Did your divorce story start with, “I knew he was the one!” ??
At my wedding my mom stood up and gave a heart-felt little speech, which included, “After Emma went out with him for the first time, she called me up and said, ‘I know he's the one!'”
That's a really sweet story, the one a mom is supposed to say at a wedding. It wasn't true. The real story was when I met my ex, I was also carrying out a long-distance romance with an older British school teacher who lived in Santiago, Chile, and in my youthful, South American-sized ego told anyone who would listen how I was tormented in my inability to chose between the two men. Ultimately, I made the right choice, but, well … the rest is history.
I tell this story to illustrate how there is very little room in our culture to commit romantically for any other reason other than a soulmate, love-at-first sight, meant-to-be, heaven-sent connection. I'm open to that kind of magic, but I'm not banking on it. After all, check out these stats on second marriages, success rates, and percentages of second marriages that end in divorce:
Second marriage stats
- 67 percent of second marriages end in divorce, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce (41 per cent of first marriages end in divorce before the 30th anniversary)
- Adults whose parents divorced and remarry are twice as likely to divorce than adults whose parents divorced but never remarried.
But how do you learn to trust your dating instincts when they were likely horribly wrong once? How do you learn to trust your own judgement when your judgement lead you to the painful fate of divorce?
The answer is listening to your gut, but also digging in, being patient and committing to knowing someone. This is increasingly difficult, thanks to our culture of instant gratification. This Thought Catalog essay captures the affects of online dating, social media and a general culture void of longterm commitment.
Our choices are killing us. We think choice means something. We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down. Never mind actually feeling satisfied, we don’t even understand what satisfaction looks like, sounds like, feels like. We’re one foot out the door, because outside that door is more, more, more. We don’t see who’s right in front of our eyes asking to be loved, because no one is asking to be loved. We long for something that we still want to believe exists. Yet, we are looking for the next thrill, the next jolt of excitement, the next instant gratification.
Oh man, is that the cold truth. Except for this: I want to be loved, and I know a lot of people out there who want to be loved, too. In fact, everyone wants to be loved. But we can confuse an exciting date, sexual chemistry or a glamorous person for the promise of love. Sometimes, the problem is not that we don't commit enough, we commit too much.
I'm guilty of all the above. My recent history includes going bananas over the cute cardiologist with the glamorous life resume full of charity work and swing dancing and media startups that would give any mom a case of love-at-first-sight. Yet, I'm guilty of overlooking an entire evening of his self-references of being an “alpha prime,” all the way to his trying to sneak around my insistence of condom use before I finally committed to not committing to a second date.
But, ultimately, what is wrong with any of it? In those two little examples, I spent four mostly nice months with a good person, and in the second I enjoyed some fun company, a free dinner and left the scene with my dignity in tact and a good story in my pocket. I stuck it out in each one until I couldn't stand another minute.
What if you look back on your courtship with your ex, only to see the red flags waving like crazy all over God's creation? Do you regret every moment you spent with him? The kids and the memories? Would your life really be better if you had left him sooner — or never got involved at all?
When is remarriage OK?
So many moms I know jump out of marriage and immediately start hunting for the next husband.
This is understandable. After all:
- You were likely used to being married, so that feels normal
- Society pressures you to be married. All kinds of social cultural messages that sanction marriage, not to mention tax breaks, cost of living and travel discounts for couples
That is not to say marriage is wrong — or wrong for you. It may be totally right!
But when is remarriage or second or third marriage right?
answer is that if you're really committed to finding love, if you really want to make your current relationship work, you stay until you can't stay any more.
Maybe deep down you're terrified of love, and bolt when shit gets real. Maybe you cling to those glossy rom-com plotlines and friends' glittering relationship narratives on Facebook and jump ship when your own romantic story deviates from the meant-to-be-love script.
But maybe what you should do is dig in and scrape below expectations of shine. Maybe you ignore all the messages about how finding The One and things Meant to Be and create your own love story.
Or maybe you're older and wiser now. And maybe like me, when you go on a date with a really brilliant guy, and the walking date turns into the burger date, which turns into the dessert date, and you still want to know more — and even though lightening didn't hit your heart or pants when you saw him waiting for you on the sidewalk, you go out with him again. Because that is what adults do.
Yes, that is what is done by adults who have told stories about love-at-first sight and got their hearts busted up and whooped on and thrown into moving traffic. And then they get up again and write their own love stories.
Finding your soulmate after marriage
I'm going to be 39 this year. Round that up, and I'm basically 40. Which is middle-aged.
I'm not going to pretend like I'm reveling in that, or even that I don't care. I'm none too thrilled about getting older, the least of which is that my crepeing under-eyes, sagging chin and increasingly profound laugh lines make selfie-taking a humbling chore. I can already see how it will be harder to be professionally relevant, and according to some older friends, very bad things happen to your genitals as the years press on.
But one that that comes with age, is that relationships are older. And those relationships, they are so, so dear. Yesterday I was feeling blue, alone in a foreign country. I pinged my friend Kirsten, who I've known for 15 years. She's going through some real-life rough times (not like my first-world, boo-hoo I'm lonesome in my fabulous Copenhagen apartment “rough times”) and I asked, again, if she could nab a plane ticket to join me for a few days.
“I can't this time, but wanna Skype?” she immediately replied.
“Yep! Now? Want to join me in some wine?
“It's 11:30 a.m. and I have a few conference calls ahead of me, but don't let that stop you,” she texted.
“Oh yeah — not everyone's time zone revolves around my own, perpetual 5 o'clock somewhere.”
We jumped on video chat and caught up (while I uncorked my bottle). We noted that not only are we both really into our careers, share politics, and have similar mommy issues, our periods are in synch! It didn't really matter what we talked about — we love each other, talk in short-hand thanks to so many years of friendship, and can be totally candid with one another in a way that is just not the same with newer friends. Time has created an intimacy that is otherwise impossible.
Apply this to romance.
Benefits of long-term marriage
For all my dating antics, and appreciation for short-term affairs and sometimes-lovers, those romantic relationships simply are not long-term marriages. I was with my husband eight years, married four, before we split up. That is a short marriage. Every once in a while I come across an email or little note that we left one another, and they seem as if they were written by other people — people who were lovers, rather than two people who lived through a whole lot together and knew each other in ways that cannot be articulated in words. Because we were. Ours was not a long-term marriage. Today, in the rare occurrence that we chat casually, the familiarity is deeper and more presumed — even if we are no longer romantically involved, we are bound by time. I have known him nearly 15 years, and there is a connection that is like those very old friends or the family that we are. That is precious.
In my future, I can imagine a life that is full of different lovers — some for an evening, others for a few years. That is a comfortable pattern for me, but it is limiting. In the rest of my life I seek out intense experiences that challenge myself. Adventures in travel and exercise, books and movies that challenge my intellect. But emotional adventures are perhaps the greatest of them all. Motherhood, possibly the most gripping, mind- and heart-expanding experience yet in my middle-aged life. I want to experience allI can in this world, and there is something in a long-term marriage that cannot be replicated in other experiences. Those years and decades of love and passion and tedium and tragedy and healing and adoration and resentment and resolve and acceptance and love and love that a good marriage has. That is an experience that I don't know. Not yet.
How long after divorce can you remarry?
All this self-analysis aside — when should you and can you remarry after divorce?
First, after a big breakup or divorce, take a full year to be a nice, steaming hot mess. I show you how here. Good news: You can date and get laid! But no serious relationships yet.
Then, take some time to heal your wounds. Maybe your ex cheated, and you need to sort through that. Perhaps you are struggling to find yourself financially and professionally, moving homes, and generally getting your act in order.
First thing—surround yourself with some great friends. Maybe these are wonderful old friends who share your new life vision, or you build new relationships with women and/or men who are also committed to positivity, and building a new life. Read: 5 friends every single mom needs, and where to find her!
Then, it is time to dip your toe in the water.
Dating again after divorce
Thinking of dating again, but not sure where to start? Afraid to get hurt? Unsure of how dating works in 2018 — with apps, texting, sexting, dick pics, etc?
Worried about flaunting your new mom bod on the market?
That is why I developed the bestselling video course, Get Back Into Dating AGAIN for Single Moms.
This course takes you step-by-step to work through your fears, hopes, create a dating site and get your sexy on.
Guaranteed to get you on one quality, positive date!
Already eager to meet men?
Check out the 9 best dating apps and sites for single moms.
If you are busy and intersted in meeting quality people for a serious relationship only, may also be interested in a matchmaking service. It's Just Lunch claims to have set up 3 million first dates, and is responsible for countless relationships and marriages — many with single parents.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.