Dating After Divorce
The big "D" is final—divorce—and you're ready to re-enter the dating scene.
But do you feel like damaged goods, like you've been branded by a "scarlet letter"?
I know how it feels to see things through that divorce-stained lens…
True, it might change the way you see the game, but it doesn't have to negatively color your decisions up to and during the dating process.
The Brand That Leads To Failure
If you don’t know redemption, you'll continue to feel branded and condemned. And you'll travel paths forged through the enemy's lies, none of which lead to a successful, godly relationship:
- You'll give up, believing yourself to be a failure. You might become angry, resentful, or hardhearted.
- You'll keep your divorce a secret, losing the opportunity for growth (Proverbs 28:13).
- Out of loneliness or desperation, you'll either settle for second-best, believe that you aren't worthy of a godly spouse, or just look for someone who's a polar opposite of your ex (or someone just like your ex).
- You'll try to "clean yourself up" with good works, believing you can become righteous and whole again if you just work hard for the Lord. And you'll forget that Jesus alone saves and restores (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Until you know forgiveness—God’s and your own—you won’t see God’s best for you.
When you're redeemed, you'll know freedom and restoration. Until then, you should probably stay on the bench.
Because God created marriage as a sacred covenant, He grieves over divorce (Genesis 2:24, Malachi 2:16). To sweep it under the rug would only cheapen God's grace and mercy. But we can—and must—lay it at the level ground of the cross. We can repent and responsibly walk forward, redeemed. Because until you know forgiveness—God's and your own—you won’t see God's best for you.
Boundaries Protect Hearts
1. Take time to grieve and heal.
Protect your heart and others' (Proverbs 4:23). Walk—don't run—through this necessary and natural season, so that you don't prolong your own healing and emotionally strain a potential relationship (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Lean on family, friends and community.
2. Examine yourself.
Take time to identify your contributions toward the breakdown of the marriage. Pray for God to expose and transform your own sin and failings, so that you don't carry them into another relationship (Psalm 51:10-12). You might want to seek counseling to resolve these issues.
3. Maintain Sexual Integrity.
You might think, "The dam's already broken, so...," but God designed sex for marriage alone (1 Corinthians 7:2). Anything else is destructive.
Ann Voskamp wrote, "Your naked body deserves the honor of being shared only with someone who is covenanted to never stop loving your naked soul." So make a plan. Find an accountability group/partner and establish guidelines to help maintain your purity, like committing to never visit overnight.
4. Protect the children.
Guard their hearts, if any are involved. Establish guidelines, like only dating people you could see yourself marrying (a good rule for anyone) and introduce him/her (as a friend) to children only on group outings until formally committed.
A New Brand
Just remember, if you're in Christ, God wants to direct you through paths of truth and righteousness to a comeback (Proverbs 3:6)!
God's comeback plan continues to unfold before me, with purpose and a blessed remarriage. That’s why I believe your best days are ahead, too.
So, if you're going to be branded, let the image of the word "redeemed"—snow-white and stamped onto your heart—guide your decisions as you pursue honest, pure, godly relationships.