I receive emails all the time asking to be placed into one of my private Facebook groups. But I received one recently that stopped me in my tracks. Because when I wrote back asking if she were living in a difficult marriage or if she were separated/divorced, she replied, “I’m getting married in three months so can I be in your difficult marriage group?”
I wrote her back and as gently as I could, I said, “May I ask why you are getting married if you already know it’s going to be so hard that you will need support?”
She wrote back several paragraphs, but it didn’t really matter for a couple reasons.
One, because this is her life and a person outside of herself will never be able to understand fully why she’s doing what she’s doing, which is what we can all say about everyone else and ourselves if you think about it.
And two, because I cannot judge. I read her email and was shocked by her request. But I shouldn’t have been shocked. How quickly we forget some of our own poor choices, no?
Because twenty some odd years ago, I had four years of crossroad choices in front of me, and I never took the out. Because my first serious relationship was hard, hard, hard the whole time, and I stubbornly and insecurely and un-trusting-of-God-ly pushed through, knowing my marriage would be hard, but hoping marriage itself would somehow solve all our problems. (It didn’t. Obviously.)
I was warned and I moved forward. I had a feeling about it and I moved forward. There were red flags (for both of us) and we moved forward.
(Side note: Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing for two reasons. One, my two children who are gifts which I would never wish away. And two, I am the woman I am today – both softer and stronger – because of that season of my life.)
So though I didn’t listen, and though we humans tend not to listen to anyone else when we get something in our heads, I am going to give it my best shot anyway:
Dear sweet girl who wrote me three months before your wedding to ask to be placed in my difficult marriage Facebook group – and any other dating or engaged woman out there who has that feeling that something isn’t right, please – I am begging you, listen to me.
Marriage will not fix your problems. A good relationship gets better with marriage. But if you think things are iffy now or bad now or horrible now, your problems will MAGNIFY once married. Your time together will increase the issues, your proximity will increase the issues, your potential for poking the bear will increase, your potential for angering each other or hurting each other will increase, your feelings of being trapped will increase.
Sweet one, if you are being hurt now – physically or emotionally or sexually or verbally or spiritually or in any way at all – you will just get more hurt after the wedding day. I guarantee you, it will all just get worse, and harder, and messier, and more.
Getting married will not fix your difficult relationship. Trust me. It will just make it so very much worse. But then you’ll be stuck. Or you might think in the back of your head that if it gets unbearable, you can always just up and choose to divorce someday, thinking that’s not that a big of a deal. But a divorce is an emotional catastrophe, a tsunami of the heart, an avalanche that explodes your life and soul (and your children’s) into thousands of pieces. (Yes, there is healing on the other side, but why go there if you don’t have to? Again, trust me.)
If you are not sure on this side of marriage, please do a couple things.
Listen to that little voice…it’s either the Holy Spirit or the precious intuition that God placed inside of you, or both. Honor that voice, that tug, that unease. It’s trying to tell you something very, very important. Don’t ignore it.
Tell someone you trust. Tell a counselor or the pastor who is going to marry you or your dearest friend. Even if all you can do is whisper, I’m not sure if this is a good idea, start there. Some secrets aren’t met to be kept.
I know you’re scared. You may have the wedding all planned. You may be living together already (though I would suggest you move out regardless of whether you get married or not). You may even have a child together already. I know, it will be messy to undo everything.
But I promise you, it will be a thousand times less messy to undo everything now than in a year or ten or twenty. And if you undo it all now – if you are indeed unsure – you have the chance to keep your soul intact before destruction threatens to take it under.
If you are dating someone and it doesn’t feel right or you are about to get married and you can’t quite put your finger on it but something is off, walk away. Now. Before it’s too late. For you. For him. For God. I’m begging you.
The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. –Psalm 121:7