Dating Q&A

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First off, thank you to all of you who wrote me in response to my dating after divorce post! I was excited to do a Q&A with what you were all interested in knowing. I’ve said this before, but I do feel like I shy away from talking about the stage of dating and remarriage out of sensitivity for my readers who are still in a place of grieving and healing. However, I do want to share the amazing hope I have lived through in starting over after all of the pain.

I picked the top three questions I saw the most from those of you who wrote in and gave my best response. This is what I did and what helped me. As with everything divorce related, there is no real perfect answer for every situation, so keep that in mind when you’re reading my responses.

Question One: How soon did you start dating after your divorce? When were you ready? The legal process of our divorce took a year and a half. Not because there was some dramatic court battle, but because we went the budget-friendly route with mediators and in my opinion, they just took their time. But I digress, in addition to this year and a half of the legal process was a year prior of an on and (mostly) off time of separation and “working” on the marriage. So, that put us at two and a half years of the craziness before the divorce was legally final. My own personal conviction about this matter was that I was not going down any dating road until I got that official D notice. Call me crazy, but, I am a firm believer in it’s not over until it’s over. Aside from that belief, I had a lot to sift through on my own. I needed to heal. I needed to get back to myself. I needed my confidence and worth back before I even entertained letting someone else in. In hindsight, I am SO thankful for that long stretch. Was it easy? Absolutely not. But that time is why when I met my now husband I was ready to dive in without the crazy baggage weighing me down. I met my now husband three months after my divorce was final. And because I stayed so obnoxiously single through the two years prior I was whole and ready for a new relationship. There is no magic answer for this. Wait until things are really over and wait until you are back to the person you are proud to share with someone else. And surely don’t settle for meh dating. Wait until someone quality comes along and then take the dating plunge.

Question Two: When did you know he was “the one”? Call me cynical, but I don’t believe in “the one” idea. When we started dating I was not guarded to the point where I would back away in an unhealthy way, but I was hyperaware. I observed his character. Was there anything shady about him? How did he react when he was angry? Was his faith real? Did he have a temper? How did he treat strangers? What did his friendships look like? How was he with his family? I was ready for the red flags. As months went on and I didn’t see the red flags I was looking for, I started thinking about the amazing qualities he did have and how they would pan out in a marriage. I kept my mind and heart in that place … this man has the qualities of those I would want in a husband As things organically progressed it became more and more clear that we were both in it for marriage. There was no real aha moment, but a lot of careful time and consideration. We dated for eleven intentional months before getting engaged. Then, six months later we were married. If nothing else, don’t settle. My husband is the most amazing man. He puts our love first, puts our family first, and ALWAYS thinks I am the hottest girl in the room. My best advice for if you’re in the dating game is keep your eyes wide open for the red flags and just observe the heck out of his character. Remove the rose-colored glasses for good and take it all one day at a time.

Question Three: What reservations did you have about getting remarried? And what triggers from the past have spilled into your new marriage? I did not have any reservations about getting remarried because through our dating relationship I became fully confident in the man I was marrying. I was cautious in getting to know him and by the time marriage was on the table, there were no reservations. Sadly, in the back of my mind, I did think, “anything can happen.” I didn’t go into my first marriage ever in a million years thinking it would end the way it did. But it did. So, why was this one different? Well, again, that goes back to careful observations of character and being hyperaware of any red flags in sight. As time has gone on, I don’t think this way anymore. I don’t have the doubts of anything could happen. Time and natural progression have helped this.

For me, in the beginning, the hardest part was the idea of having another wedding. I know that sounds SUPER shallow. I already had a big ol wedding and my pride was like, “Nope!” to another one. Well, thank the good Lord, I got over that. How selfish to not celebrate this union and love. Annnnnd my husband had not been married before. So, I was going to rob him of this celebration because of my dumb pride. I am SO thankful I got over that. Our wedding was the best! And there was so much to celebrate I could cry just thinking about it.

The less fun parts of remarriage are the triggers that come from the past. They will happen from time to time because of what you’ve gone through. However, the right man will just reassure the heck out of whatever the trigger brings to surface. And then it’s your job to trust in this new love as different from the last one. Give yourself that gift. There’s no reason to let your past ruin your future. Talk yourself out of those dark places and find the guy who will reassure you till he’s blue in the face.

Again, thank YOU for writing in with your questions. I did get some questions about when I brought my daughter into the mix. I will address this, but there was so much to say, I wanted it to be an entirely separate post. I pray my answers were helpful to you and if you’d like any further answers, please don’t hesitate to ask! I love sharing my story in hopes of helping yours.

My Latest Obsession

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If you’ve talked to me either via social media or real life during the past month, it is very likely that I have brought up, Girl, Wash Your Face. To say that I am obsessed with it would be an understatement considering you can find me relistening (yay Audible) to my favorite chapters on the daily.

In short, this book helps us counteract the lies we believe about ourselves. Each chapter is a different lie that the author, Rachel Hollis, has at one point believed about herself, the story behind it, and then what she did to help it. I related to every. single. lie. she voiced in the book. Every single one. What this tells me is we are all so connected in ways we don’t even realize and that really is beautiful. And with that connection comes the responsibility of sharing our souls and our secrets. Sharing how we worked our butts off to come out on top. How we conquered what has been weighing us down for years. Rachel did this. She shared her dark times, she shared her triumphs, and she shared the powerful truth that we are the only ones in charge of the outcome.

Divorce teaches you this if you let it. You have zero control of circumstances, other people’s choices, or how life pans out. What you DO have control over is how you handle it, how you grow, and the strength you gain in the meantime. We are in charge of this. And as Rachel discusses in her book, we are in charge of combatting all of those damn lies that come our way. Divorce will attack you with every lie in the book. You were a bad wife, you are not worthy, you failed your marriage (and your kids), you are not attractive, you won’t find love again … and they go on. Rachel has not been through a divorce personally, but she does talk about trauma and experiencing something hard (which, hello, is the D word). She gives life-giving advice on how to get through the ruts and how to get the lies out of your head.

Motherhood, self-worth, sex, following BIG dreams, body image, marital issues, judgment, hard work, mental illness, therapy, adoption … she goes to ALL OF THE PLACES. And she does it in a beautifully raw fashion that makes you fired up to conquer it all! I wholeheartedly want all of you to read this goodness. I know it will change your life. And I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s the honest truth. It will change your life for the better. Who doesn’t want that? ❤

Celebrity Split

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It’s comical to me that I actually know this happened considering I am THE WORST at knowing what is going on in the lives of celebrities. I never know who is in what movie or TV show and I always seem to butcher the names of those I think I do know. Before last week, I didn’t even know these two were a celebrity couple. Thanks to the social media world, I saw this and found it interesting. So, who’s seen Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan’s separation announcement? I had mixed emotions when I read it. I thought it was mature and wise of them to come forward with a statement that both gave glory to their union, and also gave an honest direction of where they are going present day. However, any time I hear of a couple calling it quits, I can’t help but think of the pain as well.

My personal conviction about marriage is that growing apart isn’t a reason for divorce. I know people out there disagree, and that’s fine, but for me, I think there are always ways to grow together. The grass is greenest where you water it, right? With that, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this process being as peaceful as they describe it. Mind you, this was their social media announcement and we all know social media just shows our life highlights, not our behind the scenes.

Which leads me to a separate (but related) tangent … We just never know what the next person is going through. However this announcement was meant to come across to the general public, we don’t know the layers behind it. And, of all the major lessons my divorce taught me, this was my favorite … Stop being so damn judgy. You don’t really know what anyone is going through. I remember looking like hell in Target because my life had just been turned upside down and the looks of pity I received didn’t help one bit. So, when I see that same despair on a stranger, I say a small prayer for them and hope their day turns up because I don’t know what their behind the scenes looks likes.

As much as I love this announcement and want to root for this couple (that I know nothing about in real life), I just remember having a social media smile with a crumbling marriage in the background. No one would have thought twice. I like the positive spin, but the thing about divorce is that it’s always sad. Even if it’s what you feel in your heart as the right route. It’s the loss of an entire life together with someone you thought would be a partner for the rest of your days.

So, do I like the peaceable and respectful way this was communicated to the general public? Yes. Do I think it sounds like separation and divorce is a walk in the park? A little bit. Do I really know where they stand and the real feelings that played into this decision? Nope, not even a little bit.

I want to know your thoughts on the matter. Write in and let me know if you think the announcement was too fluffy for the subject at hand or if you thought it was tasteful and mature or who are we to even have our two cents on the matter.  As always, my prayers are with you and I hope your week is full of peace.

 

Hello Divorce

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Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some pretty amazing women. These ladies head up some of the best divorce recovery organizations in the field. One that I really wish was around when I was going through my divorce is Hello DivorceYou guys, I hope against hope that this is the future of the divorce process!

Now, if you’re new to my blog, I must always shout out the disclaimer that I am pro-marriage (big time). Afterall, I am VERY HAPPILY remarried. However, if divorce is the hand you’ve been dealt, then I am passionate about helping the healing and legal process be the best it can be.

If you are going through what can feel like a hellish legal battlefield, head on over to the Hello Divorce site and see how they can help you. I am confident their wealth of knowledge will help you in some capacity. Peruse their site and figure out how they can make this easier. You’re going through enough as it is. Let’s try and lighten the load a bit.

Here’s a preview of what they’re all about … “Are breakups tough? No doubt. Can they be fair and equitable? We think so. That’s why we started Hello Divorce. To take the drama out of divorce. The system wasn’t built for savvy thinkers and doers like you. So we reimagined it. Hello Divorce is a service that empowers you to manage the process with easy to follow, step-by-step guidance and affordable access to our top-notch lawyers. We break down the extremely complicated California divorce process into discrete, manageable steps.”

For inspiration on the daily, you can follow their Insta at @hellodivorce. This is the not the last you will hear about this organization from me. I am passionate to the core about helping this become the future of divorce. 

A Strong Woman

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Good morning, all! I am stoked to feature a writer I connected with recently who’s heart is all about helping others heal after divorce. Alexandra Hoffman is the founder of Divorced at 30. She’s a mental health advocate, motivator, and an optimist who loves to speak her truth. Follow along with her on Insta as well, @divorcedat30. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy her words this morning.

A Strong Woman… listens to the stories and wisdom of others.

A Strong Woman… is proud of her successes even if others are intimidated.

A Strong Woman… stands up to injustice and aligns herself with others who seek to make the world better.

A Strong Woman… falls in love, but always loves and honors herself first.

A Strong Woman… makes mistakes, but learns from them.

A Strong Woman… treats the janitor with the same respect she pays the president of the company.

A Strong Woman… speaks her truth.

A Strong Woman… knows how to say goodbye to a job, a friendship, or a relationship that no longer serves her.

A Strong Woman… adventures but doesn’t lose sight of home.

A Strong Woman… knows how to manage her finances and how to live independently.

A Strong Woman… has a past filled with both joys and sorrows.

A Strong Woman… isn’t afraid of a challenge or of change.

A Strong Woman… puts others before herself, but not at the expense of herself.

A Strong Woman… shows gratitude even when it feels like there’s nothing to be thankful for.

A Strong Woman… lends her voice to issues she is passionate about, even if others disagree.

A Strong Woman… knows how to mend a broken heart: hers or a friend’s.

A Strong Woman… can be sassy, can be shy, can be outspoken, can be funny, can be smart – can be whomever SHE chooses to be.              

A Strong Woman… knows when she should speak her mind and when she shouldn’t.

A Strong Woman… celebrates other strong women, and honors their struggles and triumphs.

A Strong Woman… stands up for herself.

A Strong Woman… knows how to engage in difficult conversations without offending the other side.

A Strong Woman… knows when to say sorry and how to give a genuine apology.      

A Strong Woman… empowers those around her.    

A Strong Woman… knows where to go to recharge and who to turn to for comfort.

A Strong Woman… makes her mental, spiritual, and physical health a priority.

A Strong Woman… knows when to say no.

A Strong Woman… may lose her footing and get lost, but is able to find her path again.

A Strong Woman… has stories only she knows.

A Strong Woman… knows how to take care of herself, all by herself; however, knows when to ask for help.

A Strong Woman… loves passionately even though there are no guarantees.

A Strong Woman… isn’t afraid of the effort and time required to make her dreams come true.

A Strong Woman… acknowledges the amazing possibilities that each new day offers.

A Strong Woman… is in charge of her own happiness and her own destiny.

A Strong Woman…

knows she still has lessons to learn.

 

Your Sunday Will Come

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Happy Saturday, friends! This post will be a two-part piece. One part anticipating the hope of Easter and how symbolic it is for those of you in a hard place right now. One part co-parenting reminders if you have the littles.

First, I think a lot of you can relate the pain and suffering you’ve experienced to that of what Christ went through for us. With that, it’s the hope of how the redemptive story ends that gives us hope for our own story. In reflecting on Good Friday, I found this gem. Joseph Wirthlin wrote this goodness on the anticipation of Easter and it realllllllly spoke to me. Claim this Easter as YOUR Sunday. The one that will come and bring light to the despair in your life.

“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”

YOUR Sunday will come. The day that you wake up and life is bright and hopeful. The day where there are more happy moments than sad ones. The day when you feel whole again. That’s your Sunday, and it will come.

Now, read on if you have the little ones … here are some reminders on how to interact with those you co-parent with. It’s Easter, after all! We must love all of the sinners Christ died for (even your ex …ugh).

Swallow Your Pride. Prepare your heart in prayer for the interactions you’ll have. Pray for your parenting example to be one of unconditional love, forgiveness, self-respect, humility, and kindness regardless of the circumstances.

Focus On Your Child. There’s nothing more magical than children during holidays. Nothing should squash that excitement. Let their pure bliss take over your situation. Encourage the joy and stay in that place with them. Your child will always be the brightest of all silver-lining in the heartache you’ve experienced.

Check the Trash Talk. Venting is important, but not meant for holiday gatherings. It is meant for the ears of close friends where children are not present. Remember your child knows that he/she is made up of both parents. If you are talking negatively about half of them, they will start doubting their worth and self-esteem. Give your child the gift of holding your tongue.

I am praying you can get through these interactions like a champ and that you’ll keep your focus on what the hope of Easter means for YOU and YOUR Sunday.

Reckless Love

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In my prayers for you this morning, I have been searching for words that communicate what I want your hearts to gain from these next days as we approach Easter. Reading through favorite commentaries and well-known prayers of saints, nothing felt like it fit my thoughts exactly. For me, this Lent has been a bit of a personal failure. Relying on my own self-discipline failed me real hard this time around. Trying to go through the motions of giving up something tangible or saying an extra daily prayer without seeking the help of God or making it a spiritual practice has made my weakness all the more pronounced.

However, what this Lent revealed was deeper than my normal sacrifice of giving up social media. What God made an extra point to show me this year was His love for me. The depths of God’s love for humanity is something I’ve always had a difficult time wrapping my mind around. My logic takes over and the self-loathing of how many times I fall short gets in the way of fully experiencing God’s love. In looking back, I can see God’s love for me in my life. I saw His care for me when my heart was broken into a million pieces, I saw His love when he gave me supernatural peace through devastating times, and I saw/see His love as he pieces me back together time and time again. It’s in the day to day that I’ve had to learn to accept the love though. Not only in the monumental sorrow, but in the newborn feedings and cooking dinner.

Whether you’re in a place of trauma today and or simply in your daily routines, I am praying that you too will experience this love on a new level as I did. During this season of Lent, I had the song, Reckless Love, on repeat most days. Give it a listen as it really spoke to me. I like the word reckless in this sense because it describes how you can’t escape the nature of His love. It finds us wherever we are and is here to stay.

On a separate note, if you’re familiar with the Easter story, then you know the infamous roles Peter and Judas played. I’ve really connected this week with Jesus on a level of the betrayal and denial he experienced from his closest friends. They denied and betrayed him during such a pivotal time. Most of us who’ve experienced an affair or deep betrayal in our marriage know how devastating it is. I encourage you to unite this pain with the same disappointment that Jesus felt. Head over to Blessed is She and read their piece on 3 Saints to Turn to During Times of Betrayal. Connect with those saints, knowing you’re not alone. I am praying you experience the essence of God’s love and find peace knowing that even Jesus experienced the sting of betrayal by those closest to him. As always, my love and prayers are with you. 

Holy Week

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Happy Holy Week, friends. I am praying you all have a rich week preparing for Easter.

If you’re in a place of suffering, I encourage you to think of your suffering in a way that will unite you further with Christ on the cross. During my divorce, God taught me that many of life’s richest blessings are the fruit of sorrow or pain. He showed me that some blessings will never be ours unless we are ready to pay the price of pain. Look to the cross and you’ll see the world’s greatest blessing is the fruit of the world’s greatest sorrow.

Praying for your hearts and your peace. Stay with God this week. Let Him quiet your pain and cover it with His deep love for you.  

Everyone’s Favorite Question

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When to start dating again? The million dollar question. I posted an article over on Divorced at 30 about dating after divorce. I wrote this one a while back when my now husband and I were just dating. If you’re ready to take the plunge into dating after the big D, I suggest giving this a read. There are a lot of triggers and emotions that go into starting at square one in the dating scene, the more prepared you are the better.

I’ll be doing a Q&A follow up to this piece. If any of you have more specific questions about discerning dating and what my experience was, I would be happy to share! Send me your questions and I will answer them in a post next week.

Praying your burdens are light today and that you’re feeling hopeful about all the goodness that’s yet to come.  

Image by Rachel Hollis 

Turn It Up

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Oh my, do I love music. Whether it be the perfect soundtrack for the work day, or a familiar tune that brings all the warm and fuzzies, or lyrics so poetic you want to cry, I adore the volumes a song can speak (see what I did there). Then, there are those songs that speak YOUR exact truth at the exact time you need to hear it. The ones that tell the exact story of your life at the moment you hear it. And your heart is so encouraged that a songwriter somewhere who you’ve never met understands the core of how you feel. Music just speaks to a different level of my soul.

A little while back, I made three different divorce playlists of the songs that portrayed my range of emotions (start to finish) during the whole long saga. In case you’re looking for some tunes to speak to your heart, give these a listen.

Country Music

Jesus Music

Misc. Music

Enjoy, sisters. My prayers are with you!

Image by Elissa Voss Photography