Originally posted on March 14, 2014. My post is first and Shari's is second.
At 18 years old, I wanted to be an adult and marry the love of my life. I didn’t know anything other than that. I didn’t know my likes or dislikes, what I wanted to do with my life, or where I wanted to be. All I know is that I loved this man, he loved me and that’s all that mattered.
Fast-forward 8 years after one child, large amounts of heartache, and innumerable disappointments. Now, I’m in my mid-twenties and I have a huge scroll of a “list”. Rich, tall, fine, no children (I had some nerve right?), no Christian (I was still bitter, lol) only a certain age, a certain this, a certain that.
We’re gonna hit that button one more time. I’m in my mid-thirties, I’ve been single for almost 9 years, and now my “list” is significantly shorter and of more substance. I’m not ready to settle for less, but I have definitely matured and am more open-minded when it comes to companionship. Here are the 5 non-negotiables for my future husband:
He has to be a Christian: This will be our number one point of compatibility. My faith is very important to me and I need someone who understands and relates to me on that level. Just like I haven’t lost faith in the possibility of a great marriage, I haven’t lost faith in God’s people. I want someone who TRULY loves God. I need someone who can pray with me and for me! I want someone who knows that he is not perfect but relies on God through his imperfections. Not to be all spooky spiritual and deep, but I need someone who truly understands the concept of loving me as Christ loves the church.
He has to understand that I come as a package deal: Whomever I end up with as a lifelong companion must not only love me, but also love my son. I expect for him to love and treat him as if he were his own flesh and blood. I intend to do the same if he has a child (ren). He also needs to understand that this package also includes my ex. My son has a father who is very much part of and active in his life. It’s inevitable that we will have some sort of contact for the rest of our lives. This means that we need to be open in our communication and secure in ourselves and in our relationship.
He has to be employed: I don’t think that needs too much of an explanation. I work hard and have goals. It makes sense to have that in common with my mate. Plus, man don’t work, don’t eat right?
He has to be smart and fun (ny): This doesn’t mean that he has to have multiple degrees and be in the middle of his dissertation. Neither am I looking for a stand up comic. I just want someone who can hold a decent conversation and construct a complete and proper sentence. Someone who I can have fun with and laugh with. Someone who can rap Outkast lyrics, jam to a Ricky Dillard tune, talk about global warming, discuss the state of the black man in our society, and then watch Pootie Tang with me. Lol!
He has to be honest: Be truthful. I cannot deal with another person who practices the art of lying. I need to be able to trust him as well as he needs to trust me.
Now is that too much to ask?
When I got married, I was 26 years old. I thought that my share of experiences when it came to guys was enough for me to know exactly what I wanted when it came to choosing a husband. I’d had a long-term relationship with my boyfriend from high school and I’d dated guys during and after college. From those experiences, I knew that I didn’t want a guy who smoked, a guy who didn’t know how to control his alcohol intake or a guy who cussed like a sailor to name a few. What I did want, was a guy who was fun to be around, whether we went out for dinner and a movie or just stayed in and played video games (yes, I played a lot of video games in college), a guy who paid attention to me when I rambled on and on about something that he was probably not the least bit interested in, like, why I chose to paint my nails Shangri La-La Lilac and a guy who liked and appreciated me for me. I also wanted him to be cute and smart and goal-oriented and funny and either athletic and/or musical and…you get the point. I didn’t think that was too much to ask.
When I met my ex, I thought that I’d gotten a guy who pretty much possessed the things that I was looking for. He was a nice guy, cool, funny, musically talented, and fun to be around. He didn’t smoke, drink and didn’t cuss (much, lol). He had goals and he was smart and we had certain things in common, among those, our love for music and God. AND my dad liked him…#winning, right? Well, not so much. I later came to the realization that there were other things I needed him to possess; traits and characteristics that were important to me, values that needed to align with mine. But back then I was in love. And he was talented and kinda cute. And he wanted to marry me! (And did I mention my dad liked him?)
Now, eleven years and a divorce later, I know what values and characteristics are truly important to me. And honestly, I have the experience of my now defunct marriage to thank for that. Divorce and everything that comes with it has a way of changing your views on relationships; what you expect from the relationship and what you will and won’t do “next time”.
What I’ve learned is that I need to know both my value AND my values. Understanding just how valuable I am won’t allow me to go down a path of accepting just anything from anyone. And, I need to know what I truly value and make sure that the guy I’m interested in has similar values. Is he loyal? Caring? Ambitious? Dependable? These are the things I need to focus on. Values are what will last in the long run – not looks.
I’ve also learned to take my time. It takes a little time to get to know someone once you make it past the stage of the representative (the person you meet initially when they’re trying to put their best foot forward). Is the person I met six months ago still the same person a year later? Are his actions consistent with his words? Does he act one way when he’s with me, and another when he’s with his family or friends? Time will tell.
I’ve learned to be upfront and honest with him and myself. If there’s something that is bothering me or makes me uncomfortable, I address it with him. But, I also have a little convo with myself where if for some reason things aren’t going where I’d like it to go or aren’t changing for the better, I’m prepared to let the relationship go. No use in wasting anyone’s time. Plus, I’ve driven past red flags before and I no longer want to go down that road. Does he get upset or overly sensitive when I express my feelings with him? Does he take my feelings into consideration concerning issues we may have discussed? If the first question yields a “yes” and the second a “no”, for me it indicates that there will be communication problems and he may lack empathy - both, necessary elements in a healthy relationship.
I’d be crazy not to take what I’ve learned from my past experiences and apply those lessons in my next relationship, as I’m liable to repeat the same mistakes and end up with another version of what I had previously. I’d also be crazy to drag baggage from one relationship to another. Instead, I choose to lighten my load and set out to create new experiences with a new him…whomever that may be. ;)
P.S. Cheryce and I will be heading to a speed-dating event this weekend. Stay tuned…I’m sure we’ll have some blog-worthy stories to share with you!
Have your experiences changed your thoughts about what you are looking for in a relationship?
Cheryce F. Thompson and Shari Anderson
The Optimistic Divorcees was a blog co-created by myself and Shari. It was established, not to promote divorce, but as a platform to promote strength, courage, and happiness. We wanted to let people who were experiencing divorce know that there is a fulfilling life after divorce. We needed them to understand that they could be happy and content in their state, and know that no matter what, they were going to make it, and that they would find their happily ever after! On this blog we shared stories related to our marriages and divorces, our dating experiences, and other elements pertaining to life after divorce. We also welcomed other divorcees as guest bloggers to share their stories.