It seems to be a universal experience: When that first relationship after divorce ends it just kills. Oh man, did mine hurt. And not in a good way. Though, as I explored in this post, it was a necessary part of the healing process of my divorce.
A lot of readers identified with that essay. But that post has annoyed me. I never really got to the bottom of why post-divorce rebounds are akin to your body dripping with infected hangnails while, at the same time, a rusty scythe strikes your guts. Again. And again. And again.
After reading that post, a never-married friend emailed me and said she disagree with my premise that the recently divorced are not ready for a serious romance. After all, she argued, her boyfriend of six months had just gotten out of a long-term relationship when she met him. So far, so good.
I felt a surge of defensiveness at her equating a divorce with a boyfriend-girlfriend breakup. Where did my rage come from? Well, from this brilliant realization:
Divorce often robs us of the opportunity to mourn the romantic relationship itself because there is so much practical and logistical hell to contend with at the time of the split:
Managing your children’s care and feelings.
Fighting over finances.
Fighting over custody.
Worry your children will be forever neurotic/hateful of you/incapable of love.
Real estate transactions.
Lost relationships with in-laws.
Lost relationships with mutual friends.
Divvying of personal items.
Removing names from bank accounts and mortgages and wills, credit cards, utility accounts and car notes.
Acclimating to visitation schedules.
Acclimating to living alone.
Figuring out how to live on far less money.
Figuring out how to make way more money.
And on and on.
Divorcing people are also forced to face the loss of dreams of family life, and what the rest of your life will be like. And there is a ton of fear about all of it.
All this upheaval and stress can leave little room to deal with simple loss of love. When you are contending with a 360-degree life barf, there is scant space to sit quietly and feel the weighty grief of no longer spending nights with a person who you at least once — likely still — loved very much. Not just the absence of somebody. The absence of him.
Which is where the rebound breakup and all its gory hurt come in. If you’re like me, that relationship was just that. Someone who I cared very much about, knew my kids, but was a lover — no more. He was not my partner. We were emotionally, intellectually, sexually intertwined. But our lives were completely separate. We owned nothing together (though I’m still kind of annoyed with myself for never retrieving that La Perla nighty from his apartment, but I’ll live), and did not even share friends. When we broke up there was nothing to contend with but grief.
Which is another reason why we do not mourn the love for our husbands immediately after divorce. Divorce often comes after months and years of a really unhappy relationship. By the time the four-way lawyers meetings start, you’ve forgotten about the emotional, intellectual and sexual connection you once shared with that man. It was likely missing for a very long time — which is exactly why it is so intoxicating when we find that connection again in a rebound. And, if you’re like me, you consciously appreciate those mutual feelings so very much more — which only adds to the scythe bludgeoning once it falls.
- Making a Rebound After Divorce: What You Need to Know (daydaily.com)
- Honoring the Space of Your Child Post-Divorce: Guest Blogger (judithconte.wordpress.com)
- Should You Stay Together for Your Children’s Sake? (babyzone.com)
- Red Flags: Would You Date Someone Who Was Newly Separated? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Tell the Kids About Your Divorce: Do’s and Don’t's (judithconte.wordpress.com)
- Talking with Toddlers About Divorce (babyzone.com)
- Changing the Way People Divorce (judithconte.wordpress.com)
- Anniversary (blessednbalanced.wordpress.com)
- Separated Spouses and Sex, Part 3 (hickoryfamilylawblog.com)
- The four things that kill a relationship stone dead (sott.net)