"Become the kind of person the kind of person you would like to marry would like to marry." ~ Douglas Wilson
Four months from this Friday I will be getting married.
A whole wedding and everything.
This is a big deal.
I know marriage should be a big deal in general, but let's be honest. In our society today, people get married and divorced more often than many people change jobs. My fiance and I have both been married before so now we are going to be included in the second marriage statistic. You know, the one that says half of all second marriages will end in divorce.
We will not be on the wrong side of those statistics. I'm sure everyone in love says that right before they get married again. Truth be told, I was fine with never getting married again. That was before I met a partner who made me experience real love for the first time.
That is a strange thing to say considering I was married once before and engaged to someone else even before that. My first fiance was this great guy I met at work when I was about twenty-three years old. We started out as co-workers and then became friends. We dated for a while, I moved into his house, we talked about marriage, I got cancer, he proposed, and then four months before the wedding, the bomb dropped.
He told me that he had come to realize that he never truly loved me and had only proposed because I had just finished my cancer treatments and he felt like he was obligated to propose. That is was what he was "supposed" to do. He should have said something sooner he told me.
Problem was, I still loved him.
So I moved out of the house, sought refuge at my parent's home because I was such an emotional wreck and spent the following weeks cancelling all the wedding plans that were already in place. To this day, I do not think he was a bad person. Confused and gutless yes. But not bad. After a while, I decided I was too young to pine away for a man who would never love me. I found my own apartment and continued to throw myself into my career, my family, and my friends.
Enter the next love. My ex-husband. I met my ex-husband approximately eight months after the break up with the ex-fiance and I did not date anybody in between. I am here to tell you that is a big mistake. I would have sworn to you up and down that I was not on the rebound and maybe I wasn't. I was twenty-eight years old and all of my friends were getting married and having babies. Now I absolutely thought that I loved him and that he loved me but now looking back, I wonder if subconsciously, I was more in love with him or the idea of being in love with him and having the life society tells us we are supposed to have. You know, the one with 2.2 kids and a white picket fence. Because there were signs there that maybe he was not the right person for me but I did not pay attention to those red flags. I wanted to spend my life with someone and raise a family. I thought this was the way to be happy. Tough thing to admit.
Approximately a year after we got married (we had dated for two years prior to getting married), my ex-husband changed in a way that resembled Jekyll and Hyde. He decided that he did not want children after all. His mood started to change dramatically at times, he developed flashbacks, and he was subsequently diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which was a result of severe childhood abuse. Then the heavy drinking started and the only thing more difficult than living with an alcoholic, is living with one that has PTSD.
I tried and I tried as hard as I could to keep my marriage together. Eight long years of trying. I certainly made my share of mistakes during my marriage but none that warranted the way I was treated. I thought that if I loved him enough, he would be able to work through his issues, we would have a family and be happy. Instead, I became an emotionally abused wife. The day that he became violent and I thought he would hit me, I began the journey to becoming his ex-wife.
It was not easy, but I have never looked back.
I was finally free.
Despite the fact that the year prior to separating with my ex-husband I began to get very sick from autoimmune related issues, my life really started to evolve. I took control of my life. After we sold our house, I took one of our dogs, moved into my own apartment and discovered I truly enjoyed living by myself again. No chaos. I spent the following two years figuring out who I was as a person and reshaping my definition of what it meant to be happy and that it did not have to include being married, or even having a partner for that matter. Being happy did not depend on whether I was a mother or not. In that quest to find myself, I truly became happy.
I reconnected with my old friends and I made new ones. I began to write and pursue other interests when I wasn't dealing with my significant medical issues.. I became involved with my church. I dated quite a bit. I even fell for a guy or two. However after a while, I found dating to be exhausting. As a thirty-nine year old with a severe chronic illness, dealing with the drama associated with dating just became too much. Too many liars, cheaters, and men with severe issues. It wasn't worth my precious energy. I decided that I was going to be content with living on my own, in a great apartment, with my very cool dog and my wonderful family, friends, and church community surrounding me. I had my head on straight now and I was not going to compromise my happiness, health, or peace of mind for anyone else.
Best laid plans, right?
Then enter Chuck. What is it that they say? That love often happens when you are least expecting or looking for it? If you are interested, you can read our story here: Summer of Friendship...Summer of Love.
I knew within weeks of dating Chuck, that I would spend the rest of my life with him. I didn't care if that involved marriage. I just wanted to be with him. He had become my best friend and it quickly became apparent to me that I could not imagine spending one day without him in my life. It was a big risk for me and maybe he would say the same thing for himself. The risk of loving again after you have been hurt so deeply in the past is probably one of the biggest acts of courage a person can perform. The difference for me this time though was that I knew I was with the right person. I knew what true love felt like.
The type of true love that makes you want to be an even better person than you already are. The type that supports you and encourages your dreams. The type that makes you want to work through all the very difficult questions and differences between you.The type of love that is ultimately unconditional.
I think I just wrote part of my wedding vows.
I am the woman who said she would never get married again but yet, here I am. Older, wiser, and with eyes wide open. I am the woman who is very glad to be a stronger, confident, and more self aware version of her younger self. One who, when she stands in front of her family and friends committing her life to another on May 18th, will know, with all certainty, that it is possible for marriage to last forever.