The Benefits of Re-Partnering

The Benefits of Re-Partnering

Ten years after my own divorce I am absolutely going to go to bat for the benefits of re-partnering. In my unqualified opinion the single most important thing I have done over this decade of separation, divorce and single parenting is to have fallen in love again.

So much of the advice I have received, read, and listened to boils down to the ‘truism’ that time heals all wounds. I don’t agree. I think that if I focussed on feelings I have dealing with my ex-wife, the mother of my two kids, even this far down the track, I would be as defeated and confused as I ever was.

The amount of space on the internet devoted to people trying to deal with anger years after the event of separation and divorce shows that regardless of how much energy you devote to being ‘successful’ in divorce you are likely to be disappointed.

Whether you like it or not you probably divorced for the sort of reasons that can’t be reasoned and negotiated away. You are trying to reason and negotiate with someone who can’t be in the same building with you anymore.

Love heals. The feeling that you are worthy of unconditional love is what heals everything. That is one of the huge benefits of re-partnering.

Katie Hafner, in her blog in The Huffington Post cites research done in the early 1990’s which pointed to the serious adverse health effects divorce could have, especially for men. It’s more than just the bad habits that can creep back in once a man is on his own, the late night burgers and the extra carton of beer. No matter how much we shy away from intimacy as a man, feigning disgust, deep down we all know how good it feels to be touched and to be able to touch. And to simply be around someone who really loves you.

My First Marriage

I was unlucky in that I was part of a marriage which was not much more than cohabitation at its end. And on reflection it was a marriage that didn’t hold many of the pieces needed to make up a marriage that does work.

We didn’t have shared goals in life; we didn’t even really have the same world view. We had no shared interests, and crucially we had very different ideas about raising kids. All those differences meant that in the end we didn’t respect each other as we should have to be married to one another. It can’t become a task to simply like the person you wake up next to.

But on the flipside, that made me lucky in that we had been leading very separate lives for some time when it became evident our marriage was over. I read pieces talking about how on separation you lose half of the man that you have become. I didn’t.

Moving On

I left and reinvented my life, which was lonely and had the feeling of starting over from scratch. My daughter drew a picture of dad’s new home; it was a trestle table and four chairs in one room and the two single beds for her and her little brother in another. As always, I was a stick man yet somehow she managed to get a certain wistfulness into the smile that was the usual curved line.

A decade later I look back at all that has gone on. I can only speak for myself in terms of what has worked and what hasn’t. One thing stands out for me more than anything else. Successfully re-partnering and falling in love.

The Benefits of Re-Partnering

Like every man with young kids I worried about how they would react to the idea of dad re-partnering. It seems to be something akin to grieving. It’s so hard to quantify when is the appropriate time to begin to think about meeting someone else.

So many people have strong opinions about the subject. Some people, my parents included, seemed to labour under some misapprehension that there wouldn’t be any re-partnering. Perhaps that was to do with the kids, I’m not sure. I think on the part of my mum and dad it was largely because they had been together forever, and the notion of pairing off for life made absolute sense to them. If your partner disappears, you just go on, continuing with life but taking a moment at the end of the day to gaze off into the distance ruefully thinking of the things that have been lost.

As I said, I didn’t feel the sense of loss that many do. I was ready to see what life could be outside a relationship that didn’t bring any of the safety and fulfillment it should.

So it was strange to realize that many people seemed to look at me as only part of the old me now that the married part was gone. They would begin conversations by asking about my ex-wife and so on. And more than that, they did seem to treat me as if I would always be missing a part of myself.

There is a lot to be said for the time spent on your own after separation. It was a time when I rediscovered a lot of things that were important to me as a person that had been subsumed by the fact that I was a husband.

I looked after my kids for most of the week. But they were young and we had a good routine of reading together before bedtime, then them reading in bed for a while longer and then lights out. So, I could get back to an evening for myself where I sat down with a glass of wine and watched the evening news. It made me feel part of the world, informed, interesting, lots of things I hadn’t felt in a while.

During the marriage, especially towards the end, I had given up these things. We were just different people, she would deride the news I watched, ABC or SBS, as being for people with tickets on themselves. The sort of people who saw themselves as superior to the Channel 9 watchers.  And alcohol became problematic, she didn’t drink and made out that drinking during the week was a bad behavior and not a good thing to teach the kids.

I could go to the gym again and did so on the nights the kids were away. I worked shifts so that the kids would be at their mum’s when I worked during the day and then with me on my days off. So it meant that in the evening after work I could go to the gym as I had before kids came along, and I could say yes to going out after work, which I hadn’t in a long time. It wasn’t that our kids were difficult. I found towards the end of the marriage things became a contest, if I was to go out, or to have an evening at the gym or playing sport there would always be a period of ill will afterwards, as if I was not being fair.

As the time as a single father lengthened I still enjoyed all of the parts that made up a healthy life after separation. I did a lot of exercise, I had always been a good cook and kept eating well, I had a good network of friends through work and outside. I had friends I had met through the kids so that as a family unit we could spend time with others. I always saw that as a very important part of the kids remembering that dad was a good man, people liked me, they respected me as a man and as a parent and it was natural for life to go on with me being with my kids without their mum.

But, over time I began to find that it is the same as perhaps it had been before marriage. It is great to watch the news. But it is exponentially better to be able to watch it with someone and ask their opinion, realize there are things they know you don’t, and visa-versa. Things you can talk about going forward that you know interest them.

It is great to recognize that you are cooking a good meal, and continuing to eat well and maintain your health through a very stressful time. Eventually, it just becomes eating alone. Or eating with people who may well invite you over, or come over, or meet at a café, and they are with their partner.

Those can be great times, and less stressful perhaps than it was before you separated. I’ve been out a number of evenings where the discomfort between a married couple almost chokes the room. But you are still the odd one out.

The best thing about dinner parties is always the reliving in bed afterwards the things you remember, the things she remembers. When you roll over and there is no one there, then it isn’t the same.

My ex-wife became very angry during the divorce process when any mention was made of the future, in terms of she and I meeting new people. Whether that was raised by court registrars, the family relationship people that you meet as part of the process, even the magistrate. She saw that as a negative, not a positive. Especially for the kids.

Personally I found that the process of separation moves towards re-partnering. Eating habits, exercise, sleep, interests. Great. Those things are really important as a base, they can become hollow if that is all there is.

I think a natural part of remaking yourself is recognizing that you are someone very worthy of being part of a relationship again.

You have come to the end of a marriage. You played a part in that and it is really important to understand what that part was, for you and your kids, your ability to relate to your ex-wife. But most importantly for any other woman who is going to be part of your life.

I have re-partnered, and will remarry shortly. One of the biggest things that we recognize in each other is that we have looked honestly at ourselves back when we both came to the end of a marriage. And we looked at ourselves now, and compared the two. We both agree that what we see most in each other is the lack of the things that drove us apart from the person we married, the things that were innate in them, or that they simply refused to discuss that made things untenable for us.

We’ve been looking at the vows celebrants suggest for the wedding. A lot are cringe worthy, just because. Some are cringe worthy because they are just wrong in my opinion. No one completes anyone. You get divorced for a lot of reasons. You give up a partner. You don’t give up any part of yourself. You are still one hundred percent there from day one of separation.

It’s about finding the things that you gave up of yourself that have made you unhappy in the loss. And recognising the things in yourself that really shouldn’t be part of any relationship, being honest enough to admit what they are because sometimes we all revert to bad habits.

But, more than anything, it is meeting someone who recognizes you are who are now, a single man. That is the day that you realize a lot of the time spent as single has been about people unconsciously, for a thousand reasons, treating you as being ‘okay’.

Okay simply means – you could be doing better. For me, the benefits of re-partnering was about remembering that I am a hell of a lot better than just okay. A lot of the grieving process that goes on at the end of a marriage seems to make the mistake of talking about the loss of love, so much so that I think you can begin to believe that it is like death, there is no coming back. You will never have this thing again.

Some of the vows we have seen are recommended for remarriage. ‘I’ve finally moved on and am giving it another go’, ‘ready to see if we can do it again’. I don’t want to do any of that again.

Re-partnering for me personally seems a very natural end to a decade of change.

Crawling Back from Divorce

Crawling Back from Divorce

For a man, divorce is never easy. Crawling back from divorce and starting over to begin a new life offers an even greater challenge. I came to learn a lot about myself in the process, and here are a few things I’ve learned which might be helpful to any man going through a divorce.

  1. Divorce is a scar on the existing stability of society. It destroys families and leaves both marriage partners stunned, bewildered and confused for years afterwards. If you think a man is the only one feeling the heartache and trauma of a divorce, this is not true. She is feeling the same way. It may be disguised in a pout or a look of indifference if you happen to see her on the street or in a restaurant with her friends after the divorce, but she is feeling the effects of the divorce the same way you are. She will experience them in those sleepless nights when she is tossing and turning in bed wondering if she did the right thing in letting you go. She will mull over her decision for many years wondering if she did the right thing after the marriage finally ended. However, time heals everything as they say. Time is your best ally because it heals, and healing is what you need to regain the strength, confidence and vitality that was once a very intricate part of your life. Remember when there wasn’t a thing you thought you couldn’t do. That’s the kind of confidence you need to put back into your life after a divorce.
  2. Never marry a future prospective spouse out of pity, thinking you are the knight on the white charger who can come into her life to change it completely. It will never happen. Many men think they are the principle “Bread-Winner” and it is their responsibility to provide for the woman. They have a good job, financial stability, and a future allowing them the opportunity to move up the ladder in their job and become prosperous. Marriage isn’t all one sided when it comes to money. The woman needs to also share financial responsibility in the marriage. What that means is she needs to work, just like you, and bring in a suitable income so that both of you can have a better life living together. Gone are the days when women believe a man can support them entirely. That will not work. This is the 21st Century, and that sort of thinking went out the door with the Beatles and Rock ‘roll music. Also, and to me this is extremely important, please take time to get to know the person you eventually want to share your life with. Crawling back from divorce takes at least a full year, maybe longer to get to know her. How does she act when faced with a stressful situation? Who are her friends? Are they friends of yours, and will they spread gossip about you behind your back when problems arise in your relationship. Small town gossip, for example, has ruined many marriages where both partners are having difficulty but trying to reconcile their differences but keep getting bad advice from friends or other family members. And finally, how does she regard you after you’ve dated her for several months. Is the bond deepening? Or are you both losing interest? That’s why I believe it is so important to take time to get to know the other person before you jump into marriage. It will pay huge dividends in your future life, especially if you find your eventual soul-mate in the woman you are currently dating. She will be there for you…one to love and support you unconditionally in everything you do
  3. Keep a watchful eye out for any woman who checks you out by asking what you do and how much you earn. In most cases she’s looking for a sugar daddy, a means of financial security which she’s hoping you can provide without her having to contribute much financially during the relationship.
  4. Although this isn’t true in every case (there are exceptions), I’ve seen an attitude in many Western World women which strongly suggests they regard themselves as privileged or entitled. I don’t honestly know what it is, or how to describe it, but you can see it in an attitude, an upturned nose or a faint, disingenuous smile. We all must live in peace and harmony in this world but being around someone harboring a superior attitude is never good for any relationship. I’ve seen too many younger men being, so to speak, led around by the nose, by a spouse who wants to dominate and control everything in the man’s life. And, as a divorcee crawling back from divorce, we are particularly vulnerable to this type of woman. We’ll do nearly anything for love and to find love and acceptance, But, there is a proce to pay. As part of the human species, you have a right to be your own person. So, by all means, avoid this type of mindless, control freak very early in the dating process. You’ll be better off in the end if you do. Again, get to know the person you intend to marry very well before slipping a ring on her finger.

Crawling back from divorce

I now live in Bangkok, Thailand, happily married for the past 17 years to a Thai national. Very early in the relationship, I was friendly, polite, and cordial. I respected her right to live and be herself around me. Her mindset and attitude were typically Thai…filled with a quiet sense of control and calmness I’d never found in any other woman I had ever dated. Not once did she ever give the impression she was privileged or entitled to anything I had. What I offered she was grateful to receive, and let me know many times while we dated. Her parents were well off financially, but she wanted a man in her life she could form an “emotional bond” with and was not out looking for his money. We eventually had a child which helped strengthen the marriage. Most Thai women are kind, respectful, and supportive of their husbands…especially if they are married to a foreign man and have a child by him. I’m not saying this is the way to go (having a child) but in my case it worked out fine.

  1. If divorced, stay where you are for at least one full year before you more on. You need time to get settled financially and emotionally before leaving town, which I suggest you do to start a new life over somewhere else. If you leave too early, all those old tapes and emotional baggage about the divorce will follow you into your new environment…and you don’t want to do this to yourself. It will only lead to more feelings of angst and depression.

Please remember, you are not alone. There are many divorced men just like you out looking to begin a new life. It can and will happen for you. Play it cool and be more selective about the next woman you meet. If you learn from some of the things I’ve posted here, you can and will crawl back from divorce and start over again much wiser about the next woman entering your life.

The Sweet Bitter End

The Sweet Bitter End

Like you, I’m hurting. Hurting from a wound buried deep inside that no one can see, feeling a pain that can’t be expressed. How do you love someone you hate so much? How do you remain calm when your insides are screaming? Keep calm, keep reading, and I’ll show you I reached the sweet bitter end.

How it Started

13 years, that’s how long I was married. I was in love, I loved her laugh, her smile, and all that she was and did for my heart. I was a Corporal in the United States Marines and she was a PK or Preacher’s Kid. We met while I was visiting my sister, about 5 hours away from my duty station. I fell hard for her and fast, some would say that it was love at first sight. I did anyways, for years!

The Problems Begin

We had our first child 10 months after we were married and from then on, we had problems. Now I’m not going to go into details, just know that somewhere along the road, she lost faith in me. She had 3 affairs and waited until our 10th year of marriage to tell me about them. I, being the wise idiot, believed that if I forgave her and didn’t mention the affairs or address them, it would give her a chance to heal and be the wife that I always dreamed of. It worked! We were great, had our last child and bought a home together, life couldn’t get any better…or so I thought!

The Beginning of the Bitter End

I started to notice an all too familiar distance forming between us. Me being Mr. Fixit, decided that that was the point in which I needed to introduce change…and change is what I got!  She told me for the 3rd and last time, that she wanted a divorce! How could this be? I was always faithful. I always provided for the family and made sure we had all that we needed. I wasn’t a drunk or abusive. What could I possibly do to fix this inevitable problem? The answer…NOTHING!  No matter what I tried or could try, she was leaving, and that pissed me the hell off!

I gave up my military career for her! I gave up my business endeavors for her! I gave up my dreams for her! How dare she tear away my passion and then just end up leaving me anyways? I hated her! I hated her voice, her smile, hell, even her name drove me to anger! On top of it all, she took the very soul from my body when she stole my kids and moved five hours away to live with her parents! I was devastated, a shell.

How could I have been so stupid, so naïve in thinking that I could change her mind, or even change the course her actions had set us on? I waited until the bitter end, the very last minute, to hire an attorney, and then went against his advice to force her back to my town (something that I legally could have done.) I had hoped that this decision would grant me favor with my oldest daughter, who, at this point, loved her new school. How could I be the evil dad and take her away from that? So I let them stay. I will never know if that was the best decision, but it was my decision and I have to live with it.

Needless to say, my anger grew. I went from seeing my children every day, being there for their every need, to being a 4 day a month dad. The idea of not being there for my children hurt what was left of me, and hurt it bad. I went into a deep depression.  My friends tried to help, but it just took my mind off of it in short periods of time.

Enter the Therapist’s Advice

I decided that I needed to see a therapist, something everyone in the middle of a divorce should do.  She listened to my sob story and gave me the weirdest and best advice possible…I need to date!

How is that supposed to help? I’m an angry, bitter, asshole, who wants nothing to do with the opposite sex. Those destroyers of men, those evil dream killers, they could never help me! Besides, I can’t be loved. I was faithful, loving, compassionate, honorable, blah, blah, blah, and my marriage still ended in divorce. How could I find love when it was obvious that I didn’t know what love meant? Her response…You need to know you are still desirable!

She was right. I didn’t think I was wanted, I hadn’t felt desired in a very long time. But how do you hide hate and bitterness while dating?

I went straight to online dating. I built an amazing profile, posted amazing pictures, wrote an amazing bio, sat back and waited for the amazing responses, and boy did I get some! Apparently I am very desirable to old overweight women who are still married but in an “Open” relationship…and I mean a lot of them! ‘Match’ my ass! Remind me how is this supposed to make me feel desired again? Still, I didn’t lose all hope.

I finally got a response from a decent looking woman 6 years my junior, I was desirable! We went on a date and I learned a lot…a lot about myself. My divorce wasn’t about me and what I had failed at, it was about her and what she failed to value in me and our relationship. I felt a huge weight lifted off of me and a peace that I didn’t know I could feel again. That date opened my eyes to the possibility of me loving again and I was a new man from then on.


Knowing who you are is a true gift and also a growing gift because you never cease to adapt and grow as an individual, so you always have the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Going through a divorce is a catalyst for growth and change. Not that you need to change, but that your life will inevitably change from it. I didn’t want a divorce, I actually hated the idea of it. But I was looking at it all wrong. A person makes a decision based on the facts presented, and that goes for anything, including marriage. Over time, as more information is provided to you about your significant other, you try and make the best decision as to whether you want to continue to be with them. I’m sure that anyone reading this, at some point in time during their relationship, thought to themselves about an event that made them think “Why would they do that?” or “Why am I still with them?” It could be a fleeting thought and never take hold, but you still had that thought. I believe it is in those moments that we notice a change in ourselves and in our desires for the other person. I guess you could call it a growth spurt!

These growth spurts are what helped me throughout my divorce.  The more I learned about myself, the more I learned that my divorce was the best thing to happen to me. I’ve grown, progressed, changed into a man that, not only am I proud of, but my kids can be proud of too!

I’ve learned to love my ex again. No, I don’t go out of my way to impress her or give her things, I just respect her and the fact that she is the mother to my two little girls. I know that she will disappoint, that is her character, I just don’t dwell on it. I use it as a learning tool and move on. The important thing is to put aside my bitterness and focus on my children, life is too short to kill your spirit with bitter and angry thoughts. Move on!

My divorce was finalized after 26 months, and I’ve since been dating and am engaged to a wonderful, unique woman that is everything I have ever wanted in a partner. What makes her so great? She helps me grow and be the man I want to be, all while loving me along the way! I’m happy that I never turned into that bitter woman hater that lives his life full of discontent with the opposite sex. I am so happy with how things have turned out and I know it won’t be an easy road to travel, but it also won’t be a lonely road either. In all honesty, what more could a man ask for? I’ve reached the sweet bitter end.