One might assume that after the past year of marital turmoil, culminating in a disastrous end, that I might be completely jaded on marriage. Ironically, my thoughts on marriage are even stronger. I believe in marriage as an institution, but more than that I believe it everything it entails. I don’t regret my marriage, nor the years I committed to my ex-husband. Would I get married again? Absolutely. Would I marry the same man again? No, probably not, even not knowing the future. That isn’t the voice of regret talking, but rather the voice of my 35-year-old self.
When I met my ex, I was 19 years old and I had never dated. I had been on one blind date in college, but beyond that, nothing. He was my first everything. Having said that, I can look back now and see that there was a part of me that feared no one would ever love me, so I jumped quickly at the first opportunity. Even then, though, there were a lot of alarm bells that I ignored. I often felt like I was tagging along with him and he frequently reminded me of how many women liked him and I should feel lucky that he chose me. I let him off the hook close to our wedding on some decisions he made, carelessly hurting me without much of an apology. He was famous for asking forgiveness, not permission. I was afraid to call off the wedding – all the time, energy, money, and of course the embarrassment. You know what they say about hindsight, though.
Over the past 14 years, I would look at some of my friends, and even my parents’ marriage with envy. My girlfriends’ husbands would talk lovingly about them and brag sweetly about them. The only thing my ex ever bragged on about me was that I could cook. I don’t ever remember hearing that I was a great mom or even I great wife. Very rarely was I told I was beautiful or smart. Really, I think the second my ex was away from me, he just didn’t think much about me. I remember a conversation vividly from a few years ago where I, in real vulnerability, shared that I felt that if something happened between us, everyone, my family and boys included, would choose him over me and I would be left with nothing. He agreed and later used that conversation against me, assuming that I would let him walk all over me and not put up a fight for my family. Boy was he wrong. Because in the 14 years we were married he failed to really get to know one of my strongest (and sometimes weakest) character traits. I fight with passion for the things I value and believe in and nothing will stop me.
I also see some of my own role in the flaws in my marriage. I was too needy, and I didn’t have a lot of outside relationships. I can be quite a bit of a nag about things. I yell when I am angry and was too critical at times. I also didn’t talk my ex up enough to his face, though I did to friends and family. However, knowing that my ex had been cheating off an on for over 10 years, I feel a little less culpable in the problems in our marriage. He never saw me has his partner or his equal, but rather saw me as being “lucky” that he put up with me. I really believe that was the fundamental flaw in our marriage and I don’t think any actions on my part could have changed that.
I didn’t mean this to be a reflection on my marriage, but it seems to have become so. It takes having been in a troubled marriage, to appreciate the good parts, but know things that should have been different. I want to be celebrated, rather than criticized or mocked, for my quirks. I want to feel like I am an equal in the partnership, rather than the lucky one. It is funny because despite all the heartache of the past year (or even more), I still would love the chance to marry again someday. Believe me, though, my bar is unbelievably high. I know myself better now and I also know that I don’t need to be married to be whole. I am not half a person as a divorced woman and I don’t need a man to complete me. However, it would be nice to be able to share my life and my heart with another person someday.