Dating Advice #100 - Single Mom
She's trying to put the confusion of divorce behind her, manage the kids, and start dating again. Will it work?
Dear Rosie & Sherry,
I am finding it more and more difficult to keep going in this futile effort to find a husband. I have been divorced for two years and I have four children ages 3-10. The fact that I'm a single mother seems to be such a problem for guys that I never even get a second date. I am a nice outgoing, good looking, friendly, earthy person who has a lot to give.
Why is this such a big problem? I'm not asking so much for a father for the children -- they have one who takes them every weekend and loves them very much.
Don't I deserve a life? Don't I deserve to be happy? I just don't know anymore.
Depressed & Defeated
We receive a lot of letters from divorced men and women who are having trouble re-entering the dating scene, and feel that part of their difficulties are due to the fact that they have children. So you are not alone.
The good news is that there are many people with children who remarry. However, many of these people marry when their children are a little bit older than yours.
One of the difficulties you are facing is that at least one of your children is a pre-schooler. This simple fact can be enough to deter some potential suitors. Small children need a lot of maternal attention and many physical needs taken care of; older children may be a little more independent physically, but they still need their emotional needs met. It is easier for a potential step-dad to visualize involvement in a family of less physically dependent, older children, than a family with very young kids.
It also may be that there are other issues complicating your situation. You may have not healed from the pain of your divorce and this may come across when you are dating. Or a lack of closure will make you feel a little unsettled, which also will come out on a date.
In Judaism, just as marriage is a metaphysical reality -- i.e. two souls fusing together to create one complete soul -- so too divorce is a metaphysical reality. When people get divorced, they must obtain a "Get," a religious document that separates the combined soul of the man and woman. Without a proper Get, even though the man and woman have physically separated, they are still bound together metaphysically -- and considered as if fully married. For more info on arranging a proper Jewish divorce, go to http://kayama.org/.
Statistics show that it takes on average two years for someone to recover emotionally and financially from a divorce. We suggest that you take a break from dating at this point in your life. We're not saying how long that break should be; you might need several months, or you might need a few years. During your time off, be good to yourself.
It is very helpful to get involved in some kind of project that will give you a sense of accomplishment. This can be studying a section of the Torah; participating in a community program that helps people who are less fortunate; or taking a course to learn a new skill -- even a simple skill like cooking, photography, home repairs, or computers. Try to find something that interests you, and devote some time and energy to it every week.
You should also focus on enjoying meaningful activities with your children -- play games with them, read to them, help them with homework, and find inexpensive activities you can share.
It will also help if you start to exercise at least three days a week, even by walking briskly or bicycling for a half-hour each day. Exercise helps your body release endorphins, which improve your mood.
Finally, it will help you a lot if you can accept your "ex" the way he is and cooperate when it comes to your children. Sherry is a divorce lawyer, and she knows this is easier said than done. However, she knows from experience that divorced people who are willing to accept their former spouse's limitations, instead of always being upset by them, can move forward in their lives much more easily. This will also make life easier for your children.
If you need time to regain your inner peace, don't feel guilty about taking it, and don't worry that you are losing valuable time that you should be spending finding a new husband. If you take the time to heal, to nurture yourself, and to let you and your children regain your equilibrium, chances are that when you return to the dating scene you will find it easier to find dates who won't be scared off by the idea that you have children, and you will also improve the likelihood that you can develop a lifelong relationship with one of these men.
We wish you the best of luck,
Rosie & Sherry