What Dating A Recently Separated Man Taught Me About Marriage & Life

There was a time when I didn’t “get” marriage, and the fact that divorce rates continue to increase while the number of people tying the knot decreases didn’t exactly soothe my fears. However, something eventually changed and I realized I actually want to find “The One.” I went looking for him in a man who’d recently separated from his wife and while the relationship ultimately wasn’t meant to be, it did teach me a lot about marriage.

Even when a marriage doesn’t work out, it’s a deep bond that takes time to get over. It’s never just a matter of not seeing eye-to-eye, irreconcilable differences, or going down different paths. It was at one time a sacred oath taken by two people, a rite of passage truly meant to last for life. Even if both people have decided to go their own way, the separating is just as meaningful and should require as much care as the wedding.

Not just anyone can replace your spouse. You might think, “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get back out there and date.” You will eventually, sure, but the connection you had with your former husband/wife isn’t necessarily that easy to replicate. Diving into another relationship might serve as a temporary distraction, but unless you do the hard emotional work to process what you’ve been through, you can’t truly connect with someone new.

Just being attracted to someone isn’t enough. Even when you’re in a relationship you might find other people attractive. That’s definitely true for when you’re single again, only you’re not free to act on it. However, just because you’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean you’d be a good match in the long run. It’s important to get to know the person before you throw yourself into something long-term.

It’s not just your relationship you lose after a split, it’s your life as you once knew it. When you have a partner, you’re not just in a relationship. You build a life together that can’t be duplicated with anybody else. Together you’ve shared your journey, adventures, and intimacy. This path has a life of its own in the marriage and will never be replaced by swapping partners. That doesn’t mean you can’t go on to have another meaningful relationship but it won’t be the same as the one that came before, for better or worse.

Your reasons for being married need to be better than meeting others’ expectations. Marriage is so much more than a checkbox you tick off or a Facebook status or something you want to do to fit in with your friends. It’s a deliberate and conscious decision to journey that part of your life with your partner. If you’re doing it just to do it, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that it won’t work out.

There will be challenges, but it’s how you get through them that matter. Life will present you with ups and downs, and that’s no different whether you’re single or married. The challenges themselves aren’t an indication whether or not a marriage is successful. It’s how you handle them that ultimately matter. If you don’t have a mindful way of dealing with life’s difficulties, it won’t make any difference whether you’re single or married. If you do have a mindful way of dealing with life’s difficulties, it won’t make any difference whether you’re single or married, either.

There’s no single “right” way to do marriage. No self-help author, counselor, or any other expert has all the answers for everyone. Unfortunately, there isn’t one easy formula for success when it comes to marriage and long-term relationships in general. On the bright side, you get to carve a unique path with your partner and discover what works best for you.

You aren’t ready for new love until you’ve had closure. No matter how bad it’s been, no matter how long it’s dragged on, and no matter how much you may want to be with someone now, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. One partnership needs to be complete before another one can truly begin.

Despite everything, I actually want to be married. After everything I was witnessing as an unintentional outsider, it was also the turning point that finally woke me up to the realization that I wanted to be married. Though it became apparent this guy wasn’t my future husband and I realized I had some inner work of my own to do first, I discovered that I’d been shrinking away from my fullest potential by avoiding this sacred bond of marriage.

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