I was 24 when I got married. We had been together five years, through long-distance, an across the sea deployment, and all the regular ups and downs of an early 20’s relationship. We were finally adults, with a house payment, actually two, grown-up jobs, and a bright future ahead of us. We had been so in love, so happy, and rarely ever fought.
And then slowly it changed. Two years into our marriage, and seven years into our relationship, I began to feel upset, angry, and stuck. My life wasn’t what I thought it would be and I wasn’t happy. In fact, I was miserable and my husband knew it. I had never been one to gush about my feelings, but I had also never been cold. In those first few years together, I became stiff, distant, and cold. I was quick to pick a fight and hard to please. When I would laugh or appear happy, I felt like I was being fake and just playing a part.
On the day of my confession, we went out to lunch. We stopped at a shop and browsed around, and I headed off to a movie with a friend. My friend and I were going to see Eat, Pray, Love, based on a book many had read, but I hadn’t had the chance to. I had been too busy with grad school, planing a wedding, and working to pay off debt to buy a book, never mind read for fun. Life had become a bit routine and yet hectic at the same time.
I headed off to the movie, excited to watch the story unfold. I was in yoga training, so I figured it would be fun to see a woman travel on a journey to India and Bali, where she meditated and practiced yoga. What I didn’t expect was to relate to her so much. I didn’t expect a lump to build in my throat and need to fight the urge to burst into tears five minutes into the film. I didn’t expect I would relate to the feeling of suffocating and the need to leave a loving husband to set off on a new adventure alone.
When I got home, my husband was out. I couldn’t stop thinking about the lump in my throat I had felt during the movie. When he walked through the door and came to give me a hug, I burst into tears — big gigantic, hard to breathe tears. He asked what was wrong and I stumbled over my words. I said I didn’t know, the movie was emotional, I had some feelings I didn’t want to talk about, and finally I said the words… “I don’t think I want to be married.”
I can only imagine what that must have felt like. To have a happy seeming life torn apart by those words “I don’t think I want to be married.” But what I didn’t say was even more important. I didn’t say “I don’t want to be married to you,” because that’s not how I felt.
I felt trapped in my life. I had been living the first few years of our marriage hidden from my true feelings, thoughts, and without much of a purpose. I felt like I was drowning each day at work. I was good at my job, but it was suffocating me more and more each day. I felt trapped by a financial situation that wouldn’t allow me to change my career and powerless when reaching for my dreams. I had friends that were amazing people, but that I didn’t have much in common with, and I had a husband who loved me and I couldn’t bear to share this with.
I didn’t want to be married, because I didn’t want to be in my life. I wanted to run, to flee, to move far away and start over. I wanted to be alone while I figured out my life and I needed space. But in a marriage, you can’t just leave. I wanted to be alone so I wouldn’t let anyone down. I wanted to be isolated.
That was my reason for uttering those words. It wasn’t about not wanting to be married — in fact, the thought of not having my best friend, my partner, was completely terrifying. I wanted to be on my own, so I wouldn’t have to really show myself to anyone, but that wasn’t what I needed. What I really needed was to know it was okay to make a change in my life and that I wouldn’t be alone while I did it.
After I dropped the bomb about my feelings, we talked more. I cried a lot. We held hands, we hugged, and we talked until we got to the root of my true feelings. Was it OK right away? No. Did everything get better instantly? No. Did we argue and doubt our choices? Yes. But we also learned that we wouldn’t give up. We learned to be honest, to communicate the best we could, and to try to support each other on our own paths, whether it was through providing space or emotional support or physically helping the person. We learned how to become a team and it started with those words, “I don’t want to be married.”
We are now happily married, not just married. We still have hard times, as any couple does. We get frustrated and annoyed and infuriated at times. But even more, we love, we support, and we communicate what we need and feel. I no longer feel the need to run away and leave my marriage, because I am happy now with my life. I do what I love and pursue my dreams daily with the support of my husband. And I do my best to support him each day as he pursues his dreams. After being honest and open, we have become closer and grown together. There is a bit more peace in our daily lives. Even when things get hard, we both know that deep down that we are happy, we are healthy and we are whole. I can look at him and truthfully say, “I want to be married.”
Also on HuffPost:
Funny Marriage Cards