(144) An “Easy Love” After Divorce: Haverlee’s Story

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In this episode we talk about love after divorce as Haverlee shares her story of a marriage breakdown, living alone, dating, and finding new love. It’s part of our three part series. You can find the first two episodes here:

142: What If Marriage Doesn’t Make You Happy Or Holy?
143: 7 Signs That Your Marriage Can be Saved

Partner with us for $3/month to hear an uncut conversation before anyone else does. Professor Sara Moslener takes us back to school to uncover the connection between purity culture and white supremacy in the US. She also talks about the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling on embryos and how that connects to purity culture rhetoric of the past

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Show Notes:
Haverlee Photography
The Gottman Institute
Esther Perel

Devi (she/her) (00:00.286)
Haverlee, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to talk to you.

haverlee (00:02.174)

haverlee (00:13.107)
Thank you, Devi. I’m excited to talk to you too.

Devi (she/her) (00:17.354)
All right, I want to start by asking you, because I know this is relevant to your life, tell us about your experience of purity culture.

haverlee (00:27.323)
Um, I grew up as a pastor’s kid. I was, um, one of four siblings. So I was inundated with the fundamental Christian upbringing. Um, and yes, um, I was born in 82. So teenager in the nineties, it was as strong as it gets, um, as far as that goes. So I did, I received a purity ring from my parents, I think, when I was 13. Um,
I stumbled across it the other day, it’s still in a drawer, with the intention that I was going to give that to my future husband one day. I even went to a day-long conference with Joshua Harris, the I Kiss, Date, and Goodbye. Yeah, I went there when I was 13 as well.
Um, it was put on such a pedestal and in a lot of ways it was up to the females to uphold that standard based on how we dressed, how we talked, how we acted around boys. Um, I heard that line of, you know, don’t cause your brother in Christ to stumble. I don’t know how many times. Um, I think the biggest downfall of purity culture for me was a lot of talk about saying no, but-
but not any discussion of the nuance and the complication of how hard that can be in certain situations. Whether it’s with somebody that you do really, really like, you know, and those, you know, as you get older into your teenage years and those hormones are, and desires are completely natural, what to do in those situations, and even worse, what to do when a guy is pushing you to do things that you’re not comfortable with. In other words, how to say no. Um, when someone’s not picking up on, you know, your subtle messages of not wanting something. Um, I also grew up as a middle child, so I was a people pleaser. Um, we moved around a lot as a, as a pastor’s kid. And so I was always trying to fit in. Um, I became really good at being a chameleon or, you know, even mirroring what I thought people wanted. of me so that I could fit in. So that just carried into relationships with guys of not knowing, not even being able to establish myself as a person, it was just like learning to be whatever anybody else wanted me to be. So that was very detrimental in learning how to date, how to have reciprocal, amicable relationship with men.

Devi (she/her) (03:12.722)
Yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s such a good point, actually, about it’s, it, and I guess this is all happening as well as the just say no stuff with the drugs is happening in the United States. And it makes, it makes people think it really did make people think like, oh, you just say no, that’s it. You just, that’s it, guys. Just, just say no, walk away when the reality is there are so many layers of complications. Yeah. All right. I you’re here for a really specific reason. That is to talk about, more to talk about your new relationship, but to really untangle this idea of marriage is supposed to make you wholly not happy, which did you, are you familiar with that idea before you, you were familiar? Okay. Tell me about, tell me about how you perceived that, that teaching, that idea, how did you experience it?

haverlee (04:12.955)

Absolutely. You know, I think being a pastor’s kid, obviously, there’s more of a spotlight on us in churches. We were always in small churches. We weren’t in any mega churches, but we were still always known and seen. And then even as a new kid in school, you know, there’s like more of a spotlight on me. And so I maybe even had more of that expectation to uphold that standard, more than the average person. Again, just like being in the spotlight. My first marriage, I also married a pastor’s kid. So yeah, I was raised just with the idea of like being a submissive wife and husband is the head of the household.

Devi (she/her) (05:23.35)
When you got married in your first marriage, did you expect to be happy?

haverlee (05:39.936)
I did expect to be happy, but no one broke that down from the beginning of like choosing a partner and how that choice in choosing a partner ultimately is the foundation. We were taught Christ is the foundation, God is the foundation. If there’s, you know, the marriage is a cord of three, you know, a cord of three can’t be broken, all these things of like…

as long as God is in your marriage, then it will be strong and therefore it will be holy. Yeah, I had a romanticized version of marriage just like every other girl. I think the hard part in my situation was because we moved around a lot, we didn’t have a very stable household. My home growing up was extremely stressful, volatile, we all struggled in our own ways and kind of retreated into our own corners. We were not like a strong family unit. And I always just wanted to feel like I belonged. I wanted to feel like I was at home. And so it was kind of my first chance to find a place that I belonged, aka a husband. I took it. The second I could and you know, I was always told I was mature for my age. I was an old soul I was wise, you know, really I was just good at following in line and Not not ruffling feathers, you know, so I got married super young. I was married at 19 I met him at 17 engaged at 18 married at 19 and Yeah, so I had the teenage version of what marriage was but and yet at the same time like

Devi (she/her) (07:14.71)

haverlee (07:29.223)
Maybe it was because I wasn’t around a lot of couples that actually had fun together. I feel like that was The exception and not the rule I didn’t have an example of Happy marriages. I just had example of holy marriages. And so my version of happiness was what I saw on TV and in movies And the disconnect there was vast

Devi (she/her) (07:56.062)
Yeah. If you don’t mind, when you’re in this marriage where things are breaking down at some point, but you have this idea that you are supposed to be unhappy, like it’s okay to be unhappy in a marriage, that is kind of the point. The unhappiness is the tool that is making, forming something holy in you.

haverlee (08:07.263)
Mm-hmm. Yes. Exactly.

Devi (she/her) (08:27.874)
How does it keep you in your marriage? guess what I’m trying to say, I can imagine you stayed in your relationship in spite of the unhappiness and all the other things that were going on. I don’t even mean to say that it was just unhappy. I’m sure there were other things that were like Lyz said in the interview, unhappiness is often just the word that we use, there’s much deeper breakdowns there. But I think in Christian circles, it’s like, well, that’s supposed, it’s supposed to be like, Because this is making you holy.

haverlee (09:22.072)
Yeah.Yes, yes.
Right, right. I got, I got, yeah, I got really, really good at looking at the bright side of things. You know, we had, my husband made plenty of money. We had a good house. We went on vacations. And so from an outsider’s perspective, I kind of had it all. But behind closed doors, I was devastatingly lonely. I learned really early on. The ironic thing is I was working for a marriage ministry as a young wife and young mother. I was working for marriage counselors. So I had a sense of what was lacking, but I still just did my best to, again, like just submit, be what he needed. He was very domineering and I was just neglected. I was extremely neglected, emotionally speaking. And then there was a lot of manipulation around sex.

Yeah, I just learned to take the little crumbs that I got and thank God for all the other blessings in my life, I guess, is probably the best way to paint the picture. So it was extremely empty. There was no intimacy and there was no deep connection. And when I tried to communicate that, I did my best to communicate what was lacking, but I was always met with either sarcasm or laughter or rolling of eyes. There was never an ounce of reflection or humility. And so it was just always brushed off. And again, I was around a lot of people that said I needed to pray more, I needed to seek God, I needed to continue to humble myself.

And so I did, I kept stretching myself thinner and thinner and thinner to be what he needed me to be. And there’s just so much I know now that I wish I could go back and say or do differently. But.

Devi (she/her) (11:52.254)
Like what? What would you do differently?

haverlee (11:55.059)
Um, I think I would have, in those moments that I, that I did speak up for myself and expressed a need, um, I’m a pretty mellow, my energy is pretty mellow. There was never any fighting. In fact, we kind of prided ourselves that we never fought. Um, which I know now is that’s actually not a super sign, a good sign of a healthy marriage. Um, I, I wish I would have stepped up. you know, even further for myself. In the emotional areas, I, you know, I would have continued to say things like, it hurts my feelings when you laugh at me, or it hurts my feelings when you don’t, you know, whatever, listen or reciprocate. I mean, I remember asking things like, hey, can we just hold hands in bed while we’re watching TV? Or, you know, I mean, I was very clearly like asking for things. And I didn’t know what to do when it didn’t happen. You know, there was no, there was no one I could seek to say like, okay, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Kind of like purity culture, you know? I’m saying no, but the other person isn’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Now what? Now what do we do? And then as far as sexual abuse I experienced, I mean, I won’t go into all that, but there’s so many things I wish I could have said in a moment of like “your satisfaction, your desire should never come before my comfort or before my safety.” And even conversations like that would go nowhere because he would dismiss my safety, he would dismiss my comfort, he would dismiss my needs. And so again, it’s like, what do you do? Where do you go from there? What do you do with that? So I just didn’t have the wherewithal to stand up for myself and say, I’m communicating these things. I’m not seeing anything reciprocated. What’s your vision of where this marriage is going? I wish I could have had those deeper conversations, but they never went anywhere, and so I gave up.

Devi (she/her) (13:59.427)
Yeah. What happened to you in that process?

haverlee (14:14.879)
I just continue to lose myself. My dad uses the example after my divorce. He said, it’s like your ex-husband bought this really nice plant and never watered it and got mad when it died. That feels like it sums it up really well. So I focused on my kids. I wanted to be a mom so badly. We have three boys and so I just put all my energy into parenting and I had a couple of close best friends that I learned again, like I remember telling myself in my own head, okay, I guess you just need to go to your girlfriends when you want someone to be excited for you or proud of you or, you know, react in a positive way when you’re excited about something or when you’re sad about something. Like I learned, okay, I just, I’m just going to talk to my girlfriends
instead of my husband. And so again, I just like, I did everything I could to make the best of a bad situation, which in a lot of ways, that’s a great character quality to have, but and then in when you’re stuck in a toxic and unhealthy relationship, it just led to my detriment. So I just say, I would just describe it as I got smaller and smaller as the years went by and I just lost myself. I didn’t know who I was.

Devi (she/her) (15:31.599)
Yeah. So here’s my question. Marriage, you know, we’re told marriage is supposed to make you holy not happy. Were you getting holier?

haverlee (15:45.003)
No, no, I was not. I don’t think what I was experiencing in my marriage is anything that God would have looked down on and said, oh yeah, stick with this, stick with this pain and turmoil and suffering because I’m, you know, I think the minute I was out of my marriage is when I really started understanding how God saw me and who I am in Christ. I think a lot of that transformation happened outside of my marriage.

Devi (she/her) (16:25.502)
It’s something I never thought about before is like the reality is what we saw. As you know, I said to Lyz, like we accept marriage is supposed to make you holy not happy because we were around so few happy marriages, right? That was just, that’s reality for me growing up. Like very few marriages that I would have been like, those two people are really happy together. Together, not happy because of their job or happy because of their kids, but happy with each other. But I think now I sort of looked at that and saw the suffering bearing up under the suffering of their relationship as a kind of holiness. But for our generation, I don’t see us becoming holier through those kinds of… dysfunctional relationships. I see us becoming more selfish, more like a lot less like Jesus, frankly. And yeah, so

haverlee (17:26.546)
Yeah. It requires two people. Again, I think marriage is a beautiful place to become holier, but it requires both people putting in just as much effort and humility and the work to get to that point. Yeah.

Devi (she/her) (17:55.226)
Yeah. Well, you wrote a post a long time ago, spoiler alert, Haverlee met someone and she’s now remarried. But you wrote a post about how at some point in your post divorce process, you made a list of what you were looking for. Was it a list or you had an idea?

haverlee (18:01.823)
I think what I wrote was I had a vision. So I don’t think I wrote a list. Yeah, I just had a vision in it and it felt like a kind of like a silhouette, like a shadow of what that would look like. And it started with, so when I very first was separated, I was so lonely. I was closer to my ex-husband’s family than my own family at the time. And so not only did I lose my husband, I also lost really what felt like my entire family. My parents didn’t live in the same town as me. I also did not, I hadn’t reached the point of repairing my relationship with my parents yet, so I was not close to them at all. So to say I was lonely is such an understatement, but it was the friends that I made at that time. But to, what started to click, to create that vision in my mind was I went on a road trip.

I had met all of these women through, I think I went to a conference, Instagram connections, and we went to a conference down in Texas. And I met a bunch of women in real life that were passionate, that were smart, that were creative and also loved God. And I didn’t have any of those people around me in my own town. I live in Iowa, the Midwest is not known for its culture. So yeah, and I had been in a
Christian bubble for 15 years. So it’s weird how so few of those women are in conservative evangelical spaces. So I went on a road trip, I took two of my kids, I must have left my baby with probably my husband’s mom or something at the time. And I visited I think four or five girls, I drove through Kansas and Oklahoma and drove down to Texas and it was maybe like six days or something. I mean, um, drove all the way down there with my two kiddos and I stayed with friends. I stayed overnight, um, one or two nights with each friend. And that was the first time that I saw people who were genuinely in happy marriages. I saw that they were having fun together. I also saw the husband so engaged in me. This is another

Devi (she/her) (20:12.534)
Yes. Wow.

haverlee (20:39.859)
thing I could just talk for hours about is the idea of, you know, men and women in Christian circles can’t be close, they can’t talk, they can’t have one-on-one conversations, they can’t ride in a car together, etc., etc. You know, again, like putting the pressure on the female of like, oh, I could break up a marriage at any given point if I look at the husband the wrong way. So on this trip, the men were sitting in the living room with…
me and my girlfriend at night and we’re laughing and having fun and it just it kind of opened up this whole new world of like oh I want what they have
But I dated, I dated a lot, I made a lot of mistakes, but my biggest priority was to keep my dating life separate from my kids. I always say like I made a ton of mistakes for myself. I had to learn. I knew what it could look like, but I didn’t know the steps to get there. So I had to learn to find my voice. I had to learn to stop laughing when something wasn’t funny. I had to learn to…

Devi (she/her) (21:53.087)

haverlee (22:08.423)
um, expressed my boundaries in a heated moment where I didn’t feel safe or comfortable. And that took years. So um, you know, I knew what I didn’t want and I was not willing to settle. It just took me a long time to get the language and just the courage to, um, to speak up for myself in those moments. So, um, I did have two wonderful relationships that were kind of like a peek into
a healthy kind of love, men that were kind and sensitive and tender and loving. We just, you know, fundamentally we were not right together, but it did give me that peak into how it could feel. And then again, I just, I was not willing to settle. I was not willing to make, you know, quote unquote, a mistake again. And so I finally got to the place where I was okay by myself. And I mean, genuinely, that took four to five years where I felt just peaceful being home alone, sleeping in a bed alone, being okay on holidays. Holidays are so difficult for people, for divorced folks and single folks. I did finally get to that place of peace and then I met Jacob through mutual friends on Instagram and we started talking. It was instantaneous of knowing that he was everything that I was looking for.

Devi (she/her) (23:36.362)
Mm-hmm. You have said something, and it stood out to me the moment you first said it years ago, whenever it was that you first said it. You said you have an easy relationship with him, or an easy connection, or easy is the word that you use. Talk about that, because I feel like we are programmed as Christian women, as Christians, to expect that marriage should be hard. And in fact, I hear this so often from women who are in dating relationships or engaged relationships
that they say the reason I stayed in a bad relationship is because I thought that it being hard was a sign that it was the right thing.

haverlee (24:14.779)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, it makes me sad. Um, you know, I kind of joke I wish everyone could have a second marriage. It’s not funny, but I Have a couple of friends that are trying to almost start over in their own marriage you know in the marriage that they’ve been in for years and years and years if you are doing that I Applaud you that is so courageous and takes so much work than when you get to start over fresh with someone new.

Devi (she/her) (24:47.142)
Yeah, but my guess is they’re also with a partner who wants to start over inside their marriage, right? There’s two of them working together on it.

haverlee (24:52.555)
Exactly. Without a doubt. Yes. And whether they both had some sort of wake up call or learned you know what was lacking and they both are willing to put in that effort, you’re exactly right. I have the benefit of starting over. You know, we both, I was, we were both 40 when we got married last year. We were both 40. I’m now 41. Jacob likes to say we started with a clean slate and he wants to keep our slate clean.

So there’s nothing that we let fester. Now, yes, our relationship is easy, but the circumstance is complicated. We each have three kids from our previous marriage. We don’t even live in the same city right now. Our youngest kids are in sixth grade and we have to wait a few years until we can live in the same house. That is complicated, but our love is easy. Now, I don’t ever want to paint the picture that it’s perfect. It is not…

We’re human beings. I am a highly sensitive person with a lot of opinions. He’s a lot more easygoing than me, but we love each other so much. We have fun together. We just feel like friends. We love each other’s company. We did have to learn. We had to learn that it was okay to bring up difficult things. Every single relationship is going to have little speed bumps or big speed bumps, you know, and we had to learn. We both are people pleasers, and so we had to learn like, we have to speak up. We have to face that uncomfortable thing. And sometimes it’s on the phone and that’s OK. Sometimes we’ll wait and talk about something in person and that’s OK, too. But we had to learn from each other that it was going to be safe, that we weren’t going to blow up, that we were going to listen to understand and not listen to be right.

Um, and so now we are at a place that, you know, we do have to discuss tough topics from, you know, time to time, but we get through them and then it makes us closer. And so that, that idea that like lack of conflict is a sign of health. That is just not true. The opportunity to grow closer through conflict is kind of a beautiful thing. Now, now that I, you know, experience it in a safe way. Um, so yeah, we, we are able to get get closer, grow closer. And we also grew closer after saying vows in front of 50 of our closest friends and family members. That, it really did feel like a big shift. And so we do, we love that commitment and we’re in for the long haul.

Devi (she/her) (27:21.149)
Talk a bit more about how you said the circumstances are difficult, but our love is easy. What do you mean by our love is easy? What does that mean?

haverlee (27:46.428)
So there’s one thing I’ve heard from John Gottman is it talks about bids for connection. Have you, I’m sure you’ve heard of that, that theory that like a really, a sign of a healthy relationship is when you put out a bid for connection and your partner turns toward you, you know, turns toward that, that bid. The 14 years I was in my first marriage, any bid for connection I put out was turned away from, it was not accepted. So then that cavern just grows deeper and deeper and deeper emotionally speaking. Jacob and I are just tuned into what the other person cares about. We’re interested in each other. And the more that we do turn toward each other in those moments of bidding for connection, that it just has made us grow closer and closer.
And so, yeah, I’m an introvert. I love alone time. I don’t always wanna talk for hours on end. There are so many nights that we’re just watching TV together, but we have that foundation of that emotional connection. So not only is it turning towards those bids, but it’s small moments of physical connection, whether it is holding hands or just the non-sexual touch throughout the day.
and actually like being able to speak up for our needs and being met, you know, when a need is met, it’s a really powerful thing. So again, just knowing that like, we care about each other’s emotional state. And so to know that if I speak up with something, it’s going to be heard, it’s going to be met, you know, all kinds of things. It looks different throughout different days when, you know, depending on
whether we have our kids or not, but all those things, because we are in similar circumstances, we have such a deep understanding of what we’re each going through.

Devi (she/her) (29:53.682)
Yes. And I think I’ve definitely noticed this in my friends who have been divorced and have remarried, up close and personal friends here in Melbourne. There is such a gratitude that they have for these new beautiful marriages that I often feel jealous, frankly. Like I feel jealous of the perspective that they have in their relationship because they are just like wow, I get to be with this person. That’s how they feel.

haverlee (30:24.795)
Yeah, yeah. I know it’s like a near death experience, you know, you’re into they do say a divorce is the closest thing to experiencing a death like you do have a whole fresh start you get to start over and you have a completely new look on life. So I am really grateful. You know, I always say, divorce is a lose situation no one is winning in divorce, particularly, particularly for our children.
they’re still living in two separate households with, you know, complicated schedules. But for me, it’s been the best thing that ever happened to me. And I am just really, really grateful to actually… Because I started to doubt that I would ever have that, you know? I saw friends that would get married so quickly, and I was so envious of that. You know, I was single for at least eight years, maybe a little bit more.
um dated a lot but again part of that was my own choosing of knowing like i’m just not going to settle i would rather have nothing than then um go into another marriage that isn’t great and yeah maybe there’s a thing as being too picky but

I was just okay just being a mom, you know, and living my life. I finally had a good community of friends and that was going to be enough for me. That was going to be enough. So I’m so grateful to get to experience hopefully another 40 years with someone, but I didn’t know if it would happen.

Devi (she/her) (31:59.866)
Yeah. Well, it sounds to me like you under, you really deeply understood the cost of a, of a bad marriage.

haverlee (32:08.517)
The further I got, the further I was removed from my first marriage, the more I understood how toxic, unhealthy and abusive it was. It took years to like really peel all those layers back of what I was suffering. So yeah, and then, you know, the second something showed up in a new relationship, I just, I wasn’t gonna put up with it. And especially if I was going to enter into another relationship,

You know, it’s not only just me experiencing love for a second time, it’s my kids finally getting to witness a healthy relationship and that’s just as important. So I knew I didn’t want to introduce them to another relationship that, you know, unless it looked really, really healthy. And I think the first, I remember the first time I kind of disagreed with Jacob in front of my kids and.
I could sense the discomfort in my children because they hadn’t seen that. They hadn’t seen two, well, we weren’t married at the time, but two people disagreeing and speaking respectfully about it and hearing each other’s opinion and resolving that and knowing that doesn’t mean it’s not safe. Again, just the knowing that conflict in marriage is a-

perfectly normal, perfectly healthy thing, and I’m grateful that they’re getting to see that side too.

Devi (she/her) (33:40.994)
Hmm. There’s someone I’m sure who’s listening to this going, OK, she’s only been married like a year or something. She’s only been together with this new guy a few years. Devi, like why this is how do you know this is going to last?

haverlee (33:48.799)

Yeah, that’s a really good question. people like to throw around that phrase, when you know, you know. And it is accurate for people who have put in a lot of the work. You know, I spent those eight years mostly listening to podcasts. I will say reading books, but it was mostly listening to podcasts and listening to people like Esther Perel and other psychologists, following Instagram feeds like John Gottman and…
My parents now teach a marriage class at the church that I was a member of. They can see it too, you know, and they also, you know, they’ve admitted to all the ways that their marriage was unhealthy back in the day. And it’s cool to see my parents, you know, in their late 60s also repairing their marriage kind of at the same time and just reflecting back what they

pretty special to be able to brag about my marriage now to my parents and have them just know what I’ve been through, see what I have now.
You know, again, just the foundation of friendship, the foundation of safety, of trust, and of, you know, doing activities and hobbies together, but also pushing each other toward our own passions and our own autonomy. You know, we’re still very much two individual people. I like to do my own thing. He likes to do his own thing. We do have our own separate passions.

So, you know, I can’t say with 100% certainty that this marriage is going to last forever, but I do know how, you know, what I put up with the first time around. And all I can say is I know how much better this is. I know what we have. And I do worry for people that jump right back into a marriage very soon after a divorce. That’s…

generally a red flag for me. I can’t speak on everyone’s experiences, but I do think you do need time and years to pass by to reflect on what went wrong the first time. And I had a lot of years to change and grow and develop and understand what it was gonna take. So I know that we’re both committed to… each other’s success and happiness.

Devi (she/her) (37:18.078)
Yeah, and I think I also would say you’re making a very unusual situation work. You are quite far away from each other. You are in, I think he’s in North Carolina and you are in Iowa. So that’s center to the East Coast. And, and, you know, yeah, three children each. And I think you found a way to what’s the word like. It’s almost like your marriage is a solace, a refuge from the rest of all of that.

haverlee (38:13.767)
That’s so true. Yeah, that’s so true. It would be different. This is a different thing. This is a different thing than a first marriage. We don’t have children together. We have children with other people. And you are right. Our marriage together is our refuge, is our, it’s the calm after the storm of single parenting. And I know that, I mean, people have expressed doubts outright either on Instagram or in real life.

A lot of those are people that haven’t met me, haven’t met him, haven’t been around us as a couple. Yeah, it is super unconventional and it’s still a little uneasy to tell people about the situation that we jumped into. We didn’t jump into it. We were together two and a half years before we got married. But yeah, again, our kids are older and I always say like a long distance is really difficult, but a blended family would be harder, especially at this stage in the game. So I, for now it’s working really, really well. I get to be a mom to my kids. And I’ve always said, like, because I grew up in a household that wasn’t, you know, connected or I didn’t have a bond with my parents emotionally or physically, I now have that bond with my own children. I have three boys and… at least two of them are in my bed, snuggled up next to me still, before they go up to their own beds. And they’re 16, 14, and almost 12. And the bond that I have with them is, it’s worth the years that I spent single, and it is worth our long distance relationship, because I know how complicated, I mean, not firsthand, but I know so many secondhand stories of how complicated it is to… to have a step-parent come into the home. That’s a really complicated relationship. And so for my kids and for his kids, we get to kind of like keep that, their lives flowing as they’ve gone through enough upheaval already. They have gone through so much upheaval with a divorce. And so thankfully we’re not adding to that upheaval.
I get to be kind of like a fun aunt that surround them every so often. And he’s kind of like a fun uncle rather than that true stepmom, stepdad figure. And yeah, it is working. And so yeah, it’s complicated, but it’s working. And like you said, our time together is kind of the oasis in the desert of parenting.

Devi (she/her) (40:40.087)
Yeah, well, I love that. And I think that’s good, Haverlee. So thank you so much. Or is there anything else you’d like to add?

haverlee (41:08.2)
You’re so welcome. I don’t think so other than, you know, the dating world for older folks, it is, it’s pretty awful. It’s, it’s pretty awful. I hated online dating. You know, the two relationships I had before Jacob were people I met in person. It’s brutal. So the most important thing for me in that stage was finding couples.

that I could hang out with, not just girlfriends. And that took a long time. That took a long time of feeling left out and isolated from family gatherings and social events that were revolving around couples. If you are a couple and you know a single mom or a single dad, please invite them to holidays, to family gatherings, even to…

evenings that you might just be having, you know, couples over without kids, invite them to those too. They want to be included. I so desperately wanted to be included in things instead of left out. So once I finally found that, and again, that was like five years before I really found that, that is what created peace in my life and connection and was kind of that last piece of the puzzle for me to

grow into who I am now. So yeah, it’s tough, but when you do feel like you finally have a community that you can show up, hang out with the husband and the wife, you’re not shunned to just the girl side of the room. That was really, really important. So that’s probably the last thing I would say is just reach out to those single folks and wrap them up in the fold and don’t worry that they’re going to feel out of place just because they don’t have a partner.