I keep seeing this awesome post being shared across my social media feeds… It Matters Whom You Marry. And I must admit, while I was reading through it. All I could think in my head was… this could have been me.
I don’t talk much about my past relationship or my life before meeting my farmer husband and moving to North Dakota. In fact, I think I announced my break-up publicly months after it happened. I had just joined social media when the relationship ended and I didn’t feel right about airing my “dirty laundry” so to speak online at the time. But I think enough time has passed that it is time for me to tell that story… in hopes that someone out there, somewhere, is thinking the same things I was. I don’t regret the choices I made in the past because without them, I wouldn’t have learned these things. And without the time spent in that past relationship, it’s possible that I wouldn’t have met my husband.
So let me paint the picture to you. Before I met my husband, I was involved in a six year relationship spanning from my first semester in college and well through my early 20’s. I re-connected with a guy whom I went to high school with, we were friends but never decided to actually date. Well, things changed when we re-connected and so we decided to give it a go. It was a whirlwind meet and profess love and I was swept off my immature feet without realizing so many things. Our connection was like electricity and he fueled my romantic at heart fire with writing me songs and poems. It was a honeymoon stage on drugs. But as soon as that stage ended, it was a roller coaster. When we loved, we loved hard and when we fought, we fought hard. I was reckless, I experienced major ups and downs, and by the end of it for two to three years, we were pretty much fighting constantly to keep our relationship afloat.
And that’s when this feeling of unhappiness started eating me inside. It was like a virus that took over me. I ended up being in a place where I did things I am not proud of, I went through stages in life where I purged things out of my life.. Friends, hobbies, whatever. I turned my life upside down and made huge changes in my life trying to figure out what it was that was eating me inside and causing me to feel this way. I felt like I was drowning in a lake full of people but yet nobody could hear me scream. But it never occurred to me, not once. That that feeling was my relationship.
Now that I am out of the relationship and I look back on it, I see the red flags. I see the warning signs. I should have read into them, I should have stopped this whole thing way sooner than I did. Yet I couldn’t let it go. I couldn’t break it off. Toxic relationships paralyze you. They make you blind. They make you believe things about your life that simply aren’t reality. It took me confiding in someone completely outside of my social circles to be the one to call me out on it. To be the one to say, did you ever think that maybe it was your relationship that was making you unhappy? At first, I took the defense and of course defending my relationship. There was nothing wrong with my relationship. Sure we had our ups and downs but this is NORMAL in relationships. But the more I thought about it, the more I lived through my relationship some more, the more my eyes were open and the more I realized it. It was true. This wasn’t normal. And it wasn’t healthy. And then all I could think about was getting out. And I did. I walked away. And the minute I did that, I remember writing in my journal that the day after I broke it off, I felt a sense of peace, I felt whole, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. And you know what, instantly, my life changed.
Breaking off that relationship was the best thing I could have ever done for my life. And I will admit to you today that I loved my ex, but love isn’t enough. And that to this day, breaking his heart and walking away completely was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but he wasn’t right for me from the start. I was holding onto a relationship that was for all the wrong reasons and I was carrying a lot of his emotional baggage and that was what was keeping me from breaking his heart. I think there even came a point where I told someone he couldn’t make it without me. It’s amazing that two people as individuals can be so good but once brought together can be downright toxic. And the sad part is… nobody could see it. We were so good at holding it together and putting on the facade that when I finally broke it off, our friends and family were SHOCKED. They believed us to be the golden couple and we regularly talked about the future and marriage.
And as much as my friends and family loved me, I just wish someone out there would have said these things to me when I was dating… I wish someone out there would have saved me from a time in my life that very well could have ruined my life. Here are a few things that I wish somebody would have told me when I was dating…
1. Don’t Waste Your Time
When I look back on my relationship, although I learned so much from it, sometimes it feels like such wasted time. Life is short, time is precious. And I wasted so much of it caught up in an unhealthy relationship. I missed out on so many other things and a lot of my college experience because I was SO consumed in my relationship at the time. It is absolutely possible for two people to have a connection, but without a future together, why waste your time? Say for example you meet a guy who is divorced, never wants to be married again, and has two kids. If you are looking for a husband and want to have kids someday. Don’t tempt yourself into thinking that somewhere down the line, he may change his mind and become your forever. Granted, crazier things have happened, but the majority of the time? I’d say those sort of situations end in a break up and both parties thinking about the time they lost being caught up in that relationship.
2. People Don’t Change
My ex and I were wrong from the very beginning and although I knew that, I thought it would change. I could change him. And you know what, I wasted years of my life with him believing this false idea. People. don’t. change. You are better off loving someone for who they are right now than who they aren’t. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go into a relationship thinking you can CHANGE him. Because the cold, hard reality of truth is that, you can’t. People change for themselves, not for other people. Let me give you a very small example, my ex was a smoker. I hated it. I truly believed that if he loved me, he would quit. So he he did and I believed him. Come to find out that he didn’t quit at all and instead spent years hiding it from me. He didn’t want to quit, he liked smoking. But he knew that our relationship was in jeopardy because of it, so he faked it. If people don’t want to change for themselves, they won’t. Change comes from inside. It may be spurred by influences outside but it takes looking in on your inner self to change your life, not someone giving you an ultimatum in order for change to happen.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Break Hearts
It is totally possible that you may indeed have a connection with someone, but they may not be the right one for you. That is possible. But don’t be afraid to break a heart if your relationship starts going down a path that you don’t feel comfortable with. Dating is dating for a reason. Meet lots of people, experience lots of different relationships, and don’t be afraid to break hearts if you need to. That way when you get to a point in your life where Mr. Right comes walking through the door, you will know instantly because you’ve been through and experienced enough to know what exactly you are looking for in a husband. Granted, your Mr. Right may not be the ideal life you were looking for, it rarely is. I NEVER imagined I’d be married to a farmer. But I married my husband because he contains many of the traits I was looking for in a husband. Don’t be afraid to break someone’s heart. We’ve all been there, they will get over it.
4. Know When To Call It Quits
Know when to say enough is enough. Don’t let that virus eat you from the inside. Don’t get to the point where I was. Seek outside counsel if you need to, talk to someone completely outside your relationship and social circles.. If you are feeling like something isn’t right, don’t ignore that feeling. It’s your gut talking to you, or even more importantly, it’s the good Lord speaking to you. Something is telling you that the path you are going down isn’t right, it’s potentially dangerous, and it’s time to you stopped to read the warning signs. I’d imagine that if you talked to women who have been through toxic relationships, you will hear things like “I shouldn’t have let it go on for so long, I should have gotten out sooner…” Don’t let a toxic relationship paralyze you or make you blind and know when to cut it off.
5. If You Are Having Doubts, It’s Probably For Good Reason
If you are doubting your relationship, there is probably a reason for that. When I was in my past relationship, I doubted CONSTANTLY. In my mind, I had already planned out our future, us getting married and having kids.. You know, every girl’s dream. But when it came down to it, I seriously doubted if I could go through with it. Could I? Was he REALLY the guy I wanted to marry? Of course, each time I would talk myself into the answer yes. But I doubted and the more I doubted, the more that awful feeling spread. When I met my husband and decided to move 1,500 miles away from my family and all I’d ever known in California, I never once doubted. Sure I was terrified, I was scared about moving and starting in a new place, I was worried about making friends, I was terrified about becoming a farmer’s wife… All these other emotions, but never doubt. I never doubted for even a minute that I wasn’t doing exactly what I was meant to do and that I wasn’t supposed to marry my husband. Doubt is dangerous and really, it’s another sign you should be looking out for.
6. Don’t Get Bit By The Marriage Bug
When I was in my past relationship, I was in a stage in my life where all my friends and girls I went to high school with were slowly but surely getting married. It is SO easy to get bit by the marriage bug as a young twenty-something woman. You romanticize a life with a husband, a home, and kids. And then you try and fit your toxic relationship into that perfect picture. Don’t fall into the trap of falling in love with an idea or a future, instead of the person you are with. One of the things that I finally came to realize is that I really was in love with an idea. My perfect life I was building for my ex and I in my head was just that, an idea. Any man could have filled his part and honestly, I was loving him for all the wrong reasons instead of the right reasons. When that person who woke me up in my relationship asked me WHAT it was I loved about my boyfriend at the time, I couldn’t tell you one single thing that wasn’t a general trait that anyone could possess. You could have plugged any guy into that equation and he could have filled that perfect picture in my head. Don’t get married just to be married or because it’s what all your friends are doing. Get married for the right reasons and you are bound to have a fruitful life together.
7. And finally, when the right one comes along, you will know.
I know it sounds so cliche and corny, but it is true. I met my husband when I wasn’t looking. I was literally two months out of the relationship mentioned above and the last thing I was looking for was another relationship. I vowed to all my friends that I was going to stay single for a year and in walked my (now) husband into the picture. I played hard to get at first by telling him I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I didn’t want to fall in love too quickly as I did in my past relationship. I was guarded with my heart, unsure about if I wanted to ever trust again. But no matter how hard I tried to stick to my guns, eventually, I couldn’t deny the fact that he was the one for me. I couldn’t deny it anymore, I just knew.
So although I may not know you and although I may not be your friend or family. If what I am describing is you, I am here to tell you. It MATTERS whom you date and even more so it matters WHOM you marry. Don’t let yourself go down the destructive path I did and it is my hope that if you are in that situation right now that this post spoke to you. It is my hope that you will be able to save yourself before it’s too late. And it is my hope that if you went through something like this, that you find that perfect match for you and experience loving someone for all the right reasons and living a life of love to the fullest.
Thank you, for reading, and for listening as I tell a story to the world that not many people know. I invite you, if anyone feels brave enough to share their story in the comments, please do. Set those memories free. Or if you feel like keeping it confidential, email me. Have you experienced a toxic relationship? Did you ever feel trapped in your relationship?