Never married, Her Highness Lyndeeloo inquired at article 1448 about dating a divorced man. What should she expect him to disclose about his marriage? Plenty! Don’t inquire directly. Just listen, figure what likely happened, deal with red flags, and make your own choices.
Many factors and assumptions play a part. Look for red flags of caution and for white flags that signify willingness to surrender to a MissGoodEnough. Your biggest problem, however, is the kids, but MrsMomEnough posts tomorrow. In the meantime, how to date?
- Start by forgetting that he’s a divorced man; get his ex out of your relationship. He’s a father. You’re dealing with father and potential husband personas that you hope to morph into just plain husband. Consequently, shape your dates and build your courtship around his potential only for husbanding. (Worry about his fathering potential after you’ve considered the art of mothering another woman’s children. It comes tomorrow with post 1451).
- Examine all your values, standards, and expectations for dating and escalate them up a notch. His marital experience works to your disadvantage. Protect yourself with greater self-respect and -restraint.
- White flag: If he dreads re-entering the dating arena, help him with acceptance and personal pleasantness to feel at ease but don’t lower your standards and expectations. Red flag: He shows no dread of dating again, no unease when with you. He charmingly polishes awkwardness until it shines. Beware. Guard your standards and expectations even more closely. Make yourself more difficult to please and even harder for him to earn your approval. (And you say, “But I’ll drive him away.” And I say it’s the only way. You have to make him pay or his devotion to you will not arise. Better to drive him away early than let him leak and drip away later.)
- Treat his marriage as none of your business. If and even after he unloads on you, don’t pry for more details. Accept only what he provides, but remember that it’s only one side of a long-running battle. You should keep a jaundiced eye looking for evidence that he caused their separation. Why? The more you know and accept what he discloses, the more likely you will make choices based on what happened to him before you knew him. You risk trying to please him in ways that remind of his ex. It applies particularly to his children.
- Red flag: Not all the time but mostly he focuses on his children and how likeable and compatible they are. He wants to convince you of it too.
- White flag: He focuses on you and how pretty, delightful, and pleasant you are. He acts fascinated with learning about you. You have to figure out his hidden agenda. Is he evaluating your capability as mother for his children or your compatibility as his wife? If the former, it will sooner or later become obvious to you. If the latter, you have the blessings of someone in love with you for just being you. At least he stays focused on you.
- You commented, “Through the crisis of his divorce he and his kids found Christ.” If he left his marriage full of doubt about himself, finding Christ would fill his need, restore his sense of self-worth, and also signify a re-born man thinking as a newly crowned father longing if not searching for a mate. If he acts born again about himself, he no doubt feels born again about being both husband and father. So, if he caused his marriage to fail, he’s forgiven himself and knows how to both move on and do better next time. He chases you, doesn’t he? White flag.
- Judge his character, value system, and sense of integrity relative to women. Try to determine if he respects women generally (white flag) or just conditionally, i.e., dependent on what some can provide or do for him (red flag).
- Does he show you enough respect? Any kinks or weak links in his demonstrated respect will generate the same effects in whatever love he develops for you.
- In the course of dating, you will learn without asking who filed for divorce. Who dumped whom? Who had had enough? Wait for him to tell you things and you’ll be better able to figure out what likely happened. Look for symptoms to determine what flag to hoist.
- The more eager he is to blame himself for marital failure, the whiter the flag you should wave. If he’s eager to blame his ex, wave a red flag. He may be eager to date you, but it doesn’t follow that marriage will surely follow. You may recall that a failed marriage sours men against marriage, while it sours women against men.
- If he focuses on how his ex was a poor or bad wife and/or mother, he helped make her that way and probably hides his ‘contributions’. If he neither sounds nor acts contrite. Red flag.
- If he focuses on his own mistakes, he lost his way and didn’t meet his expectations of being at least an adequate husband. His sense of significance suffers greatly and he’s probably not soured on marriage. He needs an encouraging mate to recover. White flag.
- Was she the divorce initiator? Start by viewing him as either cheater/mis-treater or so nice and easy (gamma male) that she lost respect and perhaps found someone else more appealing. Red flag until you find evidence to the contrary.
- Was he the divorce initiator? View him as having put up with enough of her s***/disrespect/cheating and he’d had enough. It’s consistent with his being soured on marriage. White flag but keep the red flag handy in case you find evidence to the contrary.
Those are building blocks upon which you learn to adjust your judgments by testing them with reality. You assume he’s MrGoodEnough until evidence points away from it. Dating is for exploring, courtship for confirming, engagement for validating. A divorced man should be marched through that maze the same as other men. He earns each step forward by displaying greater and more dependable devotion to his woman.
Now, Lyndeeloo, let me mention your greatest challenge should dates advance to something else. His kids. What do they expect? You will usurp or steal from them their daddy’s attention, affection, appreciation, togetherness, and time. Measure how you can step up to that plate and bat against tomorrow’s post 1451.