Q: I am a 43-year-old man, single after a messy divorce. I had almost given up on relationships and love until I met someone I am drawn towards. It is a breezy relationship and I want it to remain that way. However, the woman I like is keen on taking things to the next level. I am not sure if I want to get married. She is not sure if she wants to remain single any more, she is in her late 30s and has been through messy relationships too. Help!
Divorces are difficult, and some are more difficult than the other. Every divorce, just like every relationship, changes something inside of us. It is important to deal with issues and unpack them to understand their effects on our mind, especially the ones that are traumatic in nature regardless of the nature and intensity of trauma.
Our education system, our society and family structures, do not necessarily equip us to deal with real psychological challenges of our lives, such as divorce or death of a loved one where one requires proper bereavement counselling. Far more number of people need this sort of counselling than we care to admit. Counselling and psychotherapy help us identify and possibly heal the negative patterns of thinking we developed while going through the unpleasant and traumatic experience. This negativity, if gone unchecked can colour our worldview in considerable ways.
For example, in your case; despite being open to having and enjoying companionship of a lover in your life, you remain gripped by the irrational anxiety that the moment you say ‘yes’ to marriage, things will go downhill from there on. It is a valid fear but not a functional response if your goal is to hold on to your beloved. I also don’t want to come across as suggesting that everyone needs to get married or be in a relationship. These are choices, like any other, that adults make all the time.
It would be of great value to both of you to have an open communication about your fears and concerns. Try and be as authentic and vulnerable as you can be. Go for further counselling if required. Raising tenderness and empathy towards yourselves and each other’s fears may help a lot. Lastly prepare yourself for life by not asking for certainties. The more you demand certainty the more you find yourself gripped with anxiety and fear. The more you work with probabilities, the more you find yourself being hopeful and ready.