According to research conducted by Jennifer Gauvain, a therapist, 30 percent of now-divorced women say they knew they were making a mistake when they got married, but did it anyway. So the big question is…why? Why would anybody knowingly do that? Well, there are lots of different reasons, but let me tell you about me because I was one of those women.
I was young…newly graduated from college and faced with “what’s next?”…a daunting question. Even though I had my degree, I had no desire for a career (a concept I now have a hard time believing about myself), so by default, marriage was the answer. Larry and I dated at the University. I liked him. We had a good time at school, including good sex. But after graduation, we split and went our separate ways. I missed him, or maybe it wasn’t exactly him, but that I was just feeling the emptiness of no longer having the whirlwind activities of college to fill up my life. So during one of our frequent phone conversations, Larry asked me to marry him. I said yes.
Everything was okay at first. We were apart and I had a wedding to plan, china and crystal to pick out, a pretty dress to choose. The trouble began when after three months of being apart, Larry joined me a few days before our wedding. It was then that I realized, “oh shit…this is all wrong.” From the first moment I saw him, dread started creeping up through my body. The wedding fantasy was great; the reality, um, not so good.
His family was coming. They were making a long trip for the big occasion. My family and friends were coming. It was all planned. What I didn’t plan on was my inner voice screaming “call it off, call it off, you can’t go through with this!” I didn’t listen. Just shut my ears, faked my way through the preliminaries, and walked down the aisle with leaden feet. After our wedding, as we were driving to our new home several states away, my mind was going a million miles an hour: “how can I get out of this? What do I have to do to have this marriage annulled? Oh my god…what have I done?” It was horrible!
So why did I do it? Why didn’t I call it off? Quite simply, I didn’t have the courage. And so, I created a lot of pain, not only for myself, but for him and our families as well. Of course, all was not lost because we learn from everything, and as lessons go, this was a biggie–a lesson in following my gut, and taking responsibility for my own life instead of trying to get someone else to fill me up.
So how do you know when you are having normal wedding jitters, or when it’s really not right? I think you know even though you might try to convince yourself otherwise. There’s something inside that tugs at you, and keeps on tugging. Maybe it’s that your fiance doesn’t share your values, or is not willing to talk when there are conflicts. Maybe you are constantly giving; they, constantly taking.
The point is, when you feel the tug, you need to acknowledge it and explore it. And if you find some red flags wildly waving in your face, then you have to be very, very brave so that you don’t make a disastrous mistake. Yes, there is pain in doing that. But that pain pales in comparison to the heartache you will create if you go through with something you know isn’t right. Take it from me.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including www.amazon.com