Morning friends,

I appreciate your feedback on incorporating some new topics into the blog next year. We’re going to start next year by talking about our “shadow” side and false self. I think it will be beneficial for you to understand this concept not only for your own emotional, spiritual and mental health but also to recognize that all people have a shadow side and the refusal to see it causes all kinds of problems, especially in relationships. It’s where most of our blindness and defensiveness occurs.Just a reminder we still have some spots available in my six month Empowered to Change Coaching group.   It will meet the first and third Tuesday of every month starting in January and run through June. This group will be geared to helping you grow and get stronger mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Click here for daytime group information. Click here for evening group information.

 

This weeks’ question: My abusive husband left me 2 years ago, and I am so grateful that God took him out of my life after 27 years of trying so hard to make a one-sided marriage work. I have read 3 of your books, and feel like I am thriving. My question is how will I know if I am ready to date again?

At first I felt I would never want to date or marry again. I am so happy, blessed and content, but also feel that God made marriage, and it could be a great blessing to actually be in a good marriage. I have so many wonderful friends and feel so close to the Lord. In some ways, I just want to stay in my safe bubble. But maybe God wants me to grow and learn and have a “do over.”

Can you give us some pointers if we have been freed from an emotionally destructive marriage? Is there a way to know if one is ready to try again? Are there some tips, timeframes and pitfalls you could give us? Thanks for all you do to help those of us who want to grow and be free in Christ.

Answer: Your question is a good one. Many professionals recommend giving yourself a year of healing for every five years of marriage. Therefore, in your situation, they would recommend five years of staying single before marrying again.

However that does not mean that you cannot date during those five years. Let’s look at the seven indicators that show you are ready to take the plunge into the dating world.

1. Do you have a good sense of yourself? Your strengths? Your weaknesses? Your good parts and not so good parts? This is crucial work you must do for your own emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. You want to enter this new relationship as yourself and not as what you think this other person wants you to be.

Some women do not do the hard work to know themselves. Others are insecure or afraid to be themselves because they fear rejection. Rejection is painful, but far less painful than a second emotionally destructive marriage and/or divorce. If you live out of your false self, or you are constantly worrying about your image, you have more internal work to do before you are ready to date.

2.Do you recognize your own personal blind spots (such as being swept up by charm rather than looking for character qualities, or being nice to your own detriment)? Are you aware of what still trips you up in relationships such as a strong need for approval, a fear of conflict, people pleasing, and/or over-functioning? Are you working on changing these things?

3. Are you able to speak up for yourself? Can you say, “No, I don’t like R rated movies”, or “I’m a city girl and would never want to live in a rural area.” Are you able to give someone constructive feedback like, “I feel scared when you drive fast in the snow” or “Please don’t talk with me that way, that makes me uncomfortable.”

4. Do you have personal boundaries and are you able to state them with the current relationships you have? If not, start working on having healthier friendships with the people you are in relationship with before you open yourself up to dating. What are you prepared to do if they refuse to respect your boundaries or pressure you to loosen them? Have you already shown you are capable of doing that in your current relationships?

5. Have you made a list of the qualities you are looking for in a potential partner as well as your deal breakers? Do you know your own top core values and are you living by them in your current status as a single woman?

As a Christian, we want to be God-centered women not man-centered or self-centered women.   In order to have a good marriage, people look for partners with compatible values not necessarily compatible likes and dislikes or even personalities.

You know the old saying – opposites attract and that’s true. But you don’t want opposite values in a marriage (Tweet this). For example, if you value close family ties and he values being independent and free to travel all over the world as you get older, there may be a lot of conflict because your core values do not line up. Or if you value God and biblical truth and he does not, (or says he does but doesn’t live it) then marriages don’t do well.

6. If you have underage children, (or he does) have you thought through when you will bring them into your relationship? For example, I usually tell people that when you are casually dating someone, children should not be involved. That makes it tricky when you have visitation every other weekend and you can’t spend time together. But children of broken homes have their own issues with their parents dating and they don’t need to get emotionally invested in someone before there is a true commitment of a long-term relationship.

7. Do you have a core group of good friends or family that you trust to help you “see” whether or not this person is a good potential life partner for you? Are you willing to allow them to give you feedback on some of the red flags they may see that you don’t?

These seven criteria may seem rather tough to live up to but they will protect you from making a huge mistake. When we were young and in love, most of us didn’t really think through these things. But when you’ve already lived through 27 years of a destructive marriage, the last thing you want to do is walk into another relationship with your eyes closed.

Friends, give us some of the things you required of yourself to know before you start dating again. And if you ignored those criteria, what happened?  

 

44 Comments

  1. Jenn on December 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Great advice, as usual. Thank you!

  2. David on December 9, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    A real Christian wishes to live as to the Bible and “do overs” are never allowed – in a separation / divorce both parties are at fault – there is never a 100% innocent party

    • Brenda on December 10, 2014 at 12:37 am

      David,
      Do-overs are NEVER allowed. Really. What about sexual immorality, abandonment and abuse. Were both parties responsible for these things? Have you been here before or perhaps ACFJ?

    • Linda on December 10, 2014 at 1:23 am

      I’m certain most of the women on this blog understand that you are very unfamiliar with abusive/destructive marriages. My prayer is that you will educate yourself. You’ve come to the right place. I recommend you read Leslie’s most recent book: Destructive Marriage” She speaks biblical truth my friend.

    • Vikki on December 10, 2014 at 2:12 am

      Hi David, welcome back! I respectfully disagree with your opinion and your theology. This is a resource for pastors that you might find enlightening. It takes divorce back to Jewish history and intent and artifacts. In fact, there are historical Jewish artifacts that show women giving men a “writ” of divorce on the grounds of hardness of heart.
      I believe you intend well, brother, and have a heart for God’s word. In this case, I respect your stand, yet, believe it to be not as informed as it could be. Soldier on, friend, just not here with hearts that have already been broken, and also ache for God’s truth and love.
      Here is the link to cut and paste: http://www.amazon.com/Divorce-Remarriage-Church-David-Instone-Brewer-ebook/dp/B001HBI9RW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418177291&sr=1-1&keywords=divorce+and+remarriage

      • Leslie Vernick on December 10, 2014 at 3:21 am

        Thanks Vikki. I hope David will read the article. It’s an excellent one.

    • Ann on December 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      With abuse, it IS 100% the abuser’s fault. This 50/50 stuff is a popular, but is false and a trap for anyone in an abusive marriage.

    • loves6 on December 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      Ooch that hurt…. I’m still.in my marriage. Have been for 28years. I’m a believer and have worked so hard to get my marriage to work. I’ve prayed earnestly and done a lot of looking at myself. I’m sorry to say I cannot do this anymore. I don’t like my husband. He is a verbally abusive, manipulating bully. You think I’m 50/50 blame in his behavior?

      • Leslie Vernick on December 16, 2014 at 2:57 am

        not sure what you mean you are 50/50 blame for his behavior. Never said that. You might have to reflect on your part of a broken marriage but someone’s behavior is 100% their responsibility.

        • loves6 on March 15, 2015 at 9:07 pm

          I’m very sorry. I was in a very bad place when I wrote this comment my apologies

    • Amy on December 15, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      David,
      I guess I serve a different God than you for the God I love and who loves me more than anything — well, He is all about ‘do-overs’ from what I see in the bible and not about condemnation and judging

      • David on March 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm

        And a different Bible too!

    • Jeff on December 15, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      David,
      Because it was never my issue, I had NO idea how badly people were suffering in bad marriages. I too, thought (because I had not studied it seriously) divorce was only allowed for adultery and then NO remarriage, ever. I reasoned we had to have rules or the whole thing would just unravel. . . .Then I got serious with God’s love languages: Koine Greek (primary), Hebrew, and a little Aramaic. Once you understand God’s languages, syntax, logical flows, and the way those words work, how their meanings are determined (or not determined), the importance of context, and the avoidance of certain exegetical fallacies. . . .Well, it was the difference between watching a first generation black-and-white TV –vs- a wall-sized, high-definition plasma in Technicolor. I started trusting nothing but primary sources and the historical chain of evidence for any claim and actually reading the SOURCE materials (extant manuscripts) MYSELF. —-Not books about those sources that contain SPIN –Big Spin!!! In fact, often scholarship is ruined, utterly compromised, by marketing considerations. Many Bibles are just Targums, retooled according to either Politically Correctness or Evangelical Devotionalism or, nightmarishly, both! Even with a PhD, I still at times have to use other scholars but I make sure that whatever they have written has gone through INTERNATIONAL peer-reviews from research institutions (real accountability).

      What I have found is that we claim certainty where we have NONE and just like on so many other topics, we just don’t know for sure. The reason that we don’t know involves lots of dissertations on textual variants/ interpolations/ redactions/ textual alterations/ additions, et. al. That’s where the Bible’s manuscript evidence has been demonstrated. The last 275 years of textual research has taught us that the recovery of original sayings of Jesus is. . . . . well, —well, it is just too much to summarize (you can start here at no cost to yourself) THE LIVING TEXT OF THE GOSPELS (Dr. David Parker) see CHAPTER 5 The sayings on marriage and divorce . . . every textual variant is explained in those chapters https://archive.org/details/D.c.Parker-TheTextOfTheLivingGospels —That’s almost 2,000 years’ worth but we have even more variants on those verses because of manuscript finds in the last ten years. . . . The Bible is a complex book, it’s full of puzzles and mysteries (–Oh, how I wish it wasn’t). There are lots of equally supportable translations, et. al. . . . . And that’s the desert of the real.

      The work done here is incredibly important. If Christian marriages are not good, well that is really just the LAST straw. If Christian marriages are not good, we really don’t have much of ANY witness. We can’t (–I certainly can’t–if ANYONE can, help us ALL out!). . .—We can’t demonstrate the existence of a soul –any soul; We can’t demonstrate that heaven or hell exists –If anyone can, I wish they would —Demonstrating either one would be equally good. We can’t demonstrate that eternity is even a possibility for a soul. . . . If Christian marriages are not good, well that is really, really just the LAST straw. BUT if Christian marriages are good that is demonstrable.

      ALL TRUTH is safe. But nothing else is safe, it will not endure. Anyone who keeps back the truth, withholding it based on ignorance or motives of expediency or “to increase faith” is a criminal to Christianity. The locomotive of New Testament textual research and archeology will not stop for suicidal persons astride the tracks. . . . . I invite you to jump on board at the next stop. The price of that ticket to heaven can’t be intellectual dishonesty.

      Also, and maybe I’m naïve on this, if couples would cycle through Leslie’s lists of questions —maybe quarterly: Do you feel loved and cared for in our relationship? . . . . Can you safely express an opinion that is different from mine? . . . . Do I show enough interest in you and your needs? . . . . Are you able to express your honest thoughts and feelings with me? . . . . What am I NOT doing that you need? . . . . What needs am I not meeting? . . . .What am I NOT hearing? . . . . What do I do that makes you feel really loved/respected? . . . . What can I pray with you for? (. . . And praying is G-R-E-A-T because it really reveals your spouse’s heart and it is incredibly BONDING.) —Again, maybe I’m naïve on this, but I would think that would be clearing up A LOT of issues. –There are enough ideas on this site to get a lifetime of results. –And I realize that men are often rank amateurs at meeting women’s needs (initiating love & affection) and women are amateurs at meeting men’s needs (sexually exciting/ initiating sex) but everybody can learn. —Finally, be OVERLY honest/transparent and even disabuse things you know your spouse could be misunderstanding even if you told them the “truth.” Your wife needs to trust you totally.

      It is such a shame that some men only understand power and don’t realize/understand how much FUN a good marriage really is. It just is, if you know the Lord and do it HIS way!!! —In fact, it shouldn’t even be that much fun but it just is. . . It just is!. . . If you are respecting and loving your wife really well, she’ll work with you –BIG TIME! . . . . Men tell me all the time that they can’t understand women but women are a cake walk compared to God. . . . Sure, she may throw you off the track here and there to inject mystery or because she does not always want to be figured out but you can do it.

      The failure rate of Christian marriages just terrifies me. . . .It really makes me wonder if “Christian” is a distinction without a difference (I’m just being honest). I get that thrown in my face at conferences and seminars and I really have no answer (—Without dodging or saying meow!). Is everybody not a “real” Christian? . . . . So what is it??? Is it that Christianity is NOT transforming lives after all? . . . Is it that they never really knew the Lord???? —That’s a good one because it gets the Lord off the hook (Damage Control) and blames people but if that is true, why is Christ’s failure rate so high? God can’t get people in relationship with Him and keep them? –Again, I get that thrown in my face all the time, especially by young people.

      • Leslie Vernick on December 16, 2014 at 2:42 am

        Thanks Jeff for your thoughts on this.

        • Jeff on December 16, 2014 at 4:24 am

          Thank you for a BLOG site full of extremely helpful insights. I refer lots of people here and I can tell by what they say that they are reading your work. I like how you encourage people to really surrender to Christ and to put Him first (–and it is almost impossible to do —maybe, actually impossible. –Just doing the 1st “C” – Committed to honesty – no pretending) You always have to follow the TRUTH, even if it sends the whole thing crashing down around you. . . . But this seems where the battle will be won or lost: Marriages NOT Theology. . . . Those who choose marriage are choosing to reflect something that matters a ton to Him: Christ’s relationship with the church. Preempt divorce and honor His name.

  3. Vikki on December 9, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    LOVE it! For me, I’ve been reading the book Safe People by Cloud/ Townsend and have been dealing with putting boundaries around my friendships that aren’t safe. I figure if I can’t do that with them, how will I do it with a man?
    Another thing I realized as I went on Match.com after my second month after divorce: I don’t have any hobbies. My ex was my life. My family was my life. So, that’s not going to go over well. 😉
    So, I stopped looking and have been using the “hobby” concept as a catalyst to build a life I love. To go hiking and find the best Thai food. To find art museums and a church I love. To actually try new things and travel. I’m hoping this will do two things: take away the “need” to have a mate, which is my default right now. And second, to not ever again be so afraid of being alone that I accept what I did.
    So, for now, dating is off the table for me. I’m not there. I’ve been separated for 14 months and divorced for 5 months, so I’m allowing God time to heal me, rebuild into a life He and I would love and know that when it is time, I’ll be able to bring a self to the table.

    • Valerie on December 9, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      I feel and think very much the same way. I didn’t realize how afraid I was to live alone till I was alone. I feel this time however difficult is exactly where I need to be. I am growing in my relationship with the one true God, and understanding who he meant me to be. God Bless you, and remain strong in him.

    • Sandra Babcock on December 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      I agree, Vicki! My husband left a year ago, and I’m enjoying the freedom and peace of going to church and out with friends for lunch, etc., without his anger to face when I returned. I’m also 75 years old, and do I want to get involved with an older man to take care of? Although I admit to missing companionship, I think I have that with my little dog at home and Christian fellowship at church and with friends. Besides, I know Jesus is my true husband, and HE will never leave me alone. God bless you and all the dear Sisters on this blog, and especially Leslie for her blessed help and support of us all.

      • David on March 21, 2015 at 1:47 pm

        ‎”I’m also 75 years old, and do I want to get involved with an older man to take care of?‎” think also that is one of the main reasons why my wife left me as I was starting to have physical problems and she didn’t say want to have to look after me – a very bad attitude and not Christian like but reality – each ‘man’ for ‘himself’ – right!?

        • Brenda on March 21, 2015 at 4:04 pm

          David,
          I think I am beginning to understand, your wife left you so you are going to take it out on others. Did you think that your attitude was a part of the problem. The woman you replied to did not leave because her husband had physical problems, but she is right. Why get into a relationship that you won’t be able to handle. I am 57 and have physical problems. I would be up front with that right away. The X was not at all happy when I was diagnosed and started treating me worse than he ever had. David, have you read Jeff’s comment yet?

    • Leonie on March 14, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      I love how you are thinking!

      • Leonie on March 21, 2015 at 3:48 pm

        I love how you are thinking Vicki!

  4. Brenda on December 10, 2014 at 12:35 am

    This is a very good list to think on. I still have a few areas to work on. I’m going to print this out to help me remember what I’m lacking. I did have lots of hobbies. Many of them I can no longer do. I did start by figuring out my likes and dislikes. I was asked not long after the divorce “do you like male or female singing voices better?” It actually took several months of thought. My initial response was male. But I now realize that it depends on the song. Last week after reading the words to a song and having no music to it, I asked if it were ok for me to sing it. Before he could reply the music came in my head. It only could have come from God. I play other peoples music on the piano, but I don’t write music. It was truly remarkable. God has a purpose for all of us. He may not intend for me to date or remarry, but I hope that he will allow me one man in my life that truly loves me.

  5. Shellys on December 10, 2014 at 4:10 am

    Thanks Vikki,
    I read David Instone-Brewer’s books on divorce and remarriage and found them incredibly insightful and scholarly. They were part of the knowledge base that helped me to leave my emotionally abusive marriage. I really needed to be convinced that I was not disobeying God. I was surrounded at that time by teaching that ranged from no divorce under any circumstance to divorce only for the two explicitly permitted grounds in the New Testament. Instone-Brewer’s work is truly a revelation, and helped free me from false guilt. I had grounds under one of the two commonly “allowed” circumstances, but I still needed convincing. It just never made sense to me that God would be as black and white in His thinking as He is commonly presented to be by those who would rather keep women in bondage than bother to truly examine the issues.

    • Vikki on December 10, 2014 at 4:17 am

      Shelly, it was a game changing book for me and gave me deep truths. Thank you for sharing your perspective, as I feel for you wrestling and asking and seeking. Bless you.

  6. Ann on December 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    This is the best article I’ve ever seen on dating. Thank you Leslie for teaching us to love God and ourselves that we may love others.

  7. Brenda on December 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    When I first saw someone speak about this issue I thought they were saying not to date for a year for every 5 you were married or living in abuse. This does make more sense to me now. I am still, as I do some more work on knowing me, going by my mother’s rule, which became mine with my kids: Let’s see who there is to date. So far the only one asking is the ex-abuser. That is not happening, ever.

    • David on March 21, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Yes, never ever give your husband (ex-abuser) another chance as God doesn’t have the power to change him so disobey the Bible and try again

      • Brenda on March 21, 2015 at 2:11 pm

        David, Seriously, you have appointed yourself God and are now my judge. I don’t think so!! Read Jeff’s comments to you. It took you 3 months to address this. Can you say trolling?

  8. Mary on December 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you Leslie, once again i really needed this article. Your ministry means so much to us!

  9. Caroline on December 11, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Great pointers Leslie! I don’t know about waiting 1 year for every 5 years of marriage, but I do think you need to wait at LEAST a year, and probably longer no matter how long you were married. And I love your list. I think a person should pass this test before dating, no matter how long they have been divorced. I do say divorced too. Many people begin dating before the divorce is even final. Yikes!!

    • Leslie Vernick on December 16, 2014 at 2:59 am

      Waiting at least a year before dating after a divorce is a wise decision.

  10. Brenda on December 11, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Caroline Abbott,
    I knew of a couple who were divorced and married other people in the same week. Yikes, is right!! I have been gone from the abuser for 1.5 years and divorced for a little over a year. I don’t feel ready to take that plunge. I still want to trust people too quickly when I should be waiting to see there actual character instead of believing who they say they are. I found that out first hand in the past few weeks. Maybe that is why God put this man in my path. I wish him well and pray for him, but nothing else. I want to see the best in everyone when I need to see what the whole package looks like. There could be far more bad than there is good. I would like a true follower of Jesus and not someone with the head knowledge, but not the heart.

  11. Healing Journey on December 11, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    This is such a great question and the answer is so helpful! I am currently still in my abusive relationship and struggling with the question of what is best for the children. Can I stay well enough to make a safe environment for them? I believe many of the items in the checklist apply here as well, as the goal for all of us is to become a healthy individual!! Thanks once again, Leslie, for sharing your wisdom and care with us!! I pray that God richly blesses and rewards you for all you do for hurting women with little or no voice!

    • Leslie Vernick on December 16, 2014 at 2:56 am

      Thanks for your encouragement

  12. Amy on December 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Excellent list of criteria for knowing when you are ready to date again.

    I had been married for 20 years to an abusive man and remarried 3 years ago.
    When my ex walked out 6 years ago I didn’t even want to think about dating, let alone getting married again. Then God brought my current husband into my life. We started off very slowly and it took about 3 or 4 months before I agreed to a ‘real’ date.
    My counselor at the time recommended that we both read a book called, Falling in Love for all the Right Reasons by Neil Clark Warren ( founder of eHarmony.com). This book really spells it out how to have a healthy relationship by finding as close to the ‘right’ person as possible. Actually when I first began reading it all the red flags from my first marriage became so very clear.
    Interestingly the thing Neil Warren reiterates throughout the book is that, as Leslie pointed out, opposites may attract, but rarely do they stay together. People who are truly alike, especially in their faith, will usually continue to grow together instead of apart.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 16, 2014 at 2:44 am

      Opposites in values and important goals will not stay together, opposites in personality or temperament – introvert/extrovert for example, do often attract and stay together.

      • Amy on December 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm

        Yes, I agree Leslie and Neil Clark talks about that also. There are some things you can work around such as personality traits, but our values and goals need to be similar of problems can set in.

      • Kristen on May 29, 2021 at 1:11 pm

        This confuses me. I am divorcing my husband due to abuse. I don’t know if the changes I see are only cognitive or really heartfelt, but it is too late. I do not intend to go back. However, he and I are opposites in personality and temperament. He is volatile, deceptive and manipulative in words. He is fast-paced, pushy and eager to listen in order to argue and win the conversation. I am definitely a people-pleaser and am working on that but at my core I am laidback, mostly easy going until a boundary is trampled all over (meaning, I am more apt to give the benefit of the doubt more than necessary to make sure I’m not in the wrong before I get upset), and I’m easy to please within reason. I am an introvert and he is an extrovert. He demands attention and I prefer to not be in the spotlight. We are not good together because I don’t like being forced into his dictations for how to be more like him.

        However, we both value similar things – our values for our children and their education, the dedication to raising them in faith, our approach to setting short term and long term goals for ourselves and the kids, bedtimes, healthy focus on food and body image, etc.

        Our values are similar with regards to our children. They do not match with regards to marriage. Is that normal? Did I read your explanation above with a too black-and-white filter?

        • Leslie Vernick on June 1, 2021 at 12:58 pm

          Some of your values align especially in regards to raising your children – having a good education, healthy eating etc. But also look at CORE values – who I am as a person or who I want to be as a person. WHat is important to me (or him). LIke having a shiny image vs integrity and honesty? Or Making alot of money, vs, spending time with family and building relationships. Being right all the time, vs humbly admitting you’re not right all the time and need to learn some things. These are internal values about one’s personal character that can only be “observed” when you watch how a person acts over time to see what is truly important to him or her.

  13. How Will I Know If I’m Ready To Date Again? | on January 10, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    […] By Leslie Vernick […]

  14. Brenda on March 16, 2015 at 5:08 am

    I have been exchanging pleasantries with a man who is a little older than me who lives in my building. He knows that I am a “church goer” and calls me “religious”. I see religious as a Pharisee, but he may not understand that. He asked me yesterday while I was taking him some tuna casserole–another story– If I would be offended if asked to have a drink before dinner. I said no, but I would prefer an iced tea. I don’t have a problem with having a drink. I do have a problem with a drunkard. Now I am thinking, what do I do if he does actually ask me to dinner. It has been almost 2 years in freedom. He is a kind, always cheerful man, but obviously not a Christian man. But he is my neighbor. Can people keep that kind of situation friendly? Perhaps this is an opportunity to lead someone to Christ. I have been told so often that leave men up to the men. Does that mean that I shouldn’t go down that road and call a man over. I some how thing that you take the opportunities that God puts in front of you.

  15. Brenda on March 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    David,
    Are you just trolling to oppress those that have already been oppressed. Did you read Jeff’s comments directed to you. Have you not learned anything?

  16. […] Answer: Your question is a good one. …read more […]

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