It’s interesting when you’re single for the second round. You get to hear a lot of life stories, ponder a lot of life lessons, and get insight into a lot of life’s mishaps in different marriages. Because when you’ve been married and then lost that relationship, others who have done the same feel free to share their stories. In the spirit of camaraderie, I’ve heard a lot of marriage stories over the last three years.
It’s taught me some things about how men and women see marriage differently. It’s shown me how some people put a high value on their commitments while others don’t. And it’s made me understand that not everyone enters marriage for the same reasons that we might.
It’s been eye-opening, to say the least.
As I’ve dated people who were previously married, I’ve talked to them a lot about that relationship. Not only out of curiosity (I’m sorry, did you say nosiness?), but because there is a lot to be learned from someone’s past. These conversations were by far the most revealing and the best indicators as to how our relationship would progress (or end shortly thereafter). And it’s led me to believe that you should be asking the same.
In all of these conversations I’ve learned one key thing to be true: There are a great many people who pointed out with passion that they stuck to their vows. But when I asked them which one meant the most to them, they would answer me with one that wasn’t actually a vow at all: “Until death do us part.”
If they said traditional vows, they likely went something like this:
“Will you have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?”
And in doing so, they agreed before God and other witnesses to do the following:
- To enter a marriage with the other person.
- To act in love toward them at all times.
- To comfort them by living in such a way that they can have peace of mind as much as it is in their power to do so.
- To honor them by holding them in high esteem above others in their life, by making them a priority.
- To keep them insomuch as they would take care of them and their needs.
- To remain faithful to them alone and not enter into another intimate relationship.
These were the actual vows. And they were to take place under the following parameters:
That they promised to follow through with them under any conditions (good times/bad times) (sickness/health) for the period of time being until death.
Do you see what I mean?
The problem is that many people can only remember the very last part, which is the timeline they agreed to keep. When, in all actuality, they didn’t honor the actual vows themselves.
- They didn’t actively choose to love their spouse each day.
- They didn’t go out of their way to provide peace in their household.
- They didn’t treat their spouse with respect.
- They didn’t bother to take care of their spouse’s basic needs.
- They didn’t stay faithful.
And ignoring the actual vows they took and trying to hold someone to the timeline they agreed to is, in my opinion, ridiculous. Because the timeline is the easiest part. The one that literally takes no effort to attain. The one that reveals that all they were willing to do in their marriage was to show up. To hit start on the clock. To bother to get out of bed each day. And to do the very minimum.
And that’s not OK.
In fact, when this happened during conversation, and someone pointed out to me that they were willing to stay forever but their spouse bailed, it gave me a clearer picture of what they were not willing to do: the actual work. Because let’s face it. Hanging your hat on the fact that you were willing to stay to the end no matter what is no better than hanging your hat on the parental achievement of simply having kids.
So be wary, friends. Dating the previously married — and I’m one of them — can give you a lot of insight into what being in a relationship with them will look like down the road. Do you want a partner who does what they say with everything they’ve got? Or someone who does the bare minimum?