- 2 years ago
- Wedding: December 1969
I know each relationship is different and may in no way turn out like mine did, but I wanted to share my story. What I did in our relationship has been hailed as ‘genius’ for over a decade by every woman who has heard it and now I wish I had never shared it because people may think it was the right thing to to.
I met my husband in 1995 and started dating in ’96. We were living in DC and active duty Air Force. I was, and still am :), very pretty, I come from a very influential family (granted their accomplishments are not mine but to give you an example Henry Fonda played my Grandfather in a WWII movie, my Aunt has a day named in her honor in our home state, my uncle is a Catholic Cardinal, and my Father made treaties with the Middle East), I had 2 college degrees at the time, I’m Southern, I’m an extrovert and smile easily, popular, and went to finishing school, and in the military there are 13 guys to every one girl so I really had my pick of men and I chose my husband because I loved him, was proud to be his, and he utterly fascinated me.
While dating he used to ‘joke’ he would never get married while we were in a group of friends, never alone. women would look at me shocked to see my reaction and I’d just shrug. I wasn’t ready to get married so why worry? I was 21 and had the world at my fingertips. After 1 1/2 years of dating I said to him “you know what? I’ve decided I’m going to marry you.” He said “uh…are you asking me?” I said “no, that’s your job. Just wanted you to know” And never mentioned it again.
Soon afterwards I got the opportunity to go to my dream school which would move me to Texas for 6 months and pretty much guarantee I’d never move back to DC. Delimma, do I go and risk losing the guy I loved or stay? I decided to go, if I stayed and we married I’d always wonder ‘what if…?” And if I stayed and we didn’t I’d hate myself for being stupid so off I went.
Understand this was around ’97, I had email, but I barely surfed the web and didn’t know if there were advice columns or sites such as this so I completely ‘winged’ all of my relationships. We continued to talk on the phone, email, and fly to visit each other every couple of months. Thanksgiving rolled around and I visited him and his family. He didn’t ask, I didn’t bring it up. I had decided he was what I wanted so I would wait until I didn’t want to wait anymore, no specific timeframe, no stress. I got my orders to Colorado and would be leaving around March of the next year, so I would be there for at least 2 years. He was still in DC and wasn’t bothered I would be so far away and we kept dating long distance. Then Christmas with my family, I opened a ring box…everyone stopped what they were doing, it wasn’t a diamond ring, it was a Claddagh ring. People were staring. I was nervous to say the least, but asked “um, what is this?” He said “It’s a Claddagh wedding ring”. I said “Okay, what does it mean?, He said nervously “well, if you wear it one way it means you’re friends, the other way means you’re engaged”. I asked which way I should wear it and he quickly put it on my finger the “friends” way. I thanked him, hugged him, and said it was beautiful because it was (but very awkward).
And that’s when I knew what I had to do. The night before he flew out I told him that I understood he was against marriage but I wasn’t, I would continue to date him if that was what he wanted, but I was going to see other people. This was our first real conversation about marriage. He said “My brother has been dating his SO for 5 years, they’re happy!” I said “He’s happy, she’s not and complains constantly and is bitter. I refuse to become her. He will never marry her, but when they break up he’ll marry the very next girl he dates.” (I was right) he then said “It’s every woman’s goal in life to get married”. I said “Nooooo, you guys think you’re going to date date date date die. Girls know they’re going to date, get married, have kids, grow old together, and die. I’m just living my life according to what I want my life to be like”. He said “If we love each other it shouldn’t matter, it’s just a piece of paper”. I said “but it does matter, and that is what I want. I still love you but there are lots of guys out there that I can love that will love me enough to WANT that piece of paper. You are a great guy. I am sure there is a girl out there that doesn’t ever want to get married and maybe she’s the right one for you.”. He said “You’re giving me an ultimatum and those never work out well!” I said “No, I’m telling you I’m going to see other people. I don’t have anyone in mind but I’m going to keep my options open. If you asked me right now I’d say no because if you had wanted to marry me you would have done it by now.” And he flew out the next day.
a few weeks later he stopped calling and I didn’t pursue. 3 months later and not currently dating anyone serious he calls, we caught up, and at the end of the conversation he says I love you. I was a bit unprepared and said “oh, okay”. I felt bad but I wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted from me and really had thought it was over. Over the next 3 months of him calling I did fall in love with him again, never mentioned marriage. He visited and proposed and I accepted.
i know he loved me then. During the ceremony he couldn’t stop smiling, even got tears in his eyes saying his vows, it was so sweet. Years later I did ask him what finally made him decide he wanted to get married. He said “I knew I couldn’t find anyone better”…Not exactly the most romantic thing I could have hoped for but I adored him.
But it recently ended after 15 years and 2 kids together (I thought I was going to die from the pain the first 9 months). We never really fought but once we moved back to his hometown with his old friends and his shift duty as a police officer I barely saw him. He would go out drinking, work nights, sleep days, volunteer at the local firehouse, play ice hockey and it continued all those years. I’d go out with him but not often since I had to work and we had 2 small children. We basically grew apart.
But I’m telling this story because he told our counselor “I just don’t think I was cut out to be a husband and a father’. And THAT is what I want y’all to know. I think he always knew he didn’t want to do the family thing and be tied to one woman but didn’t want to lose “the best thing he could get”. 3 years after the separation and I still think he is a great guy, I chose well, but he didn’t. I asked him what my worst fault as a wife was so I didn’t make the same mistake again, he politely and apologetically said “you’re kinda a doormat”
A few words of advice if I could share them so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.
1) even after kids and marriage GO OUT, have hobbies OUTSIDE the home, just because your husband is your best friend and your children are your life you must have a life outside them
2). Have boundaries, compromise but know what your boundries are and stick to them, divorce isn’t the end of the world, losing yourself is much much worse
3) pick your battles, don’t fight over every hill, just the ones you’re willing to die on
4). Men will start doing the bare basics of what is expected of them. you wouldn’t work overtime unless you had to or there was a payout, so in their minds why work harder then you have to? if you want/need something from him you must insist, compromise, and stick to your guns
5) have sex even if you don’t feel up to it as long as he treats you right. It means a lot to them and makes them feel wanted and loved.
6). If he refuses to dance with you at a wedding or go dress shopping when you want a guy’s opinion, need help fixing that stairway railing, and etc, then dance with someone else even if it’s an older man, or ask another guy friend/neighbor to go with you or help you. You don’t NEED your SO, you would just prefer him, but if he says no then just tell him okay, I’ll ask so and so. No biggie
7). You are the cruise director of your life. Don’t wait for him to change course with you. If you want to take up running, then run, don’t wait for him to go with you, don’t be bitter when he doesn’t want to join you, just go do it and enjoy the time or ask other people to do it with you.
8). Just because you’re doing all this now, DON’T stop once you have kids. Almost everyone I know stops when they have kids. PLEASE don’t stop