Technically, I was married for 22 years but prefer to say I was married for three, and roommates with the mother of my children for 19. My wife lost interest in our marriage and me early, but we pretended everything was fine because we wanted our kids to have a mom and a dad at home. When the divorce was announced, everyone was shocked except our kids who said they wished we did it long ago. Anyway, now I’m free. Here’s my problem: women I ask out flee when they learn I’ve been divorced for a month. They think I’m not ready to date. Is there a way around this?
So you’re failing the prequalification process that precedes the heart loan? Welcome to modern dating, my friend. The process will be measurably easier if you manage your expectations, respect boundaries and expand compassion (for yourself and your dates).
Post-divorce dating connects adults with the parts of themselves most in need of maturity. Unfortunately, the immature aspect usually takes charge for a while. Some adults act out (overdrinking, overspending, oversexing, excessive nips and tucks). Others face emotional depths they never knew existed (depression, fear, rage). Women you meet may have past experiences with this phenomenon. If so, their hesitation to get involved is understandable. It’s their right to decide whether or not to risk their hearts. Don’t take their choices personally.
Let’s talk about the red flag in your story: the choice to diminish your long marriage. To say you spent 20-plus years playing pretend makes you sound, well, crazy. Your dates see through your attempt at cleverness, just as your children saw through the lifeless marriage. People who don’t could be complicit in a social contract similar to the one you and your wife shared. From here forward, try speaking simply: “I stayed in an unhappy marriage because I was afraid divorce would damage my children. I never realized that an unhappy marriage might have the same effect on them.” And, when a woman asks how long you’ve been divorced, say: “One month. I know 30 days is not much time, but I’m entering the next chapter in my life. Dating is part of that for me.” In other words, don’t pretend 30 days is long enough. Instead, try to understand the concerns raised by your dating partners.
One last thing: please apologize to your children. It’s obvious that you wanted the best for them. I honor that in you. But you were blinded by social convention to believe that a traditional two-parent household would be superior to two single-parent households. Not true. It’s the emotional environment children experience at home that makes the difference in their development, maturity and success. Your children have learned that marriage is the sacrifice of positive feelings in favor of public approval and conventional beliefs. Please disavow them of this idea or you will see them entering unions that mimic yours. After all, that’s how the unconscious works.
My parents are deceased and for the last five years I have felt obligated to celebrate holidays at my older sister’s home. Our religious beliefs are very different and I feel pressured into activities and rituals that make me uncomfortable. I have spoken to her about this. She apologized, but nothing changed. Any advice?
Meditate on this question: If you had one year to live, how would you spend your holidays? When the answer materializes, proceed accordingly.