rated show as a teaching tool, he takes aim at the critical issues of our time, including the “silent epidemics” of bullying, drug abuse, domestic violence, depression, child abuse, suicide and various forms of severe mental illness. More on Dr.Phil at http://www.drphil.com/splash/