SUNDAY LOVE STORY ~ DAVE & LORI
This couple dated in high school. They graduated, went their separate ways, and married other people. Fast forward 30 years. Both David and Lori were divorced and had been disappointed in love more than once. I knew both of them because we had competed on the same speech and debate team in high school. (I met both of them in junior high, but became close friends with them in high school.) Dave wasn't dating much and Lori was convinced she had a "bad picker" when it came to men.
Lori sent me a friend request on Facebook after I asked another friend what had happened to her. I was happy to hear from Lori because she was always one of the nicest people I knew. (She still is.) I asked Dave if he would consider dating her. He had been single for quite awhile by this time. He said, "She's a sweetheart, but she's married." I said, "Not for long. Her divorce is pending." I could sense his ears perking up on the other end of the phone. I gave him her number and the rest is history. They reunited and got married after three decades on other paths.
I share this post to give mid-singles hope. When you think you are out of options and feel like abandoning hope, sometimes a loving Heavenly parent takes a hand. Of course Dave had to summon the courage to dial that phone number and show up out of the blue after thirty years -- and Lori had to overcome her fears about having a "bad picker" when it came to men.
But what would you do to be with the person of your dreams?
Congratulations on six years of marriage Dave and Lori! Best wishes for the next six thousand!

It is a self-evident truth that, in the realm of human relationships, agency will always create the opportunity for truly irreconcilable differences.

During our long-term marriages, we believed we would always be able to think of an acceptable alternative to divorce, no matter what problem arose. However, in both of our cases, the decision was our spouse's. At other times, the kind of marriage a spouse might have to settle for would violate their integrity.  For example, we know a man whose wife told him she would stay married to him if she could keep her lesbian partner in a separate bedroom in their house. He would not remain married on those terms.

In situations where your spouse gave up on the marriage, placed serious addictions above the marriage, or proved chronically unfaithful or abusive, you can continue to hope and pray if you wish. This may be living in denial. Acceptance of reality and of your partner's agency is the beginning of healing.

If you are broken-hearted over the decisions of a former spouse and think, "It wasn't supposed to be this way" or that something is "wrong," give yourself time to grieve. But also begin to ask yourself whether, perhaps, your situation is exactly as it should be. Consider whether a chance to start over at mid-life with all the knowledge you have gained is a tender mercy. Begin to think and dream about creating a new future with a spouse that is aligned with you in the most important areas of life – and see your situation for its possibilities.

Enjoy an associated LILY Pod episode:
  1. Elevating Energy from Grief to Gratitude
I've posted content from Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife before in this group. But, we are trying to undo a lot of damage that has been done by the way our culture almost always pairs sexuality with sin in our common discourse. For many of us, that even played a part in our divorces. This particular episode is about navigating sexuality as a single Latter-day Saint.
This subject is central to marriage. If your sexual relationship was not what you might have hoped during a prior marriage, your single years are a time for some deeper self-examination. Don't shy away from this topic because it is controversial. It is essential to a healthy marriage to get this issue right.
ABOUT GRATITUDE. Yesterday Cathy and I went to lunch as part of celebrating our third anniversary. I remarked to her that one of the advantages of being a divorcee is that I take our marriage less for granted.
I got married the first time when I was 26 years old. We had a child 11 months later. To some degree, I was going through the motions of what American Latter-day Saints do. I graduated from high school, served a mission, went to college, and got married when I was in graduate school. It's kind of the life plan we all expect to follow. I loved my first wife and my family, but I think I kind of just expected it would always be there for me. I took it too much for granted. Perhaps I thought what I was doing and the way I was living was just normal. But normal isn't special.
Having a lengthy marriage and then getting divorced woke me up to the fact that we are not simply entitled to marriage. Our spouses ALWAYS have choices. Even if you feel really solid with someone, that is partly a result of their devotion and conscious choice to be with you. That is a great blessing and a high honor. We should really never take it for granted. We should celebrate it every day, and not just on anniversaries.
Cathy and I dated for a good chunk of 2016 and were "just friends" for all of 2017. At the end of that year (literally the last day of the year) I wrote her a letter and asked her to date me for marriage. I didn't know it at the time, but she was dating two good men, who both had serious intentions, and trying to decide between them. So I complicated her life. Even with the great options she had and even though we had stopped dating a year prior, Cathy chose me. I don't take that for granted. She could have chosen otherwise. So I consider it a great blessing that she chose me.
Before I even met Cathy, I learned that we can only enjoy something to the extent that we are grateful for it. Our enjoyment is directly proportional to our gratitude. I enjoy my marriage and the love that we share so much because I am deeply grateful for it. I am grateful for another chance at life and happiness in marriage. I am grateful for someone to love everyday in a special way. I am grateful for the kind of family life that I once took for granted as being "just normal." Because I feel abundantly blessed, I feel abundantly happy. That is the secret my friends.
Be grateful for what you have. Be happy for others when good things happen to them. Be enthusiastic and embrace your life for its possibilities. Life is not merely to be endured. It is to be lived. So take chances, have adventures, love deeply, and live it well.
Three years ago today, Cathy and I were married! Despite all of the fear and trauma that comes from broken marriages in the past, we chose each other and promised to be together forever. Getting married is a tremendous act of faith in God and in another person.
I can say, without hesitation, that I am grateful she said "yes" and I would do it again. I chose someone with whom I could build an intentional marriage at mid-life, and that's a beautiful thing. I want the same joy for every one of you that is willing to try again!
I love you Cathy! Thanks for saying YES!

ON TRANSITIONING FROM MARRIAGE TO CELIBACY

There was a recent BYU article about "Transitioning from Sexually Active to Sexually Inactive" that got a good deal of well-warranted criticism. The author (who has never been divorced or widowed) gave a heartfelt and vulnerable apology for the insensitivity of the article. In fairness, she was assigned to write the article by a professor she worked for. The following was my response to her apology. I hope it was mostly constructive and helpful. That was my intent.

Paige, my wife Cathy and I are both divorcees and we have written a book to mid-singles, which will be released this fall. I think the biggest omission in your article is, honestly, an empathetic acknowledgement of how difficult it is to adjust to celibacy. There is NOTHING else in life that can fill that gap -- and an article suggesting that other things can compensate just fails to understand. Adult human beings are not designed for celibacy. Once we are used to being partnered, going back to celibacy is one of the hardest things we've ever done. Any other idea like, "just pray" or "exercise more," is not really going to help very much. You might as well be honest and just say, "it hurts like the devil, you deeply crave intimacy and can't have it, and you will be sorely tempted, and there is nothing you can do about it without breaking your temple covenants." That would be honest and empathetic. You can say, "We don't make covenants to follow Christ only when it is easy."
Writing to divorcees, you will get nowhere with unbridled Latter-day Saint idealism -- and making the gospel seem easy. Divorcees in the church have long since learned that it is not accurate to say, "If you just live the gospel everything works out." Be honest with them and show empathy and they will at least feel understood. Treating them like they have returned to adolescence with "For the Strength of Youth" lectures on chastity is guaranteed to turn them off.
I'm not trying to be critical at all -- just some feedback for future efforts.

At our recent General Conference, President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Gerrit W. Gong both highlighted the fact that a majority of adult members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are now unmarried, widowed, or divorced. Among other things, Elder Gong emphasized that, “Our standing before the Lord and in His Church is not a matter of our marital status but of our becoming faithful and valiant disciples of Jesus Chris” and that, “Adults want to be seen as adults and to be responsible and contribute as adults.” So often, mid-singles of our faith have been treated by other adults as if they had returned to a state of adolescence. Many of you have been lectured about the law of chastity the way we were in our teen years, as though we had not matured in our ability to make moral decisions or to create evolved relationships.

Often people assume that singles must have missed out on the secret possessed by married members of the Church. It is comforting to believe that divorce cannot happen to us. We were among those who sometimes judged divorced or unmarried members for not getting married or “not making their marriages work” – before we, ourselves, were divorced. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12.)

We are living in an era where a universe of possibilities is open to mid-singles of the Church. President Ballard made clear “that eternal life is not simply a question of current marital status but of discipleship and being ‘valiant in the testimony of Jesus.’” He quoted President Russell M. Nelson, “In the Lord’s own way and time, no blessing will be withheld from His faithful Saints. The Lord will judge and reward each individual according to heartfelt desire as well as deed.” If an eternal marriage is your heart’s desire, the Lord has promised that it will be yours, in this life or the next, if you are true and faithful and remain on the covenant path. As President Ballard reminded us, “The hope of all who are single is the same as for all members of the Lord’s restored Church - access to the grace of Christ through ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.’” Love in Later Years is here to help you achieve the spirituality, personal development, and relationships you desire.

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