People always ask me what the people who are most happily married say about the key to their success. There are a lot of answers and a lot of happily married women, don’t get me wrong. But most people will say one key is to take your time. Really get to know that person you are marrying and don’t be in a rush to get married to meet some milestone. A common denominator is that they didn’t have some fantasy that marriage was the end goal…being with this person was the end goal. They really thought about what to expect after the wedding. It’s funny that people often spend a lot more time planning their wedding than they do planning their marriage.
Not surprisingly, is the exact opposite of what a lot of 40-something women say about when it doesn’t work out. They didn’t really think through what would happen after the marriage. They just did what they thought was expected, by them, by their families, by virtue of having gone through the ABCs. College, date, live together. Turns out, they never really asked themselves what they really wanted. For perspective, here’s one woman’s anatomy of what to expect when you don’t go through those motions before you get married:
“Hindsight is 20/20 right? My 40:20 hindsight is to really take a close look at the relationship. I dated my husband in college, then we graduated, went to work, lived together and got married. It just felt like what we were supposed to do. It was the next step. What else are we going to do? Keep dating? But maybe you should! What’s wrong with that?
Everyone around us was getting married and some were having babies. I thought that’s where I should be. In my fantasy growing up, I pictured myself married by this age and that I would be a mom. So he caved and we got married.
Then while I was planning our wedding, I broke out in hives. Someone asked me, “You sure you’re okay with this?” I said, “I’m just nervous.” You should listen to all these things around you but you ignore it or think it’s just wedding jitters.
I remember standing in the back of the church with a friend of mine. I looked at her and said, “What am I doing?” When we finally split up, I was kicking myself for a long time. I just went back to that moment of not listening. I remember it so distinctly. She just ignored me and there I was walking down the aisle.
I remember not being in the moment. I think I thought, “Why not?” He’s a nice guy and we’re great friends and why not? I figured this is my time. I wanted to have kids. I didn’t really know what else was out there. He was a good enough guy. Why wouldn’t I have kids with this guy?
The message I got from my parents was that you finish school and you get married. The minute I graduated, it was “Why don’t you marry him? How long are you going to date? What is going on here?”
Then I got pregnant right away. And I was home alone with the baby every night and years after that I was alone with three kids every day. That was the life I didn’t expect, to be alone. I was married but I was alone.
I always say there’s nothing worse than feeling lonely when you’re supposed to have someone in your life.I don’t have anyone in my life right now. I don’t really feel that loneliness that I felt when I was married. It was such a deep loneliness because it was so empty.
In hindsight, I should’ve taken a closer look at our relationship rather than just going through the motions and completely ignoring what was going on. We just didn’t have much more than a friendship getting married. Then he just turned into a sperm donor. I should have really asked myself, “Is this what you want?” because I probably would’ve said no. If someone asked me that question back then, I would’ve said no, no, no. But no one did and I was alone in my little world and caught up in my little family planning process. I don’t regret it because I have my children, but I would say three things to a 20-something in the same situation:
I would say don’t get married. You’re twenty-five years old. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you so why is everything resting on this moment? Why can’t you get married at 26, 27, 28, 30, 35? Why does it have to be now?
I would say that you really need to trust your gut because if you’re feeling doubts, chances are you’re probably right. I think that’s always what I never did in my twenties. I was too insecure to trust my gut feeling. I was too insecure to own it and be okay with it and whatever happens will happen. I just went with it and it was always wrong. It proved me wrong.
And if you’re in a situation where you want to call off the wedding? Don’t be afraid to tell your mom and dad. You want to speak to them. Just tell them how you’re feeling. I’m sure they will supportive. I don’t think they want their daughter getting married to some guy that she’s not sure about so I think they would totally be supportive. I think from there you don’t have to do anything at the moment until you’re ready to tell people. I think we still have that thing inside us that doesn’t want to disappoint our parents. No matter how old we are, I think we always have that thing.