I'm going to go down an unusual path with this post, not because I think it's vital for the entire Christian community, but because it's something I'm going through. Perhaps there's someone else out there like me who can be helped by what I've learned.
My wife passed last April, and last January I felt emotionally available to the world for the first time. Grieving is a strange process, but I felt I got off light because my marriage was entirely built on our faith. I didn't have any lingering regrets, no concern about Jess' second life beyond this world. All I had to deal with was loss. Awful, yes, but much less challenging than some others I know.
But I'm 40 and weighed down with medical bills, out of shape, and just no longer looking at the best physical years of my life. I sacrificed much of my career momentum to make things work in my marriage. Again, no regrets, but it doesn't make life any easier.
I mention that last part only because I really didn't put enough thought into that part of things when I started to make myself available again on the dating field.
Being a widower is challenging enough. It's a unique kind of baggage to carry around. A lot of women don't want to have to compete with a ghost. My marriage ended at a strong point. I still love Jess, always will. There was no break in that love, and ... well, who wants to be Plan B?
The financial stuff, the career stuff, that plays a much bigger role now than I had considered. Women my age have become more practical. There are no stars in their eyes. They've been burned -- or perhaps just almost burned -- enough to know money is an important factor to consider. Not wealth, mind you. The women I'm attracted to are reasonable people. Just some financial stability. If home ownership isn't already on the list, it's something the man should be able to acquire. You know, like a grown-up.
And it's not like something I can toss out there in the first conversation. That's the heartbreaking part. I would love it if I could! Would save some time and perhaps some broken hearts. But it's a conversation that takes place much further down the road, when feelings have developed and you start pondering life together, if only in the most simple terms.
This is not to say I'm completely out there, without a budget, without income, just throwing money around like a sailor on three-day leave. No, I have decent income, I have a good budget, and I have a plan to get out of debt. Sooner rather than later. My debt is also explainable. But if you're a 30-something career woman with great credit and no financial drama, it's a major stumbling block. A marriage isn't just an emotional and spiritual union. It's a financial agreement. And 720 credit scores have to think very hard about mingling with lesser ones because long-term quality of life is at stake. Frankly, I don't blame anyone at my age who takes this into consideration.
What really strikes me as more challenging, though, is communication. You get a very different mix of singles at my age. Everyone's lived a life of some type and have developed very strong opinions about the world. As a by-product, it becomes much more difficult to establish a common language, a common understanding. Everyone my age seems to have learned how important communication is in a relationship; if they're not divorced, they know a lot of people who are, and everyone's taken some very good notes. But they've also developed their own ideas about what type of communication is needed and how it needs to be delivered, when really that needs to be more organic and adjusted to the person with whom you're pairing.
There's this rush to establish strong communication from the beginning. Everyone's trying to address their own issues. So many are in counseling for something or another, so talking to some people, you know you're also talking to their counselor (and in a few cases, the counselors are talking right back at you through them). Just finding a common language that doesn't include pop psychology terms and Christianese can consume all the time you spend together.
I don't really have any great answers to these problems today, but I have resolved one thing: I'm still not going to wait to date. If I waited until I was where I think I needed to be, out of debt and a small bank roll of savings, it'd be two or more years before I left the house. I don't think that's healthy. And right now I'm thinking communication is either there and it's easy or perhaps I'm just not meeting the right people.