I may be divorced, but I still believe in marriage. I want to find someone to spend my life with, but first, I have to find myself again.
These are words from a very wise woman. Her divorce had been quite difficult for her and her children, especially because she married with the desire and intention to grow old with her spouse. Many Catholics today find themselves in this exact position and hope to remarry again. But is jumping back into the dating scene the right thing to do? No one wants to go through another divorce, so how do you know where to begin?
If you’re asking this same question, I’d like to offer you some ideas and encouragement because I believe, despite your divorce, you still have great things waiting for you in your future. Not only is it important to keep that thought in focus, but in this Year of Mercy, sometimes being merciful to yourself is the key to refreshing your connection with God and moving forward in your healing process so you can, someday, be prepared for a new relationship.
Aside from the obvious starting point – going through the annulment process and hopefully receiving a decree of nullity – there are some definitive steps you can take that will help.
1. Remember, Your Divorce Does Not Define You
People who go through a divorce often talk about an emotional phenomenon that is a common thread in the divorce experience… the “Scarlet ‘D’.” It’s that terrible feeling of scandal that a failed marriage creates and warps your sense of self-worth. But, it’s important to remember one simple thing: Divorce is something that happened to you, it is not who you are.
There is no possible way one event, one word, especially “divorce” can encapsulate who you are as a person, nor does it invalidate your role as an important family member, friend or member of society. It does not erase all the good qualities you possess or all the good things you’ve done. It doesn’t negate your potential for living the rest of your life. Believing this is critical if you hope to have a successful relationship in the future.
2. Find Your Self-Worth In Christ
There may be others around you who judge you because of your divorce, but your personal value cannot be measured by what other people think of you. What really matters is where you stand with God and being in His good graces is all you need. God has given you many gifts and talents that, despite your divorce, He wants you to use for his glory and your happiness. Don’t let the criticism of others stand in your way.
3. Be Attractive From The Inside Out
Let’s face it. We spend a lot of time and money trying to look good, especially women. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but if we’re not attractive on the inside, the rest doesn’t matter much when it comes to forging a happy, lasting relationship. What I’m referring to is the state of your heart… are you harboring anger and resentment toward your ex-spouse? Do you allow high stress levels to dictate the way you respond to others? Do you blame others for everything? Forgiveness, acceptance and detachment are all important virtues to work on if you struggle with these areas.
4. Give Yourself A Break
You might be great at being all things to all people, but if you’re a single parent, you need a break, too. Are you carrying the world on your shoulders? It may be time to find a good friend who would be willing to give you a break once a week to do something for yourself; go to the salon, the gym, the adoration chapel, Starbucks, or wherever your “happy place” is.
5. Stay Close To The Sacraments
Saving the best for last, of course, because frankly, there is no better way to experience peace than in receiving the sacraments. They contain all the graces, consolation and strength you need for repairing your life and sustaining you as you move forward. Never underestimate the power of going to confession and receiving the Eucharist, especially in this great Year of Mercy.