Last year, I wrote about red flags to think through when getting ready to start dating again. And though I stand by that post completely, I think my thoughts on this topic have evolved a bit.
Say you’re like me, mid-40s and divorced. The dating pool is therefore filled with other mid-40s and divorced people. My bar, I joke with my girlfriends, is low:
Didn’t kill his first wife.
Maybe kind of nice to me.
Maybe kind of attractive.
Lives within an hour from my house.
Won’t beat me up.
Low, low bar.
And yet, there’s like 2.5 guys who meet that criteria.
I’m exaggerating, but still. My bar seems low, but I think in the back of my head, I had other things on my list. Other, more restrictive, judgy things.
But I’m 43. And that means I’ve got 43 years of sin, 43 years of mistakes, 43 years of regrets, 43 years of baggage that I’ll be dragging into the next relationship.
And so, this man – this mid-life potential future man of mine – more than likely also has forty-something years of sin, of mistakes, of regrets, of baggage that he’ll be dragging into the next relationship too.
But I think a part of me was hoping for a non-difficult-ex, sin-free, baggage-free man. There aren’t any, sweet ones.
Just like there aren’t any non-difficult-ex, sin-free, baggage-free us’ out there either.
So we might need to rethink things a bit.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I will raise the banner high for being wide-eyed, for being prayerful and discerning, for asking your friends to keep you on track. If something feels off in your spirit, don’t ignore it. If a hand is ever raised to you, run, don’t walk. If you are spoken to harshly or controlled or manipulated or lied to during courtship, you’d better believe you will be spoken to harshly or controlled or manipulated or lied to during the marriage.
But if it’s his past, perhaps reconsider.
We all deserve a second chance. We all deserve a fresh start.
When God looks at you, remember, he sees Christ and not your past and your sin and your regrets and your baggage. Thankfully. So, so thankfully. And that’s what he sees when he looks at your next man as well.
So I want to encourage you to cautiously let grace abound. To perhaps consider that good man who treats you well with some skeletons in his closet. You have skeletons too. We all do. It will be complicated…but at our age, everything is complicated.
But maybe, just maybe, you can just clean-slate your way together. Carefully. With God walking alongside.
And just think how gorgeous that redemption could look to the world.
Great post, and great reminders of grace. Right now, the very thought of entering into any kind of romantic relationship still repulses me. If I can give the very best of my heart to someone for the better part of 23 years, only to have it tossed aside like so much garbage…well, I’ll just keep my baggage to myself thanks. I surely don’t need another 40+ years of someone else’s stuff to deal with too! Did I tell you the thought of giving anything to a man again just does not work for me. I don’t know why/how anyone is willing to rush back into dating and marriage knowing their is an even higher chance of the second marriage failing than the first? SCARES ME TO DEATH!! I must be putting out some pretty strong anti-relationship vibes, because the male race has been content to leave me completely alone. Wow! Sorry for the strong reaction. But it’s true for me.
I am with Kim on this one. God is going to have to change my heart to even consider marriage again. Not because I feel bitter or betrayed (lots of counseling – anyone heard of EMDR Therapy? It is for post traumatic stress and other emotional problems. WOW does it work!). The reason I don’t want another relationship is I am so totally happy on my own. I have two great sons and at this point a great joint custody relationship with their dad! I was married to him for 18 years and have been in my own house, 7 miles away, for 2 years now.
I love coming home and knowing there is no trauma/drama/anger/confrontation/criticism (I could never do anything RIGHT)/depression…etc waiting for me! I am at peace with God and at peace with my ex. We are even spending Christmas Eve together with our kids at his house!
I don’t know if God is making me content with singleness now for this season or forever (I am 49 and have been told I am attractive and someday God is going to knock my socks off, LOL!). But for NOW, I am so complete and so happy it still just amazes me how good God is!!!
I think that place of contentment and peace is such a sweet and wonderful place! No other person can ever make us happy – we must find it in ourselves with the Lord. I’m grateful to hear of your testimony in working with your children’s father. I know this is a gift for each of you!
I narrowed my list down to just seven must-have qualities that were bottom line qualities that I needed to move forward in a relationship. Oh yes, I had a plethora of preferences (and got many of those, too), but this bottom-line list enabled me to know myself and what would work for me. I felt safer and trusted myself more having identified those things…of course several of them took time and getting to know someone to determine.
Like Kim above, it IS scary and vulnerable and for a long time I just didn’t think it would be worth the effort. At least not for a very long time. But eventually I began to see that I did want companionship and relationship, and it would be worth the risk. The Lord helped me see there were trustworthy and godly men in the world (my father, my pastor, my brother-in-law) and that perfect wasn’t possible, but then I didn’t have to be perfect either.
Sound like the Lord may be preparing your heart to be open to someone?
I’m with you guys! Why give myself when I did that for 17 years and ended up completely rejected and abandoned? And,yes, I have experienced EMDR with my certified Christian counselor. Worked for me!
I’m just gonna let God handle the relationship department. If He has someone then great! If not, I’m not touching it with a ten foot pole! NOT WORTH IT!!!
My problem is I walked into a second marriage with a low bar and it lasted less than 4 years. I do have the bar set high but I have to make sure this guy really does love God and does love me and my daughter and is ready to be in this imperfect marriage forever and go to counseling when it’s not so perfect. Someone who admits they aren’t perfect and wants to become more like God everyday – that is a high bar. And it’s okay because it’s what I deserve – if I ever get married again. I am okay if I don’t also. And that is important too.