The title of this blog may be a bit misleading. Cause I don’t want to talk in a professional tone or way about the “next serious relationship” after divorce. I want to talk about mine.
That’s right. MY next serious relationship. I had one for over 18 months. And I never told you anything about it here.
Please understand that I chose not to write about it (as well as many other things) for privacy reasons. Plus, I’m sure you can well-imagine how terrifying it is for any man to get involved with a woman who blogs – AND who has a book out, and soon a movie, called the “The Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom.”
But he — I’ll call him Vince – and I broke almost nine months ago. We ended our relationship peacefully and are still friends. And though I’ve no intention of divulging any of the details of us, I think it’s important I share some of things I learned, struggled with, and was amazed by. Maybe these are things you might look out for in YOUR “Next Serious Relationship” after divorce. One thing’s for sure: the learning never stops…
1) Being single for so long had built walls around me
I met Vince almost four years into my divorce. And quite frankly, I thought myself pretty whole and happy and ready to love by that point.
But in having to be strong for all those years on my own, I’d constructed self-protective walls. Ironically, I wasn’t even aware of them – it was he who playfully pointed them out further into our relationship. I guess the years of doing war through the divorce process, the dating trenches and at home as a single parent, had hardened me more than I realized.
I’m not saying this was a “bad” thing. I’d just had no clue how inaccessible I came across as while dating.
2) I was more scared of love than I realized
I literally tried to bolt out of our relationship a few times during the first few months — like standing there in front of him with my bags packed and me trembling both inside and out. I remember him sitting there quietly, sadly, and totally confused ( as I never had a solid reason as to WHY I was breaking up). Meanwhile, a war was raging inside my head, with one part screaming, “Get out while you can, you were happy on your own!” while another part calmly said, “Think about what you’re doing, Delaine… You are very happy with this man.”
3) I had healing to do from my marriage
I really thought I’d cleaned up all my garbage from my marriage — heck, I’d even written a book to spew it out of me.
But healing happens in layers. And it’s not until we’re actually within the structure of a relationship again, do some past issues get ‘triggered’. THEN you have to do the work required to heal them. God knows I had mine.
4) Integrating a man into my kids’ life was scary, but totally amazing
Vince and I were very cautious around his involvement with my children. We spent many hours discussing and navigating each step we took, trying to foresee challenges and put their best interests first. Like I expected though, my kids fell in love with him hard and fast; poor guy was mauled like a rock star. And when we spent time together as a family and I stood by watching them play and interacting, oh my God, how my heart swelled! Such an amazing person and role model he was…and how I’d forgotten the joy, the completion, that comes with having a man amongst us.
5) He praised and validated my role as a mother
Time and time and time again Vince expressed how much he admired how I parented and the sacrifices I made to put them first, over myself, my interests and my career opportunities. For the longest time, I had a hard time believing him – cause for years while married, I’d heard, “Any uterus can do what you, Delaine.” I mean, in my heart I knew that all I did as a mom was of utmost importance and value in every way. But I never allowed myself to feel proud of it; and at peace with it. I felt less than. But that all changed. And if I died tomorrow, I’d feel proud and at peace for where I’ve kept my priorities: on THEM.
6) The challenge of putting him before my kids sometimes
Sometimes situations arose where I had to choose between spending time with Vince or the kids. It was hard for me to put Vince first – cause I was accustomed to it just being me and my team of monsters. Nonetheless, I did sometimes put Vince first, knowing he and our relationship required it and deserved it. But being put in the situation where I had to “choose” was very frustrating.
7) Feeling taken cared of
I felt supported and taken care of in virtually every area of my life with Vince: emotionally, physically, mentally, physically, financially and spiritually. He’d come to my house with a self-created to-do list, whether it was to work on my car, fix a shower nozzle, install a dishwasher, or whatever. When we went away on trips, he initiated them, he planned and booked them, he even paid for them – all I had to do was pack and show up. Similarly, he planned all our evenings out. I’d never felt so… taken cared of.
8) The need to feel loved and understood
I always knew that I, like everyone, needed to feel loved by a partner. But the “understood” component wasn’t something I’d ever identified per say, so much as had a sense around. Ahhh, but once I had it, the peace and love it gave me was like sunshine and fresh air for my soul. Feeling understood was not only liberating but binding: I fully trusted him. I trusted him like I never trusted another man my whole life.
In closing: Some of you in reading this, are probably thinking, “Well, why did you break up with such an awesome guy!” Please suffice it to say we had good reasons — and reasons that were beyond our control. Just know that I’m not sad or pining for what we had or might have had one day. Rather, I cherish and am so grateful to have experienced such a wonderful, healing, and generous love in this lifetime.