Not long ago it had never occurred to me to date a guy who had been married before. Honestly, I had just never given it a thought. Of course, I would end up marrying a wonderful Christian guy who had waited his whole life just for me! Why in the world would I ever think God might have something different for me? I had dreams of my future marriage built up in beautiful gilded air castles.
But that all changed several years ago, when I met Rick. We met through mutual friends and after several months of getting to know each other in group settings, it became clear that we were attracted to one another. It seemed like everything was headed in the right direction. Then it all changed…
Rick and I were talking one day and I felt sure he was getting ready to ask me out. But he seemed unnaturally nervous, asking if any of our friends had told me about his past. Finally, he blurted out that he had been divorced. I still vividly remember the moment. I literally envisioned my air castles crumbling. If this was my knight on a white horse, his armor had definitely lost its shine!
It took a while for me to work through all of my thoughts and emotions surrounding the situation. I had never considered dating divorced men before. But God clearly spoke to me during this time…Becca, you say that you believe that I can redeem and restore anything…doesn’t that include people who have been broken through divorce? It’s time to act on the faith you have in Me.
In the end, I did end up dating Rick for a while and sometime after that, I dated another man who had been divorced. I had to come to terms with the realization that I live in a broken world that has a lot of broken marriages. This was not God’s original design for His people, but unfortunately it is a reality. And what’s more, those of us who have waited for a long time for marriage are most likely going to find that many, if not most, eligible singles are going to come with some baggage from prior relationships.
But here’s the awesome part…just like you and I don’t have to be defined by our past, divorced men and women don’t have to be defined by their pasts either. God can and does redeem and restore broken lives (Psalm 34, Psalm 103). What’s more, He can take a previously broken, now whole, divorcee and lead him into a wonderful, successful lifelong marriage with you.
So when you encounter these potential suitors, will you immediately write them off or recognize them as broken people who God can make whole?
But just as with any relationship, we need to be wise and discerning. Here are some practical tips for dating divorcees from my limited experience:
- Pray – Ask that God would prepare your heart for whatever He has for you and that you will have wisdom and discernment as you pursue the relationship (Proverbs 3:5-6, James 1:5).
- Look for a heart for God – You need someone who seeks God with all of his heart, whether or not he has ever been divorced (Psalm 9:10). If you haven’t taken to heart the verses about being unequally yoked, start doing so now (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). It is truth. I can’t tell you how much pain I have seen in marriages where one spouse is not a believer.
- Look for forthrightness – You need someone who will tell you the truth and be honest and open about his past. Trust is an absolute must. He needs to trust you and you need to be able to trust him (Colossians 3:9-10).
- Look for integrity – You need someone who behaved honorably in his prior relationship or – if he didn’t then – he has been redeemed and recognizes where he messed up. He should now value and uphold honorable behavior (Proverbs 4:25-27).
- Look for commitment – You need someone who values marriage and family. Whether or not he has always been committed to marriage and family, he needs to unquestionably hold them in high regard now, recognizing it as a gift and responsibility from God (Ephesians 5:25, 1 Timothy 5:8).
- Look for healing – You need someone who is spiritually and emotionally ready for a new relationship. One of the guys I dated discovered he was not completely healed from his divorce…trust me, it brought a lot of pain and confusion for both of us! (Jeremiah 30:17a)
- Look for freedom – You need someone who is actually free from a marriage relationship. That means widowed, divorced or never married…not A man who is in the process of getting a divorce is still married. You need to keep away! What’s more, if a separated guy is pursuing you, he probably needs to work more on some of the items above.
Let’s be real, it’s not ideal or comfortable to pursue a relationship with someone who has previously committed his whole life to another woman, however sincere he was at the time. But don’t let your dreams of that knight on a white horse keep you from missing out on developing a relationship with a man who has experienced the redeeming and restoring power of the Lord. Sometimes God needs to crumble our air castles in order for us to recognize that we can trust Him to build incredible futures for us…often with some battered knights!
What about you? What is your experience with dating men who have been divorced?
Becca is a regular contributor of Triple Braided. She is a daughter, sister, aunt and, most importantly, a child of the King. She loves singing, reading, hiking, cooking, serving at her church and hanging out with her sweet nieces. Becca works as a curriculum developer at a credit union in her home state of North Carolina.