The pitfalls of dating as divorced parents are well documented. But how to date as a one is regularly ignored. We get so caught up in attempting to find the who, looking for the right mix of partner AND parent, that we may become drunk on romantic bliss when we find him or her, forgetting that how we should date this person is no less important.
It’s ridiculous at how little I once knew about relationships. Aside from one brief and very embarrassing sex monologue by my mother, neither she nor my dad ever talked about the art of relationships or how they make a thirty-year marriage work. They didn’t share tips on how best to argue and why it’s better not to go to bed angry; that beauty is temporary and money won’t solve any of your problems.
Regret, it may be said, is one unavoidable we spend our lives trying to avoid. We’re not very good at it; an industry of pills, potions, and prescriptions has risen from the ash heap of those consumed by past mistakes. And each of us will look back in our old age at the sunset of life and recall a day or two when the heat of regret blistered our souls. Yet there is an opportunity, in fact necessity, in regret that is undeniable; because regret, it may also be said, is the greatest of teachers if we will only take heed of her instruction.
As the cultural war on marriage continues, barrages of white-hot contempt are released with every new celebrity divorce and Beltway sex scandal. Yet the critics of marriage, those considering it a biological illusion and social imposition because 50% end in failure, don’t take their argument to its obvious and tragic conclusion. While many sociologists and jilted spouses point to prairie voles and your shitzu for evidence that humans aren’t wired for lifelong faithfulness and to think otherwise is ignoring the obvious, they stop short of admitting that we’re little more than highly evolved sluts.
I was recently asked to offer a few words of encouragement for an old friend considering a new direction. She wants to leave her husband; her reasons are justifiable yet she hesitates to take the first step. She stays, contemplating, ruminating, and investigating – paralysis by analysis. She doesn’t want to make a rash decision; nor should she, but she also knows her current path will continue leading nowhere – for her and her son.
There are generally two ways to get someone’s attention, tickle them with a feather or drop an anvil on their head. The biggest factor in which method to use isn’t our gender, age, or intellect – it’s our heart. Wherever our priorities go so goes our focus. The lower we value a thing the more effort it takes to turn our attention in its direction.
The State of Connecticut’s report into the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School should be mandatory reading for every divorced parent. While it doesn’t explain the motive for Adam Lanza’s rampage the morning of December 14th, it does provide some pieces to the puzzle that had been missing.