The most common question I got while dating and even now while engaged is, “Soooo…is it hard?” Usually this question came after I explained that Shawn is divorced and has two children. Sometimes it was said as a statement instead of a question. I’m never quite sure how to respond to that but today I’m going to answer the question: “Is it hard?”
Yes. And No. Does that help?
About half of my friends are dating or engaged right now. Sometimes I see the inner turmoil and stress in their relationships and I say to Shawn, “I think we must be doing the whole dating thing wrong. It’s too easy.” He would laugh and we would shrug and move on with life. I kept my LIST of questions going and Shawn grew to know that it wasn’t a thing to be scared of. The LIST were simply things that I didn’t want to discuss over the phone but I also didn’t want to forget about, so I put them in my phone to talk about later. He grew so used to the LIST that often we would be on a walk and he would casually say, “So, got anything on your LIST we need to talk about?”
I didn’t have to worry about what Shawn thought of something because if I was unsure, I asked him. (I know that is a novel idea.) Same on his end. If I didn’t like something, he knew it. I know so many girls that toss and turn, worried about what their boyfriend thinks about something, but they haven’t bothered to even ask him. Whyyyyyy? I don’t understand.
Now. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that we are perfect. [ha. HA! ha.] No joke, dating someone with kids is different and it’s a learning process. It’s more like dating three people and learning the emotions of all three. At times, it was/is overwhelming. And at times, I felt like an invader into this family. The amount of communication I’ve had to do has gone way up. I knew that when I felt weird or awkward, the solution wasn’t to pull away from the situation, but to communicate that to Shawn. Not in a way to make him feel responsible or blame him, but to work through a solution together. We both know that small things ignored build up to big things so we tell each other the small and the big things.
The hardest part about dating was and is outside people. People who make assumptions about our situation and jump to judgement. I’m not used to having my character called into question and so this was totally new for me. I’ve had to learn to respond slowly and in a gentle and understanding way towards others. To respect what others believe about divorce, even if it’s not what I believe. Even if they haven’t taken the time to ask about our situation.
And I would say that’s where Christ comes in. I’ve learned much about how Christ works this year! Every time another person has offended me and I’ve been tempted to just give up, I’m reminded that Christ moves TOWARDS US in forgiveness. He makes the first move, not us. Each time I want to make a snarky or angry comeback to someone who is being hasty in judgement, I remember how patient Christ is TOWARDS ME. This has been a year of moving towards other people in gentleness, love, forgiveness, and patience and although sometimes it’s hard, each step has been a reminder of just how much grace I’ve been shown.
So to answer the initial question…it may be hard, but it’s GOOD. It is not a burden or weight, but a joy and delight. It is a joy to build a relationship with someone in order to pursue Christ together. It may be hard, but it’s definitely worth it.