Since we don’t live long enough to make all the mistakes and learn from them, we need to really pick up on lessons from those made by other people. I’ll share one of mine here so you hopefully don’t end up doing something similar. I married my husband when I was almost 23 years old, and I had been dating him since I was 18. I won’t go into the details of how I met him because it is a reasonably unique story and anyone familiar with it IRL could read this and identify me. Suffice to say, I met him over a few weekends and we immediately became a couple. With all the commitment connoted by that word. Talking about love and marriage and family.
Yeah. He was a couple of years older than me so he finished college first and moved away for his graduate study, and then moved out of the country for his job. So we did the long distance thing for about 3 years. By this time both of us were working, though in different countries and time zones, and we kept arguing on the phone and emailing and all that. We were both sick of it, and he was getting lonely in London, so we got married. His credentials were impeccable so it was no big deal convincing my family to let me marry him, and his family pretty much agreed to whatever he insisted on. Flash forward 4 years and I’ve moved to London, studied and looked for work and failed to find it, and am now a housewife in an unhappy marriage. I might have to have children in another couple of years, and I really don’t want to. How did the once successful career woman turn into this? Well…
- I married young. Neither of us had had a real romantic relationship before this one, and we stuck with it for almost 5 years and married the same person without living with them.
- I was inexperienced. Both of us were virgins when we met, and we fumbled around and figured a bit of stuff out and then… stopped learning. We also committed too early thinking that’s what people did; then inertia just kept it going.
- I had no real role models to guide me. My parents are in a strange marriage – my dad is a pushover bossed by his mother in law and my mother is a mentally undeveloped epileptic. So no healthy strong woman persona to guide me regarding my self worth and relationship conduct. What’s okay to let go and what is important to be fought over? No clue. What constitutes a healthy and productive argument, and what is toxic and destructive? No clue.
- I established the wrong precedents. I always got emotional when we argued because it always seemed like he was right and I was wrong, and I could never convince him otherwise. Only recently have I been able to detach myself from my feelings enough to rationally talk it out, but he expects outbursts from me and unfortunately does not expect me to sound rational at all. I also was always the one adjusting, changing her mind to get along, etc., so now that is what is expected else there is another argument.
- I ignored the signs from my subconscious. After the initial dating bit, we were forced to carry on over long distance. So our conversations were basically relaying details of our day, and were usually quite brief because of the odd time zones. We rarely spoke about substantial things, yet we somehow assumed we would end up with the other person so never questioned the necessity of the relationship. I don’t know about him, but I was a naive girl who was thrust into a workplace with adult men that treat women the way adult men do, and I mistook it for genuine desire. Out of some misguided intent to please them and satisfy my needs too, I slept with a few. I was in some real ‘relationships’ for 6 months and 11 months. I was sleeping with these men and at the same time conducting my long distance relationship over the phone. I was lying to cover silly things even after I married him and moved in with him. Super healthy, right?
Well, I think you get the idea. The point is, if you don’t know yourself as an adult, if you don’t know enough about yourself and the world to know what you like and what is good for you, you shouldn’t be committing to anything at all. Love yourself before you love someone else, and then try it before you buy it. I’m all for fully protected premarital sex and co-habitation. Live with them, fight with them, love with them, and if you see that you are handling it like adults and you are happy to be doing it for the foreseeable future, only then consider marriage. Never give up your individuality to make allowances for the other person unless for your own betterment. This may sound selfish, but it’s a piece of advice that works. Take it from someone who is helplessly stuck in an unhappy marriage because she doesn’t have a job and doesn’t have the voice to stand up for herself. If you think you love someone at 18 and you want to live with them forever, great, move in with them. Don’t get married, please. Time changes people, and sometimes you two end up being completely different people at 25 that just don’t get along. If you’re afraid to be alone, it’s okay. Make girlfriends and fill your time. Have casual sex, or flings, or find a fuck buddy or a set of toys that work for you. Just don’t settle for the easiest thing to hand just to make yourself feel better, please. Think of silly me and how much I whine and rant and realise this is not who you want to become.