It wasn’t that long ago I was single. And although the past half decade of matrimony has seen a blossoming occur within my soul, I still retain memory of the pain I felt in being single.
Being single, having been married, or partnered with a significant other person, especially when we are the ones who have been jilted, is a hard road to travel. A whole new identity needs to be formed, and this (obviously) takes time.
Being single and recovering from love is an arduous process if we are to do it right. I have to admit, if I’d have had my own way—without relying on obeying God—I would have ‘moved on’ into another relationship quicker than I did. But, alas, I was not ready. (For 13 years of previous marriage it worked out that I needed three years of being single in order to adequately recover and rebuild.)
Most, if not all, people who are recently separated are not ready for a new relationship until they have done the work of personal reformation.
There are that least two factors involved in this personal reformation process:
1. The dealing with the personal faults that came to the fore in the broken relationship; and,
2. The jettisoning of partnered identity and the rebuilding of a new self.
Dealing with the Personal Faults That Have Been Exposed
In any broken relationship, as we look back, there was fault on both sides, but often not equal fault. In fact, in all relationships faults are brought to bear. Having endured a broken relationship we have the opportunity to identify the faults we brought to the relationship in order that they would not affect (so much) a future relationship.
This requires honesty and openness, as well as courage and humility.
Entering into our personal faults, without blaming the ex-partner for everything that went wrong, abides to the truth; nobody is perfect. We can only ready ourselves for the next relationship if we are open and honest, and courageous and humble, in recognising our opportunities for growth.
Rebuilding the New Self
Having done the work of repentance, through having gone to God to have certain character traits refined, the next opportunity is to embrace the new life of singleness. This in itself is a difficult journey; to accept we are no longer part of the partnership.
But we cannot advance into the land of mutuality—of caring for another person and having another person care for us—without having become ourselves again. This may sound silly. But it is crucial to the future relationship that we can first hold our own as single persons.
Rebuilding the new self is an awesome opportunity, if we can get beyond the fears of being alone. Having loving friends helps, but we also have opportunities at doing many things alone that we wouldn’t otherwise. We develop our sense for autonomy and we nurture a safe base that isn’t dependent on another person.
Having suffered a relationship breakdown we need time to recover. We need time to deal with the faults exposed by the previous relationship. We need time also for rebuilding identity, where we would invite God to nurture within us a safe sense of self. Only having done this work are we ready for a new relationship.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.