God designed relationships to be a place where we’re cared for, provided for and nourished, where we can feel safe and grow. When this is interrupted or destroyed by divorce, the newly solo-again person is forced back into singleness, maybe with children to support as well. Being alone again after years of marriage can be a traumatic time. Knowing when to date again is an important question and can’t be rushed.
This week we have a guest blogger, Deryn Van Der Tang. Drawing on her own experiences of divorce and widowhood and sharing the wisdom God has shown her along the way.
After my divorce, my emotions were raw. I felt rejected, betrayed, like I wasn’t good enough, and that I had broken God’s laws and commandments.
I’d grown up in a legalistic Christian community and felt guilty that I could not keep my marriage together. I felt I had broken those covenant laws, and this placed a terrible burden on my soul. It took a lot of working through, prayer and emotional healing before I was ready to consider another relationship.
Before even considering dating again as a newly single person, I believe it’s important to work through the grief process and find healing and come to a place of forgiveness and acceptance of the past.
This is an essential stage, otherwise, we are likely to carry baggage from our past relationship into a new relationship, being triggered and projecting onto our new partner.
We may be feeling desperate to be loved again, to have someone to help us raise the children, someone to help provide for us and to give stability once more. This is natural and understandable. But I’ve learnt one very important lesson about this stage:
We become very vulnerable.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of dating, or even marrying, on the rebound just to have somebody, anybody to take care of us and make us feel happy again. But I’ve seen that there is a greater chance of future dating and/or marriage relationships failing because people don’t take the time to work through the grieving process of their lost relationship.
Work through the pain and our vulnerability
Another thing I warn people about at this stage is that there are many predators who look for vulnerable people to begin an unhealthy relationship with. These are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, unfortunately also to be found in Christian communities!
If there are children involved, it’s even more important to make sure we are a happy and healthy single parent before remarrying, as stepfamilies can be fraught with lots of challenges.
This is why we need to not rush, and work through the pain and our vulnerability.
So where does this leave us?
I believe this is a time when we need people who will love and support us through the process. Hopefully we will belong to a loving, non-judgmental family, or church family, to get us to a place of happiness and confidence on our own again before going out into the dating world.
We need good friendships and people in our lives to help support us on our journey towards wholeness.
From my experience, I have found that divorce recovery or support groups served a very good function in stabilizing me in the first year after my divorce. They helped me see whether there were things I could have done differently, so that if and when I entered a new relationship, I would not make the same mistakes again.
If these are not accessible to you, home church or cell groups with leaders who will support you can help. Some churches run a singles group that have social events as well. Single parent groups can be found in communities too. (Read 3 Things You Should Do To Avoid A Co-dependent Relationship)
This is a time to reach out to people and ask for help
If your church does not support you, it might be wise to find one that does as this can make a big difference to your emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
I would also advise people to avoid online relationships as far as possible, but I realise others would disagree with this advice.
I learned after my divorce that I needed people who would keep me grounded and would pass me a tissue or give me a hug when I needed it. This is a time to reach out to people and ask for help, and not the time to retreat or jump straight back into dating.
Once I was healed, I felt it would be better for my children and myself if I remarried, but I began the dating process from a position of strength, praying that God would bring the right person into my life.
I had also built a strong support system to pray me through this new stage in my life. I found that there were many broken people out there that would not make good life partners a second time around and it was only after six years and some bad learning experiences that I married my second husband. (Read How Do I Tell My New Date About My Past?)
Imagine if we took time out after a divorce to find healing before rushing into a new relationship. There is nothing wrong with wanting to date again, but there is a journey we need to go on to make dating as positive as possible. (Read 2 Strategies for Surviving The Changing World Of Dating)
In your experience, how good are churches at helping us to date after divorce? Comments welcomed below.
Originally posted 13/5/2019
Deryn is a writer, artist, nature and travel lover who is passionate about helping people transform their life experiences. She has been divorced, remarried and widowed and has moved countries four times. She has three adult children and three grandchildren. Deryn runs divorce recovery workshops and writes a blog to help people to find God’s grace and navigate major life transitions.
W: crossingmybridges.com FB: /Derynsbridge Insta: @derynvan