I wanted to share this story with those younger folks out there that especially women that have this young romantic idea of marrying a handsome man get the house with the white picketed fence, 1.5 kids and a Volvo. Back when I was 19 I met a women, started to date in the course of than dating I was pretty certain that I got her pregnant so I did the honorable thing and proposed marriage to her. Honorable or not it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life, many people tried to tell me this at the time but I was 19, in the Air Force so I was a "man" so I knew what I was doing.
My first wife was a high school dropout, which did have a driver’s license and never held a job. I being young, idealistic and a romantic had this idea that I could swoop in on my white horse and "save" her. It took me time to realize that saving the damsel in distress only gives you a distressed damsel. It is now 20 years later and to my knowledge those 3 main facts about her have not changed, the truth is that a person has to be willing to save themselves. Ladies don't take the man that is rough around the edges and try to "change" him, it does NOT work it only builds tension and resentment for people on both sides of the relationship.
Getting back to my story, we were married for 5 years and it was apparent to everyone but me that this was heading for disaster. In those 5 years we produced 3 children. We truthfully were good at only one thing together and that was under the sheets. In the end it was not enough to hold it all together. To a certain degree I believe that we had the 2 additional children to spite our parents who were all predicting doom and gloom.
To give you an idea of the conditions that I lived, my wife did not work or drive so it the house was her responsibility but she did not like cleaning. So I would wake up to go to work, come home at lunch time and see my toddler son many times still in his crib with the same diaper that I but on him last night of course filled with yuck. My wife was still sleeping and she would wake upon and insist that I make her lunch too. One day my son got out of his crib and decided to make in snow inside the house with baby powder, which powder stayed on the ground until I got home from work so I could clean it up. The house was so bad that we were infested with vermin of all types including mice and rats. I did my best to keep it clean but she had no interest in helping.
And we would fight all the time over every different issue that you can think of, money, household, family, kids you name it. The fights never got physical but they came close. Therapist later told me of the "cycle of violence" tension leading up to a flight or argument, then the argument the blowout per say, then the honeymoon period - the makeup session per say. In bad relationships this cycle happens over and over again with decreasing time in between occurrences. Ours was occurring at least daily at the end.
About 5 years after we were married I was stationed on the Island of Guam; it was a remote assignment meaning that my family could not accompany me. Away from the household the "spell" was broken and I took a deep self assessment of my life, I realized that the marriage was had changed me in to someone that I wasn't, so I decided to end the marriage. This was not an easy decision because I was stepping into the great unknown, what would I do? What would happen? What would happen with the kids? How would this affect them in the long run? But most importantly I was ashamed that I would get the big "I told you so" from my family. But I had to go through with it to save myself and it I was not squared away then I could not help my kids.
Shortening up the story I did get divorced and I did gain full custody of all my kids and I remarried (but that is a different story). My 5 pieces of advice that I would like to share with anyone about marriage is:
1. Be prepared to get married - forget the romantic notions and look at is as if you are entering into a legal contract (because you are) do you have the finances, maturity and self discipline to enter into the lifelong contract?
2. Be ready to work - marriage is hard and must be worked on every day, you must be willing to compromise on some issues but NEVER compromise on your moral beliefs, if you do that then you are marrying the wrong person
3. Listen to other BUT consider the source - other people can provide a 3rd party look into your marriage and see things that you are too close to see
4. Like the person before you love them - you must be friends before lovers, you will spend more time hacking out bills then under the sheets with your spouse
5. The wedding does not make the marriage - because you have a $20K wedding with all the bells and whistles does not mean that the marriage is going to last longer than a $50 wedding with the Justice of the Peace and a meal at Taco Bell.
I hope that I have struck a chord with some of you and maybe made you think of your own situation. Of course your replies are always welcomed.