Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Choosing Love After Divorce

A frequent question I often ask divorced single clients is “At what point did you know that your marriage was over?” Almost without exception, they say, “I guess I knew it immediately.”

Unfortunately, many of us make choices that we live to regret. Would you like to know how to choose a love that lasts? For many people it is elusive.

Recently, I had a conversation with a gentleman in his late sixties. When I posed the above question to him about his former marriage, he said, “In retrospect, I don’t think either of us really wanted each other. I had been rejected by several girls and she had been disappointed in love a couple of times. We just sort of drifted together because we both thought it was time to get married, settle down, and have a family. I don’t think one realizes at that age the enormous pressure to fit in with your peers. Thirty-five years later, she left me. She told me she had never loved me.”

What comprises that special something that glues couples together for the long haul?

There are five major areas to understand before you can have a reasonable chance of creating a marriage that works:

Self awareness.

If you are living from your strengths, giving attention to your emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual needs, and staying connected to those who matter to you, you are standing on a solid base. It takes time to develop your own vision for your life, but if you are flowing with ideas of what you want and how you are going to achieve it, and you are not looking for someone else to fulfill those needs, you are a strong candidate for a happy marriage.

Requirements.

It is imperative that you become clear about the qualities you absolutely must have or cannot put up with in another. Most marriages fail because both people discovered too late that the other one had traits they could not live with. It is wise to take some time and make a list of the top ten non-negotiable requirements you have to have in a partner. Write them down and keep them in mind when you are meeting potential dates and mates.

Character assessment.

Integrity is the foundation for a relationship that lasts. Within two dates, you need to be able to tell if someone lies, cheats, steals, or has other character disorders. Be watchful for the red flags of those traits as well as someone with a volatile temperament. Uncontrollable anger is a large reason for marital breakups. A relationship with someone with a poor character will never work—until they seek and get help for their problems themselves. To think that someone is going to change because they are in love with you is to set yourself up to be terminally disappointed in life.

Attitude.

Having a similar attitude about life is helpful, as well as sharing the same energy level. But attitudes that are negative are almost impossible to work with. Pay attention if the person you are interested in wears a cloak of “poor me.” Does trouble follow them wherever they go? If so, do you want to invite that into your life? Other attitudes to be alert for are a “better than everyone else” arrogance, and a chip on the shoulder.

Equality.

This area can cover a wide range of values and interests. Major ones to look for are intellect, education, and religious background. You may not need your future partner to make as much money as you do or be as successful in their work, but it may be essential that you share an equal intellect so you can have conversations that will last a lifetime.

We are all challenged to find answers to the problems that arise from families and children going through divorce. And though critics often point the finger at it being too easy to get a divorce, perhaps it is not divorce itself that is the origin of difficulty for those involved. Perhaps the problem began with knowing how to choose from an informed place as well as from the heart.

Visit http://www.tonjaweimer.com for more tips, skills, and insight on dating, relationships, singles, and love. Subscribe to our F*r*e*e Savvy Dating Newsletter from master single's coach, life coach, and syndicated columnist, Tonja Weimer. Copyright 2006, Tonja Weimer.

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