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The brutal truth of me, without all the sugary coating.
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wedding Jitters

So I'm writing this story. It's about a woman who is engaged to a man - a good man, someone she loves and respects - but is realizing he's not exactly what she's going to want for a partner her entire lifetime.



Does this sound familiar? I asked this question on twitter, and I got an overwhelming response of "not really". This surprised me... is it really not that common to have these last-minute doubts? Or are people not willing to admit them? Perhaps I'm just talking to the wrong people, who knows. But I've spoken to several people in the past who have admitted to these feelings and went through with it anyway, regretting it later. I do believe our hearts tell us what we need to know when we're making a mistake (some might call it the Holy Ghost; choose your own brand name for the revelation, but know that it's the same thing).

The problem is that we don't often want to hear what our hearts have to say. 

What's worse? We (especially as Americans, I think) are assaulted by the images, stories, appearance and sounds of "true love" around us. Our movies require a happy ending in order to succeed at the box office. Our radio streams love songs by the dozens of lofty, impossible love that is of the unwavering and undying variety. We have this belief, even from childhood, that love is just around the corner, and that there is an Edward out there for everyone.

I knew someone once who said the decision to leave her husband came from reading Twilight. He just wasn't Edward. While I know this sounds ridiculous, this is a common comparison (and in her case was probably just the extra motivation she needed for a decision she was going to make anyway). It isn't entirely wrong to say, "But what if I want more?" It's so hard to know when wanting more is reasonable, and when it's just greedy. This is difficult before, during, AND after marriage, and I firmly believe no one outside of those two people know the answer.

At the same time, we are assaulted by images, videos and celebrities which represent the objectification of women, complete and utter disrespect for our bodies, our minds, and the fact that we have a will of our own. Rap music, soap operas, reality TV... it all compounds this confusion. At this point I think we, as women, are just so happy to be considered anything at all, that we're confusing basic human respect with "love".

Barely related tid-bit: Last night I met a girl who said to me, "He used to really bug me, but then I got a D.U.I. and he forked over TONS of cash to bail me out, so now I love him."  Love is certainly a relative term, but perhaps we're stretching it a bit?

I read the title to a link on twitter the other day that was something like, "How Disney and Twilight are destroying our girls' view of love". Or something like that. If you wrote that, I sincerely apologize for butchering it. (I was in a hurry, so I didn't click on it, which I regret now because it sounded like a good point.) My sister-in-law slept over the other night and she wanted to watch Twilight. As we were watching it for the millionth time, I viewed it with that perspective in mind, and I saw exactly what this person on twitter was referring to. I've never really understood why people refer to Bella as a weak person; I've always thought the opposite, assumed those people just hadn't read the book. But I suppose the way she rejects the "good boys" and gravitates toward the "bad boy" would seem weak if you didn't possess that tendency yourself (helping you to understand that it's much more complicated than just "weakness"). I completely understand the need to go the difficult route, despite prior warnings, but that's just me.

As a result, though, I have lived a pretty complicated life so far. One day at lunch with my mother, we were talking about my son, who is a difficult child, and joking about what a pain I was as a baby. I was just terrible, and she said, "Yeah, we thought, 'Well, at least the teenage years will probably be mild, since she's such a difficult baby.' " And we laughed. And laughed. Because I tortured them through adolescence as well.

A friend of mine told me once that when she was getting married, she realized she was making a mistake. She cried all the way down the aisle, knowing she was going to regret it. But she didn't stop and say, "No. I don't want this." You know why she didn't, but I'll tell you what she said to me anyway.


Money had been spent.
Pride would have been lost.
Pain would have been inflicted.
But most of all, embarrassment.

Sending all those people home? Unbearable. Admitting she'd made the wrong choice? Unthinkable.

Personally, I think it would be so worth it to throw the money away (although, I didn't spend any money on my wedding, so that's easy for me to say), bruise your ego (& your fiance's), and experience some embarrassment in the moment. In exchange, you are avoiding so many other heartbreaks and embarrassment!

If you are about to marry someone you know isn't right for you, or will never blend with your world, or who treats you badly despite his "good intentions", there are some things you should think about (but probably will refuse to). Warning: soap box moment. *ahem*


Questions you don't want to ask yourself, but should:


  • Do I ever want to have to say, "My first husband..."? Once you've had a failed marriage, you can never again not have an ex-husband/wife. Already on your second marriage? Ask yourself the same for "third husband," etc. No one plans for a marriage to fail, but sometimes we know deep down it won't  last before it even begins, if we are paying attention.
  • I don't get along with my soon-to-be-in-laws. Do you think perhaps they would be even worse as ex-in-laws? If your fiance's family is going to cause your marriage to split in two, you don't just end up with an ex-husband, you end up with ex-family as well. And sometimes they can be even more hurtful than the ex himself. (Perhaps they are better off never becoming your family in the first place?)
  • If you relate to the above question, consider this one very seriously: Do I believe my in-laws-to-be have not rubbed off on my fiance at all? "He's the good one in the family" is the dumbest thing you've ever said. Reconsider this conclusion, because it's nothing but justification. Genetics, habits, mannerisms, etc. run deep. This is not to say he's not a good man, but if his family drives you crazy, perhaps you ought to think more intensely about how many years he spent living with those people.
  • Will there be anything in that pile of beautiful wedding gifts that will make up for a bad marriage? Better yet, will any of those things be more difficult to take back than a wedding vow? Could I stand to wait a few years to acquire these things, if it means saving a lot of people a lot of heartache? (I know it seems shallow, but a LOT of people get married for the gifts/party.) 
  • Is it REALLY terrible to be the last of my friends to get married, or do I just THINK it's terrible because of social/cultural pressure? Could I learn some important lessons from watching the others and waiting for the RIGHT person, even though it might hurt to be "the single friend" for a while? 
  • "But there aren't any good guys left. Everyone is married already." I have three things to say to this: 
  1. Spread your wings. If you truly believe this, you are restricting yourself WAY too much. Where you live is a very small part of the world. 
  2. So many people find that the "one" for them is a divorced man or woman. He may be married now, but if you waited, you may find him after he's realized he's made the wrong choice. (NOTICE: I SAID AFTER. Going after a married man is worse than marrying the wrong man. Patience is a virtue for a reason.)
  3. Move. Study abroad. Become a nanny across the country. DO SOMETHING more interesting with your life, and you will find more interesting people.   
Sidenote: If this sounds too directed toward women, that's because it is. I try to be "fair", but I think women have a stronger tendency to ignore and justify than men. I just do.

I'm twenty-seven years old, and by no means an expert. I've been married for only 6 years. I don't claim to have made the best decision in regards to my marriage vows. But I do know that I've watched countless friends of mine rush into marriage - or even plan a wedding for years - with the wrong person, or at the wrong time, who are now suffering from a crippling divorce, cheating, abuse, and other things they never would have imagined. 

Or maybe they did imagine... and they chose to do that thing we do as humans and justify it away? No one will ever know but them...

2 comments:

  1. Good post! You're a very gifted writer and a deep thinker. As an adult you have definitely moved past those "difficult" baby and teen years!

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  2. Well said. I am dealing with someone very close who is settling for a relationship she doesn't really want because she would rather be married and miserable than single and happy. The social competition and pressure are too much for her. I agree with so much of what you said, and I would like to add my own thoughts as well. I, luckily, knew my husband was right for me without a doubt. Sometimes, I allow media to influence what I perceive love to be. I see other women blogging about their perfect lives and adoring husbands, or I see the fiery passion of a movie romance and I question the happiness of my own relationship. There are so many factors which can interfere with my true feelings, it's mass confusion and pandemonia. I have a hard time tuning into my own heart.

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