I got a text from a dear friend last night who has been divorced as long as I have. Over the years we have both dated our fair share of losers. She was excited to tell me about the new guy she has been seeing. Her text said, “He literally makes me think, ‘This is why I have been alone so long. I have been waiting for him.’”
Her text made my heart skip a beat because when Joe and I got married last week, the minister actually said that in our ceremony. He said something along the lines of, “Valerie knows the reason she has been single so long is simple… she was waiting for Joe.”
And that is absolutely TRUE.
After separating almost nine years ago, I started going to see a therapist to help me know how to best get my kids through the divorce. He was fabulous and after about six months of talking solely about the kids, we dove into dating.
He told me that I needed to make a list of all of the qualities that I wanted in a husband and to list them from most important to least important. He said that while I will never find a man who has all of the qualities I desire, I can weigh the qualities he has to see if he is worth my time. He may have the top two and not any more. That would probably not be worth it. Or he could have ten of the middle qualities… and I would have to decide if that is enough.
I went home and I made that list. I used that list throughout my tenure as a single mom. And it was ridiculous how few men had enough qualities on my list to make them worthy of my time…
Let me stick this plug in for marriage, because I can say without a doubt that until you have experienced the pure misery of the dating scene post-20’s, then you could erroneously believe that the grass is greener single. Trust me when I say the grass is NOT greener as a single mom. Because I was single so long I seemed to always be the “go to” who my friends would call when they were contemplating separating. They would try to justify their reasoning to me when I would tell them how hard being a single mom is. I cannot even tell you how often I heard, “He doesn’t do anything anyway, so I am basically a single mom.”
Every time I heard that statement I wanted to punch something. It is NOT the same. That’s like a fellow law student (I think she was maybe 22 and I was a 36 year old single mother of two) who said to me once, “I know what your life is like. I have a dog.” <insert incredulous, jaw on the ground look here> Really? It was all I could do not to roundhouse kick her to the side of the head.
So with that being said, NO…. having a husband who is not home a lot is NOT the same as being a single mom. You have another income in the house (even if he is not there) and you can get up and go work out in the morning while everyone is asleep or go to the grocery store after everyone goes to bed at night. And no, having every other weekend “off” does not make the two weeks straight with kids any easier.
And the slim pickings in the dating scene when you are divorced is the icing on the pile of manure. I went out with all different kinds of men to sample the waters – a nice divorced father, a med student, a rich guy who thought his money made him thirty years younger, a bar owner, quite a few 40 year olds who had never been married (which is a WHOLE OTHER blog topic I can reserve for later), and a football coach. While some may judge me for dating a lot, I wanted to see what was out there so that I could know exactly what I wanted and exactly what I did NOT want in a man. I also think it is important to date while single because even if nothing comes out of the date, he may have a friend who he could introduce you to!
But after being single for a lot of years, you start to wear blinders… you start to justify dating someone who is not really future material because you feel like you’ve been single too long. You begin to look past major character flaws because you want to be hopeful. You go out with someone you shouldn’t go out with because you think, “Well maybe I’ve been too picky.” And most importantly, you forget about the importance of your list.
I had tucked my list away and pretty much given up on it when Joe entered the picture. We had gone to high school together twenty years earlier and reconnected on Facebook. We went to have lunch and immediately began spending as much time together as we were able. I thought he was too good to be true… so I pulled out my list.
Joe had absolutely every quality. Every single one.
After nine years of absolute misery and heart break in the dating scene, I found someone who had ALL of the qualities on my list. I am so thankful for every broken road that led me here. Neither one of us proclaims to be perfect, but we are definitely perfect for each other. It may have taken many years in the desert to get us here, but we have arrived and it sure does feel good…
And I know in my heart that this was His plan all along.