Dear Dating Coach,
I was introduced to a wonderful girl, and we have gone out for a while. I really like her, but her parents are divorced. While I knew this from the start, my friends and family now believe that a child of divorced parents may be a bad bet. Are they right?
I really don’t care for chocolate. I know, it’s shocking. Like someone saying she hates puppies, unicorns, or rainbows. But the taste and even the smell of chocolate are simply not for me. What I do love about chocolate, though, is the experience people seem to attach to receiving that special box – the beautifully wrapped package, the warmth attached to the gift, and how each chocolate can be savored and enjoyed.
Unfortunately, there is often no way to identify the flavors of the contents of that little box. Sure, some kinds may be obvious, with easily detectable fillings, but most are mysterious little jewels waiting for that first bite. I love when people receive a box and take a tiny bite of each one just so that they can know what lies inside.
That Little Box
I am so glad that you met someone wonderful and that you are progressing so nicely. You are at a point where you need to make an informed decision, and you are worried about a variable that cannot be changed. Her parents are divorced and this is something you need to work through. I understand that you might be worried that a daughter of divorced parents may have lacked the role-modeling of good shalom bayis at home. Or perhaps you are nervous that she will duplicate the negative behaviors she may have witnessed from her parents’ marriage. Maybe you worry that her views on marriage in general may be unhealthy or simply different than your own. Your family and friends care about you and want you to be happy, so it is understandable that they have raised this red flag for you to mull over.
That Pesky Mystery
However, perhaps they have neglected to mention that even a girl from a home with two happily married parents could have difficulty in her own marriage. There are also unhappily married parents with daughters you could date. Without the “divorce” label, are they more palatable? While nobody will discount that the children of divorced parents may have witnessed troubling behavior at home, there is no guarantee that any girl will come equipped with a “happily ever after” marriage handbook. Even more so, a daughter of divorced parents may have spent years learning what not to do in her future marriage, studiously committing to never repeat those same mistakes.
The Best/Worst Filling
Now it is time for you to discuss your concerns with the lovely girl that you are dating. Tell her that you like her so much and are so pleased with the relationship you seem to be developing, but that you are worried about your future. Explain to her (with sensitivity and care) that while her parents’ marriage should ideally not be a reflection on her future relationships, you want to make sure that you are both on the same page.
Discuss how you both envision navigating through any disagreements, the home life you hope to create, and what type of spouse you expect to be. See if your viewpoints converge or vary. Compare your ideas and see if you share a picture of what you both anticipate a marriage should look like. Listen to her words, to the way that she talks, and to how you communicate with one another.
If you have this discussion and realize that you do not agree on shalom bayis, then lesson learned. If you don’t have the same understanding of marriage, then move on. If you do agree with her, however, and connect with her answers, then let that be enough. Focus on your relationship with one another, on building your own foundation of trust, respect, and love – and making sure it is solid and secure.