I Knew I Shouldn’t Marry Him, But I Did It Anyway
It’s normal to be anxious before your wedding day. You could be worried about the hundreds of tiny planning things that could go wrong. You could have stage fright when declaring your love in front of everyone you care about. Or … you could actually know in your gut that you shouldn’t marry the person.
“I met him in college, and I actually had this thought in my brain that if I wasn’t sexually attracted to him or drawn to him, that it meant I was holy and I was doing the right thing, religion-wise. I went in with no prior sexual relations with anyone else, or with him, because I waited until we were married.
I knew internally that something was off, and that came with massive anxiety in my stomach. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him or he displayed violence or erratic behavior — he lined up in all the right ways, and still, I had an inkling inside my gut that this wasn’t right. I remember we were going down to get our marriage certificate, and we were driving down there and holding hands, doing all the things that you should do. Right before we got to the door, I was like, ‘I can’t do this. Can we do this another day?’
I didn’t want to get it, and I didn’t know why. [On our wedding day], I remember telling my sister-in-law that I didn’t want to get married, and she said, ‘Everyone gets nervous before they get married.’
“I remember having a massive breakdown in my car.”
I remember having a massive breakdown in my car. I was literally screaming, crying, banging on my steering wheel because I felt like I was trapped in this box that I couldn’t get out of — that I had created my own coffin. I’d lay in bed at night next to him, dreaming about how this relationship could end without a divorce. Like I used to dream about him possibly dying. That sounds horrific, but it was just my way of surviving.
Finally, there was this moment when we had lost our son, and it created this rock bottom for me. It made me wake up to myself. I remember standing in my kitchen, [thinking], I’ve got these two daughters, and if I didn’t have them, I would leave. And even though I had all this conditioning around ‘you do not get divorced — that’s the wrong religious thing you could do,’ it felt more painful to stay in it than to leave.
My life is radically different than it was just six years ago. I have an amazing relationship with my kids, because I’m in a great relationship with myself.” –Danette, 40
“I met my ex-husband in college when I was 20. Our relationship started out pretty normal — we messaged on Twitter at first and that progressed to texting, and finally, our first date. I was a little worried at first when I discovered that he had two children but chose to overlook that and get to know him.
Down the road, though, the red flags started to show up. About a month or two into dating, he told me that his ex told him that she was pregnant with his child. He assured me that he was no longer involved her and that he would follow up when the child was born to find out if she was truly his. Once that time came, he found out that it was true, but his ex wanted nothing to do with him and didn’t want his help, so even though I felt weird about the whole situation, I decided to let it go.
When we returned to school, the red flags increased. I found out that he had given up his room since he was ‘always at my place’ without telling me. In another incident, he was invited to my house for Christmas break and I woke up one day and he was gone. He had left without saying a word to anybody.
When I called him, he started acting weird and said he went to his grandma’s house and that we were broken up. When I tried calling him back to understand what was going on, he turned into this horrible person calling me names and insulting me, just to come back to me weeks later.
“I finally decided to do it against everything my mind and heart were saying.”
Fast-forward a couple of months, I joined the army, and after I found out that I would be stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii, he said that we should get married. I was not ready and I told him so, but he said that if we were married, the army could send us both to Hawaii. He also said that he wasn’t doing a long-distance relationship. After much pleading on his part and getting me to talk to a couple of family members, I finally decided to do it against everything my mind and heart were saying.
We were just going to get married in the court, but since I was still training, I couldn’t even leave to attend my own ‘wedding.’ Instead, I had to sign a paper saying that I was in the armed forces and couldn’t attend and he went to the court and had it done by himself.
He showed up later that afternoon to tell me that we were officially married and my stomach just churned. I knew I had made the wrong decision, and somewhere inside, I knew the marriage wouldn’t last long — and I was right.
We separated 16 months later and finally got divorced earlier this year.
That relationship taught me a lot about life but mostly about myself. I hated myself and the relationship while I was in it, and to this day, I still don’t know why I did it. What I do know is that I have grown since then and I am very careful these days about how I approach a relationship because I would never want to be in a situation like that again.” –Altina, 26
“When I was 24 years old, I married the person who sat behind me in 4th grade and pulled my ponytail while reciting the Rice-A-Roni jingle. We were mostly enemies throughout our childhood. He literally used to ask me, ‘Why are you so ugly?’
But when we reconnected at a party in our early 20s, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, and we started dating. Then we moved in together. And after two years, he proposed.
As I stared at the ring he held in front of me, I tried to think of a reason to say ‘no,’ but there wasn’t a good one available. My inner feeling of ‘meh’ didn’t seem valid enough. We had a house and a dog and friends and plans — was all of that for nothing? Marriage seemed like the next step. So, I accepted.
We were engaged for a year while we planned a destination wedding for just the two of us. I openly joked about how I wanted to save money for the divorce. I didn’t want my father to walk me down the aisle because I didn’t want him to someday look back and feel guilty about ‘giving’ his oldest daughter to an asshole.
“We fought nearly every day. I hated him, and I hated my life.”
The ceremony was nice, and afterward we treated ourselves to a decadent dinner. But I did not look forward to the wedding night. In general, I didn’t want to have sex much before the wedding either. But I was always able to blame it on being stressed or tired. The thought of obligatory sex filled me with dread, and I prayed that my husband would be too tired to engage. Honestly, I don’t remember how that evening turned out.
Life changed after we tied the knot. My husband expected me to turn into a ‘wife.’ He wanted me to quit my job, clean the house, and birth his children. I resisted. I’d just started a new job that I loved and I wasn’t ready to quit my career.
We fought nearly every day. I hated him, and I hated my life. There was a moment when I realized I didn’t even care to live. I slept a lot and listened to angry music every chance I got.
After weeks of me sleeping on the couch, he walked into the house late one night and announced, ‘I think we should separate.’ At first I was livid that he came to the conclusion without discussing it with me. But then he asked, ‘Isn’t this what you want? Don’t you hate me?’ In that moment, I knew it was the best thing to do.
We divorced after less than two years of marriage. The decision came as a relief, and I was gleeful about the opportunity to be myself and live my life on my own terms. I took very little in our divorce settlement and didn’t look back.
That was more than a decade ago, and my ex and I are much friendlier than when we were married. We’re different people now, living completely different lives.