Two summers ago, I wrote this little post about why I was so freaking scared to even consider dating or remarriage. Now that I’m on the other side of things, I thought it might be fun to revisit all my totally neurotic completely sound reasons and see what I think now. So here we go.
- I’m shy. Seriously. Most people tell me that surprises them, but I totally am. Give me a book and my couch and I’m good to go. Tell me I have to go to a party and I need to lie down first, ask the Holy Spirit to help me, and perhaps pop some Tums. So not kidding.
I’m still shy. But I pushed through. I figured I had a couple options: stay on my couch and never meet anyone, when I had gotten to the point of really wanting to find a partner again, or get up off the couch and suck it up. It was worth it.
- I don’t know where the unmarried forty-something Christian men are. My theory: already raptured.
They’re out there. They really are. Rapture hasn’t happened yet.
- I’m pretty scared to try online dating. Either because of the stigma or the potential stalking/murdering, one of the two.
I didn’t get stalked or murdered. Okay, maybe a teeny bit stalked, but it turned out okay. And I got over the stigma pretty quickly. And it actually was fun. And an adventure. And, well, it totally worked.
- My closet. My closet currently fits all of my clothing. If I were to get remarried, I’d probably have to move two seasons of my clothing to somewhere else in my house. You know, to share. And I like having all of my clothes in my closet. I know. Be quiet.
Umm, yeah. I hired a professional closet organizer. Problem solved.
- I like going certain places by myself (like grocery shopping, bike rides, errands, etc.). I guess I assume married couples do most things together. (And I like, when I go grocery shopping, being able to buy what I want…within reason, of course.)
Well, it turns out, when you’re with someone who treats you well, you kinda like to be with them. A lot. And when you’re with someone who isn’t controlling, you can pretty much put whatever you want into the cart at the grocery store. Who knew?
- In each of the (very small handful of) relationships I’ve had in my life, I lost myself. Or, more accurately, I let myself get lost. The other person became my main thing. I’m scared I’d do that again. Get all teenager-y and obsess-y, which is somewhat fine and understandable when you actually are a teenager. Not quite as acceptable when you’re 42-ish.
I am completely myself with Tall-Shadow. Not lost. Not obsessy. Just me. If you find yourself being all lost and obsessy, either the relationship isn’t quite right or you’re not quite ready to date.
- I’m kind of particular, as I’ve mentioned before. I like doing things a certain way. I’m afraid I’d be telling this nice person who has married me and moved into my home to, you know, leave me alone a lot. Which seems to kind of defeat the purpose.
I know it’s only been about six weeks being married, but I have yet to tell my husband to leave me alone. I like hanging out with him. And he’s so laidback that he doesn’t seem to mind my idiosyncrasies (yet).
- Though I joke with my girlfriends that my bar is low (male, breathing, between 30 and 60), I think in actuality my bar is pretty high. This man would have to love Jesus more than I love Jesus and love Jesus more than he loves me; he’d have to love my kids and my kids would have to be really pretty okay with him; and he’d have to be really kind to me consistently. And right now, I’m just not sure that’s out there.
My standard of finding a man who loves Jesus more than I love Jesus and loves Jesus more than he loves me, it turns out, is pretty hard to determine. So I would amend that to: this man would have to love Jesus. And my man does. And he’s great with my kids and they are more than okay with him. And he is more than really kind to me all of the time. I wasn’t sure then that was out there, but again I say, it is.
- My divorce was hard. Really hard. And if my divorce were hard, and if the other person’s divorce were hard, that’s a whole lot of baggage to wade through and drag into a new relationship.
Yep, we have A LOT of baggage. We are also both willing to talk it through between us, to talk it through with a counselor if we need to (and we have), and to own our own stuff. It’s not always easy to relearn basically every relational skill you have, but I’m trying, and it’s doable.
And the number one reason why I’m terrified to date and possibly even more terrified to even think about getting remarried is…
- My marriage was hard. Really hard. I’m scared my next marriage will be hard too. I’m scared all I know how to do with a man is fight and be sad.
This one makes me super sad to read again, a couple years later. My heart was still so fragile and raw back then. And of course that would be my fear, that’s probably yours too. If all you know is one thing, that’s all you’re going to expect.
But I am here to proclaim that not all I know how to do is fight with a man. I know how to get along really, really well with a man. And not all I know how to do is be sad in a marriage. I know how to be really, really happy in a marriage.
So basically, all of my fears were either unfounded or very small in light of the adventure and blessing of a good, solid, tender partnership. And if this is you, sweet one, if you can never imagine yourself trying again, I want to encourage you to write out your own set of fears, and then ask God what he thinks of all of them. Are there fears on that list that are justified, that you perhaps could use a counseling session (or twelve) working through? Do you need to go through DivorceCare? Do you need more time to go by? (Remember, please wait at least a full year beyond your divorce date before even beginning to date; for your own sake, for your future partner’s sake, for your children’s sake.)
Or perhaps, you and God will look at that list of yours and you’ll realize that you’re just scared but not for good cause (other than past pain…not that I’m minimizing that), and that what you might need to do is take a risk?
Only you and God can know. Be wise. Walk slowly. Keep taking healthy steps to wholeness. Invite God into this process. And if you feel remarriage is truly what God wants for you, when you’re ready, take the leap. It can be so very worth it.
Wow. Thank-you for this. I have gotten back into the dating world and this helps me tremendously in thinking through what I need and want in a man. Although my bar will be a bit higher than some it’s for my special needs daughter. And that’s okay even if I am single for a while. Thanks for helping me be there.
I’m not anywhere near ready to begin this adventure of dating. In this midst of all this difficult season I’ve also felt the Holy Spirit give me a hope for the future of one day having that partnership I’ve prayed about for so many years.
Every fear you’ve listed are ones I’ve had or have… I’m thankful to know they are not unwarranted!
I’m going to be seeking Him harder regarding these fears so that when I’m ready to take those next steps I’ll be confident in His timing and have conquered these fears through the Holy Spirit.
It is beautiful the way that love overcomes fear.
This is so helpful and hopeful.
Excellent post Elisabeth! I remember when I read your first post I could see from your own point of view how hard it would be to overcome the pain and allow your heart the opportunity to love again… Maybe trying to overcome that fear I became involved with someone too soon… Now I know better! I am learning to enjoy my single life and heal properly so I can truly share my heart with a wonderful man. Lesson learned!