Your marriage is in your rearview mirror. Your divorce is fresh. The dust is settling. And you are alone.
Alone isn’t always bad. In fact, you’re learning that alone can be much better than being with someone when things aren’t good. So you’re adjusting to the aloneness.
But perhaps you’re not just alone, you’re lonely. You miss companionship. You miss having someone to eat dinner with. You miss having someone to talk to at night before you fall asleep. You might even miss that elusive something you never really had with your ex-spouse.
You have come to what you believe is the only logical salve for your situation: meeting someone else.
That is perfectly understandable. But as a woman who has walked the road of hard marriage and divorce and dating and remarriage, let me offer a word of caution.
You know those prescriptions sunglasses that change from light to dark when you walk outside?
Picture getting divorced. And on your divorce day as you head out of court, you are handed a pair of those sunglasses, but they start off dark. Really dark. Like, you’re tripping down the courthouse steps kind of dark.
But you wear them home and slowly start putting the pieces of your life back together.
And with every counseling appointment you commit to, with every DivorceCare meeting you attend, with every book you read, with every journal entry you write and every prayer you pray and every mentor session you partake in, and with every month that goes by and with every month that goes by and with every month that goes by…the glasses get just a touch lighter.
Until one day, for the most part, you can’t even tell you are wearing those sunglasses. You are seeing, for the most part, clearly. Clearly for the first time in a long time.
When you date before the papers are signed, when you date before the smoke clears, when you date when you or your kids are still reeling, you are basically wearing emotional sunglasses and you are borrowing trouble, sweet girl.
And the darkness of your emotional lenses – with all your baggage and pain and anger and loneliness and confusion – will color…cloud even…your choice of partner.
But when you’ve done the work and you’ve let time go by – lots and lots of time – you will be able to see clearly.
How long you wait – or don’t wait – to date, to choose another partner – will influence your choice greatly. Infatuation fogs things up again as it is, so you want your perception to be as clear and accurate as possible.
So, I suggest you wait to date.
How long, you ask. I’m lonely, you say.
I know, honey. I get it. I truly do.
But wait. And then wait some more. And then wait a bit longer.
The next season of your life – and your children’s lives – depend on it.
Take this time to grieve and heal. Get healthier. Take up a new hobby. Meet a new friend. Do activities that your ex-spouse didn’t want to do. Go for walks. Read good books. Visit museums. Get in counseling. Take naps. Take a vacation. And take a good hard look inside to make sure that you don’t repeat your mistakes.
God will withhold no good thing. -Psalm 84:11
For more tips, check out Dating After Divorce and Second Time Around: Some Thoughts on Remarriage.
Elisabeth, what about the wife who was separated and emotionally detached years before the legal divorce was final? There have been many many nights out alone. Basically taking myself out on dates. I’d go to ball games alone, movies alone, church alone, shopping alone,. To the gym alone, walk my dog alone, sleeping all alone, house to myself alone, even went through surgery alone .. oh and lots of counseling … alone. I’ve been grieving, been lonely been working on myself… I’ve been married on paper and that’s all.. I’ve been very much alone just ,waiting for the judge to sign off. So when can I date? I am NOT looking for a replacement husband. I kinda like my alone life. But I really would like to make connections and have human interactions again. I think it’s good for the self esteem and it builds confidence to just date.
There are many questions in this comment, Sal.
First of all, I’m so very sorry for your long and lonely marriage. But I am proud of you for living your life on your own despite your pain, and for you going to counseling on your own as well. All so very hard and painful and not as it should be.
Secondly, I am of the belief that Christians should date for the purpose of marriage only, so dating to date just to build self-esteem and confidence is concerning to me, and I personally wouldn’t recommend it. I would recommend finding other ways to build self-esteem and confidence.
But thirdly, if you are considering remarriage at some point – AFTER you are divorced officially and then, as I say repeatedly, after much time has gone by past the actual divorce date, I’d read this for more tips: https://elisabethklein.com/2015/07/14/can-i-date/.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
Elizabeth, I’d like to say to others that taking the time to heal is critical! There is no timeline…it takes as long as it takes. Be patient with yourself and give yourself grace. Find a good counselor and know it takes a lot of hard work…and commit to doing the work. Tuck deep into God’s love for you and stay close to Him. For me, it has been a long journey, (6 years) and I haven’t had so much as a cup of coffee with a man. But my life is filled with great friends, lots of service opportunities through church, and I am thriving! People still stay dumb stuff, implying that I need a man, but I’m happy to ignore that and live life to the full!! God is redeeming my life one day at a time, and I choose to recognize that every day!
Kim – I am in the same situation as you. Do I get lonely at time? The answer is yes, but then I have to think about, even when I was married, there were times that I was still lonely. This is just part of the grieving process. Prayers for continued redemption for you and for me!
I think that being alone, and yes lonely, not only allows us to heal, but it allows us to draw near to God. I think too many separated and divorced people are apt to jump into a new relationship to inflate their self-esteem and ease the loneliness. But this spiritual desert has become a place to not only heal, but to allow God to lead me in new directions. Jumping into a new relationship would hamper the work God is doing. My dependence would end up on some man, and not God.