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One morning, while giggling in bed, my now-husband/then-boyfriend and I decided to get married. Later on, we decided that two weeks would be plenty of time for us to plan our wedding. On September 9, 2012, we got married…one year after our first date.
Though those two weeks went by in a flash, I remember lots of people congratulating us. In fact, if anyone was concerned by how quickly we got engaged and then married, they never shared those concerns with us. If they had, I’m not sure it would have mattered. I was ready to get married and I was ready to get married to my husband.
Two years later, I can say with full confidence that I definitely wasn’t ready to get married when we did. Hindsight is 20/20, after all. And while I wouldn’t say my reasons for marriage were all wrong, I would say many of them were naive.
People who get married shortly after meeting their partners often feel a need to defend their decision to do so. I totally get it; I used to say whatever I could to reassure people that I was well-prepared for marriage. Honestly though, when it comes to defense, today I’ve got nothing. The bottom line is I got married way before I was ready, and while I don’t regret our decision, we’ve struggled a lot as a result.
So why the rush?
First, I loved him. I still do, by the way. And I wanted to get married. First comes love, then comes marriage, right? Well, nothing excited me more than the thought of being my husband’s wife. Instead of appreciating the relationship we currently had and working on it, I lived in the future — the one where I’d get to wear a pretty ring and memorize his social security number.
(I know it sounds ridiculous, but I used to be in awe of how my mother knew my dad’s, my brother’s, and my social security number. She could recite any one of them at the drop of a hat and it always seemed so badass to me. When I met my husband, I knew I wanted to be the woman who knew his social security number by heart. Funny thing is, after two years of marriage, I have no clue what it is.)
Second, I felt guilty. Dan and I were living together by the time we decided to get married and having grown up in a conservative home, this was a big no-no. Living with him felt right, but sometimes images of my childhood pastor would haunt me in my dreams and I’d wake up in a cold sweat, convinced I was headed to hell. Marriage was my way of easing the cognitive dissonance that was plaguing me.
Lastly, I wanted to have sex. Yes, I’m one of those folks who waited until she was married to have sex. When I was 13 years old, I went to youth group and signed a paper vowing to remain pure. I’m not sure if I was super successful at remaining pure, but I was a virgin until September 9, 2012. On September 8, it literally felt like I couldn’t have waited another day.
All that said, I guess you could say that impatience and guilt got me down the aisle. Love too, of course, but a lot of impatience and guilt.
People compliment my husband and I all the time because we didn’t have a traditional wedding. Sixteen guests witnessed us exchange our wedding vows and we invited 150 guests to celebrate with us at a huge reception one year later.
“You did it the right way!” they say.
In a way, I get it. Our wedding and reception were pretty awesome and not super stressful. But when people say that we did it the right way, I have to chuckle to myself. No one, aside from my husband and I, truly knows the circumstances and motivators behind our decision to get married. They only know what we’ve chosen to share on Facebook.
They don’t know that we almost got divorced a year ago. They don’t know that we attend marriage therapy twice a month. They don’t know how hard we’ve worked to get to where we are today — and that we still have so much farther to go.
So how in the world could any of this possibly be okay?
It’s okay because we’re making it okay. Speaking for myself, I’ve accepted that I can’t change the past, but I can have the power to cocreate our present. I’ve forgiven myself for rushing into a marriage I wasn’t ready for, rather than focusing on how I screwed up royally. Thank God my husband has forgiven me, too. While I know he wanted to marry me, I don’t think he was in as much of a hurry as I was.
I suppose there will be a few comments on this post stating that maybe I married the wrong person and that my marriage is doomed and that I shouldn’t have gotten married so soon. Go ahead and think what you’d like — I’ve probably had a similar thought at some point in the last two years.
Just know that today I better realize the consequences of rushing into marriage, or any major life decision, for that matter. I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m holding off on kids for a while.
But I know I’m not the only person who was ill-equipped for marriage on her wedding day. That’s why I’m not scared to write a piece like this for the world to see (that, and my husband totally okayed it first). I guess I believe that during any given marriage, there are a million and one mistakes spouses will make together and individually. Deciding to get married too soon is one of ours. We’re human, just like the rest of you.
As I wrap this up, it might seem like an appropriate time for me to warn you all against getting married too soon. But I’m not going to. If you’re headstrong like I was two years ago, you won’t listen anyway.
Nah, I’d much rather encourage you to make decisions that will help you become more whole. If wholeness is your guide, you can pretty much tackle anything. That’s what I’ve learned throughout this entire getting-married-too-soon debacle. It hasn’t been the most pleasant way to learn a lesson, but it’s certainly been effective. And I can at least be grateful for that.