Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
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You Never Can Tell

The judge who agreed to marry us, Serge and yours truly: young and dumb and just married with no fucking clue what was just around the bend.

I've been thinking about marriage, specifically whether or not it's important to really get to know someone before grabbing hands and taking that blind leap off the cliff of singleness into the stormy waters of matrimony.

The dictates of polite society generally shove us none to gently in the direction of carefully excavating your lover's past, present and future before hitching your wagon to their star. And I agree with that sentiment, I do, it's just that I no longer think that really getting to know someone before marriage is the key to a long lasting marriage. In fact, other than agreeing on the basics - money, marital roles, amount of kids, where you're going to live - there ain't a whole lot you can really do before marriage to assure success. It's what you do after you walk down the aisle that matters so whether it takes you two weeks or two years to nail the aforementioned basics down is irrelevant, is what I'm saying.

The whole rumination on marriage happened after I fell into the Facebook space-time continuum last week. You know how it is; one minute you're logging in to just reply to a message real quick and three days later you come up for air with greasy hair, furry teeth and a razor sharp knowledge of the names and accomplishments of the kids of everyone you ever ate lunch with once in high school and maybe, if you're an asshole like me, a smugness you half-heartedly attempt to suppress over the hot girl that gained an assload of weight since she last tossed you her trademark I'm-better-than-you stink eye in the halls of your educational institution.

So I was looking at the photos of some friends from high school. Specifically the photos of this one girl I knew who got pregnant at sixteen. Both she and the sperminator were friends of mine who had been hanging out together for a couple months when she discovered she was pregnant.

As usually happens in the cases of most teen moms, she dropped out of school and I heard about her infrequently; small fluffs of information randomly whispered between mutual friends over the years like dandelion spores set adrift by the sweet breath of a kid after making a wish. She had the baby, a boy. She named him XYZ. She married the dad. And then, as we all scattered across the country and settled into our own lives and pregnancies and babies, I forgot about this girl.

Until Facebook, of course. And then, like running into her at the local mall while shopping with my mom on a Thanksgiving visit home, there she was staring out from my monitor. Still beautiful and, yes, still married. I admit I was shocked to see she was still married. Not that I wish her anything but the best but the odds were admittedly stacked against her. Knocked up at sixteen by a boy she'd only been dating for a few months. But here they are all these years later, the all-American family, seemingly. The boy, whose tiny spark of an existence first ignited this family, now almost a man himself at eighteen. And two more girls.

It makes me happy to know they beat the odds and yet I wonder about their dynamic. I want to message her and inquire about her secret to marriage. I would never, of course, but I'm curious as hell. I'd love to see a movie of their relationship from then to now, ages sixteen to thirty-six. What was each year like? Did they ever separate? Did they ever talk about divorce? Or did they just get lucky and learn to love each other and keep on loving each other as they grew into adulthood together?

Who knows about these things? Some people jive and some don't. But that's doing her marriage a disservice because maybe it wasn't so much jiving as hard work to get to where she is now; mom of three gorgeous, talented kids. One already in college even, which is particularly weird to me, seeing someone my age send a kid to college when my own kids are experiencing the sunrise of their journey on the planet.

There is another good friend of mine from childhood who got a girl pregnant that he didn't seem to really care that much about. Although he married her at eighteen and went on to have more children he seemed quite unhappy. Cut to fifteen years later and a look at their Facebook story tells me they're more in love now than they ever were. Vacation snaps, photos of kids and parties, little love missives shared via Facebook... I can only surmise he fell in love after he got married. Years after he got married. Who knew? I was positive both couples I mention here were on the fast track to certain divorce.

Then there is a third couple I know who I last saw at a wedding around fifteen years ago. Sweetest couple, dated for years out of high school before getting married. Could not have seemed more in love and yet it appears they've divorced.

You never can tell. While certain statistics seem to paint a dreary picture when it comes to marrying too quickly, a lot of what I've observed, including my own experience, begs to differ. Is it better to wait to get to know someone before you marry them as opposed to getting hitched in a hurry? Not necessarily.

Thing is, people are constantly changing. You aren't the person you were ten years ago and ten years from now you won't be the same person either. Same goes for your spouse. So what good does all that pre-marital getting to know each other do when we're all just changing all the time anyway? Arranged marriages aren't A Thing for nothin'. In fact, you might argue that all that getting to know each other can work against you. Get to know someone and become comfortable with who they are and what happens when they up and change?

Another detriment to really getting to know someone before marriage... You'll never want to marry them. Seriously. Think about it: if you had to deal with some of the shit you deal with in regards to your spouse BEFORE you were married would you have made it down the aisle?

If Serge and I had dated for a year we probably never would've gotten married. Sounds harsh but at the time, during that first year of marriage, we stumbled through so many roadblocks chances are if we'd encountered the same issues while just dating we both would've tossed in the towel. Not that I didn't love him but sometimes things became so hard I know that merely dating him probably wouldn't have kept us together. As I did others before Serge, I likely would've broken up with him as opposed to knuckling down and working through the tough times. But the act of being married meant something to us and so we kept on keeping. Here we are nine years later with a family that is the most important thing in the world. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

What I'm saying is all the talk about how to prepare for marriage or advice on not rushing into it or living with someone or not living with them or you only dated for how long? or you need to see a therapist before you get hitched; it's all bullshit. Nobody knows anything. Nobody can predict anything. Your marriage, however it goes down, is its own universe. Nobody can really say this is what it takes or that's what it takes to create a successful foundation for marriage because you never can tell. People get married for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they don't even know the real reason they're marrying until years down the road and by that time the marriage has shape-shifted into something completely different. Could be better, could be worse. Point is, the reason you get married becomes irrelevant once your married. It's what happens after that makes all the difference.

What about you? Why did you get married? Love? Lust? Pregnancy? It was the next logical step? How long did you date? Would you change anything? Examine your first year of marriage. At the end of year one would you have still agreed to get married? What about now? If you knew then what you know now would you still have gotten married?

Reader Comments (30)

Like you I have the same whorish bloodlust for marital details of others. OK maybe you wouldn't put it that way but you know what I mean. My own marriage is ten years in and H.A.R.D. As I write about WITH HIS PERMISSION on my blog and HuffPo, he has Bipolar 2, and this has made our marriage a weird hybrid of like, the best possible amazingsex, soulmates in love marriage that and also sexless, lonely, painfully disconnected- the times he is sick. It's confusing as hell even with the books I've read and the NIMH articles I've absorbed and the research I've culled blah blah . We have four kids and I"m a writer, so this makes it even harder. Writers aren't easy people. Ahem. We do have our benefits, though. We got married because we had been best friends since 18 and fell in love at a time we were both lonely and single parents. Boom. Insta family. The really IN LOVE part came later, maybe a year into our marriage.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie May

My husband and I are celebrating our first anniversary very soon, and I can say we are crazier about each other now than we were before we married. Getting married has only made our bond stronger. I know that is not the case always but I would marry him again tomorrow in a heartbeat.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I became pregnant after dating my husband casually for 4 months. We'd already broken up when I found out I was expecting and didn't get back together until after our daughter was born. I really didn't think it would work out but thought I owed it to her to give it a try. he wasn't exactly the kind if guy I thought I'd end up with. Who knew that 9 years later we'd be married and have another child. I love him now more than ever and wouldn't change a bit of our history.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErika

I love hearing your stories so much, you guys. As Maggie so bluntly put it, I have a "whorish bloodlust for marital details of others." Thank you for honesty and thanks for sharing!

May 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterMonica

This September I'm marrying my boyfriend of 6 1/2 years (for 5 of those years we lived in his parents basement) and last year we bought a house together. We're getting married mainly because we decided we wanted to start trying to get pregnant in the fall, and we didn't want to wait another couple of years until after the baby etc., (that and we legit love each other and want to spend our lives together!! Lol ) We've always just thought "if we're going to be together forever, then what's the rush". However with all of that said, we worked really hard for our relationship, and are going into marriage at the best point our relationship as ever been. I feel like being together this long allowed us to really get to know each other and we still decided that we want to be together forever, so that's a good sign. If we'd gotten married within the first year, I don't know if we would have made it. Having the freedom of knowing we could walk away at any time but that we decided to stay and fight made it clearer that marriage and life time together is what we want. And we know how to work through things and communicate so I feel we have a good bases. But every person and relationship is different, so I don't think there is any right or wrong way!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

My husband and I have been married for 1.5 years and together for almost 8. I completely agree with what you wrote. I would have married him after 2 years once we had lived together, but money (he didn't want to elope; I didn't want our parents to pay for it), school and our careers delayed those plans, along with a healthy amount of commitment-phobia on the part of my husband (I swear he was waiting for an epiphany, when all it really is is a choice).

And we have had a bumpy marriage. Not in a volatile way, just a "maybe I'm a little bored?"/7 year itch way. But I can say time and marriage mean something to both of us, and we are working it out and really leaning into the foundation of love, admiration, and respect that has kept us together for so long. Cheryl Strayed talks about loving her ex-husband to bits and still knowing she had to walk away, and that scares the crap out of me because I hear that voice in my head too sometimes.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I was in love. So was he. But I had been his "other woman" for a period of time and I had some insecurities that needed to be put to rest, and it was the next logical step after 3 years of living together. I would not change things. We've weathered storms, probably better than if we'd just been able to easily walk away from each other. Without our marriage, there may have been times when one or the other of us would have said screw it, but I don't think that would have been the right decision. We are where we both should be today and I hope for the rest of our lives.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

I think I actually owe the health of my marriage to the failure of other relationships. I got pregnant with my daughter when I was 18 and almost married her father, but after spending more time together it became obvious that we had nothing in common and didn't really love each other. I met my first husband when my daughter was still a baby and we got married less than a year later, right after he got out of Marine Corp boot camp. I thought we were in love, but I think if he hadn't missed me in boot camp and made the impulsive decision to ask me to marry him then, we never would have gotten married. And shouldn't have. But we stuck it out for 17 years because I was raised to think that you don't give up on marriage; you work through things. That philosophy works well when both partners are committed to each other - not so much when one of them has a girlfriend.

Four years later I met my second husband, Michael, online. We were engaged two months after meeting in person and got married about six months later - and it only took that long because I wanted my son to finish school before we moved 300 miles away. I never had a moment's doubt about Michael, and we have a pretty amazing marriage - due partly to the fact that we've both been hurt before and learned a lot from our previous marriages about how to treat each other. Our five year anniversary is this Friday, and I would gladly marry him all over again.

I think age and experience helps, because when you're young you don't really know what to look for - or what to look out for. And people change so much when they're young; it's very easy to grow apart. Other than that I think it takes a willingness to communicate and adapt, to let little things go (like how extremely loudly someone yawns, for example), and to give each other some space. But not too much. Mostly though, you have to make the decision to love that person every day, no matter what they do that drives you crazy. If you both do those things it's all good.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth B

I married my highschool sweetheart at the ripe age of twenty. We'd been together five years but tons of people still scoffed at us getting married so young. Because we couldn't possibly know what we wanted at that age. And if I had been more mature at the time I would've told those people, you're right. But that's not an age thing. None of us are fortune tellers. We don't know what we're going to want or who we're going to be 5, 10, 15 years down the road of life. Getting married is a big unknown for all of us. You dive in and you figure it out as you go. If you make that commitment and you decide you're willing to put in the work (even when you don't know exactly what that work entails), that's the best you can do.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGemma Hartley

We were in love and it was the next logical step. We had been dating 2 years and engaged for 1 year. We've been married nearly 3 years now.The first year of marriage was the pits. So was the second for that matter. It seemed like over night a barrage of stressful circumstances sucker punched us in the face. Work place politics left us both unhappy at our jobs, we were suddenly on a tight budget, we sold our property in another state (which was a nightmare) and we didn't have much bonding time to spend together because my husband was working day and night. Throw in some communication issues and it was UGLY. I went into periods of depression and wanted to pull the trigger on it so many times.

We weathered through it and the past 6 months have been so much better. We both went to therapy (together & alone), learned to communicate better and a lot of the stressful circumstances have resolved themselves. We still have issues here and there and I imagine we'll have our fair share of rough patches in the future but I'm so happy we toughed it out. I feel closer to him now than before we got married. We made the right call.

Monica- are you watching the new bravo show about newlyweds?

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeeDee B

We are coming up on 8 years of marriage, having known each other for nigh 15 years. You would think having known each other so long, we would have learned ALL about each other before we got married, and we did, but not in the "do you have similar life goals?" way. Not even in the "do you want kids?" way. Just in the - I have never loved someone so goddamn much and also had to work so f-ing hard at it - which led to frequent breakups and reunions.

Finally, 10 years ago, we got our shit together and figured out that even if we didn't know what we wanted to be when we grew up, we basically couldn't imagine growing up without the other person. I didn't really want to get married, but I did want to get married to HIM. Fast forward 8 years, and we have a toddler and are in (great) counseling trying to learn how to not treat each other as if we were our 22 year-old selves all the time. It is really really hard work, but at least half the time it feels joyful.

I've always felt somewhat vaguely guilty that we didn't do it "right." We probably aren't the best matches for each other in a lot of ways - but honestly, I am with the person who loves me more than anyone else in the world, and who inspires and energizes me and is the best best father to our daughter that I could ever imagine. So maybe "right" is kind of bullshit. I love this post, Monica. Thank you.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermyswandive

This always sounds bad when I say it as it is...but I will explain.

We married so we could live in the same country.

I met my husband working at a summer camp I. Pennsylvania. I am from Indiana and he is from England. That was almost 9 years ago, and now we have been married for nearly 6 years.

We had a long distance relationship while I finished university. We did spend long periods of time together (sometimes only a few weeks,but other times 3-5 months) and the thing we learned most was how to communicate. We actually have 3 years worth if daily emails to one another that prove that often serve as reminder of why we fell in love.

When I was getting ready to graduate we just sort of came to the decision that we would get married. He came to me, we planned a wedding in a week and the day before the wedding is when he proposed.

Ten days after the wedding I boarded a plane with my new visa and moved to England. My life hasn't turned out the way I expected, but I wouldn't change the way it has gone. I do think we are meant for one another. I also think he can be the most annoying person ever placed on the planet. It is not as easy as I thought it would be but we find ways to make it work.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I met my husband online back when that was still a creepy, axe murder-y thing to do (1999). He lived in Ireland and I lived in Florida. We chatted online and (expensive!!!) phone calls for about 9 months before he came over for a 3 week vacation. We got married 2 weeks into it without telling anyone (I was 23 and he was 30), and he just didn't return to Ireland (until he got his greencard and we went for visits). We have been married 13 years now, and we have 2 girls- 7 and 2 1/2. I would totally do it exactly like that again. I don't think that anyone thought we would make it work, but hahaha everyone!

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKim Q

Cheesy but true. I saw my husband at a party in college at age 19 and was in love. I transferred schools the next semester and we moved in together. We waited until graduation to get married to make our parents happy. (they were quite ashamed we lived together, so sinful) That was 13 years and 4 lovely kids ago. The key for us, we literally became adults together. We shaped each other, partying 19 year old, young career followers, made big decisions together, became parents. Some of my friends have indicated it would have been better to "discover myself" as an individual rather than jumping immediately into partnership at a young age, but I would not change it. He made me a better person, and I'm sure he would say the same.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin

My in-laws got married after a few months of dating due to an unexpected pregnancy. (it was 1967, you HAD to get married) 46 years of marriage later, my MIL laughs and says she would have never married my FIL if they had dated for any length of time, but found him to be best part of the best "mistake" of her life!

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSue

I love this discussion. When I look at my own life now, even I can't believe our story! I grew up as a very conservative, straight laced, shy Catholic girl who followed all the rules. Here is our story ... looooong....

I met my husband when I was 20 and he was 30 (gulp!). He was an international student at the University we attended. He got a late start on his education here because he first did a degree in his home country. When I met him, he was done with his coursework and ready to graduate but needed to find a job before his student visa expired. He just kept on at the school taking classes to maintain his status. We started dating and everything seemed to happen at a fast pace. We definitely fell for each other! A year into dating he did get a job locally where they were going to do his Visa paperwork. Two years into dating, I was graduating and planned to start grad school at a University about an hour away. We planned to continue dating long distance. Then the ball dropped. His company screwed up his paperwork and he was going to have to leave the country. It's complicated, but basically because of where he was from, there was a likelyhood that he'd never get to come back. We talked, fought, cried, hugged, and basically decided to just go to the courthouse and get married. No ceremony, no hoopla, and the only family and friends we told were my parents. They liked him, and although they were not thrilled with the situation, they supported our decision. We had to promise that once I finished grad school we would have the big church wedding and reception. I hated keeping the "secret" but was happy we stayed together. A couple weeks after we were "married" I started grad school an hour away - so we didn't even live together the next year and a half! I visited him just about every weekend, but it was hard. Once I finished grad school we up and moved across the country for my job offer. At 24, I was married, working full time, bought a house, and had a couple of dogs. We had our church wedding and all that jazz and few people ever found out the truth. Those first few years were probably the lowest of the low. That's when I had to really "grow up" and we had to hash out our relationship. A lot of fights. A lot of tears. A lot of questioning if we did the right thing. If we had not been married at that point, I'm convinced we would have broken up. It got better and easier and we stuck it out. Then we decided to have kids! Now we have four! 8.5, 7, 4.5, and 3. We're now 37/47 and I have to say this is the strongest time of our marriage. We are happy - more in love than ever. Our sex life is at it's peak. We still have disagreements constantly, but we've learned how to resolve it without screaming (him) and crying (me). We have also learned to just deal with some of each other's quirks. We know what sets each other off and we try not to push each other's buttons (the kids now take that role!) I'm really glad we've made it the long haul - 17 years so far. I have no regrets about marrying young. In retrospect, I'm glad the visa situation forced us into marrying when we did. While it was rough sometimes, it's been worth it. Oh and Monica - we often slept in different rooms due to his snoring. Before kids we literally had separate rooms, but now the house is too filled up so we're stuck in the same bed. We'll start out together but if his snoring is keeping me up, he graciously moves to the couch.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusanP

My husband and I dated for 5 years and lived together for 4 before we got married. We waited another 5 years before we had a baby. Things were awesome. So happy. Then the baby came and fucked things up. We are not the same couple we used to be.

I often wonder if those couples that started out with kids make it the distance because they don't know what it's like to have freedom. To just be with your husband.

My husband and I are committed to trying to make it work. We see a therapist, go on dates, etc. But it's still not the same as it once was.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

My husband and I met when we were 19. We dated for a year or two, then moved in together in Los Angeles. After another year of dating, we decided to get married. The biggest decision we made in addition to wanting to marry, was to move out of state. We both have lots of family in LA, and knew we had to leave in order for our marriage to work. The best thing we ever did! Even though moving from LA to Utah was hard, we learned how to work together and depend on each other, not the families. Don't get me wrong, families are great. We just knew we needed to get away and be us. Fast forward 33 years, and 3 kids later. I love my husband more every day. We are still in Utah (sometimes we wonder why....) and don't regret moving away from family. I would marry him all over again.... :)

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoni

Your post comes at such an opportune time for marital reflections. Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of when my man and I got hitched. It was 1993, we were in college and I was 7 1/2 months preggars. Plus, his dad, a broken Mormon, was all about having his first grandchild be legitimate. Not at all good ingredients for a union. And it wasn't.

We divorced 10 year later with a 9 year old and a 5 year old to show for it all. The divorce didn't quite stick an we had another child a couple years later. We tried a reunion and separated when the youngest was nearly two. there was a bunch of crap in between then and now. We have currently been living together 20 months now. Our kids are almost 20, 16 and 8. His father has passed. We are older, hopefully slightly wiser, and I like to think we are finally getting it right.

Your blogs is one of the few I continue to read, partly because the two of you haven't given up or given in. Marriage is the hardest thing I've ever tried. Single parenthood was easier than the day in and day out of exchanging respect and love while keeping healthy boundaries and maintaining a sense of self. On the other hand, looking at the man I've shared 20 years of everything with and still loving him with the depth of something I can't quite wrap myself around, that is something pretty amazing.

We married out of pressure, we divorced out of anger and hurt. But I like to think we now live on our own terms, and it's mostly really good.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather C

Youre so mormon it kills me. Among other morals that've stuck with you, it only took you this long to to side with the millions of byu kids who've been getting hitched after the shortest courtships possible FOR DECADES. At least this will be news to your non-member fan base... you're a missionary and you don't even know it.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary

What great stories. It is very entertaining to read other people's love stories and marriage stories, so glad you asked the question.

We just celebrated 20 years of marriage last fall. We started dating 5 years before that, when I was 25 and he was 27, but it wasn't serious and after a few months he moved away and we didn't keep in touch. Fast forward two years and he came to town, we had a date, and I was knocked off my feet by a surge of love/desire/connection. We continued to date long distance for 6 months and then he moved back to our city.

Living in the same city gave us an opportunity to learn "all about each other." We were asking the hard questions about life goals, etc., and I had just about decided that I couldn't make it work. Then his father died suddenly. All of our differences evaporated in the experience of going through that together. My husband is a slow decider in the best of circumtances, but losing his father really set him back. Two more years went by before we married.

We struggled with infertility for five years, followed by the birth of two daughters in three years. Then I got a diagnosis of a chronic illness (treatable, but kind of a nightmare for a while).

I feel like our experiences as a couple have tempered us for a long marriage. We've really been through tough stuff. I started reading your blog right after your house fire - I felt I could help you because our house burned down in 2009. Marriage-wise that was probably the most challenging time. We had to work together to rebuild, and to parent our two children, and go to our jobs to provide salaries to support the whole thing. I almost walked away a dozen times. What ultimately helped was for me to step back and see the big picture - that I'm married to a man devoted to me and our children, that he tries his hardest, that he's only human like me and makes mistakes.

His parents divorced when he was a teen. We are just now entering the teen years and I predict a rough road ahead for him as a parent of two teenage girls. But I am confident that we will get through it. I have been thrilled to learn that when we do steal a weekend away from the kids we enjoy each other's company as much as we did in our early days. I am looking forward to "empty nesting" with this guy in about seven years.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

My husband and I met when I was 17, around the same time I became pregnant with his friend's child. We started dating when I was 20. Dated for 2.5 years and called it quits for various reasons. Mostly his immaturity because I was a single mom working my way through college and I didn't have the time to baby him. We were apart for 16 months without ever seeing each other. Then, on what would have been our 4th anniversary, we ran into each other at a bar. I go to a bar about once a year, so it was strange. We were engaged 5 weeks later, married on what would have been our 5th anniversary. He adopted my son and we're coming up on our 6th wedding anniversary.

I've spent a lot of time pissed at myself for getting married. But 90% of my problem was with me. I was raised by a single mother who constantly told me how worthless men are, that I have to take care of myself and look out for myself. It's extremely hard to make a marriage work with that attitude. Over the last couple years I started working on myself. Being more open, being more giving and understanding. And realizing that, even though being "free" sounds so much more relaxing than working on a marriage, I do not WANT to live without my husband in my life. I've made the choice to change myself so that I can share my life with a loving, caring man. Not saying it's all peachy now, because it's not. But we never could have made it this far without my own revelations.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

My husband and I dated 10 years before getting married we were young when we met (me 20, him 18) and had a lot of growing up to do. He's Korean American and I'm white.I think we waited a bit too long to get married. I was ready 3 years in but i'm glad we didn't do it then. I think year 6 would have been good.

He went back to college in 2003 and by 2006 after hanging out with a bunch of Korean people was having doubts about us. He thought maybe he wanted to marry a Korean girl. We broke up for 6 hours. He called me crying to tell me that was stupid. I agreed and we got back together.

After that we both knew we wanted to get married but had a lot of financial obligations to our families. So we just put it off. By 2009 we were finally ready and tied the knot in 2010.

I would marry him again tomorrow and I know he would marry me. Marriage so far hasn't been too bad. We are having a rough patch in the bedroom right now. I'm pregnant and it freaks him out to mess around down there. But I know he loves me and it's only a short time before we have the baby.

I don't think the amount of time you are dating someone really has much to do with how your marriage will turn out. I think it's mostly commitment level to each other and the marriage that matters.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercharity

Wow, such great stories. Mostly from married people though, including some who divorced and married again. Not so many from people who divorced and haven't for whatever reason married again.

My ex and I have a daughter and are great at co-parenting. Same values, no fights about money or anything. On paper we were a good match, getting married was logical, should never have gotten divorced.

My husband and I knew each other for a long time before we married, but I realized much later that he only married me because I was ready to walk away. Things weren't going anywhere with our relationship so I was breaking up with him, took a job out of state. He then put on the full court press, couldn't live without me, romantic proposal with a beautiful ring, etc. I loved him so I bought into the dream. At the end of a year, I came back and we got married. Turns out though, he just liked the challenge of getting what he couldn't have. Not that he was mean about it or anything, He fooled himself as much as he fooled me. But then we were back to being with each other all the time and there was no drama, just the day to day grind. We made it six years but from the first year of our marriage he had a foot out the door.

Even given that, we still could have lasted, I think. Like I said, same values, still attracted to each other, etc. We learned a lot about how to be kind to each other, grow up, not each be so self-centered. But then a fundamental difference in one value became apparent - having stood up in church and with a marriage license wasn't meaningful to him. "But the act of being married meant something to us and so we kept on keeping." He never really tried to be married to me.

Turns out he wanted someone very different than me, not better or worse, just different. Eventually he found that person. He's married to her now, but I'm not sure they are gonna make it. Marriage just doesn't mean anything to him, he doesn't give the vibe that he is committed.

And me, I have fallen in love again, but not gotten married. When or if I do, it will be having talked about the committment to weathering tough times. Believe it or not, my husband and I never really talked about that. To me, it was a given. Getting married meant forever. But I married someone who doesn't look at it that way.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDD

Next week will be 15 years for my husband and I. We married at 22 (me) and 24 (him) the day after graduation from our undergraduate degrees. No kids. We got married because we realized we were planning on have a mid-life affair anyway. Seriously. We spent a lot of time talking about how we'd find each other when we were in our 40's and the torrid love affair we'd have. So we decided "Why wait?"

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

Love these comments!

My husband and I just celebrated our 1st (wedding) and 8th (together) anniversaries. Unlike you, Monica, I'm not sure we would have made it had we gotten married early in our relationship. We were 19 and 25 when we met so we grew together. We've talked about our expectations and thankfully have the same belief system when it comes to politics, children and finances. We've moved across the country, living in several different states (if your relationship is intact after this, I'm convinced you're golden, haha) and are now planning to move to Europe and have children.

I never thought marriage would change anything, but I love my husband a million times more now than before we got married. It's completely unexplainable . We are both committed to our marriage, but as a product of divorced parents, I don't allow myself to have any specific expectations of what our future will look like. Personally, we just take it day by day, and make sure we love and respect each other. We also have tons of fun and genuinely like each other, so I'm sure that helps :)

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Ooh fun! I, like others it seems, LOVE to hear about other people's love lives! My turn I guess.. I got married in January of this year after dating for almost 10 years. We started dating when he was 16 and I was 19 (cougar!). Honestly, I basically forced him to marry me. We've been together for so long (lived together for 7 of those years) that he was settled and was too lazy to make any changes. We are thinking about having children soon and I wanted us all to have the same last name even though he couldn't give two shits. I told him around Christmas time that he had to either propose or I was leaving. He proposed, we got married. Nothing has changed since then, except my last name. I wish I had some crazy story about how we met and fell in love instantly and got married in a couple of months, but I don't. I have a boring story about loving someone since we were basically children. I don't have a problem with that. I'm excited to tell our kids one day that we were high school sweethearts (well, he was in high school so that counts!)

May 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney K.

I love hearing stories about it's all so different AND the same.
My husband and I got married after he graduated college (I had graduated 2 years before him, so we were long distance for most of our dating life, while he finished school and I worked). By that time, we were totally over the long distance thing, so getting married and finally being together made total sense. And it was awesome: to not have to leave each other on Sunday afternoon anymore. Our first three years were a bit of a bubble-he was in grad school, so his student loans were deferred, and the newness of living together 24/7 was the only real thing we had to get used to. These last 2 years, though, have been harder: we're starting to pay his loans, so our debt is high and scary, and we've been trying for a baby for years, unsuccessfully. Thank God we're friends as well as spouses, because we've needed to lean a lot on the friendship we share as we are enduring these harder years. We're grateful to have had a few years to find our feet before hitting the varsity-level challenges...I look at him, and I know he's with me. And God, is that comforting.

May 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterconnie

Yes, I think it's important. Agreement on common values, where you'll live etc. are important as you mentioned but so is temperament and it's hard to really see if you're a match in this regard when you are still under the influence of love/hormones/new relationship energy/whatever. Is this person going to annoy you when you are no longer obsessively humping them? I've been happily married for ten years and we were together for two years before that. We were still very, very into each other but we also knew we could get along on a daily basis. We might have a minor bickerment every few months but generally we enjoy each other's company, make each other laugh, and are true partners in every regard. Life is stressful; your relationship should be a respite from stress and annoyance. For what it's worth we knew we would get married very early in our relationship but there was also no real reason to rush.

May 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobbie

Met online, married six months later. Our oldest daughter was born 8 months after we married. There were many times I thought we were crazy and I was probably right at the time! We went through a brutal divorce after about 3 years of marriage. We spent the next few years apart only to find ourselves together again. We kept our reconciliation a secret for a long time...that is until we were surprised to find out I was pregnant with our youngest daughter! She will be two in July and we're planning on remarrying in this fall. Our love story is far from picture perfect, but in spite of the hell we've put each other through, we love one another fiercely. It sounds trite to say we've learned so much together, but we have. Thinking back to ten years ago when we met, I don't even recognize the people we once were. The one thing I know for sure is that he is the man I was meant to love. Even if I had to experience hell and then some to figure it out!

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

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