If someone came up to me on my wedding day and told me one year from that day I'd be cuddled up with another woman I'd tell them to go to hell.
2014 was a heart wrenching roller coaster of emotions of every kind and every extreme. There were times so hard that eating was the most impossible task, and times where I literally thought my heart was being torn apart.
I have also never been happier. I've shared tender moments and have drawn closer to people who love me, and interestingly enough have created new and long lasting friendships with individuals I never would have met if I'd never got divorced.
This year I've learned more about myself, and about what I want out of life, love, and friendship than I have in all the previous years combined. I'd be lying if I said I'm completely over what happened but I'm a-heck of a lot better than I've ever been since; and things get better every single day. Because I think I would have appreciated a post like this long before I got divorced, I'm going to impart some of the nuggets I've learned with whoever thinks they could benefit.
Because typically arranged marriages are socially unacceptable and from what I hear awkward, we're left to our own devices to find companionship and move on to that next step. For Mormons there is a little more pressure to get married, 1 - There is such an expectation within our culture; (If you're back from your mission "its time to get married". If you're a decently attractive adult young lady "its time for you to get married".) 2 - Also, typically we abstain from sexual intimacy. and Although I don't condone getting married to have sex, it does play a part in the urgency we feel to pull the trigger and get engaged. God gave us some pretty natural and strong urges which He encourages us to act on within the bounds of marriage.
That brings me to my biggest piece of advice within dating. DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO AVOID CREATING A FOUNDATION OF PHYSICAL INTIMACY. My logic comes from personal experience. Long lasting relationships are built on friendship, fun, and communication at any level. And in marriage I believe this couldn't be more important. The more time you spend on developing that friendship and practicing communication without the distraction of fondling each other, the stronger the bond and happier the marriage you will have. Too often we get too intimate too fast; and we find ourself having wasted a years worth of investment while we sit and question whether we actually like the person we're dating. All of that can be avoided if while dating we avoid sinful distractions and utilize that time to see if you could have a lifetime / eternity of friendship, fun, and smooth communication.
My last piece of advice within dating hits home for me pretty hard. DO NOT TREAT DATING LIKE A MARRIAGE. Dating is to test the water. Committing to be someones boyfriend or girlfriend is not the same as committing to be their husband and wife. That seems obvious right? Then why do we treat them almost as if they are synonymous. How often do we see couples who fight, bicker, and can barely communicate "keep trying" because of their commitment as a gf or bf? Thats silly. The greatest piece of advice I've received since being divorced; which I intend on sticking to, is that dating should be easy and fun. Be yourself and encourage your bf/gf to be his/her self. If you find yourself feeling obligated to change or lower your bar / expectations for what you want our of a spouse its a solid sign that this probably won't work out. Both parties should be able to feel comfortable being their self without reservation. If thats not happening with your current bae, dump em' there is someone better suited for you out there. I promise. (You'll thank me later)
Dating should be selfish. Critique that person hard and see if they are exactly who you want. During dating make it all about your happiness while being yourself. If you've tested the waters and you're absolutely sure that this person and you are right for each other; its time to get to work. This commitment you've made is more important any commitment you've made to another human being and the most important commitment you will make to your Heavenly Father. Do not treat this lightly and forget yourself. Your priorities of thought processes should be 1 - what does God expect from me right now? and then - 2 how can I please my spouse? When children come into play they will be your third priority, all while forgetting yourself completely. In an ideal situation both parties would act like this, but we're human and its easy to forget what we should actually be doing. Thats fine, as long as we can recognize we're veering off course, repent, and get back on. If you've done dating right, you should know how to communicate your disagreements and concerns without fighting; and resolve these issues in a peaceful manner. If you haven't figured communication out amongst yourselves, you should tirelessly be focused on it. Communication can make or break your marriage.
I'm sorry that it got to this point. Nobody wants this but sometimes its the only way towards happiness. Even if one spouse is willing to work on it, if the other isn't, there is nothing you can do. Both have to be willing to work in order for a marriage to succeed. This is going to be awful and painful in every way, but you HAVE to let this happen. Be as respectful as you possibly can to your spouse during this process. Remember while the divorce is being finalized they are still yours. And for a lot of Mormons even after the divorce is legally finalized, you are still sealed to that person in God's eyes. Treat that person with respect. Like any painful wound you have to feel the pain to get better. Deal with the problem head on instead of looking for other methods to temporarily numb what you're feeling. Those might "help" in the short term, but will always pop their ugly head out down the road. Its best to fix the problem when it occurs to secure a proper recovery. Do things that make you happy. Its ok to be selfish again. Make a list of everything that brings you true happiness and do at least 2 of those things every day. This will help more than you know.
Click here to watch my series on #Lifeafterdivorce for more help > CLICK HERE
Eventually, when you are ready, it will come time to start dating again. Don't repeat the same mistakes, and don't expect that any relationship will end up with the same outcome. (That kind of thinking is poisonous) If you are diligent, smart, and use God to guide you you can find another companion to share your happiness with. I promise.