When I first got divorced after 20 years of marriage, I was terrified at the thought of dating. I was only 18 years old when I met my ex-husband and prior to that I had one boyfriend all throughout high school. I didn’t know the first thing about dating in my 40’s! I realized very quickly that the last thing I wanted was to dive into another relationship…for a few reasons. One, I was still mending a broken heart from my husband having cheated on me. Two, I wanted to enjoy my new found freedom and enjoy being able to go and do whatever the hell I wanted (and not to mention enjoy the bed and TV remote to myself). Three and most importantly, I wanted to give my kids time to heal and introducing them to a new man would be the last thing they needed. My kids were 18, 14, and 10 at the time of our separation and I feel that it is much harder for teens to accept a new person in their lives than when they are little.
It is so important to give your kids the time they need to adjust to the new normal. No matter how amicable the divorce was between you and your spouse– your children have suffered a traumatic experience in their life. Divorce is very sad and confusing for kids. Adjusting to not having their dad home everyday and having to split their time between two homes takes a long time. My best advice to parents is to wait at least a year or two after divorce to introduce another person into their lives.
Often times we are consumed by loneliness and we rush into a relationship way before WE are ready never mind the poor kids. Trust me, that first relationship after divorce is doomed for failure! Some of you might disagree because you jumped in head first with the first guy or girl that showed you attention, but if you really take a step back and look at the relationship, you might agree that it is even more toxic than your marriage. Why? Because you haven’t given yourself enough time to heal. You haven’t given yourself time to focus on the mistakes that happened in your marriage and how to recognize the red flags in order to avoid them the second time around. Am I right? Yup!
Listen, divorce does a number on people. I don’t care what the circumstances are or whether it was your choice to leave. ALL divorcee’s go through similar stages of grief because it is a loss. A loss of your lover, loss of your best friend, loss of your family unit, and loss of your support system. You need to give yourself time to process and heal, other wise the next poor shmuck that comes into your life will have to deal with all your baggage. Healing is a process and I have found a common thread in all the people I have met going through divorce. I’ve written about these common threads in my book “Five Step Guide: How To Get Through Your Crappy Divorce.” I will be sharing some of these insights in my blog and I hope to help give you perspective and hope that there is great love at the end of the process, but you have to unpack your baggage first.