Twenty-five years ago today, I did something really dumb: I married someone I didn’t really want to marry. No need to go into the details of why I did that — suffice to say all of the reasons I went through with it were based in fear and self-doubt. I was only 20, and I was yielding to pressure and expectations from others. I was not authoring my own life. I was allowing myself to be pushed around by circumstances. I have compassion for my 20-year-old self who went through that, but I also want to use the wisdom I have gained (the hard way) to help others avoid similar mistakes. It is surprising how often I hear similar stories from my clients. One told me about how she didn’t want to get out of the limo when it arrived at the church, because she knew she didn’t want to marry her fiancé. But she went through with it, against her own better judgement. A few years later, I was counselling her through a separation that had become incredibly stressful and frightening for her. In my own case, the marriage lasted three years. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great. And marriage should be great, if you are marrying the right person. If you feel anything less than thrilled and incredibly lucky to be marrying the person you are standing next to, then just don’t do it. It is scary and incredibly difficult to call off an engagement (especially on the day of the wedding) but it is a far better alternative to wasting years of your life (and the other person’s) and ending up going through the drama and trauma of a divorce, which is a very likely outcome of marrying someone you are not thrilled about.
So, why do I use the word “celebrating” in my blog title? Because I quite love the person I have become, 25 years later. I didn’t get here easily, but I got here. I love the life I have finally created for myself, including the opportunity to help others make better choices than I made. One of my favourite parts of my counselling practice is helping young women navigate through relationship choices, and seeing them make better choices than I made. Celebrate your life and your loves, and know that you are worthy of someone you feel incredibly lucky to be with. If more people held out for that, we would all be functioning better as a society.