"After my first marriage fell apart, I wasn’t looking to find someone new. But I wasn’t closed to the idea either. I was in my late 40s then. After separating from my ex-wife, I reconnected with Janet*, someone I’d met at the gym 20 years ago, and kept in touch with sporadically. I was attracted to her, and we dated for about a year and a half. The chemistry was palpable, but things didn’t work out for us. She was going through a rough patch, and I felt I was investing a lot of energy into trying to please her and fix her problems. And when I couldn’t, we would fight. I felt drained – especially when I’d just come out of a marriage and was looking for a little space.
Getting together with Janet made me realise I tended to follow a pattern in my relationships – I was always trying to play the role of a hero and “save” the person from whatever they were going through. When my relationship with Janet fell apart, I was crushed. It fed my doubts and made me question if I was worthy of love. It was like reliving my divorce all over again – where I would constantly turn events over in my mind, re-evaluating and reflecting on where things went so wrong.
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So I decided to quit dating for a while and focus on myself. Because if I didn’t understand what I needed, how would I be able to have a successful relationship with someone else? At the time, I was a member of an organisation for entrepreneurs. It was through this that I met Lynn some years ago. One day, we got to talking about relationships as she, too, had just been through a divorce. Lynn suddenly said: “Jody, you think too much. Can you for once just be, and not think?”
I found her statement interesting. It’s true, I do tend to suppress my feelings in favour of being logical. When Lynn told me it was okay to embrace how I was feeling, and that I didn’t have to put up a front and be strong all the time, I knew that this woman could make me feel safe.
It felt like I had known Lynn my whole life. Our conversations grew more personal, and we’d trade experiences. It naturally progressed to us talking every day. I wanted to let her know everything I did. She’d do the same. I was based in Jakarta whereas she lived in Singapore, but we made an effort to meet during weekends – we’d take turns to fly out to see each other. Looking back, I don’t think I really understood what a relationship was when I was younger. Dating someone was more about feeding my ego than paying attention to whether or not our values aligned. I was focusing more on being able to clinch the girl, and then making sure I was able to impress her as the perfect boyfriend or husband.
Being with Lynn has been a big wake-up call – that love is truly about having a connection to treasure and build on. We’re able to communicate in an honest way – if there is a conflict, we resolve it. Previously, I was always resistant to talking about my feelings, and I always felt my partners wanted more from me than I could give.
Lynn has two daughters from her previous relationship, and her split from her ex-husband was amicable. So now, the three of us have a Whatsapp group chat to talk about what the girls are up to, and to discuss things like which school we should enrol them in. I’m blessed that we have a great relationship. It’s not unusual for Lynn’s ex and myself to hang out, while she does her own thing. Two years ago, Lynn and I got married, and we now have a child. I’d never thought about getting married again, but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Every single day still feels like a date to us. We share a lot of alone time, whether it’s a nice dinner, a trip to the hawker centre, catching a movie, or strolling in the park. I spend half my week in Indonesia, so when I’m back here, she always makes it a point to pick me up from the airport to give us time to ourselves on the way back. Now that we’re older, it’s the small moments we have together that matter."
*Names have been changed.
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This story was originally published in the February 2018 issue of Her World magazine.