From a guy asking for dating after divorce advice:
I have been dating a woman for a few months now who was married briefly last year (a second marriage) until her husband decided after 3 months that it was sinning to be remarried and walked out of the marriage.
It totally ruined her life financially and messed up her relationship with her two kids. We have been getting along very well but her ability to trust has been completely shattered. She also struggles to allow herself to get close emotionally.
While I completely understand why and I am being extremely patient, is it possible for us to develop a healthy relationship without professional help in dealing with her pain? I am trying to be emotionally strong but I have my own pain from my past to contend with. Thoughts?
I have a lot to say here, my first reaction being that your description of why your current girlfriend’s ex-husband chose to walk out of the marriage seems really fishy. I get it that you are only hearing her side of story, and maybe her ex is a complete nutcase. I have no idea. That said, I don’t see too many truly happy people just simply “walk out” of a marriage. There has to be something else. Another woman? An addiction? Constant fighting? Maybe the guy hadn’t mourned the end of his first marriage and felt like he rushed into it? Whatever the case, that needs to be explored more if you are thinking of getting more serious with this woman.
Next thing. How could the guy “mess up her relationship with her two kids?” Again, fishy. I have two kids and I know that whoever I am dating or romantically involved with has absolutely nothing to do with my children or my relationship with them. I’m missing something here and so are you (unless you chose not to share it.)
Here’s the main thing I want to express. You are asking how the two of you can develop a healthy relationship even though she lacks the ability to trust. You ask if you can succeed without professional help. My answer is this. While I think it is wonderful for couples to help each other through their divorces and past relationships, offer support, suggestions, encouragement and their obvious empathy, each individual has to do the work on him or herself to get to a good, healthy emotional state. No one can do that for anyone except for two people: a professional and themselves. You can’t get her to trust you. SHE has to find the courage and strength to do that again. That takes time and work (meaning working on mental self.)
Do I think every single person needs professional therapy? No. But I think it is a wonderful tool in surviving and thriving after a divorce. I don’t think anyone should rely solely on his/her current girlfriend for psychotherapy. The girlfriend/boyfriend is too close to the situation, and his/her judgment is clouded.
Lastly, let’s talk about you dealing with your own pain. How have you dealt with it? What do YOU need? That is a very important component and your ability to be in a healthy romantic relationship–with her or any woman hinges upon it.
Here’s the thing. Am I saying your relationship is doomed to fail? Absolutely not. You and your girlfriend could end up blissfully happy. I hope that is the case. What I am saying is, take your time to get to know this woman before really diving into the relationship. Don’t let infatuation and attraction cloud your vision. In other words, let yourself see EVERYTHING.
And, trying to pick up her baggage while handling your own can get really, really heavy, causing everything to drop out of your hands. Know what I mean? Take care of yourself, take care of your kids, and take care of your girlfriend. BUT, encourage her to take care of herself, making good decisions that will help her heal and get to an emotionally healthy place. It is then that the two of you will truly be able to enjoy each other, being your best possible selves.