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. Wow. Thirty percent. That’s a lot. 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. Why not a career in my chosen field? It just wasn’t on my radar at the time. It would have meant graduate school and more studying, and I wasn’t up for it. I’d had enough.
Larry and I dated at the University. I liked him. Maybe loved him? Whichever it was, we had a good time together, including good sex. After graduation, we split and went our separate ways. I missed him, or maybe it wasn’t exactly him, but just 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. And out of my mouth, popped a “yes.”
At first, everything felt okay. We were apart and I had a wedding to plan, china and crystal to pick out, a wedding cake, a pretty dress for the big day. 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 no, this is all wrong.” A feeling, not of ecstasy, but of dread, burrowed through my body. The wedding fantasy was delightful; the reality, um, not so good.
Here was my dilemma: his family was coming…making a long trip for the big occasion. My family and friends were coming. The plans were all set. Except for one plan that I didn’t count on…my inner voice screaming “call it off, call it off, you can’t go through with this!” I didn’t listen. Just shut the annoying voice off, pasted a smile on my face and walked down the aisle with leaden feet.
After our wedding, as we were driving to our new home several states away, Larry was singing with the radio, and I was embroiled in turmoil. “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?” My first days with my new husband were supposed to be blissful; instead they were a nightmare.
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 the value of listening to my inner voice, and let’s not forget, the value of 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 even though you try to push it down. 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. Maybe you haven’t even talked about whether you both want kids. Maybe you can’t live with the fact that they are a slob and you’re a neat-freak.
The point is, when you feel the tug of your inner voice, you need to acknowledge and explore it. And if you find some red flags waving in your face, then you have to be very, very brave and speak your truth. Yes, there will be some 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