Strong Men
Strong Marriage

From Marriage to Dating: Changing Old Habits

A marriage break-up is bound to be painful, and you will need some transition time to heal, reflect and learn before you seriously consider meeting potential partners. When you finally start dating, one of the challenges you’ll face is moving from a “marriage mind-set” to a “dating mind-set”. Every marriage has its unwritten rules of how to behave and what’s taken for granted. You form habits and slide easily into patterns of relating, both good and bad, and the longer you are married the more entrenched the habits will be. Here’s how to change five typical marriage habits so you’ll succeed at the dating game:

1.) Stay in the room and communicate until you have a resolution In your marriage, you had the opportunity to stomp out of the room, cool down and discuss a contentious issue a few days or even weeks later (or to let it fester forever!). Now, your challenge is to hang in there and keep the lines of communication open, working through issues and problems now, because who knows whether your partner will even be there tomorrow?

2.) Spell it out. In your marriage, you may have gotten into the habit of expecting your partner to "read your mind" and pick up subtle signals about your likes and dislikes and needs. Now your challenge is to state your needs and feelings out loud in a responsible way, because new dating partners won't know you as well. The good news is that by speaking up you can help shape how new partners treat you.

3.) Put forth the effort to look your best. When you were married, there were days when you felt comfortable letting your appearance go. Walking around with your hair uncombed in a grungy pair of sweats may have worked then, but now you have to take time to take care of how you look. You can say, "I want someone who likes me just the way I am", but truthfully the way humans operate is to feel more comfortable with--and attracted to--someone who looks and acts vital and fit and cares enough about themselves to look presentable.

4.) Request, don't criticize. Criticism and sniping occur all-too-often in marriages, and they ultimately weaken the foundation of a relationship. Instead of criticizing, make a new habit to request what you want or need in a specific, caring way. Instead of saying, "You never show up on time!", say, "On Saturday night, it would mean a lot to mean if you met me on time or even a few mintues early. I would really appreciate it." Learn to know your needs and to make requests of others to get them met.

5.) Be thankful for little things and show your appreciation. In marriage, people take things for granted and they get in the habit of ignoring all that's good about their spouses. They may give positive recognition only rarely and for extraordinary things. Instead, be thankful for little things, even the fact that a person is spending the evening with you. Start your new relationship on a solid foundation of gratitude and appreciation, right from the beginning.

Dating is a chance to start over, to put your best foot forward without the baggage of old relationships. Take the opportunity to let go of your old marriage habits and create a new and lasting relationship.

©2010, Marty Friedman

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Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years. - Simone Signoret

Martin G. Friedman is the author of “Straight Talk for Men About Marriage—What Men Need to Know About Marriage (And What Women Need to Know About Men)”. For many years, Marty Friedman taught corporate managers how to create good relationships at work before tackling male/female relationship issues--and applying what he learned to his own marriage. The founder of Men in Marriage, Marty is regularly interviewed on radio and television, and talks to organizations and individuals from a unique, inspirational and humorous perspective. Find out more at

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