I met my husband in my mid-thirties and have been happily married for almost ten years – but I must admit that I still feel a tinge of envy for women who are happily married to their high school or college sweethearts.
Perhaps its because “the grass is always greener on the other side” or more likely because I feel I could have avoided some painful dating experiences and lonely single days.
I now realize the benefit of the timing of when we met. The problem is that I did not realize it then. So I put myself through unnecessary hardships. I appreciate that it has helped to make me a better person and that there is some truth in the idiom “experience is the best teacher” but I wish I could have escaped some of those experiences; just like I am glad that I didn’t learn about the dangers of drugs by doing drugs myself or that I certainly don’t feel less qualified to educate my patients about labor pains because I chose to relieve my labor pains with medication.
So here goes – three lessons that I wish I had learned before I met my husband:
1. That I would eventually meet my husband.
Now I know that we cannot see the future but let’s just say that I wish I had more faith that he was out there and that we would meet at the right time.
I ruefully think of the wrong steps and unnecessary anxiety that I went through. I could have happily ignored some of the comments like “ all the good men are gone” or “what if you don’t get married” from people who were perhaps well meaning but I dare say oblivious.
I would have remained confident in my faith that it would happen and would not have dwelled on those scenarios, which as a woman who knew she wanted to get married were frankly very distasteful.
2. Mr. Almost Right is Never Mr. Right
While dating I met men that seemed like they almost fit the bill for being the right man to marry.
They had some qualities or criteria that I thought at the time were so important – except the problem with the attributes that they lacked was that those things were essential for me. But naively I thought maybe they would improve over time or that magically something I knew was essential for my satisfaction would somehow not matter anymore.
It’s not that the concerns did not arise in my mind early in the relationship (with plenty of time to exit before much collateral damage). The problem was I rationalized why they could still be right for me. I did this because I secretly feared that the real Mr. Right would not come along.
Knowing what I know now I would not have wasted any of my life trying to make these square pegs fit in round holes. I would have moved along when I realized that they were wrong for marriage or focused on the dating experience for just that, a dating experience rather than someone who could be a future spouse.
3. How great the single life can really be
When I was single, assuming it was not a workday, I could remain sleeping as long as I wanted. I could go wherever I pleased and if my room or house was not exactly tidy – well the only inconvenience would be to myself.
While I love my life now, I would be disingenuous if I claimed that I enjoyed my children waking me up on days that I could sleep in. I consider every invitation or social event carefully because I don’t want to give the children any less time (as a busy working mother). Countries I would enjoy visiting I defer given their age or the added expense, or simply because I am too uncomfortable leaving them for more than a few days.
If I hadn’t worried about when I would get married I would have fully enjoyed those freedoms and added more adventures to my portfolio.
Yes I can readily admit that I am happier married than single – because I am one of those who were meant to be married. But that does not negate that I still enjoyed more exciting adventures and experiences as a single woman than now as a married woman, it may be years before I have the flexibility to do so again.
If I had learned these lessons before I would have fully enjoyed my single life, travelled even more extensively, avoid wasting time on men who did not deserve it while being content in knowing that if I continued to live my life to the fullest I would still meet my husband when we were both good and ready.