Hope me: Love after marriage
January 29, 2017 4:39 PM   Subscribe

This was me. I'd love to hear your stories of love and marriage/long-term partnership after divorce, with some specifiers: How did you know when you were ready? How did you manage issues around trust/vulnerability? Any unexpected feelings/barriers you had to navigate? Were you reluctant to marry again? Snowflakey details...

The papers have been filed, there's been no contact with my ex for nearly a month, and I'm feeling... pretty much fine. I have brief moments of anger and sadness, but overall I feel like myself again. I see clearly that I was terribly lonely in the relationship, affection-starved, and doing way more emotional work than he was. Still in therapy, got a personal trainer (yay boxing!), embracing political activism, spending time with friends, and casually chatting on dating apps.

I don't want a relationship right now as I'm technically still married and I know I'm vulnerable despite feeling ok. I'd like to spend more time focusing on me. But I do want a serious relationship again someday and would maybe like to adopt a kid and/or dog with someone I wouldn't mind growing old with. I can't shake this thought that maybe I had my moment and it won't happen for me again. Like I used up all my emotional resources on this person and my well has run dry and I won't be able to give of myself in the same way to someone else. (I know this isn't how it works but y'know.)

The people around me say things like "You're young, don't be ridiculous, of COURSE you'll find love again!" which is a kind thing to say and maybe true! But I don't really have anyone in my life who's an example of this. Most of my friends are married or unhappily single, and my parents have been married for 40 years.

FWIW, 33/cis female/straight/no kids/married for little over a year, together for 4.
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Human Relations (14 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Like I used up all my emotional resources on this person and my well has run dry

Excellent choice of simile. You emotional well has run dry. And that's OK. It will fill up again. That's your job right now; to do things in life that will fill up your well.
posted by Thella at 5:35 PM on January 29, 2017 [23 favorites]

I'm 35, met my SO at 28. It lasted ~6 years, and we got married around year 5. This turned out to be a mistake for multiple reasons, and I've been fully separated for a year and divorced for six. There's a couple more big issues I'm avoiding working on, and they keep holding me back. I keep seeing the same mistakes crop up.

And yeah, you probably are exhausted from the whole mess of your old relationship. It takes time to heal. You can speed it up some by doing effective therapy and gym time, which it sounds like you are... but it still takes time.

I kinda wonder if what you are looking for is a rebound. I never though I'd have a rebound (or get divorced) but I did and it provided me with a lot of positive things that helped me move on some, look forward to the future more.

Both my parent remarried after their divorce, and are happily married today. Dad at 40ish, mom at 55. It can and will happen for you, in its time.
posted by Jacen at 7:53 PM on January 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Everyone is different, I think. I'm 48, 4 years out and have no real desire to live with anyone or remarry. Like you, people keep telling me it will happen. But for the moment, I date rather happily and don't miss it.

On the other hand, I know many many friends who met the love of their lives after their first divorce. I think if you want it, it will happen.
posted by frumiousb at 9:39 PM on January 29, 2017

Best answer: I met my first husband at 28, married him at 31, and was divorced at 33. By the time we got divorced, we had spent more of our relationship/marriage in therapy than not, so it wasn't a big surprise when we separated that I both relished in my freedom/opportunity to date people who were totally opposite from my husband AND that I missed the comfort and stabillity/familiarity that he represented.

I dated someone completely different than my husband pretty much immediately, and got very wrapped up in the new relationship and marveled at all the things that the new guy brought to the table that my husband had not (spontenaity, creativity, lots of great communication, more adventurous sex, etc.) It helped me from feeling totally lonely, which meant it also delayed some of the very important and necessary processing that I needed to do. So about a year later, after that relationship crashed in a major way (but nowhere near as painfully as the end of my marriage), I finally did what everyone recommends and spent time alone - and it was FANTASTIC. I still dated, but very loosely and in a non-committed way. I set up a new apartment with a lovely garden and my cat, and I watched all the tv I wanted and cooked all the foods I wanted and listened to whatever music I wanted and just got back to knowing ME. And a few months later in a very random stroke of luck, I met my now-husband while walking down the street. I was open to meeting/dating people, but certainly wasn't specfically looking or expecting to meet someone I'd get that serious about, but I think I was ready after having had the experience of a fiery rebound followed by alone time.

At 38, I just had my first child and am about to celebrate my 2-year wedding anniversary with my second husband. So happiness and love definitely happens after early-30s divorce, yeah. I think a bit of dating and a bit of alone time will do you wonders, in whatever order suits you (but both are necessary before finding the next great big thing, in my opinion).

It gets better. A lot better. That doesn't have to mean getting married again (or even falling in love again), but if you want that, it's absolutely available and possible. I'm grateful every day for the end of my first marriage, without which I wouldn't have my second husband or first baby.
posted by DuckGirl at 9:45 PM on January 29, 2017 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I'm exactly your age and in very close to your situation, with a little more time gone by since our decision to divorce (it's been about a year). I spent a few months right after the decision feeling REALLY weird about ever dating again and kind of like venturing out on dating sites and then hating everyone on them and then running away again. I've found as time has gone on from that, though, that I am just finding more happiness from social relationships in general and more excited to go out and do stuff with friends or even in bigger groups once in a while.

Most recently, a friend hosted a fairly big NYE party and I went in with no intentions of meeting guys, but did hit it off with someone and had a pretty fun night after that! I'm not sure it's leading towards dating, as we're in different cities, but we-ve been flirty messaging a tiny bit, and just feeling that spark towards someone (and seeing them feeling it back!) was kinda what I had needed for a while. It's helped me reframe my attitude towards future dating and have more excitement about how it can be fun rather than just OH GOD I HAVE TO DO THIS THING.

So a year out from separation, I'm actually feeling pretty excited about the prospect of getting back into the game as a much more confident-in-myself person than I was back in my 20s when the ex-marriage relationship started! So I know this advice fills a little bit different niche than people responding who are 10, 20 years out, but I hope it helps you feel better about how feeling just more social in general (as an introvert, no less!) has helped me towards being open again to the dating scene. Despite feeling stressed out about a zillion other things right now, dating is actually occupying a "ooh, that could be fun" spot in my brain that I definitely wouldn't have thought possible, say, 6 months ago. You got this.

(Also feel free to memail me if you just wanna chat 33-year-old divorced lady with no kids kinda stuff! It's definitely strange to navigate friend groups on your own that used to be all couples, all the time! My close friends have been mega supportive and sweet but also none of them have ever divorced so there's just certain support they can't quite offer)
posted by augustimagination at 10:44 PM on January 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hello! I met my first husband when I was 22. We married when I was 24, divorced when I was 33. No kids. I, uh, ended up marrying my rebound. (By all accounts, it shouldn't have worked out, it was REALLY SOON.)

But we've been together almost 10 years and this July will be our 5th wedding anniversary. It would have been our 7th, but when he first proposed, I panicked about remarrying and ended up pocket vetoing it. Thankfully, he was patient and realized I was afraid of marriage and needed more time. Two years later I told him I was ready and we went to the courthouse. Things are better, much better.

You might not marry the rebound, but there is love to be found when you're over 30.
posted by kimberussell at 5:26 AM on January 30, 2017 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I dated my now ex husband from 24-30, married at 30, more or less broke up at 31, divorced at 32. No kids. I often thought about the idea that this was my chance and I blew it, even though the cause was largely precipitated by his alcoholism and though of course I played a part, this was wholly not what I imagined for myself and my life. A lot of it was tied up in feelings of shame; all my friends and family had just gathered together to celebrate us, it cost a lot of money, it was embarrassing to admit this mistake.

What really helped was rejecting the notion that it was a mistake. It was not a mistake. Every single choice I have ever made in my life was the best choice I could have made at the time. I don't regret any of them. I learned more about myself than I ever would have if I had coasted along in an unhappy marriage for the rest of my days.

After my ex husband and I separated and he moved out of the house, I dated a bit. Dated a very nice man for six months who I had a lot in common with but different goals, broke up amicably. (Would recommend him to others, was a lovely boyfriend, just not right for each other.) Dated casually for several more months. Started dating someone casually last summer and realized that I didn't want to date other people, just him, so started dating exclusively in late summer. We're still dating and very happy together. The definition of "love" as I know it has changed a lot since the last time I fell in love at 24, and I did not get the same twitterpated feeling I did with my ex, it was more of a slow dawning realization.
posted by juniperesque at 10:21 AM on January 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: 1) Hi

2) I can't believe I missed your earlier questions about this. I had no idea this happened. I'm so, so sorry.

3) Here is a very close-to-me example of finding love again. My husband got married to his first wife, also his very first love, when he was 32. Less than a year later, she left him for another guy. He was understandably devastated. He signed up for dating sites (back then it was sites!) just to get into the swing of things again, not really looking or ready for a serious relationship. The first girl he met off a site was... me. It took us awhile to figure out (he's 39 now, for reference, and we just got married in September), but somehow it wound up working and he is better off in his second marriage than his first (not only because it's me saying so! We are far more compatible).

If he can do it, you can do it.
posted by millipede at 11:45 AM on January 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

My dad got divorced three times before he met my mother. This was in an era where divorce for any reason was hugely scandalous. My parents were together more than 50 years, until dad died. My dad pursued my mom hard. He was crazy about her. Growing up, I was barely aware he had been previously married and badly burned by it.

I am divorced. I have had emotional attachments post divorce. One man, I absolutely would have married him had it been possible.

I am wiser and more savvy and less starry eyed. I am more confident, better at self advocating and better at communicating. I am clear I can have a relationship if I want it. I am holding out for something good, that won't ask me to choose between "my left arm and my right" -- that won't ask me whether I want a man in my life or if I want a life. I had a man. Now, I want a life. I am willing to share that life with the right man. I am not willing to give it up to be with a man

I am pretty content with that piece of myself for the first time ever. When I was younger, I always felt like I had a gun to my head and was being forced to choose one or the other. These days, I feel I am waiting to wrap up a couple of things and to qualify the right man for the job.
posted by Michele in California at 12:19 PM on January 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was cohabiting for about 4 years, and that ended in a very nasty, violent way, so my case may be a bit more...intense than most? It took about the same amount of time to heal and stabilize enough to be a decent partner. I did get a substantial amount of therapy but this was linked to a compilation of issues that I needed to address about my pattern of toxic relationships in general. I was very numb to people for a while. I dated but I pushed most people away/became flighty/cruel/nihilistic, even though I didn't want to be. Real intimacy, even the idea of it, filled me with a sick feeling.

I will say...one day you just wake up feeling better, if you listen to what your mind and body is telling you (as pseudosciencey as that sounds). One day you're just ready. I can't say when that will be for you. I recall it was around the time I started to remember the good rather than the bad of being in love and committed to someone (if monogamy is your preference) and the idea of a new relationship excited me. I had to be alone and self-focused for a very long time, however. Don't listen to other people who think they know what is best for you or give you some sort of timeline. Take care of yourself, and your mind and body will let you know when you're ready.
posted by Young Kullervo at 2:28 PM on January 30, 2017

Married young here, divorced pretty quickly (ten years ago now). Got into a (mutual) rebound that ended up lasting a long-ass time; do not recommend. Nothing wrong with that guy, I wish him all the best, but we should both have been dealing with our divorces, not auto-piloting into a long-term relationship. Followed that up with a short burst of unholy messes.

The thing that probably helped most was a couple of long-distance relationships, since it meant that I was mostly spending all of my time alone and slogging it out with my less-admirable bits. Would have been easier to just be single, probably, but psychologically I guess I wasn't ready for that so it was the next best thing. Definitely had a lot of moments where I had to confront the possibility that I would just date people maybe, or maybe not, but that love/serious relationships were not necessarily in my cards. Somewhat in spite of myself, though, I'm in a long and satisfying relationship now. We cohabitate.

I have remained mostly unenthusiastic about the idea of marriage, though. I go to peoples' weddings and while it's beautiful and all, I mostly come away feeling relieved that it's them and not me.

So in that sense, I suppose, I haven't actually ever been able to "give of myself in the same way." But I don't think that the way I am able to give of myself now is worse or lesser; it's just different, and frankly much more grounded in self-knowledge.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:07 PM on January 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your well will be dry for a little while, and that's okay!! It is totally likely to meet someone else and have a lovely life/relationship/marriage. I am so much happier in my second marriage than I ever was in my first. I think starter marriages are a little more common for our generation :)

Because my first marriage was so far done by the time I was officially divorced, I was ready to start looking a little sooner than maybe most people. And the 2nd guy I met - we moved in together 3 months later and have been together 12 years.
posted by getawaysticks at 8:29 AM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was married for 2.5 years when we separated. He was neglectful and abusive and I'd felt alone for much of our marriage, so I started dating fairly soon. I did okcupid for 18 months before I met my now fiancé. For the first year or so with my fiancé I still felt affects from my marriage/divorce. It took a long time for me to get over how bad things were. My fiancé was very patient and things are very good now. You have to work on trusting your current partner and separating them from your previous marriage. It takes effort and bravery but you can do it.
I never dreamed I'd be so happy. He's the love of my life and my absolute best friend. No one I was with before even remotely compared to what I have now. I am so excited to get married again. Having a failed marriage has made me so much more grateful for what I have now and as cliche as it is, I'm glad it happened because it got me here.
posted by shesbenevolent at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh and for context I was 24 when I married, 27 when we split, 28 when I met my SO. 31 now and we're getting married this year.
posted by shesbenevolent at 10:49 AM on January 31, 2017

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