Woulda, coulda, shoulda, isn’t that how the saying goes? If I knew then what I know now would I have married the man I did knowing how badly it ended?
As women, many of us envision married life as having the white picket fence, 2.5 kids, Prince charming by your side, and living the American dream; happily ever after.
Then, you get married. Reality sets in. Many of us realize we got into a relationship that we don’t see lasting “til death do us part.”
I asked a handful of women in my network what they wish they had known before they got married. I got a variety of answers, but what stuck out to me the most is that every single one of us wrote in one way or another that we wish we knew before we got married that we were enough. Every single one of us settled on someone because we didn’t think we were good enough to get treated and loved the way we deserved.
Below 5 Divorced Women Share What They Wish They Had Known Before Marrying
1. RM- Married 7 ½ years, together for 9
I wish I would have known how much work you need to put into a marriage every single day. You have to treat your marriage as you would a full-time job. You have to work at making your spouse the #1 priority even if you have kids. Plan regular date nights, have sex on a regular basis, go on trips together. Don’t let good sex cloud your judgment over the things that really matter in a long-term relationship, especially marriage. You have to be friends with your partner first. I never considered my husband my best friend. He would always comment that I always sounded so much happier when I was talking to one of my friends. Truth be told, it’s because I was. I was able to be myself around my friends. I wish I would have known that if your boyfriend seems to be a bit bossy, that will turn into full on controlling behavior as the relationship progresses. And with control means that you become a shell of a person you once were because you get beat down so much. You start to question your own worth. I will never ever allow a man to determine my worth again.
2. SS- Married 8 years, together for 21
The one thing I wish I’d know before marrying was that I would be ok being alone. For many years I stayed in an unhappy, codependent marriage because I was afraid. I was afraid of being lonely, afraid of being a single mom, afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own financially, afraid that our son would think I’m a failure, afraid of all the unknowns. So I stayed, disconnected from life, going through the motions, not feeling a damn thing. I was an empty shell breathing. I remember frantically crying the day he asked for a divorce. Not because I was sad, but because I was scared to be alone. But I started to realize that I had to make a new beginning. My life was craving a new journey, one that was defined by me. I slowly started to feel the life radiate back in the soul. I began to feel free from the prison of my own thoughts and what I realized was that I was ok being alone. I was enough. I am at peace and I feel whole again. I finally found the freedom from my own insecurities.
3. EN- Married 4 ½ years together for 8
Looking back at myself, if I knew then what I know now, I would have waited longer to get married. At the time I was sure about my husband to be and thought he thought the same about me. What I did not realize was I was blind and did not know the real man my husband I married was until he wanted a separation. It was through his inability to be serious during our separation did I realize I could not remain married to this man as it would have led to a miserable, false life.
4. MT- Married 4 years, together for 11
One thing I would have known before marrying; I wish I knew that I was good enough, so I didn’t have to compromise and settle for less. I wish I was confident enough to talk myself out of the relationship that was full of compromise. I wish the comfort of being married never took over my desire to live free.
My ex-husband’s family was abusive towards me from the start. My ex was the youngest of 3, with 2 older sisters with very strong and narcissistic personalities. My ex was quiet and his way of coping with his family problem was to let them be, and not rock the boat. When I came into the picture, his family started to attack me by doing things that hurt my feelings or made sure that I knew I was never included in their family functions.
I was wishing and hoping that my ex would stand up for me. After 11 years of being together, he never did. I don’t think he knew how.
So I compromised. I told myself “This is it; I must make this work because this is what I deserve. I can never find a man better than him.” Deep inside I knew I didn’t deserve all abusive behavior coming from his family, but I was comfortable. We were married, we had financial stability, and we were doing ok. So I let the comfort of being married take over my desire to live free.
But in the end, I have no regrets. It was my opportunity to learn to get to know myself, love my imperfect self, fight for my freedom, and understand that I am good enough. I am not going to give this freedom up again easily because it was damn hard to get it.
5. JK- Married 3 years together 7
I wish I knew my worth…
I was 22 when I met my ex-husband. I was so young and stupid and within a year and a half had an oops pregnancy, got married a couple years after and immediately pregnant again, but then about a year-and-a-half later, separated for divorce.
So… my worth… I wish I truly understood my worth. Of course, there are a million things I wish I would have known and understood better about my ex-husband and his family, but ultimately, it comes down to me. Nobody really taught me my worth, at least not the right people.
Although I thought I had high self-esteem and I definitely was an accomplished individual, good daughter, star athlete, great student, loyal friend, highly sought-after employee.
But, I was lacking the deep understanding of my worth and had no one to guide me into healthy, respectful, worthy, romantic relationships. I was missing the key importance of setting a healthy standard for my own match.
It took me time, help, discipline, and motherhood to value and better understand my worth.
We all make better choices when we know more and I believe it starts with knowing your own worth. Truly understanding the meaning; having expectations for ourselves to challenge each other to be better and grow.
I am remarried now and have such a better understanding of my worth. I purposely have consistent conversations with my own children so they truly understand their worth so that they set healthy, appropriate, and fair boundaries and standards, and take their time.
I wish I knew my worth, we always need to start with ourselves, because knowing yourself makes all the difference.
I believe my favorite fictional character sums it up the best.
Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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