Hindsight is 20/20 and after my divorce there are a list of things I wish I’d known before marrying in my 20s. With each new generation, there are less and less of us walking down the aisle and saying I do. It’s common to meet people in their 30s and 40s who have no desire to marry or have children, preferring to focus on their careers, travelling and reach their personal goals – something that amongst our grandparents generation was unthinkable.
I however, am not one of those people. At the grand old age of 25, I had a humble court marriage to the man I met at just 19 years old. My first love and my first committed, adult relationship. I moved my life across to the USA to be with him and thought I was just one of the lucky ones who met my life partner while I was young. Ultimately our marriage did not work out and here I am at 30, divorced and childless, with lots of advice for anyone who cares to listen.
What I wish I’d known
So here are some things I wish I’d known before getting married in my 20s
You’ll change a lot
At 25, I felt like I was the fully formed version of myself. An adult, who paid my own bills, held down a job, cooked, cleaned and all of the boring stuff. I had even lived abroad and survived. So why couldn’t I be a wife? I was responsible and educated and we loved each other. What could possibly go wrong? Well… I changed. And so did he. We grew up, we realised our priorities were different, our interests changed. Life gave us many challenges that skewed our perspective… And it changed us. And that’s ok. But if we had taken into account how much we would develop in just 5 years, maybe we would have seen that our goals and lifestyles would become incompatible.
Don’t get swept up in potential
This seems like an obvious one, but so many of us ignore red flags because we love the person. We see their potential and think we can overlook the parts of the person that we don’t like so much. I am here to tell you that if there are red flags in the relationship, if there are things that gets under your skin that that your partner does, (maybe the condescending tone they use when they don’t agree with you. Or their temper when you argue…) TAKE NOTE. You cannot change a persons character to suit your own needs. If there are issues from the beginning, communicate this with them. If the behaviour continues, it will not go anywhere once you are married. Nothing will kill a marriage like realising you actually don’t like the person as much as you once thought. Run!
Compromising leads to resentment
This is a bold statement of course, so hear me out. A relationship is a give and take and there will be things that we have to sacrifice in order to make both parties happy. However, if you are finding that your significant other is constantly pushing your boundaries, asking you to change how you do things, how you dress or how often you phone his mother, this will leave you feeling unworthy. There is nothing worse than being constantly criticised or being told to change. It is a direct attack on our personalities and it causes resentment to build. Ask yourself, why would I want to spend my life with someone who doesn’t love everything about me?
If your friends and family have doubts, question it
Some people ignore any and all advice from their family and friends when it comes to their significant others. We are blinded by our love for them and don’t want anyone interfering in our relationships. “What do they know? They don’t know him like I do. They just don’t want me to be happy.” But be brutally honest with yourself. If the closest people in your life seem standoffish with your partner, or are raising concerns about them, it probably isn’t to sabotage your relationship, but to save you the inevitable heartbreak down the line. Listen to your loved ones and listen to your gut! Marriage is a big commitment!
Make sure expectations of you are clear
Though less common nowadays, oftentimes men have expectations of what it means to have a wife. Perhaps they grew up with a stay at home mother who picked up their clothes after them, who cooked, cleaned and who bowed to their every need. Perhaps not. Everyone is different but make sure that before you marry someone, they understand the role you are taking on as their significant other. If you are going to be a business focused, career woman who is barely home, make sure he knows that! Some men cannot handle an independent women, for others it is massively attractive. Some men want a wife who spends her time in the kitchen and takes care of his needs before her own. It is 2021 and most of us women will simply not tolerate being treated like servants… If this is not you, make that clear about setting their expectations. This is something I wish I’d known before getting married so young.
Create boundaries with your in-laws
For some people this is a non-issue. What do you mean set boundaries with my mother-in-law?! I don’t need to, she’s a sweetheart. Lucky you! For others, we don’t get so lucky. And if you’ve met a mummy’s boy… god speed! The best advice I can give to you is to set boundaries with your significant other and their parents from the beginning. Make yourself clear what you will and will not tolerate, regardless of hurting their feelings. If your mother-in-law shows up at your house unannounced and it bothers you, voice this! If your father-in-law criticises your cooking and the way you dress, SPEAK UP! Or forever hold your peace… Whether you like it or not, they will be a huge part of your life, so it is better to establish a healthy relationship with them before you tie the knot!
These are just what I wish I’d known before getting married in my 20s. Let me know if you share any of these feelings in the comments below!
Written by Jade