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It’s Complicated…But Not Really

The most common question I got while dating and even now while engaged is, “Soooo…is it hard?” Usually this question came after I explained that Shawn is divorced and has two children. Sometimes it was said as a statement instead of a question. I’m never quite sure how to respond to that but today I’m going to answer the question: “Is it hard?”

Yes. And No. Does that help?

About half of my friends are dating or engaged right now. Sometimes I see the inner turmoil and stress in their relationships and I say to Shawn, “I think we must be doing the whole dating thing wrong. It’s too easy.” He would laugh and we would shrug and move on with life. I kept my LIST of questions going and Shawn grew to know that it wasn’t a thing to be scared of. The LIST were simply things that I didn’t want to discuss over the phone but I also didn’t want to forget about, so I put them in my phone to talk about later. He grew so used to the LIST that often we would be on a walk and he would casually say, “So, got anything on your LIST we need to talk about?”

I didn’t have to worry about what Shawn thought of something because if I was unsure, I asked him. (I know that is a novel idea.) Same on his end. If I didn’t like something, he knew it. I know so many girls that toss and turn, worried about what their boyfriend thinks about something, but they haven’t bothered to even ask him. Whyyyyyy? I don’t understand.

Now. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that we are perfect. [ha. HA! ha.] No joke, dating someone with kids is different and it’s a learning process. It’s more like dating three people and learning the emotions of all three. At times, it was/is overwhelming. And at times, I felt like an invader into this family. The amount of communication I’ve had to do has gone way up. I knew that when I felt weird or awkward, the solution wasn’t to pull away from the situation, but to communicate that to Shawn. Not in a way to make him feel responsible or blame him, but to work through a solution together. We both know that small things ignored build up to big things so we tell each other the small and the big things.

The hardest part about dating was and is outside people. People who make assumptions about our situation and jump to judgement. I’m not used to having my character called into question and so this was totally new for me. I’ve had to learn to respond slowly and in a gentle and understanding way towards others. To respect what others believe about divorce, even if it’s not what I believe. Even if they haven’t taken the time to ask about our situation.

And I would say that’s where Christ comes in. I’ve learned much about how Christ works this year! Every time another person has offended me and I’ve been tempted to just give up, I’m reminded that Christ moves TOWARDS US in forgiveness. He makes the first move, not us. Each time I want to make a snarky or angry comeback to someone who is being hasty in judgement, I remember how patient Christ is TOWARDS ME. This has been a year of moving towards other people in gentleness, love, forgiveness, and patience and although sometimes it’s hard, each step has been a reminder of just how much grace I’ve been shown.

So to answer the initial question…it may be hard, but it’s GOOD. It is not a burden or weight, but a joy and delight. It is a joy to build a relationship with someone in order to pursue Christ together. It may be hard, but it’s definitely worth it.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2020 in marriage

 

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The Second Date

Now you may be wondering why I’m telling you about the second date and not the first. No worries, I’m going to tell you about both. After Shawn said he was still interested, we agreed to meet up. For our first date we went for a walk on a local bike path. I should probably define the word “date” right now. For us, a date was pretty much any time that we spent together and A LOT of that was walking. I love to walk and he knew that and we found it was a great time to talk. Walking and talking go hand in hand. (Also in the middle of a pandemic, options are limited. 🙂 )

Our first date was pretty much just catching up. After all, we hadn’t really seen each other in person in a while. I do remember telling him outright that I didn’t know how to date and he laughed. And we agreed to meet again later that week at the park in town.

But I was being honest. I didn’t know how to date. And I had many people tell me I was doing it wrong. Apparently you aren’t supposed to be bluntly honest with the other person? But I was and let me tell you, it made life SO. MUCH. EASIER.

I told Shawn that I was making a LIST of questions for our second date and not to be scared if I literally pulled it out. I just had things to ask that I didn’t want to forget about and my memory is bad. He said to bring it on. When I tell people that I brought a list of questions to our second date, they usually picture me interrogating that poor guy, but it didn’t feel that way. It was more like a conversation back and forth. I always say the most valuable dating advice I ever got was this: “Get the big questions out of the way first.” And that’s exactly what I did. I unashamedly asked the big questions right off the bat.

I want to be specific so you need to know a little about Shawn. He is a faithful follower of Christ and has been divorced. He has two precious children and he and his ex-wife co-parent them. So when I say I had questions, I had QUESTIONS.

If you look back to my last post, you will remember that before I ever messaged Shawn, I first messaged his pastor? There was one question I needed answered. I trusted his pastor because we have both been through the same biblical counseling classes and he knew Shawn’s situation better than I did. I asked him if he believed Shawn had a biblical basis for remarriage. I know there are different beliefs on divorce and remarriage and this post is not long enough to go into those. Suffice it to say that we believe Shawn has a biblical basis for remarriage.

So on our second date I pulled out my LIST of questions. They were questions like:

“Play the movie for me.” (AKA- tell me your life story)
“What do you do when you are angry?”
“Who are your closest friends and mentors?”
“Tell me about your marriage and divorce?”
“How is your relationship with your ex?”
“What are your political stances? What do you believe about obeying the government?”
“What are your fears?”
“Do you consider yourself a good driver?” (I don’t like driving lol)
“What are your intentions for this relationship?”

It was on my LIST but before I got to it Shawn said, “I think we should talk about boundaries in dating.” I LOVED that. I loved that I wasn’t the one that had to bring that up but that he took the lead. It meant a lot to me because it showed respect for me and for our witness as believers. Our boundaries are different than other couples’ and THAT’S OKAY. Among other things, one thing we agreed on was that we didn’t want to be alone in each other’s homes. We wanted to maintain integrity and avoid all appearance of evil. And despite what people think, that is not an impossible boundary to keep while dating.

We also discussed the kids at length. I shared that I wanted to be very mindful and understanding of their emotions. I told Shawn I was fiercely opposed to any sort of forced affection from them and that they needed to be allowed to come to me by themselves. He wholeheartedly agreed and appreciated my attitude towards them.

Shawn asked if he could pray with me at the end of our date and I told him I would love that. He took my hands and prayed. When he finished I looked up and knew right then that I was looking at the person I wanted to marry.

I walked away and my best friend asked how the date went. I calmly replied, “Well, I’m going to marry that man.”

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2020 in marriage

 

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