It was the wedding I dreamed about since I was a little girl. I could hear the ocean waves crashing in the background of the garden setting. My sister was my maid of honor. My father, a minister, not only walked me down the aisle; he married us. It was a beautiful day.
Today, I find it hard to believe that I knew he lied to me the first day we met and I went on to marry him anyway. I refused to acknowledge the warning signs during our two years of dating -- and there were plenty. We first met by chance at a beach hang-out that had a live band on Sunday afternoons. He told me he was with a group of friends when he had asked me out. On our first date, he confessed he was actually on a blind date. There are many aspects of that lie that should have triggered warning flags, but I chose to ignore them.
In denial? Desperate? Yes, I was both. Sadly, this experience is not unique to me. In their book "How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy," co-authors Anne Milford and Jennifer Gauvain found through their research that a shocking 30 percent of divorcees said they knew they were marrying the wrong man on their wedding day.
There are many reasons why women decide to walk down the aisle anyway. For me, I had this self-imposed need to get married. At 28, I felt as if I was getting close to being an old maid. My younger sister already had three kids and every few months I was attending a bridal or baby shower. Silly, I know, but I could hear my internal clock ticking.
By the time an engagement is announced, most women feel that they are at a point of no return and continue with their wedding plans even if they have doubts about their soon-to-be husband. You may wonder, what could be the reasoning to go through with it? Here are some:
• I am too embarrassed to call if off
• The relationship will be different once we are married
• I can always get a divorce
• I can change him
So what should a woman do? She should listen to that little voice that is crying out, "Stop!"
Oftentimes the gut feeling is ignored out of fear. My fear was that there would be no other man coming along and this was my last chance at marriage. My little voice was calling out "Stop!" long before the wedding bells chimed. I made the poor decision to ignore it.
When contemplating calling the wedding off, other fears come into play:
• Being Single forever
• Never having the opportunity to raise children
• Financial Insecurity
• Afraid to let your mother down who has been hounding you to get married
If he's not the right match, your gut will start raising flags when your value system and life priorities are not the same as his. When they don't align, the internal battle of what is important to you and what is important to him begins.
Oftentimes for women, this is what leads them to compromising who they are as a person. Over time, they lose the essence of themselves. The battle may not consist of outward arguments all the time, but what often happens is that women begin to settle for the sake of making the relationship work. Feelings are internalized and that is a setup for unhappiness.
So what to do if your internal red flags are being raised? End the relationship. No matter how painful it may now, the pain only deepens over time if you choose to continue to ignore your gut feelings.
Follow Debbi Dickinson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@DebbiLewisSTL