This week we hear from two guys who talk about their post-divorce feelings. Although divorce has grown to be common among our friends and families, hearing from these men shows the emotional impact that follows divorce. We don’t often hear about the emotions moving forward from a guy’s point of view. Sandy talks about the difficulty in establishing a relationship with a single dad. How much is too much when your intentions for a relationship have to be shared with a dad and his daughter?
Dear Mary Jo,
I have been divorced since ’06 and I didn’t want it. She told me that she didn’t want to be married to a minister anymore, and either I quit ministry or she quits marriage. I went to counseling, but she didn’t. I still pray for her daily and I am going on with life, but still miss her. She has been married and divorced again, and I’ve only dated once. My faith in Christ is solid, but I get lonely at times. Is there any advice you can give me that will help me? I appreciate all that you do! Have a blessed day!
Ultimatums may work in business, but they rarely work in marriage. Healthy communication involves negotiating and working toward a vision. It sounds as though your ex didn’t realize the impact of being a ministers’ wife, and the pressure may have been too much for her. Perhaps you were so devoted to your calling that you didn’t preserve or prioritize your time with her. Going forward I would suggest you get clear about your personal boundaries. Is it possible for you to minister and prioritize a marriage or relationship? Ministering is a tough job, but not keeping strong boundaries between what you do for a living and your marriage can lead to your partner feeling left out. If your ex is not currently married and is open to talking to you, I would suggest you call her and ask her if you could revisit your part of the marriage breakup. My guess is she has unresolved issues as well. I am glad you are taking time to sort your feelings out and praying for her.
Dear Mary Jo,
Why do I have such trouble dating after divorce? I’ve met a number of wonderful, attractive and grounded women who have expressed their interest in me, and their desire to move deeper into a committed relationship. Yet I can’t seem to feel the same.
This speaks loudly of your emotional attachment to your ex-wife. It is actually a healthy sign, and one I see fairly often among divorcees. The idea of going out and being with beautiful women is attractive to men, but like anything else, what seems fun at first reminds us of what’s more important in the long run. It is common for people to have lingering trust issues long after final papers are signed with a divorce. Splitting with someone you loved and vowed to love forever shakes you to your core, and your feelings are a way to protect you from going through this hurt again. The disinterested feelings you have will most likely grow less intense with time, but if you feel as though you have unresolved guilt, trust or anger regarding your divorce, it would be helpful to go to a divorce support group or engage in private counseling.
Dear Mary Jo,
I am dating a divorced man with an 18-year-old daughter at home. He asked if she would mind if I stayed over, and she replied that it was the same as asking if her boyfriend could stay over. He always asks her permission on things instead of telling her.
Although it is not necessarily healthy to ask your child permission for adult decisions, I do think this issue is an important one for dad to share with his daughter. It sounds as though the man you are dating is trying to establish an adult relationship with his daughter as she becomes an adult. She is eighteen and they have a close relationship, and it sounds as though if you want a relationship with him, you will have to honor the relationship they have. I also think his daughter is correct with this issue. Divorced parents who bring their dates home are mentoring to their children that this is appropriate behavior. When you date a parent, you must always remember their child will come first. Wanting to set a good example for the child should take precedence. I suggest if you really like this guy that you acquiesce and keep overnighters at your place. Children do follow what their parents do, more than what they say. It is possible the daughter is manipulating her dad, and in that case she is using this as a way for her dad to not have a new woman around. If that is the case, I would advise you to not intervene in that situation. You cannot save everyone, but you can make wise relationship decisions for you, based on what you observe, and feel inside.