I was talking with a gal recently who told me what could have been a very sad story. (Though it turned out well, I suppose you could say that it was still sad in many ways.)
It seemed that, a few years before, her identity had been stolen when some crooks got a hold of her bank account number. They had rented an apartment in her name and then set things up so that their rent was automatically withdrawn from her account.
Fortunately for her, she balanced her accounts on a monthly basis and discovered the theft pretty quickly. To make this long story a bit shorter, the crooks, having been stymied in their attempts to get her paying their rent, then turned to paying off their credit cards with her account’s money. Again, she was able to stop them. Sadly, it took four months for her to get things worked out with the bank. Happily, the crooks (whose names she was never allowed to know because, after all, crooks have their privacy rights) are now serving time for having gotten money from numerous folks’ accounts.
But that’s only part of the story. The saddest part of all was her then-husband’s attitude. You see, this man to whom she had pledged her life, kept harping that she should sign all of her assets over to him since, as he said, “Your identity has been compromised.” He repeated his request that she sign over all of her assets to him at least once a week during this four month period. He also mentioned it on a regular basis every few months thereafter. She refused. Thank God.
Here’s the thing: The lady in question knew that, every time her hubby used big words, he was lying to her. Sure enough, they were divorced a few years later. Imagine what her life would have been like, had she signed every penny she had over to him. Be careful, dear friends, very, very careful about what you sign. The biggest crook of all in this story is not the one serving time.
So, it’s happened. You ex has replaced you. It didn’t take long, all things considered, and now you need to deal with it….and with comforting your kids.
Whether your ex replaced you in two months or two years, you are going to face the new person in your family at all large or important family gatherings, so you need to decide how you are going to handle it. Like I used to tell my kids when they were little and had to do something they didn’t want to do, “we can do this nice or we can do it nasty, but we are going to do it.” And so it is the case here.
Sure, it stinks but look at it this way: The person he or she is marrying is stuck with your ex and you aren’t. That should be cause for rejoicing, if nothing else. Here’s something important to catch: Do not try to warn the new spouse-to-be about your ex because he or she is not going to believe it and it will look like sour grapes. Instead, pray for that person, that his or her eyes will be opened to the true character of your ex.
But what about your kids? Even if they are grown, this is very hard on them. Be there for them. As your ex moves into his or her new life, he or she won’t be there. The ex has moved on and frequently that includes dumping the kids you shared, who are constant reminders of the failed marriage.
Love your kids. Support them. Let them talk. Pray for them and for your own hurt feelings because let’s face it, when you are so easily replaced, it hurts, at least at first. As time moves on, you will as well. Even if that means that you are alone and your ex isn’t, you may find that you have the better deal.
We have been fighting this pandemic for ten weeks now- time flies, doesn’t it? Perhaps you are wondering how to get back into life, once things return to what they are now saying will be our new normal.
How about starting a single group for folks in your age group at your local church? What better way is there than to start a group with folks of like-interests? In my case, I go to a church that (pandemics aside) seats 10,000 people on a Sunday morning. Out of that large a crowd, I know about ten single women and one single man who is about my age….actually, he’s a whole lot older. The odds are not good here.
I was giving this some thought recently. There is stuff going on all the time at church, but many groups’ activities are announced as being “for couples.” During the pandemic, many television ads talk about doing things and snuggling with your family. Oh, great. Thanks for the reminder that I’m single.
How about turning the tables, and making things “for singles only?” Have fellowship dinners, bowling nights, hikes, picnics, and look-at-the-changing-leaves excursions that are only for the unattached.
You can do this. Begin by contacting your church office and seeing if you would be permitted to begin such a group. Invite those folks who might be interested in helping get the ball rolling to a planning meeting. Figure out what your focus would be and then go for it!
There used to be a saying “don’t worry if you’re talking to yourself, only worry if you’re answering back.” Thanks to the COVID 19 virus, I passed that a long time ago!
One month is bad enough, but two months of self-isolation are even worse. At some point in time, I caught myself having conversations with myself. Full conversations. What’s a single gal to do? Here are some suggestions to help lift the fog and dissipate those clouds of conversational uncertainty.
First, talk to Siri on your phone. I changed my Siri voice to that of a British male, finding that more delightful than a woman’s tones. Ask questions, and listen, truly listen to the answer. Okay, I know that’s a bit lame. But if you’re desperate…. These are troubling times, you know.
Call an old friend and talk for hours. I mean, what is she doing? She’s almost as stuck as you are, except that you’re the one who’s single.
Go for walk. Greet everyone pleasantly. Admire dogs, children, and cats. (Yes, I actually saw a woman walking her cat the other day. Poor gal must have been despairing of human contact. It certainly was a conversation starter. Sadly, the cat wanted nothing to do with the idea and took off, her owner in tow, but I digress.)
Go to The Home Depot and talk to the workers there. (Please keep your conversation department related, or it will be brief. That is, if you are in the paint department, don’t try to talk carpeting, or you will get handed off very quickly.) (Second note: They are restricted to a certain number of customers in the store at a time, so please be sensitive to the people waiting in line outside, trying to get in, especially if it is 35 degrees out, like it was here this morning.)
Go to the grocery store and bemoan to anyone else in the paper goods aisle the fact that there still isn’t any toilet tissue available. After all this time, what in the world could everyone be doing with it? (Side note: I have seen two different Cottonnelle TP ads recently, teasing me about their product to the point where they showed a Walmart worker loading the shelves with their product and smiling to beat the band.
I awoke early this morning and rushed to Walmart, only to find not even the worst Brand X product on their shelves. But I digress, again.) You can actually get into some very interesting conversations with folks regarding the benefits of one bathroom wipe over another. Been there, done that, but that smacks of desperation once again.
Put on a YouTube video of your favorite music and sing along, pretending you are in the band. Dance, and you will get a real workout. If a neighbor sees you, you might get hauled away by the men in the little white suits…. They will graciously bring you a white jacket to wear, as well. It will be a bit…confining…..Oops, gotta run. There’s someone at the door. Or there will be soon, if I trip that walker on her way past my house….though it would be nice to talk to someone I’ve known longer than five minutes.
I met the most delightful widow today. We were both on a walk, headed in opposite directions, when I admired her sporty little hat. She smiled and, in the next few minutes, she told me that she is in her late seventies and has been widowed for four years.
Her late hubby died of pancreatic cancer. She was alone and really feeling it, except for a daughter who lived nearby. One day, she went in to get her car serviced when the mechanic told her he knew a man who she should meet.
She smiled but left the shop without much more thought about the matter. A few days later, the mechanic called about her car, telling her about some upgrades to her service that she might want to consider. Then he asked, “Can I please tell you about my friend? He’s a little older than you are but he’s my best friend and I really would like for you to met him.”
She finally consented to have lunch with the friend. After all, what could it hurt? She was walking towards the restaurant where they had agreed to meet, later on that week, when she spotted a very nice looking older gentlemen walking towards her. She said, “Charlie?” He replied, “Sally?”
She said, “The rest is history. We have met one another for lunch twice a week ever since. Sometimes we have one another over for dinner. We take walks, do puzzles, and just enjoy being together.” She smiled and said, “He’s really old- he’s 85, but he’s mentally still sharp and we have the best time together. Life isn’t so lonely anymore.”
The message here is that sometimes a friend of the opposite sex can be just that- a friend. And that can make all the difference in the world!
Sometimes it feels so nice to be back in a relationship that you throw caution (and your good sense) to the wind and fall madly in love. Or, at the very least, into very strong like. But you might want to proceed with a whit of the common sense you were born with.
Really, how well do you know this person? He or she might be the kind of person who flatters you, brings you gifts, and spends quality time with you. This person might be completely legitimate. Or not. It’s the “or not” that you need to be concerned about. Let me walk you through some questions you might want to find answers to, before you head down this new marital aisle.
What is this person’s background? Did the person grow up in a dysfunctional home? What kind of relationship did (or does) this individual have with his or her parents? Siblings? Former spouse? Children?
How did his or her parents handle conflict? This is what the prospective spouse is used to and it is his or her fall-back reaction. Were the prospect’s parents screamers or folks who remained perfectly calm during times of disagreement? Were decisions made by one person or two?
Have you ever seen your new potential mate get angry? How does he or she respond when not getting his or her way? Could you live with that for the rest of your life?
If your possible Mr. or Mrs. Right is divorced, what were the reasons for that split? Does your friend accept at least some responsibility for the break up or was blame laid entirely at the feet of the former Right family member? Does your friend badmouth the former spouse and then say, “But you know I would never say anything bad about __________.” But he or she just did.
Have his or her children accepted your role in their parent’s life? If not, you will have a very hard row to hoe, and it could be an issue for the rest of your life. How do you feel about that? True, sometimes these things work out but occasionally they don’t.
Has your potential spouse asked any questions about your life, or has it been an attitude of “your life began the moment you met me” kind of relationship?
Has your future spouse recently invested in a new home, wanting to settle on it before you tie the knot? I am not a lawyer but there’s something called “non-marital property” that allows him or her to keep one hundred percent of the value of the home that he or she bought, even if he or she bought it the day before your wedding. If you split up in the future, he or she gets to keep his or her money. That is planning ahead or it could be a case of hedging his or her bets on whether or not your marriage will last.
Finally, does this person have any really annoying habits? Can you live with those quirks, without complaint, for the rest of your life? If this is an older person, those habits are not going to change.
I’m not telling you not to remarry. That’s not my intent. Instead, I am asking you to think about these hard questions before you tie the knot. Mr. or Mrs. Right might turn out to be Mr. or Mrs. No Way, Jose.
The practicality of keeping your mind intact during the COVID19 pandemic might be a no-brainer (well, actually it would be the opposite, technically speaking) but how does someone who lives alone keep his or her mind? Good question.
You see television commercials that assume you have a boatload of folks living with you, when your reality is that there is no one. The PSA Powers that Be hint very loudly and often that the ONLY safe place is in your home. Going outside, even to the grocery, could be fatal.
Well, there is that possibility. If you are over 65 and chronically ill, then, yes, there is a much better chance that you will get sick. If you are in good shape, you could also get sick. The deal here is that there is a 98% chance you would recover, even if you did get ill. Those aren’t my stats; they came from Dr. Ben Carson, a man I greatly admire, two weeks ago.
So how do you keep from going wahoo while waiting for the all-clear? (The point here is that you want to be around other people, without actually being anywhere near them. Your house can only be SO clean….
Text. Call people on the phone. Keep some kind of noise going on during your waking hours, trying to avoid anything that will stress you out. HGTV is a good start, except for those annoying Lowe’s commercials where they tell you every five minutes to stay home with your family. Suddenly Single folks live alone, Lowe’s geniuses. Don’t rub it in.
Crud. I can hear that annoying commercial where they tell me what my rooms have been changed into…This is the fifteenth time they’ve played it since I started writing this blog posting. Aughh!!!!! I have just made the decision to stick with Home Depot, who only asks that I paint my entire house or Ace, where they offer curbside or home delivery. No more Lowe’s for me, who apparently have a very low budget for musical interludes and play that same blasted melody with its handful of notes over and over and over…..No, wait, I may be going nuts. But I digress.
Order books and read them. Pretend you are in the story; they have people in them. They are your new best friends. (Keep in mind they have to be a bit on the nutty side or there would be no story). Write a book. Who are the weirdest people you know? Change all identifying names and places and have at it.
Take long walks, and greet everyone who passes by, even if they are on the opposite side of the road where they should be. We have a pandemic going on, after all. Make appointments to talk to your neighbors; one of you can stand in the road while the other of you stands in your garage.
Stay sane. Put on your big girl pants and don’t let the pandemic get you down. We are one day closer to our freedom than we were yesterday.
Outhouses. They stink. They are, shall we say, less than hygienic. They are frequently right there, out in the open (think construction sites and roadway work here). But they are sometimes necessary.
Okay, so I will confess that the reason I don’t run marathons is because of the bathroom facilities. My idea of “roughing it” is the Hilton.
I was talking to a friend of mine this afternoon about divorces. They are frequently messy, hurtful experiences. They can pit two perfectly decent folks against one another.
What might be the most difficult season of this time of life is when you realize that your ex is moving on after one of you moved out. If you are still alone, that can be difficult, painful, and tear-provoking. We don’t usually deal with emotions herein but sometimes a little reflection can help you move on, so here we go.
How did you feel when you first heard the news that your ex had plans for a new Mrs. firmly in place? Please don’t succumb to the temptation to call her and tell her all the negative stuff you have on your ex. She won’t believe you and you will only appear to be the absolute nut job your ex already told her you are.
Warning her off simply will not work and you will appear to have a bad case of sour grapes.
So what should you do instead? As a Christian to whom this has happened twice, I turn to pray and thinking about the things of God. It helps that I have an amazing group of Christian friends that keep me on the right track.
Chats and texts are helpful, though the latter can be used against you in a court of law, so refrain from anything you don’t want to share with his attorney and the judge. Nothing more threatening than a coconut cream pie in his face, please. On second thought, that is one of my two favorite pies, the other being key lime. Send me the pie and use a different kind. [Please note that a frozen pie has the potential to do serious damage, so make sure it is thawed.]
Don’t start overeating. Food is not the comfort it might seem and you will only feel worse when you see the new poundage that has been added to wherever you wanted and needed it the least. Blessed be the tie that binds but not in this case.
Going out for a long walk can help. Please note that you may need to do this more than once a day. Walk as fast as you can for as long as you can, and then go home and do something productive. For example, I am already working on my Christmas 2020 gifts (I do counted cross stitch) and I have cleaned out a closet and am about two-thirds of the way through cleaning out some things I inherited from my great aunt…..ten years ago. It is only April, so I am on a roll here.
To close for now, when the post-divorce reality hits, resist the urge to pray for rain on his next wedding day. Don’t badmouth him to your children. Again, that won’t win friends, even if she looks like…..nope, I’m not going to say it. Wish him the best and move on.
You have to get rid of what you don’t want in your life to make room for what you do want, even if we are only talking about attitudes and feelings. It’s better to want something you don’t have than to have something you don’t want.
You’ve seen the pictures of folks smiling happily into the camera for pictures to be posted at once on Facebook. It makes me very pleased to see how some marriages have been strengthened by the virus and the forced togetherness. If this is a time of great joy for some couples, that’s superb.
But I had a chat recently with a pastor friend of mine and he was telling me that, in the midst of all this togetherness, there is a darker side. He informed me that incidents of martial violence have skyrocketed. I mentioned in an earlier blog posting that divorce lawyers have found their business increased by 50% but that doesn’t account for the marriages that are coming apart at the seams due to violence.
Some other friends told me that they have watched their parents’ marriages fall apart in front of their eyes, again as a result of too much time together and stress over losing jobs and financial pressure. Young people have lost their jobs by the thousands, but some older people have also become unemployed and businesses are failing.
So what can you and I do? Actually, there are several things that would be helpful. First, pray for these families. It is, indeed, families that are being affected by this fallout, not just the couples themselves. They need to know that they aren’t forgotten, so send a note of encouragement and support. Don’t take sides. That won’t help.
A note doesn’t interfere with crazy schedules that may include home schooling, cleaning, cooking three meals a day, juggling what is left of work, and then trying to deal with the disintegration of what might have been a long-term marriage.
What do you write? Hello. I’m thinking of you. This, too, shall pass. Praying for better days. I’m here for you. You aren’t alone in this. I’m your friend….
You know your friend or family member better than I do. The important thing is that you have written a personal, handwritten note to uplift and encourage, not a text. That can make a huge difference.
Next, wait a few days and follow up with a phone call. Again, be there for the person. Listen. Devote your entire attention to the person. Pray for him or her. Make sure that you are contacting a person of the same sex. This is not the time to get involved with someone other than your own spouse (who my Suddenly Single folks no longer have)! You are not a home wrecker; you are there to be an encouragement to your friend.
Pray without ceasing. Encourage without judging. Be there without fail.
Let me tell you a little secret: If you forget to change your filing status with your employer after you become single, your taxes can be a real shocker when tax time comes. Voice of experience here. Today.
So, my ex and I split up last year. He always did our taxes. I would nod and smile as we went through the documents, not really paying attention. After a few minutes of explanation, I would sign on the numerous proverbial dotted lines and everything was fine. The refunds would arrive like clockwork.
My accountant got my full attention this morning when he told me what my tax liability was for not telling my employer I was no longer married. The fact that I hadn’t known I needed to tell my employer will bring further blessings next year, since we are so far into this year. I have spent a lot of time today, scrambling to inform my HR department. They apparently aren’t working right now, due to the COVID19 fun, which will make my joy even greater next year since I can’t get a hold of them.
My attention was so grabbed this morning that I went weak in my knees. The number that my accountant gave me was more than half what I paid for my first house. I kid you not. A lot more than half, truth be told. And I wasn’t getting a house out of the deal. And the money was due by when??????
So, here’s the takeaway for all of my suddenly single friends: Inform your employer IMMEDIATELY when you are no longer married. If you know that you will be unexpectedly unmarried soon, go ahead and change your status now, so that the taxes will not come as a surprise next April. And so you won’t get lulled into thinking you are taking home more money that you are.
So where’s my house?