By Maggie Reimherr
A few months back, Derek and I were out with a girlfriend of mine and her fairly new boyfriend. We met him for the first time that night, and we were all getting along swimmingly. My friend and I were at the bar ordering drinks, and once our beers were in hand, we wandered over to the guys to join their conversation.
Derek, being the fount of wisdom that he is, was telling this guy that in a relationship, before you decide to commit to forever, you should think about why you really want to be with that person. And if your conclusions are unsatisfactory, you should break up.
My friend and I made bug eyes at each other as I attempted to kick Derek in the shin to SHUT. IT. DOWN. My tipsy attempts at taking out his shins were unsuccessful, so I swooped in to change the subject. I’m sure it wasn’t smooth.
The good thing is, my friend and her boyfriend are still together. Also a good thing? That advice… though it probably shouldn't be dispensed the first time you meet someone.
Yes, people. Millennial Marriage officially condones strongly considering breaking up with the person you’re dating before you decide to commit to marriage with them. We also think you should work through some fairly significant conflict together before you say, “I do.”
Why? Because when you commit to forever, you need to go in knowing that:
- Your spouse ain’t perfect.
- There will be bumps in the road that cause you to have to choose that person over and over and over again.
- Not all relationships are destined to end in marriage. Trade your heart eye emojis for some clarity, peeps.
Another reason why? Derek and I did this. We are better for it. I know you’re probably thinking, “Wait a second? Y’all haven’t been consistently obsessed with each other for your entire relationship? You actually thought about dumping each other?”
Yes. We actually did. And the good news is we did it before we walked down the aisle. That’s when you want to think about breaking up with your significant other, folks. Things get really messy once vows are said, rings are exchanged, and legal paperwork is signed.
So… why did we almost break up a few times? We had 3 big conflicts that almost ended our relationship.
1. Deep insecurities.
Hi, I was a 20 year old girl when Derek and I met, and I was deeply insecure. SHOCKING, right? My dating history, if you can really call it that, was riddled with rejection before I met him. All I wanted was to be chosen. Finally, I was dating a good guy who was choosing me, and I was terrified that he would stop. For the first few months of our relationship, I waited for the other shoe to drop. By September 2013, 5 months into dating, it still hadn’t. So I decided after one too many Bud Light tallboys at a Braves game to fill Derek in on how good of a guy he was… by comparing him to people I’d dated in the past. (Dating tip: NEVER DO THIS.) That evening ended in Derek getting super annoyed with me, me sobbing, and a few weeks of relational turmoil. He had to decide if he wanted to choose me, despite my insecurities. The thing about choosing a 20 year old and all of her emotional issues is that as she matures, those issues *usually* go away. To be fair, it took a few years, but I am no longer deeply insecure. Derek had to roll that dice and decide, “Yes, I still want to pursue this.” (Also, shout out to his college roommates for not letting him break up with me.)
2. Long distance (spoiler alert: it’s terrible but also a good learning experience)
I was an emotional wreck about being long distance - was Derek going to break up with me when he met someone cooler and prettier than me in California? Would we be able to survive 7 entire weeks without seeing each other? I have never been more dismayed than I was during the first few weeks - and on top of that, I was a HORRIBLE communicator. To be fair, so was Derek but in different ways. I didn’t know how to verbally express my feelings in a productive way, and I’m sure I was really annoying to talk to. Good news: I learned communication skills and also quickly realized that when a man works 60 hour weeks and only socializes with his co-workers and also HE LOVES YOU, there’s not that much time or desire to dump your girlfriend back in Georgia for California girls.
In this instance, Derek wasn’t super concerned with my “OMG what if he dumps me” insecurities, because I didn’t actually verbally express them, and also, homeboy already knew what he was getting into (read: previous section). But he did have to decide whether or not to be patient with me through the communication issues. Ask yourself this: if we’re not on the same page now, can I see us getting to the same page? How are we going to get there? How can I be a better communicator? How can I help my significant other communicate better with me?
Marriage is like many commercial flights: you pay extra for baggage. Sometimes, it's as easy to carry as a rollaboard. Other times, it gets slapped with one of those "Caution: Heavy" stickers. I’m going to be very vague on this story/issue because not everything should be shared on the Internet - I know, right?! But I’m a MILLENNIAL!
Basically, one of us had to choose whether or not we could live with the other person’s baggage.
Clearly, we're married now, so we made that choice. But think long and hard before you do, because it's not going away. Ask yourself: am I okay with this person’s past? Their family? Their debt? Can I live with this challenge long-term, maybe even forever? Does everything else about this person make this one thing “worth it”? Are we on the same side, tackling the issue together? Will I regret choosing this down the road? Depending on what your answer is… break up or buckle up. That thing one of us chose is still the most consistent source of unrest in our lives. Our saving grace? We’re on the same team about it, and we’re carrying the load together.
Dating couples, I’m sure your objection is this: “But I love him/her!!!”
Here’s the truth - once the promise of a diamond ring and a beautiful wedding and a sexy tropical honeymoon is fulfilled, this is your life. You’re in it with this person for what should be ‘til death do us part. That’s a really long time. Are you asking the right questions? Do you have clarity about the relationship? Don’t let your vision get fogged by wedding Pinterest boards and potential future baby names.
If you’ve asked yourself the right questions, and you’re thinking it might be time to end the relationship instead of taking the next step, I’ll tell you exactly what my therapist told me when I was considering breaking up with Derek. You will be fine. You are awesome. There are other fish in the sea. Okay, she didn’t say that, but seriously, there are.
If you’ve asked yourself the right questions, talked them through with your significant other AND trustworthy friends and you’ve still decided to get married... go get hitched, people! Marriage is fun!