Saturday, February 06, 2010

How I got married

Lately a couple of people have expressed an interest in how I managed to get married at the age of 41, after years of relationship failure. Before I write about my experience finding a husband, please understand –

1) When it comes to romantic love, I have no patience for people who believe in destiny or the hand of God. When those concepts don’t yield what you want (and they often don't), you have to get out there and work for it.

2) I was a sad case when it came to dating, but I will never say, “If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.” One loser finally making it to the altar doesn’t indicate anything about all the others. It just means I worked really hard until a couple of things finally happened at the same time.

3) I believe in nothing. When two things happen at the same time, that’s a coincidence. When one thing causes another to happen, that’s cause-and-effect, not “it was meant to be.” As I said, a couple of things happened at the same time and that's how I finally fell in love with my husband.

Okay, here goes.

For years I sabotaged myself with two deep-seated beliefs: that I was worthless without a husband, and that marriage is deadly. I was desperate for the stamp of approval a wedding ring represented to me, but I was paralyzed by the belief that marriage was a coffin that would suffocate me. You can imagine my self-esteem problems.

I worked on those two issues over time (decades), but there were two more beliefs that were hidden very deep and took me even longer to identify. One was a belief that my only value lay in my uniqueness. I believed I had to be different from everyone else at all costs. Since I thought the normal, typical life path was to fall in love, get married and settle down, a part of me believed I should avoid that or I’d lose my uniqueness in life and then I’d be worthless. I also realized, at the age of 39, that it had become more important to me to be right (“Everyone who tells me I’ll find someone is an idiot. I’ll always be single”) than to be happy. I was holding on to my righteous see-I-told-you-so stance every time a relationship failed and I was getting a lot of satisfaction from it.

I chipped away at the first two beliefs (using various methods of self-healing) for YEARS and finally lost my edge of self-loathing desperation. After that, it was a bit longer before I uncovered the second two beliefs. I finally saw those clearly on a day in January in 2006. After I got over feeling stunned by the completeness of my self-sabotage, I made a deliberate decision: I would give up being unique and being “right” and consent to the common, ordinary experience of falling in love. I then fell for the next guy who asked me to dinner. Although I kept dating others for a few more months, eventually I agreed to marry that guy two years later. That was Bob.

I know I blew it with countless other men. If I had stopped my crap years earlier, I could have had the husband, the house and the kids. I could have been a young bride, instead of a middle-aged one. I’ve had to mourn that and I’m now okay with it (for today).

I also know that Bob isn’t “the one” for me. He just happened to be the guy up at bat when I finally came to my senses. As I said, I was still dating several men at that time and Bob was the best fit for me, but I think I passed up a few “best fits” since high school. We all do. So it goes.

If a person truly wants to get married, I believe that if she doesn’t give up, chances are she’ll come across one of her best fits when she’s actually ready to stop her crap and get married. That’s why I think finding a husband is a combination of work and pure chance. You have to really, really be ready to become a wife at the same time that one of those guys who is "perfect" has shown up in your life. I hope it goes without saying that there are several "perfect" people for everyone and there's no such thing as The One. And there's no such thing as perfect.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! I really appreciate the fact that you're willing to make yourself vulnerable on your blog. I think I'm not alone in feeling helped by reading your words.

I'm glad that you had those realizations and that you were able to move forward and find a partner who makes you happy.

I'm a single lady in her mid-30's and have been working on my own hiccups for some time now. In addition so self-esteem issues that are the result of child abuse, I *literally* worry that marriage would be the death of me - I grew up exposed to extreme family violence, and I have never been able to fully shake the fear that a man may try to hurt or murder me.

Anyway, your post reminds me that it's not too late for me, and that I should continue the search for one of my potential matches who's out there also looking for me. :)

Regina Rodriguez-Martin said...

Dear Anonymous - I'm glad my post makes you feel better. It's absolutely true that there are people out there who would be a good fit for you, who are looking for you right now. The challenge is that you have to recognize them and truly be ready for a real relationship. Although I can look back on other relationships I blew it with, I'm quite happy with the guy I ended up with, through random chance and dogged self-examination.