It may sound crazy, but I married my husband with no intention of staying with him forever. Six years after our wedding, however, we both agree that this mindset is actually what kept us together.
It took the pressure off. The idea of choosing someone to be with for the rest of your life is a lot to ask of anyone, especially when you’re young enough to still be figuring out the logistics of your own life. By looking at my marriage as a short-term commitment rather than a lifelong obligation, I was able to feel more relaxed and less terrified of failing.
We didn’t take each other for granted. When you sign your marriage license, it’s easy to feel as though it’s a done deal and you’re hitched for life. But by opening our minds to the possibility of divorce, my husband and I were hyper-aware of how we treated each other and our relationship, and we made a conscious effort to improve every day so that we could agree that we had made every effort to make it work if things ever ended.
It made the first year so much easier. For a lot of couples, the first year of marriage is the hardest. Even if you’ve been living together for years and have an excellent relationship, the pressure married life comes with can be too much for some people. But my husband and I approached our new chapter as an experiment, not a death sentence, and it was because of this that our first year went by without incident.
It helped me realize that he was all I wanted. When you allow yourself to contemplate having relationships with other people, it can tell you a lot about your current one. Even during our worst moments, I kept coming to the conclusion that my husband was all I wanted. If I felt like I was stuck with him for life, I probably wouldn’t have understood how much I loved him.
Expectation can ruin relationships. The presumption that you’re going to stay in the same relationship for the rest of your life is just setting yourself up for heartbreak. I dreaded being held to my husband’s idea of the perfect partner and he dreaded maintaining my expectations of him. Our agreement to see how things went and not force our relationship to succeed allowed us to relax and really enjoy each other.
It allowed me to visualize different futures. My husband and I fantasized about how we’d live our lives together, but because I expected us to divorce at some point, I also thought about the alternatives. Considering different paths for myself made me realize that I could actually do both and pursue whatever I wanted while staying with my husband. When you’re with the right person, the options are endless if you’re prepared to work for them.
“‘Til death do us part” is pretty terrifying if you think about it. No matter how old you are, promising to stay married to someone until one of you dies is not something to be taken lightly. I was totally in love with my husband when we decided to get married, but there was no way I was going to sign over the rest of my life to him. Love had nothing to do with it. It was just a matter of being practical.
There was no post-wedding regret, which meant our honeymoon was amazing. Many couples experience the post-wedding blues after the big day. How could you not have second thoughts after making such a momentous life change? But because my husband and I had already discussed the likelihood that we would get divorced at some point, we completely escaped any kind of regret and were able to fully enjoy our honeymoon.
Our communication is open and extremely honest. Any couple who decides to get married while acknowledging that the relationship probably won’t last clearly has no issue with honesty, and my husband and I have always valued that above all else. There’s bound to be some uncertainty in a marriage, but the couples who keep their feelings secret are the ones who struggle. The policy of complete openness that my husband I have means that we’re strong even when we’re not sure we want each other.
It’s helped us put our marriage first. However risky and unromantic our view of marriage may seem, it’s made our partnership the focus of our lives. When you don’t take something for granted, you’re much more likely to spend your time maintaining it. My husband and I have spent our marriage checking in on whether or not it’s the right option for us, and we continue to reaffirm our commitment to each other.
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