The Pretend World of Married-ness

I am struggling with an essay I am writing about someone I dated about two years ago. Something about this relationship broke me, and I have been apathetic ever since about finding anyone new. It doesn’t stop me from browsing Match, or even going on the odd date, but I seem to lack the enthusiasm I once had, and as a result one date has yet to turn into two.

I am struggling, in this essay to discover the reason for my shut down. Was it that I still missed my husband, and this guy didn’t measure up? That doesn’t seem to quite ring true. At the time, I felt sure that I was ready. Now, I feel I would be if the right person came along.

Then I worried that loneliness had skewed my intuition about people. I seem to be in this pattern of jumping into relationships, thinking I know the person and falling for them, even going so far as to repeat gestures and feelings that I had once had with my husband. I seemed to be trying to recreate something that wasn’t there. In each relationship I have had since my husband died, I have woken up to the real person I was dating and realized I hadn’t actually fallen in love with them, but had just tried to recapture the feelings that I once knew with Arron.

And now I don’t trust myself at all to make a good decision about anybody. Even if I were to somehow meet someone, I worry that I would slip into this pretend world of married-ness, without doing any of the work required to get to there.

I wish I could find a conclusion to my essay that didn’t sound trite or insincere. I wish I could trust my intuition again, maybe even get excited about someone, at least enough to make it to that second date.

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  1. anniegirl1138 February 10, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I didn’t date very long between being widowed and meeting my second husband. I know what you mean about falling into the habit of openness and expecting it to be reciprocated because that is what we were used to. In a marriage, you don’t have a facade anymore. You can be utterly you and it’s very hard to step back from that and remember the steps it took to get there. Or, that some people are not capable of getting there – which is why some of us marry and many of us don’t.

    There was the usual getting to know you with my second husband, but we dispensed with some of it too. We laid cards on the table and expectations of each other pretty early on. But ya know, I did the same thing with my first husband. I just laid it down early on and he was fine. That’s how I knew – both times.

    I was single a long time before my first marriage, and honestly, I didn’t find dating afterwards to be much different than the first time around except that I knew – really knew this time- what it was like to be married and happy. And it was so hard to pretend I didn’t or pretend I wasn’t interested in being so again. I was impatient with people who seemed stuck in the idea of dating like we were still in high school or something and not adults with kids and jobs and everything else.

    God, I am rambling. Sorry. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in “marriedness”. Don’t apologize for knowing what you want. If the other person doesn’t want it, then he isn’t the right one. And that is trite, and it’s unfortunately closer to the truth of dating.

  2. ANovelMenagerie February 10, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    I’d like to just get to the first date!

    Abigail… you are lovely, talented and God will bring him to you…. I just know it!

  3. Abigail February 10, 2009 at 11:14 pm


    Thank you for this. Somehow your words made something more clear to me: the idea that in a marriage, things are real, there is no facade, whereas in dating that level of comfort takes a while to develop. I know the temptation to skip through all that is tempting, but some of it is necessary. I think part of my problem is that I am not 100% positive that marriedness is really what I want. Maybe I just haven’t found the right guy. Who knows?

    Thank you for the sweet boost! I needed it today…

  4. dadshouse February 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    This is an interesting post. I’ve been divorced 9 years, and I’m still single. I just don’t feel that deep connection with anyone. And I sort of wonder – am I supposed to feel it? Was the love feeling I had in my youth just an illusion? Am I more grown up and evolved? I don’t think I’m more shut down.

    I have had a few deep connections and relationships post-divorce that almost led to remarriage. But for the most part, I flit from one casual, light-hearted, let’s just have fun and great sex relationship to another. Partly because I don’t want to bring the wrong person into the life I share with my kids.

    But they will be off to college soon… I gotta find someone for me… I think.

  5. txmomx6 February 12, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing so honestly.
    I’m 14 months out and am just beginning to allow the thought of a “date” to enter my head without making me want to throw up.
    It’s a different world.
    I appreciate your honesty.
    Thank you,

  6. Mel February 25, 2009 at 12:34 am

    This is such a powerful image that I read it a couple of weeks ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

    You put eloquent words to what I’ve been feeling, but couldn’t express.

    I have dated someone for awhile now, but I find myself like a yo-yo, my desire for marriage propelling me into married-ness, then, expectations unfilled, I pull away.

    Thank you for sharing.

    I guess we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, trying to articulate and learn from our mistakes. Thank you for being so bold.

  7. Abigail February 25, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I seem to have a struck a nerve with this post. Its good to know I am not alone in this feeling I have, not quite knowing how to proceed relationship-wise. Yo-yo is a good metaphor Mel.

    Thank you all for your comments.

  8. Wendy March 11, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I have been a widow for 3 1/2 years and have done this same thing. It is like one of you said, I know more what I want, and a lot of that knowing comes from our past marriage and I don’t think that is wrong or that it is not letting go, I think it is our past and we learn from our past and our marriage was a huge part of that past. I know that my husband was far from perfect and I would not want my next husband if there should be one to be the same as Terry, but I know Terry had a lot of qualities I will be looking for in a man. And I also no how short the time can be and that has caused me to move to fast and be blinded. I feel better knowing that I am not the only one that has had this feeling. Thank you again for sharing. And may God bless you and your children. My 4 year old was only one and he has asked if a man in the store walking by is his dad, or he seen him and he is going to his house. It is so hard the hurt I feel knowing he will never know his dad, and my girls are older and miss him so much too. Just wanted to share that.

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