Ask A Rabbi: How Do I Explain My Past Marriages?
I have a question concerning how to explain my past marriages when I’m out on a date. I am 57-years-old and have been married four times. The first lasted five years. I was 19-years-old. The second lasted nine years. The third was a 15-year marriage and I became a widower. My last marriage (the fourth) lasted four years.
I want to be honest with the new people I meet, but I don’t want to scare off a potentially great spouse.
Can you please advise me?
Dear “When Asked,”
I want to begin by saying that although it has been a number of years since you became a widower, I am sorry to hear of your loss.
When getting to know someone new, it is appropriate that we reveal ourselves layer by layer. It takes time to get to know someone and to develop a foundation. In other words, we don’t usually have deeply personal conversations with people that we have just met. While I am a firm believer in honesty, relationships have a rhythm, and each conversation comes in its time. It is not necessary to reveal all of your stories on the first date, or even on the second. Once you feel that there is enough intimacy and safety in a relationship to begin to share that which is personal to you, that would be the time to begin disclosure.
I am guessing that you are uncomfortable with sharing your marriage history, or it would not have come up as a question. That having been said, what is it that makes you uncomfortable? Many individuals have been married more than once. If there is something that can be learned from the divorces you went through, even through dealing with your loss, perhaps focusing on the lessons you learned will be of value to share with your date. All of those marriages have contributed to who you have become today. Focusing on the merit and value of these experiences can show your date your level of introspection and personal awareness, both of which are characteristics of a good mate.
I wish you success in cultivating your new relationship, and hope that it withstands the tests of time.
To ask Rabbi Damsky a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.