I married John in 2007. At our 1 year anniversary, he said he didn't think he wanted children for several years. I flipped out, because I had been very clear about wanting children. I compromised and agreed to wait a year after marriage and got upset that he was changing the agreement.
He apologized and we got pregnant 6 months later. I gave birth in 2009. John decided, against my wishes, that he didn't want more children. I accepted a forced sterility and our marriage tanked. Throughout 2014, he was unfaithful, repented, and as an apology, rescinded his "no more kids" clause. We got pregnant late 2014.
Halfway through my pregnancy, he told me he didn't actually want another baby and instead wanted a divorce. He openly wished for me to miscarry, put me into preterm labor at 30 weeks, ignored that I was to be on bed rest, and generally neglected our special needs son, myself, and the unborn child I was carrying. I kicked him out of the house, lawyered up, and told him to do the same. I then gave birth to my youngest son in 2015. The day our divorce was finalized, I walked my annulment paperwork directly into the diocesan Tribunal and awaited its decision.
I'm a firm believer in the sanctity of marriage; that hasn't changed. However, I came to a very clear realization while I was laying in a hospital bed, hooked to a million angrily beeping machines as doctors tried to stop my labor from progressing at 30 weeks: my (now ex) husband is not actually capable of consenting to marriage because he is not capable of truly loving another person. He's able to appreciate what they can do for him... how they make him feel... but simply love them for who they are and put his needs aside to raise them up? Not so much. The entire time I was in the hospital, he was texting me, demanding to know when I'd be home so he could leave for a trip to NY, knowing full well he'd be leaving me (who was supposed to be on strict bed rest) with a highly-active, sensory-seeking 5 year old.
This, mind you, is the tiniest sampling of the litany of thoughtless, self-absorbed and intentionally neglectful things I'd put up with over the years.
So, armed with that realization, I started my annulment paperwork that weekend - MONTHS ahead of him finally (at my persistent request) getting his lawyer to do the divorce paperwork that mine had already completed.
In the months and years after the divorce, I had many people suggest I start dating again. I never liked that advice, especially because I didn't have an annulment ruling. If I started a romance with someone and received an unfavorable ruling from the Tribunal, what then? It'd be a huge disservice not only to me, but to the guy I was with.
So I steered clear of romance and relationships until late 2016/early 2017. I started accepting date proposals from a few men I thought were worthwhile. Even then, I wasn't looking for romance so much as a shift in paradigm, and I was honest with each man regarding my goal in "dating" them. I wasn't looking for love; I was looking for balance and insight. I needed to adjust my worldview, and I trusted their integrity enough to help me do so.
One man skirted romance with me briefly, but I ended that soon after it started because, again, with no ruling on the divorce, it was unfair to both of us to walk that path. So off I went on my own. I trusted that God knew what He was doing and once the annulment ruling was finalized, I'd see the path more clearly.
I got the giant neon sign I was waiting for in July 2017.