Remember that tv show that tried to rip off the Brady Bunch and put a new spin on it with Suzanne Somers (sadly not doing any Thighmaster vignettes) and that dude from Dallas?
The divorced dad of three impulsively re-marries, a widowed mother with three kids of her own. Insta-Bunch?
For me, after my divorce (around two years and counting) I was brutal at dating. It took almost two years to figure out what was wrong with me. For a long while, I was refusing to admit there was something fundamentally wrong with my approach. Now I admit it: there is a big problem.
The steps of courtship, several dates followed by sex, sex followed by commitment, commitment followed by taking trips together…and so on? I’ve never had it.
My ex-wife and I met through the internet. She had met my best friend from high school in real life, and we spent months talking on the internet, and on the phone before meeting in person. We were in love before even meeting, it seemed like a fairytale. We met and there were no steps. We didn’t court. We went from talking, to a sexual, exclusive, intense relationship from that day forward.
I know that it wasn’t normal for things to happen that way, but the experience changed me. We had several happy years together before things stopped being as happy, but I might be forever conditioned by the experience.
I’ll always be thankful for those years, but to go forward I needed to break the addiction to fairytales. I needed to understand that those intense feelings of love don’t happen overnight.
It was easier said than done. Over the last two years I’ve learned a lot about myself, as cliched as that might sound.
My biggest flaw is that I want that love right away: but usually it needs to build up to love. It can’t be instantaneous. After having been married, it’s almost like I want to be married right away, and let’s be honest, it doesn’t work like that. Maybe in Victorian England, but in the US, in 2012, it doesn’t.*
Sure, maybe most women say they’d love to be married. But not this exact second! Slow your roll, self. Even with the women looking for a serious relationship, they’re not turned on by a guy already picturing them married with children, living in the suburbs with that white picket fence.**
I finally realized, I can’t be looking for a replacement for my ex-wife. The things we shared, an intense love, shared interests, and most importantly that familiarity that can’t be found without years together…they can’t be created so quickly.
I have to take things, step by step. And even though I want to be married again, unless I’m getting an arranged marriage (stop dreaming parental units) I can’t just pour water on a plant and “Cha-cha-chia” a relationship.
It has to happen naturally, slowly and patiently. While I want what I had before and crave monogamy (which makes me rare for a manimal) I have to do it at a normal pace. Ignore and suppress the impatience. Ignore the pacing of other relationships (either those of mine from the past or those of others.) And realize, things will happen in their own time, if I let them. I miss being married, but unless I hide that fact, I’m probably never getting married again!
Step by step, day by day.
*Failed pick-up lines that seemed sure to work 100 years ago: “Hey, want to get married and have babies.”
**Or they haven’t been turned on YET.