I married my second husband when he was on the rebound. He had been separated for about a year and a half but was not divorced yet. He didn’t tell me this in the beginning. He let me think he was divorced, and, by the time he came clean, my heart was already involved. I let it slide because he swore he was ready to move on. I, in may naivete, believed that he could separate the divorce from his feelings for me.
There were lots of other problems in this relationship, but, in hindsight, I think the most significant one was that he had been in a very long marriage, and he replaced his wife with me. I represented something very different than what she was. The attraction was intense, and, by the time he finally divorced, we were living together and got married shortly after. I replay lots of things from that marriage, but the one I replay the most and regret the most was that I was in too much of a rush to make it legit.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about dating on Match.com. There are a lot of people on there who are separated. He explained that in Louisiana there is – or was – a law that you had to be legally separated a year before getting divorced. He’s dated a few who were separated, but he, too, felt a little uncomfortable with it. His biggest concern was getting involved with someone who was not “done” with an ex and would break his heart by going back to him. That is a fear of mine, too, but I’ve found that there is a much worse fate than that. I lived it. I never want to be someone’s rebound again and make it worse by marrying them.
After a short time of being married, he got afraid. He did not articulate it until much later in the relationship, but it was very obvious that he was running from me. He had just lassoed himself to me, and, even though he loved me, he had never taken the time to consider what he wanted for his life… or a wife. Marriage is a lifelong commitment. We often don’t realize how significant that commitment is until the deed is done, the fiery rush of hormones declines, and we are staring in the mirror in disbelief. It didn’t take long for me to realize what had happened. I had been in the camp like my friend about rebounds. I thought that since he was “done” with his ex, we were free to move forward. I am really sensitive to people’s feelings, especially those I’m close to, and I knew he was pulling away with a vengeance. I also knew it had nothing to do with me. But here I was in a situation I couldn’t do anything about either. It was very scary for both of us.
After my first divorce, I didn’t take time to evaluate what I wanted out of a marriage. I was single 6 years, but I just sowed my wild oats and had a good time. I never really gave marriage much thought. I just figured somebody would come along, and I’d marry again. So, when I met him, I was naive about what I should be looking for and what I wanted. He was fun, and we had fun together. We clicked. When he told me he was “technically” not divorced, I hesitated big time. But, I stopped worrying about it because I didn’t want to lose him. Now, I would never go that route. First of all, I don’t think that God allows the right person to come along when you are in the midst of a divorce. That’s not His style. He’s all about health and healing and love and light. I do believe that, once you are together He can bless that, but it doesn’t mean it was His first plan. The second thing is that I know the pain of divorce all too well. The first time around, I figured this was the way it felt to be divorced from my first husband. What I found the second time around is that the process of healing is the same. He was suffering from the same stuff that I did initially in my divorces. The BIGGEST fear is of being alone. Voila …. here I was….no more fear.
What I know is that when I put aside the fear of being alone and let some time pass, I had time to evaluate my marriage and realize what went wrong. I had time to pull apart what worked and what didn’t. After my first marriage ended, I started dating pretty quickly. After a few dates where I came home and cried my eyes out, I realized I was not ready for dating. It was not fair to them. I quit dating for 3 years. After my second marriage ended, I remembered that. I promised myself I would take a year off dating. I took the year off, and I realized I still wasn’t ready. I took two. Sometimes I think I’m still not ready. I certainly question whether or not I will ever marry again. When I think that my ex dated me seriously and started talking marriage before he was even divorced, I realize what a terrible mistake we made. We didn’t know. But, I realized pretty shortly that he hadn’t had the time he needed to figure out what he wanted. And, after we got married, he started searching for it … in a panic.
Now, I don’t date anyone that’s not a year past their divorce. I’ll be friends, but to me a rebounding man is a hot stove. I’ve had men get mad at me and try to explain that they’ve “technically” been done with their ex for many years. I tell them that it’s not about them. It’s about me and my needs. I only want to date men that have thought about what they want in the context of sanity … and in the midst of divorce, no one is sane; I don’t care how amicable your divorce may be. And, if you are the exception, well …… be the exception. You just won’t be dating me for a year. It can wait. If it’s meant to be, it can wait until I’m comfortable that it’s safe for me to open my heart to you.