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Just married/engaged…so what

marriage1It’s summertime, which means it’s wedding season again. Everyday on my Facebook timeline, I see friends, relatives, and co-workers happily and proudly posting photos of their engagement rings with the ‘I said yes,’ captions; or newlyweds posting pics of their beautiful weddings, which look as if David Tutera himself decorated. And while I’m not bitter about other people’s happiness, a certain sadness does creep into my heart every now and then. You see, I am that girl who’s always wanted to be married…be some man’s wife. I’ve always hated dating, having to start over and meet a new guy that met my standards every time a relationship ended.Yet here I am again, having to start over, and it sucks.

From as early as my 18th birthday, I was wishing that my husband would ride up on his white horse and tell me to hop my ass on the back of it, then we’d ride off into the sunset. It would be many, many years down the road before my future husband would show up. I was 33 when a man finally chose me to be his wife, to be exact, and I was elated. For one thing, after my 30th birthday came and went and I still had no husband, I was sure I was going to be the newest permanent resident of  Old Maidsville- population 58,ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo. Since I hate cats, I already had two kids to clean up after so I didn’t have the patience to care for a puppy, and I couldn’t even keep my goldfish alive for longer than a month, I was looking at a life of nothing but my romance novels to keep me warm at night. So, even though my ex-husband didn’t get down on one knee and ask me to marry him, even though there was no staged video proposal to catch my surprise reaction, and there was nothing really special about his proposal at all, nobody was more elated than me to finally be taken off the single woman market.

Neither of us were born rich, and we paid for our wedding on our own, cutting corners so that we could have the best wedding that $3,000.00 could buy. I didn’t have a wedding planner; I didn’t get the opportunity to go to a bridal shop with a few of my friends and relatives in tow and try on gown after gown until I finally ‘said yes to a dress.’ We had a home cooked buffet at the wedding- much of the food I got up and made myself the morning of the wedding- which meant I was already exhausted by the time I got dressed to walk down the aisle. We didn’t go on an expensive honeymoon, as we both had to be back to work two days after we said our I Do’s. Still, I was so happy to be married. I felt as though I’d finally accomplished something big. Let me explain why. No matter how smart or educated a woman is, if she’s still single, society considers her a failure. Questions like: “Why are you still single? “Why don’t you have a husband yet?” “Something must be wrong with you…are you one of those crazy chicks,” is what single women- successful or not- are often asked. So, even though I had managed to get myself an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, even though I’d struggled to pay my own way through college as a single mom of two trying to get that degree, I still felt like I wasn’t SOMEBODY until I got a wedding band on my finger, because society makes women feel that being married should be every woman’s only and most important end-goal in life.

Still, I was obsessed with weddings, even after I got married. Because I didn’t have my dream wedding, I spent countless days and hours watching wedding shows and looking at wedding blogs, saving photos and planning for my do-over, which I planned to have one day. My ex-husband didn’t care one way or another, but I wasn’t happy with the small wedding we’d had, and I told him that on our five year anniversary, we were renewing our vows and having the wedding I wish we could have had. I had five years to plan for it, but in the meantime, I enjoyed life as a married woman. I put plans to further my college education on hold (AGAIN) and instead devoted all of my time to being a wife and mother. After all, I had finally found myself a husband, I had my two beautiful kids, so what else did I need. Unfortunately, when our five year anniversary rolled around, instead of renewing our vows and celebrating our anniversary in Vegas like I’d planned to do, we were finalizing our divorce.

Like most people, I often sit and mentally map out my future- what I hope to have and accomplish by a certain age. And like most people, I’d planned to stay married forever. I only wanted to get married once…not two or three times. My husband and I were going to last, and we were going to be happy and turn old and gray together. We were going to sit and tell our grandchildren how we met and other stories about our past. But life sometimes has other plans, and in the case of my marriage, life said, “I hate to interrupt your life, but it’s about to change course.” I have often been told never to question God’s reasons for allowing things to happen. If He closes a door, accept it and let it stay closed, so I can only assume that my getting a divorce was a part of God’s divine plan for me and my future.

However, it still saddens me sometimes that MY PLANS- the one’s I’d spent so much time mapping out and doing whatever I needed to do in order to make sure they were executed perfectly- were suddenly brought to a screeching halt, especially when I see someone else’s wedding announcements and photos. I’m no longer a wife. I no longer have a man to post couples photos with or share date night with. It’s just me, myself, and I, and I can’t even lie- it sucks sometimes. At the same time, I’ve lost my drive, my energy, my desire to even think about starting over again. Then one day, I came across a relationship quote that really sort of thumped me on the forehead and made me see things differently and I stopped mourning the death of my failed marriage. The quote stated: Anybody can get married, but STAYING married is what’s really special.

Makes perfect damn sense to me. People get married everyday. They plan these extravagant weddings- some couples even say it takes them years after the marriage to finish paying for it; they go on expensive destination honeymoons instead of taking that money and putting it towards buying a home…planning for their future. They do all of this so they can show off on Facebook and let people know how much they spent and how over-the-top their wedding was in exchange for likes, praise, and comments. Yet, many couples don’t actually plan for the actual marriage. When I was planning my wedding, I remember my ex-mother-in-law saying, ‘Don’t worry about spending a lot of money because it’s not the wedding day that matters…it’s all the days after the wedding that should matter.’ And she was absolutely correct. Give me a small wedding with ten people in attendance in my backyard and fifty wonderful years of wedded bliss with my husband over a $20,000.00 flashy wedding, only to get divorced within five years, any day.

It took me a while to finally realize that while it’s great to be happy and excited about your wedding, the wedding doesn’t mean a thing. Getting engaged or married doesn’t mean a thing and doesn’t make you special. Now, when I see people announcing their upcoming marriage and engagements, I don’t feel sad that my own marriage ended. I’m not envious or jealous of them, because that one special day doesn’t guarantee them a lifetime of happiness together, and that should be the real end-goal of a getting married. While I’ve always loved looking at other people’s wedding photos, what’s more impressive to me is when a couple can say we’ve been married ten, twenty, thirty years, despite the many problems and obstacles that come with reciting those marriage vows…now that’s impressive. Getting married is simple…STAYING married is deserves my praise and applause.

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