I recently read and shared a great article about a lady who decided not to get married after accepting a marriage proposal by someone she did actually love but knew her heart he was not supposed to be her husband. Her story and the comments I got when I shared it inspired me to share another part of my story that most people don’t know.
In my mid-twenties, I met a guy (the one I talk about in my first book). He wasn’t really my type, but the more time I spent with him the more I cared for him. After a few months of him being my “friend” and enjoying his company, I decided to give the relationship he had been asking for a try.
That was in November, and on Valentine’s Day he asked me to be his wife.
I did want to be married. I had been a single mother since I was fifteen, and I really wanted my son to have a father and eventually siblings. I cared about my boyfriend and would even say that I loved him, but I really wasn’t ready for him to propose to me. But he did, and I said yes.
I said yes because I figured he would be the one I would marry one day anyway, and I didn’t want to subject him to rejection by telling him no or even by saying, “not yet.” So I said yes and insisted on a long engagement so that we could get to know each other better…you know, the thing you do when you’re dating.
Immediately after I said yes, he started telling everyone. He woke up my son the night he proposed and told him and called my parents and his. The next day at work I found out that all my friends already knew because the week before he told them he was going to ask me. So people knew. Even with doubts, I can’t turn back now, right?
We set a wedding date for June of the next year so that gave us nearly sixteen months to date and get to know each other. Yes, it was quite a bit of time, but it’s amazing how different things are when you are truly dating versus being engaged and dating. Although I set up premarital counseling and found books for us to read together and discuss, his willingness to participate was limited. At the same time, I was planning a wedding that both he and I would be proud of. He was a really great guy, but he was very concerned about what others thought so I worked hard to make sure everything was perfect. Surprisingly, it was less important for me to impress others by a beautiful wedding, but I did want it to be nice.
I wanted our marriage to be nice too, nicer than the wedding, so I kept pushing for the premarital counseling and even counseling that included my son since we were about to be a blended family. I knew from being a stepchild that it was important that my son be a part of the process and feel loved and included. Counseling was in progress, and my son was getting on board and even sold on the idea of us having a father/husband and even a sibling in my fiance’s son. I had made deposits on the photographer, videographer, caterer, and other vendors so…even with doubts, I can’t turn back or push it back now, right?
Things got a little better I think when my fiancé came around and went to the counseling, but we didn’t complete the counseling before the wedding was upon us. We both still had our doubts, but I dismissed them as both of us just being afraid of the lifelong commitment we were about to make. We did love each other and I did not want to bring another man in and out of my son’s life. I figured, once we got married we would get over those fears and everything would work itself out.
I considered just postponing the wedding a bit, but that would have cost me/us more money. I would lose some of the deposits I’d made for one, and even have to pay a few I had gotten out of paying. After I booked the facility for the reception, I was offered the space for free if I would change my reservation for the weekend before or after the date originally reserved. Some important person wanted the space on the date I had chosen, but I gladly moved it for the $2,500 savings. So when my doubts persisted, I didn’t want to postpone the wedding because I would then lose the benefit of getting the space for free. Everyone who knows me understands how much I appreciate a deal, and I was very proud of the awesome wedding we were about to have on a tight budget. So we moved forward.
He got a little more involved in the planning and even picked out the song I would walk down the aisle to as well as other songs for the program. Our theme was, “A Wish Come True & A Prayer Answered,” and was based on some special moments and songs we’d had. To save money and because I love craft projects, I ordered beautiful paper and handmade all two hundred invitations.
Crying and still experiencing doubt as I mailed the invitations, I had, in my opinion, officially gotten to the point of no return. There was going to be a wedding.
As our wedding date approached, I shed lot of tears and talked to others including my best friend who had experienced similar feelings before her wedding and still went through with it only to get divorced a few years later. I figured, that was her though. My situation was different, and we would be fine. I had invested so much into this already—time, money, and feelings…especially my son’s feelings. There was going to be a wedding and a happy marriage one day.
So on that June date sixteen months after my beautiful Valentine’s day proposal, I walked down the aisle with a question mark in my heart. As I walked down that aisle towards the man I was planning to spend the rest of life with, he looked up towards the ceiling. I was crying inside and hoping he would feel my payer to look at me. To watch me walk to him. He didn’t lay eyes on me until I was in his face. He had tears in his eyes and said he looked up and not at me because he was crying. I wanted to see him and to feel his love for me in that moment. It was a strange, difficult moment for both of us even though we loved each other. Later as my husband, my fiance told me that he felt like “he wasn’t really there.”
After lots of tears, fights, and way more money than we “saved” by not canceling or postponing the wedding, we were separated. After another year and a half and lots more tears, fights, and money, we were divorced.
The lessons for me were:
- Listen to your heart.
- Date until you know without a doubt you are with someone you can’t be without.
- Don’t worry about what other people say or think if you change your mind at ANY point in the process.
- This is the time to be selfish. Consider the feelings of others-your boyfriend, your children-but think about what YOU really want first.
- Money wasted getting out of a wedding and marriage you are not sure you’re supposed to have is not wasted. It will definitely cost you more to get out of it.
- Don’t feel rushed or pressured. You can respect your own timeline and wishes and love your significant other.
- Screw a wedding to impress others. The simpler the better because all that matters is if YOU love each other, if YOU like each other, and if YOU can’t imagine your life without this person. If your marriage survives, it won’t be because of those in the audience, and if it fails that audience may feel bad for you, but that’s it. It’s about YOU (as in you plural…but just you and him and the future you’ll create for yourselves and your children if you have them).