What my First Marriage Taught me About Future Relationships

I’m a millennial woman and like [I think] all millennial women, I’ve been raised in a worldview where getting married is more of a life event than an option. I’m sure this is somewhat similar for men but not to the same extent as women. Therefore when the older girls at my building got bored and decided to marry me and Michael [my then boyfriend] I said yes.

Michael, on the other hand, and like all men pressured with compromise, was not too sure about us getting married so young. To be fair, Michael who was 9 at the time told me his parents hadn’t given him permission to get married because we were too young. I, a 8 year-old determined young woman, told him I was going to get married with or without him.

So a week later I walked down the aisle to marry Alex, a 7 year old I was good friends with and who was up for getting married to me. My mom took a picture of us and this is what my expression looked like:

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I think we lasted 3 days.

Don’t get me wrong, Alex was a very nice guy, but I wasn’t into him. I only married him because I wanted to get married, so it made sense if 3┬ádays later I got into a fight with him and scratched his back and made him bleed and cry. I’m pretty sure that was the same day I lost my ring playing hide and seek with it [which is another good reason as to why you shouldn’t marry too young].

The problem with Alex is that I married him because I thought I had to marry someone. I married him because I wanted to get married. Period. I didn’t take into consideration whether or not Alex would be a good husband or whether or not we would be compatible long term (aka longer than 3 days). I know I was 8 then, but I still feel that’s the problem nowadays.

At this point I’d love to say: “which is why you should always break up with a guy you don’t feel 100% right with”, but I understand it’s hard to find someone like that. Correction: It’s really fucking hard to find someone like that. I’ve gone on so many dates throughout my somewhat short life and there are only three men who I would have considered for marriage. Note that I said ‘considered’ not that I would marry. You know why? Because it’s fucking hard. Because men don’t suffer the pressure we do to get married [my theory is that it’s because there’s still that unconscious idea that men are supposed to be the bread winners and since they don’t like having that pressure/aren’t that financially stable yet, they wait until the last minute to start a family – and if this theory is correct, then I can’t blame them]. And because men don’t suffer that pressure they can afford to be more picky. They also ‘fuck around’ more and therefore waste our time more often than not with fake promises.

So, what can we do about this? I think it depends on our priorities. If what you want is to have a family, then maybe you don’t necessarily need the peanut butter to your jelly. Just a man with whom you’re compatible with and wants to have a family too [and raise the same kind of family you want]. However, and to be completely honest, I don’t know if that will work because that’s not what I want and that’s not what I’ve been doing.

What I want is a life partner; a teammate. I want someone with whom I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with. And as idealistic as it sounds, I think it might be possible to find him. The difference is that I understand that I may not find him and I’m ok with not getting married until I do (which may be never). That means I may have to be a single mom, or that I may not have children, but that’s not my priority, so that’s ok with me.

So, in order to find this man, I’ve broken up with all the men I’ve dated the minute I realised they weren’t who I was looking for. It’s been tough, and there have been times when I haven’t had a boyfriend that I’ve wished I would have had a boyfriend. But whenever that happened, I looked back to my relationships and I remembered my 8 year old self and how unhappy she was.

Thanks to that failed marriage I know that marriage isn’t that important to me in the end, it’s who I marry. And that makes every single break-up worth it.