Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
-Isaiah 61:7, ESV
When my divorce went through, I was in shock. The miracle did not happen. God did not save my marriage in the eleventh hour.
She signed the separation papers.
The gavel fell.
My marriage was over.
That’s really where my story begins with Mrs. DM. In the ash heap of my first marriage. Full of shame. Full of grief. And not a little anger.
But God was with me.
He was busy healing my heart and reminding me that my wholeheartedness was not a flaw but a gift. I learned slowly who to trust in my friendships and slowly learned to support my own voice in these matters anchored on God’s high esteem of me (i.e. the son in whom He delights and paid the blood price for!) God equipped me to push aside the lies and give up “friendships” that were not healthy (or holy) for me. It was a time of growth, grief, and pruning.
I can still remember a distinct time in February 2013 when I felt like I actually liked the person God had made me to be for probably the first time in my life. The rags of shame started to fall off my body. For example, I came to peace with my love of cats, my sappy emotive tendencies, my need for introvert time, my delight in weight training, my joy in singing, and my love of cooking to just name a few.
This coming to terms with my person was a necessary first step before I was ready to date. I felt I needed to be clear with myself that I was a whole person with or without anyone new in my life. And I needed to know God’s love for me uniquely before I could act as a channel of love in a lasting way to another (future) spouse or family.
One thing I learned from my first marriage and subsequent divorce was to look for a woman who was grounded in the way I just described for myself. Is she able to be alone? Does she know God’s love? Do I see this love flowing through her life?
On a more practical note, I decided to use an online dating forum to help me weed out potential dates for compatibility and common values. I chose eHarmony for this as I wanted one that taught me about myself as well. My thought about using this tool was that I gained just from filling out the survey and profile as it forced me to process myself. It was a helpful exercise in personal growth and insight.
Besides I had tried the old meet on your own through college or church shtick the first time and made a poor choice, obviously. It couldn’t hurt to see what the online world had to offer as far as discernment tools were concerned. I think this later part–having a better and more tested discernment tool–was the biggest selling point for using eHarmony for me. At least, my matches would be vetted for personality and major values compatibility first.
So, I put up my profile and started into the wild world of online “dating.”
Two rules I had for myself while dating following divorce:
1) Don’t compromise core values (e.g. I need to find someone who had a living, Christian faith. Also, I was not going to have sex with a date…ever! Sexual intercourse is reserved for the marriage bed as Scripture teaches and as I was committed.)
2) Be open to walking away. Another way to state this is to hold the dating relationship with an open hand. This ties back to the point about being at peace with myself and God. A marriage is an additional gift and is not necessary for living a full, fulfilling life. True, I wanted this gift again. However, I was aware that trying to force it would only cause greater heartache down the road. This was another lesson I learned retroactively looking at my first marriage autopsy, if you will.
After several failed attempts and finally getting to place where I was tired of hiding my divorce status initially, I put on my profile that I was divorced, and Mrs. DM was matched soon after that to my account. We started dating on August 31st, 2013 nearly nine months after my divorce was finalized. I sensed in the first week of dating that this was heading somewhere good and serious.
We had a few brief bumps along the way. But I soon bought her an engagement ring and proposed to her a year after I was divorced.
The night I proposed I was sold on Mrs. DM like none other. Her reaction to my proposal told me that I had made the right choice. I had finally found a woman who valued my heart and was worthy of my love.
When I proposed, Mrs. DM and munchkin were bouncing on the bed. I had the munchkin give mommy the ring, and I proposed. Mrs. DM never took her eyes off of me as she accepted my proposal. I knew from that reaction that Mrs. DM saw me as the prize, and that makes all the difference in the world. She agreed to marry me because she wanted me–not my status, not my money, not my skills, etc.
Mrs. DM wanted me.
When my job situation settled down with a clear indication of location and finances for us, we got married on March 28th, 2014 in an intimate family gathering with my old college pastor and friend doing the honors. It was truly beautiful and a testimony to the truth of God’s word. That day I received a double portion instead of shame.
That’s a brief synopsis of my love story with Mrs. DM. I am sure she will be happy to give her side of the story some day on the blog when she has some free time.
Thanks for indulging me in reading my sappy story of redemption 😉
One last side note:
I hated getting divorced because divorce violates a value I hold dearly–i.e. loyalty. By being divorced, I felt permanently branded disloyal and this against my own ability to prevent it! I had to get to a place where I was at peace with the truth concerning the end of my first marriage and did not receive the shame any more in my own heart.
Furthermore, Mrs. DM fast won my heart while dating by demonstrating her willingness to fight for me. She was loyal, and loyalty means the world to someone after discovering infidelity. With her loyalty and willingness to fight, I knew I was getting a real partner in her. And I call her my Shield Maiden to this day–i.e. like the Viking women who went to war with their Viking men. I know she will fight alongside me as she does here sharing on the blog.