There is a fine line between what we consider a marriage, and how the law defines a marriage. For some, there is also the way the Church defines it, and all of these definitions become blurred when circumstances that once indicated you had a marriage have changed. Are you really a couple because it says you are on paper? Maybe for financial reasons, you are. But, in your hearts, you’re a married (or not) couple because of the commitment you both made to each other. If you have both agreed to break that commitment, then the heart of the marriage is over. Nothing ties you together as a romantic couple anymore. You may still share children, a house, a car...but without the mutual connection of being husband and wife, your marriage is over whether or not papers have been signed. And sometimes, those papers can take a long time. Meanwhile, what happens if you meet someone else? Are you breaking the rules? Should you feel guilty? Should you tell them to wait for you until after the divorce is final? These are all difficult and tricky questions to answer. I’m not saying I know the answers, but I can share my experience.
By the time my ex moved out, we had not felt like a married couple, or had a real marriage in a long time. We had grown apart, and drifted, as people sometimes do. Eventually, he moved out, but neither of us wanted to deal with the ordeal of finding an attorney, or a mediator, or all of the money and paperwork a divorce would entail. So we did nothing, but we no longer shared a home or a relationship. Technically, we were still married. We were married on paper, and the State said it was so. But we weren’t a couple. So, what if we wanted to explore other options in the meantime?
Dating Before the Divorce, and Being Open About Your Marital Status
Dating post-divorce is hard enough, but while legally married, the perusal of romance is intricate territory. Firstly, there is the very real potential that no one is going to want to date a married woman. Even if you explain that the ties have been cut, even if it’s only a matter of papers, and they say they get it - unless they’re in your situation too, they don’t.
And who can blame them? There are countless stories of women going back to their ex-husbands after a year or two of separation, and vice-versa. So, if you decide to check out the dating pool pre-divorce, plan on explaining yourself- a lot. You may have decided you’re ready to date again, but don’t expect your new love interest to be so open to your legal ties. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to go ahead and move on with your love life if you really feel you’re ready, it just means it won’t be easy. We do live in a society of papers, after all, both for better and for worse.
Image Courtesy of Telegraph.Co.Uk
Knowing When You’re Ready to Move On, Regardless of Divorce Papers
But what if you meet someone else? When you’re alone, it is normal to want someone’s company, and the excitement of romance takes our human minds off of everyday details and worries. When I was first separated, I told myself I had to put off dating until my divorce was finalized. Once I had it all there in black and white, and knew that my marriage was really over and signed away, I would be ready. But, the days and evenings stretched out before me and neither myself nor my ex made a move toward legal action. I remember talking to a friend of mine who told me that he had only been with his wife for five years, but had married to her for fifteen. He had a new girlfriend, who apparently didn’t mind his marital status at first, but when pressed at last, he filed the papers. It’s funny how much we rely on formal validation.
5 Signs You're Ready to Date Again
Taking Risks and Saying Yes to That Date, or Not?
A few months into my own separation, I was asked out on a date by a girl who I really liked, but I was worried that by saying yes to her, I was sealing the invisible contract that stated my marriage was over forever. I was scared that I would hurt my ex’s feelings. what if we still had a chance? On the other hand, it was probably over anyway, and what if this new person was the true love of my life? In the end, I didn’t go out with her because I didn’t feel that the timing was right. But if I had to do it over, I would have said yes. I would have taken that step forward, and taken the chance that maybe it would end in disaster just like my failed marriage. But, that’s what life and relationships are all about. They’re risks worth taking. When you take your wedding vows and sign on the dotted line, the license only tells you that by law, you are married. It never says it will last forever.