I’m writing about a life I never dreamed would be mine. I often cringe when I see people write things such as:
- “Now that we’re married, divorce is not an option.”
- “You’re mad? Get your butt in the other room and calm down. We’re gonna work this out!”
- Or “My first marriage will be my only marriage.”
While these are great statements and a testament to true commitment, I cringe because I don’t think anyone who gets married for the right reasons (love, modeling Christ’s love for the church, to honor God with their union, etc.) wants divorce to ever be an option. For me, divorce was a decision I never wanted to make and was made only when I felt it was my absolute last resort.
Now let’s backtrack a bit.
When I was 19, I met a man in college, fell in love and was married one month before my 21st birthday. There were red flags galore, and by age 22, I was separated. By 23, my divorce was finalized.
As we were dating, I/we ignored red flags. I cannot speak as to his reasons for continuing with the wedding, but I can speak for myself: Outside pressure, planning, money spent, and ultimately hoping that love truly would conquer all kept me from leaving.
I also went to a college where it was the “thing” to have a “ring by spring.” Nothing wrong with young Christians wanting to honor God through marriage, but that pressure can unknowingly encourage young adults to rush into marriage. I write this post because I never want another young lady or man to enter marriage lightly only to be faced with D-Day (more like D-Years) down the road. The grieving process is very real.
So here are two lessons I’ve learned that I want to share with you:
Lesson No. 1: If you are considering marriage yet have doubts and see strong red flags, regardless of money spent, promises made and outside pressure, it is infinitely better to call off an engagement than to go through a divorce. Going against your spirit and that gut instinct when making a huge decision like marriage will more than likely end in heartache.
At the time, this was inconceivable to me. To call off an engagement was to admit failure, was to admit everything was not OK, was to trek into the unknown — something I did not think I was ready for. Not going through with the wedding would have required brutal honesty with my family and close friends about the state of my relationship, and more importantly, honesty with myself. In retrospect, that would have been so freeing, which leads to my second point.
Lesson No. 2: Don’t isolate yourself. I had begun to isolate myself before and within my marriage by not being able to truly face what was going on. During my marriage, I became more timid than usual, was in isolation a lot, and did a lot of pretending. I often felt as though I were having some sort of outer-body experience. Sometimes I questioned, Is this really my life? And sometimes while crying, I yelled to God to save my marriage.
It was not until after we decided to separate that the truth came spilling out of me like a well over a dry brook. How refreshing! It was then that I realized my family and friends — bless their hearts — had been there all along. They loved and cared for me like no other. They would have been nothing but supportive and actually could have been great resources during my difficult marriage.
Overall, approach marriage with caution and godly counsel, preferably from people who know you and your potential spouse well. Do not ignore red flags such as disrespect and infidelity, hoping things will magically change because you both said “I do.”
In your career, in your family, in love, in life: Don’t rush God; trust Him. Isn’t this why we ignore our gut feelings, our inner consciousness, namely, the Holy Spirit? Because we believe our plans are better than God’s or that we have been waiting long enough for an answer from God, so we take matters into our hands. But this is what the Lord declares: “I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11, MSG).
Tatyana Smith is the founder of TheTwentySomethingDivorcee.com after earning her master’s of social work and spending a few years in the field of child welfare. She plans to join the Navy as a mass communications specialist.
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