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.

Welcome, 2018!

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Hello, all and Happy New Year (one weekish late)! I write to you starting this new year with a heart of gratitude. Not because this is always my natural outlook (although it should be), but because it is a focus of mine for 2018. I want my life to be consumed with more gratitude and less of the compare game. If you’ve followed my writing for awhile, you know I am big on making gratitude lists (even when it’s hard to muster up). This has been my biggest weapon against bitterness and comparison. Comparison is one of my worst vices and I am working extra hard to squash it this year.

With each new year, I lose some of who I was and find who I want to be all at the same time. I just love how we are constantly changing as humans. These changes are refining and humbling. I want to embrace them and find contentment in the in between.

Speaking of changes, I have some changes coming at me any day now, as our baby boy was due on Sunday. With this, I am still committing to invest in this community and my writing. However, it will look different. Not because of the baby, but because my life is vastly different from when this community started.

While my heart/priority is always to help women through the trauma of betrayal and divorce, you will see a shift in the content on the blog. This shift is because I want to share my present-day life with you. I want to share the co-parenting wins, the hope of an incredible second marriage after divorce, and the triggers that still surface. I want to share the rich blessing of starting over and the benefits that come from going through that raw healing I speak of so often.

As always, wherever you find yourself in the journey of betrayal, divorce, and moving forward, search this place for what will help you today. Use the categories of my writing and find what will speak to the current state of your heart. This is always the prayer I have for my readers as there are so many pieces to put back together.

I thank you for your continued support and look forward to this new chapter of the blog and the hope it will reveal to your future. 

 

Four Keys to United Co-Parenting

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The past seven years of my life have looked a little something like this: happy marriage and sweet baby … turned affair, betrayal, and double life … skip to divorce, grief, and healing … and now, finding love again, an amazing second marriage, and blending all of the above. Successfully navigating through the past seven years has been tricky at best and now, the co-parenting dynamic in a blended family is no different. The complexities that go into the relationships that now make up our new family unit run deep. This has a lot working against us at times. We, however, are all working for one thing, our daughter. So, in my experience, here’s what has helped the most.

We Leave the Past Where it Belongs

More often than not the reason people arrive in a blended family is the product of heartache and trauma. At least two people in the co-parent foursome have experienced the pain of their divorce and that takes serious time and healing to recover from. Taking that time to grieve is crucial in how you’ll operate parenting together. Our magic number was three years. During that time, no one had re-married quite yet, allowing for some focused healing, forgiveness, and mourning the losses that came from the divorce. This time set us up to interact on a healthier level for the sake of our daughter. By the time remarriage was on the table there had been enough time and healing in place to move forward. And what to do with that extra water under the bridge? Make the choice not to drown in it. As co-parents it’s not about your former marriage, it’s about your child(ren).

We Keep the Lines Open

Aside from how we all arrived here, if there’s one thing we can all agree on present day it’s that we want to raise our daughter to be the best little human, thriving in every way possible. Talk about common interest! We could all go on and on about the funny things she says, how amazing her latest painting was, and how proud we are of who she is at only six years old.

As a parent, I will say, hands down the most lingering pain of divorce is sharing your child. From missing the major firsts to simply not getting to tuck them in every night. It gets really sad if you keep your focus there. The ways we soften the blow are a whole lot of pictures, videos, and updates in our “team sweetie” group text that the four of us have going. I missed my daughter’s first flight this past summer, but the video her bonus mom sent me was as second best as it could possibly get. I watched that video on repeat, and it made my heart so happy knowing that she was experiencing this first with a set of parents who love her as much as I do.

This solidarity doesn’t just apply to the joyful and gushy moments of parenting, it’s just as important (if not more) when dealing with the challenges. The behavior issues, the discipline, the consequences, the consistency in all of it … and if you’re a parent, you know that the list goes on. Once you’ve semi-handled one stage of your child, they throw you for a loop and it’s something brand new to deal with. We keep our rules and expectations as identical as humanly possible across the households. And with this, we are all in the know about everything that goes on. If there’s a behavior issue at one house, we all know. At school or soccer practice, we all know. She knows she’ll get the same answer, consequence, reward and so on from each one of us. She knows that we all talk and share and that between the four of us, she can’t get away with much.

We’ve found that there is an exception to the parenting rule when your child is one of a blended family. Some days, they need a little grace when going back and forth from household to household (and that’s okay). They aren’t robots and we can’t expect for them to act like ones. We notice more emotional outbursts and acting out in our daughter when she goes from house to house. She doesn’t express exactly what she’s feeling, but there’s something she’s processing internally that’s beyond us. Do we let her get away with murder? No, but we are mindful that there is an adjustment period needed at times. We give her that space to settle into one environment, family dynamic, and set of parents to the next.

We All Show Up

Softball games, parent-teacher conferences, dance recitals, school meetings, soccer practice, birthday parties, preschool graduations … We all show up, all the time. We continually show her that she is not only lucky enough to have the love, support, and encouragement from mommy and daddy, but also from her two bonus parents. She will never be short on love or support, that’s for sure. We also show her all of our different strengths and interests and see if they spark anything in her. Whether a child has two parents or four, personalities and passions will differ. Children will find that in certain seasons they’ll relate better to one than the next. We hope that she sees what each of us bring to the table separately as something that helps guide her. Parent to parent will always look a tad different, but what looks the same is the consistency of love and support our child receives. Our daily choice to all stay united and show up for our daughter trumps every reason the past has tried to divide us. We choose day after day to be the adults, to show up, and to ensure our daughter always has the loudest cheering section at the softball game.

We Respect Each Other (and our new family units)

As much as it benefits our daughter to be a united blended family, we are still big on developing and fostering each individual family unit. She has separate outings, traditions, and routines for each household. This gives life to each family unit on its own. Yes, we are blending and co-parenting, but we need each side to have its own individual foundation. We respect that in the other. It’s easy to have that sense of “I was here first” when watching an ex-spouse start over. However, this is not the hand we were dealt, nor is it the attitude we should carry. Point one on repeat. We leave the past where it belongs, and let our new families start over and grow. We keep our communication about our daughter and nothing else. We give each family unit the necessary space. If our daughter misses any one of us or wants to talk/facetime while she’s at the other household, we always allow her to, but we also try to respect the time she’s spending with each set of parents.

Her relationships look different with each one of us and we all respect that as well. No one is out to replace or compete against each other. We respect our daughter’s feelings towards each one of us and find joy in the relationship she has with each of us individually. We each take her out on solo dates, we spend time with her in our separate family units, and we spend time all together. Each facet of time spent is respected, encouraged, and important.

Divorce doesn’t end family life; it reorganizes it. The points made above are all daily choices we make FOR our daughter. Some days there are triggers of the past or painful memories that work against our choice, but we don’t let them win. All in all, we keep our heads above that water left under the bridge and focus on that greater good our child deserves.  

Light of the Broken

FullSizeRender (2)I hope this post finds you all enjoying summer and finding moments of joy wherever you can! Summer has me traveling and enjoying the sunshine with my family.  My prayers, of course, are still with you! And thank you for those of you who reach out to me for guidance. I truly love helping you through whatever stage you’re in.

I am working on a few side projects right now that I am eager to share with you. One is the much-awaited piece on co-parenting that I’ve had brewing in my mind for about a year now. That dynamic is not one to be explained simply, so it’s not surprising it’s been difficult to craft.

All that aside, I read this quote a few weeks back and it really encouraged me. I hope that you too find that there is much beauty to be seen in the pain.

“The broken will always be able to love harder than most. Once you have been in the dark, you learn to appreciate everything that shines.” -Zachary K. Douglas

My hope and prayer for you is that the darkness you’ve endured through your divorce will be the means of seeing the world in a brighter light than before. I know that I certainly appreciate the life God has blessed me with now all the more because I lived through such a season of darkness. Divorce is dark and painful, no one is denying that. However, the brightness that comes in the rebuild is beautiful. Love and prayers to all of you, my friends.

I Do (take two)

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I shared my story over on one of my favorite blogs this morning! It’s my first article where I talk about God’s gift of a second marriage and all the feels that go along with starting over. Excited to write more about this current stage of remarriage, co-parenting, and living out our blended family in the best ways we know how. Enjoy!