A Heart of Gould

 

Life After Divorce

I Met My Husband Through a Personal Ad

Feigning an air of confidence to conceal the raging disquiet inside, I scanned the restaurant and headed for a table near the back, where I could observe him searching for the 40-something woman with whom he had shared a few words on the telephone. He had neither met me nor seen a photograph. The year was 1986, long before online dating.  I  wanted to know what life after divorce was going to look like,  and didn’t like the bar scene, so – in an act of impulse –  I put a personal ad in the local newspaper.

I had purposely arrived early to give myself time to acquire that elusive veneer of tranquility.

The dating game was indeed uncharted territory. As a bride of only 18, I was ill prepared for the complexities of marriage. Here I was, 21 years and five children later, newly separated, on a date with a man who answered an ad I had placed in the personal column of the local newspaper.

“What was I thinking?” I muttered to myself. “This man could be an axe murderer!” I took a few deep breaths.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a tall, attractive, bearded man heading in my direction. Feeling both fearful and a little excited, I stood to shake his hand and exchange “glad-to-meet-you” pleasantries. We quickly busied ourselves with menus and meal choices, a diversion that eased us into the discovery of similarities and the sharing of histories.

“Life after divorce? So far so good,” I thought to myself as I asked the obvious question: “So, what led to your separation?”

“We just grew apart,” he began, elaborating on the gradual process that left them with little to say to one another.

I went in for the kill. “What do you think your wife would say if I asked her the same question?” (Hey, I’m a social worker – asking probing questions was how I made my living.)

Silence. He stared out the window for what seemed like an eternity.

“Uh oh. I blew it,” I admonished myself, biting my tongue in regret just as he began to answer. I later learned that it was this question that piqued his interest in me, as he felt the conversation enter a deeper, more authentic level.

Getting to Know Each Other

That was over 26 years ago. My memories of that night remain vivid. The conversation flowed until the head waiter’s yawn sent us on a search for another venue. Off we went to the local mall, where we walked and talked … and walked and talked.

Life After Divorce

Placing the ad in the paper was a fortuitous act of impulse and curiosity. I didn’t want to navigate the depressing singles bar scene. And I had no desire to enter into a serious relationship so soon after my separation – or so I had thought. I simply wanted to  get some sort of idea of what dating life after divorce would be like.

After our first date, common sense prevailed and I took the time to meet some of the others who had responded to my ad.  However, several disappointing dates later, I allowed myself to follow my heart instead of my head – a good decision, I now know.

The glow so prevalent in the early months of any relationship – ours included – blinded us from seeing ourselves as we were at the time. We were two lost souls, each fresh out of long-term marriages, each struggling to heal from the pain of failure, each trying to parent our confused children – and each unprepared for another relationship.

Healing from a Divorce

For me there certainly was life after divorce. Somehow our relationship worked and we pulled through. We lived separately for several years, which we felt was best since we had eight kids between us. Today we share good relationships with our children and stepchildren, and they have rewarded us with wonderful grandchildren who are simply “ours” – not “yours” or “mine.”

In this man I found someone who accepts me with all my imperfections and loves me because of – not in spite of – who I am, empowering me to be myself at all times. He treats me with kindness, thoughtfulness and respect, and has learned what I need from him when I’m feeling vulnerable. I trust him with my feelings.

He is intelligent, unafraid of conflict and welcoming of emotional connectedness. He uses his brilliant sense of humour strategically, creating an atmosphere of fun and laughter when I least expect it.

All this, from a newspaper ad.

Remarriage After Divorce 

We were married in a most romantic ceremony on a stunning beach in Barbados, one week after my 50th birthday and on the very day on which we celebrated 10 years together.

Life After Divorce

As we enter our 27th year, we still find it astounding that in the vast, vast world of the newly single, we somehow found each other through – of all things – a personal ad. It hasn’t always been a walk in the park. We have, over the years, faced more than our fair share of life’s challenges. But our commitment to addressing our differences with mutual respect has created a safe haven in which we can heal from life’s vicissitudes. Now older and wiser, we’re no longer the two lost souls we once were.

This has been my incredible experience of  life after divorce.

So what did I say in my ad?

“Newly separated woman, age 40 (with kids), attractive professional with a positive outlook on life and a happy disposition, seeks to meet (not marry) man in similar situation who has and values these qualities: integrity, kindness and sensitivity, self-awareness, self-insight; and a willingness to share this: intelligence, a sense of humour, relative emotional stability and last – but not least – physical attractiveness.”

I recently asked him what it was about the ad that led him to respond.

His answer? “Seeks to meet (not marry).”

What?!  All this time I thought it was the “qualities” part that wowed him!

 (See 25th Wedding Anniversary Poem and  About Adele Gould)

Life After Divorce

 

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