When you realize everything you thought about love and marriage and relationships and sacrifice was crap, you tend to ponder a bit on what the hell went wrong. And you spend a lot of time reflecting on what you’ll do differently next time around, should you be so lucky to find love again.
And oh man, are there things I plan on doing differently next time. One of those things has already taken care of itself, since I now believe it’s a bad idea to get married as a teenager. Sure, lots of those relationships work out just fine, but it’s a gamble to get married as kids. You haven’t figured out exactly who you are going to be yet, and then what happens if you grow in fundamentally different directions? Besides, take it from me, the hormones of teenagerhood allow you to overlook a lot of red flags just because you’re sooooo in looooove.
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Anyway, in addition to being older and wiser before deciding to tie the knot again, here are some other things I’ll do differently next time around.
Date longer. My first husband and I never dated. We went straight from being friends to being engaged. We got married seven months later. I used to think it was romantic, but now I see that we never had an opportunity to get to know each other well enough to make a logical decision about spending the rest of our lives together.
Say no more often ... and mean it. I’m a people pleaser by nature, so it’s hard for me to say no. More often than not I’d cave about something important to me just to avoid hurt feelings.
Let him own his emotions. I’d like him to be happy with me, of course, but it’s not my job to make him happy. And it’s not my fault if he’s angry/upset/stressed/etc. I can just do my best -- I can't fix him.
Share interests. I used to think opposites attracted. And maybe they do. But you have to share some common interests; otherwise, what can you do to re-bond when you go through rough patches?
Stop feeling guilty. So what if the laundry didn’t get done, or dinner was drive-thru, or I just didn’t feel like getting frisky? It doesn’t mean I failed, it means I’m tired.
Don’t ignore the small things. Small things turn into big things, unless you nip them in the bud. Or at least address them and come to some sort of compromise.
Understand autonomy. We will always be two separate people, with our own thoughts, ideas, and opinions. We don’t have to agree on everything to be a united couple.
Wait longer before kids. I’d like more kids someday, and God willing, it will happen. If my bio clock ticks out before I meet the right person, that’s cool too, since I already have two awesome daughters. But I’d like to enjoy the newlywed stage without morning sickness next time around, since the first time I got pregnant about four seconds after we said “I do.”
Ask only for love. I used to joke that it was usually easier to ask for forgiveness than permission when I wanted to do something I knew my husband would disapprove of. Writing this list, I thought I’d reverse it, but that’s not quite right either. I don’t want to ask his “permission” for anything. I just want him to love me -- for all my awesome parts, my broken parts, and even my penchant to splurge occasionally on an expensive pair of jeans.
What things do you wish you’d done differently in a current or past relationship?
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