Nobody is supposed to get married expecting the marriage to fail, right? Or am I not alone?
“The Practice Wedding” I thought to myself as I watched my bride-to-be walking towards me on a beautiful July day. The grass was green, the trees gently swayed as a warm breeze lightly pushed through them, the sun was shining… Everyone was watching her walk towards me, the whole while I am thinking “what can I do different the next time I get married?”
Let me back up and tell you how I got here. I was a “late bloomer” when it came to dating. First off, I was WAY too shy when it came to girls. Knowing what I know now, I have no doubt at all that if I were to go back things would be completely different. I probably would have started dating in grade 6.
Heather was her name. She and I were great friends. We spent a lot of time together. We would hold hands when I walked her home. I think we kissed once… But then I fell victim to the same thing all young boys experience at that age; relentless teasing from every other boy in my grade.
Little boys are dumb.
I remember one kid being teased in the locker room for having hair on his testicles. Dude- that’s supposed to happen! As for being teased for liking a girl, a confident me would have said something like, “yeah, well at least girls like ME- what’s your problem?!”. But I had zero confidence at that age, so I did what all shy boys with low self-esteem did; I avoided her for the rest of the school year. She moved away that summer.
I spent junior high being picked on and teased because I was an easy target, and kids that age like to be part of the crowd, so even friends I had in elementary would join in on the fun. Why was I an easy target? Looking back- jealousy. I wore sweatpants. Always. No jeans. Growing up the only jeans my parents ever bought me were Wranglers. I don’t know if it was a product of the times but they were TIGHT. Eventually as I got older, things started to develop and they became painful to wear- especially while riding my bike (which I did ALL the time).
I clearly remember going to my mom one day telling her “I will never wear jeans again because they hurt my pee-pee too much!” I thought jeans were jeans, too young to understand that there are different styles out there. So I only wore sweats. Everyday. For probably 3 or 4 years. Here I am in grade 7, being relentlessly teased. And why were they jealous? Think of a 12 or 13 year old boy. Body changes are a happening, horemones start taking over and body parts start… making themselves known. Now picture that same boy with a raging… body part always seeking attention in sweat pants.
They called me “Woody” because someone started a rumor that I kept a block of wood in my pants.
Of course I didn’t, but again- kids that age… We were in gym class one day getting ready for badminton. We were supposed to be playing mixed partners, so I approached a girl I kinda liked and was about to ask if she would be my partner when all of a sudden, I felt a swift cool breeze as my sweat pants were pulled down from behind, exposing… ALL my pubescent glory.
I was dumbstruck. I didn’t know what to do. I stood there, pants at my ankles, exposed to the entire gymnasium with 2 girls standing RIGHT in front of me. It felt like an eternity, but I am sure it only lasted a second or two before I pulled my pants back up and ran away. I don’t really remember much else about the incident aside from turning to see who the bastard was that pantsed me. I do remember being in homeroom class and the mob making fun of me, and someone asked one of those 2 girls who had front row seats to the show what it looked like.
She paused for a moment, looked at me then turned to the rest of the class and went on about how the biggest block of wood she had ever seen came crashing down to the gym floor before my pants reached my ankles. I remember looking at her afterwards, with hurt, confusion and tears in my eyes wondering why? Why would you say something like that? Why would you lie to everyone like that?
Having grown up and matured, I can understand why she did it now- to be part of the crowd, but at the time it devastated me. If my self-esteem was already at zero, I was now triple digits into the negative. We attended high school together and I never said more than a handful of words to her. Never cared to. She hurt me bad. The bastard that pulled my pants down on the other hand, we eventually became friends.
Once I got to high school things really got better for me when I discovered the high school drama club.
I was well liked and well respected there. Another one of the well respected, and who became a great friend turned out to be that little bastards older brother. I don’t know what was said or done, but the little bastard never said or did anything negative towards me ever again. We still talk. I don’t look back and blame him- everyone got pantsed at some point in their lives, he was just lucky enough to have pulled my underwear down too.
The first time I asked a girl out I was 17. She was 15 years old. I was a very active “Drama Nerd” in grade 12 and she was a very eager grade 9er. Shannon. She was young, pretty and her hair was dyed a very dark red. We flirted for a while before I drew up the nerve to actually ask her out. November 18, 1995 was our first date. And I fell for her. Hard. We went everywhere together, much to the chagrin of my family and friends. She was ALWAYS around. I didn’t see it at the time- young love and all that, but she just clung to me- and my mom hated her. I even remember the Drama teacher mentioning one day that he liked it better when she wasn’t around because I got way more accomplished without her.
She was awful to me. Genuinely terrible. She somehow managed to turn me into a crazy jealous boyfriend because she would flirt with other boys and make sure I saw. She cheated on me while on vacation- on my birthday. At my grad, she was my escort and I found her making out with another guy after looking for her because she was nowhere to be seen during the first dance. She even got me to take her back once when she lied and told me she was pregnant and lost the baby.
One night her parents sat me down and asked me why I would waste my time with their daughter and that I was so much better than her.
I didn’t spend much time single in high school. After Shannon and I were through, I “dated” a handful of girls, but it never really went anywhere. They were all just good friends and things just felt weird. One girl, who was a good friend of Shannon (until she saw the horror of what she was putting me through) became a lifelong friend of mine, we tried dating but after a few awkward make out sessions we both agreed that it felt like kissing a sibling. We actually tried again a few years later but nope- still felt like kissing a sister.
I started university in the same town as my high school, so I still had lots of friends there and still hung out a lot. Still hanging around in the drama room was a girl I met a year or so before. Brandi. There are different versions of our first meeting depending on who you ask. I’ll write all about her another time, (she deserves her own post) but she and I fell in love. Madly, deeply and truly. We ended up breaking up because we had a fight (over nothing either of us can remember) and neither of us called the other to say sorry or anything. We just didn’t speak again for years.
After dating an entire circle of friends in 2 years and getting my heart broken twice, I decided I needed to move away. So I did. One of the friends I dated brought her cousin to town one day and we hit it off instantly. We fooled around for a couple weeks but she lived 4 hours away, so I knew it wasn’t going to work out. As we were having “that talk”, she asked me to move in with her. I had nothing holding me back so I did! It was scary and exciting, and I was growing to love her, but she wasn’t Brandi. So I moved back home. Back in with mom and dad. I had a few flings here and there but nothing serious.
Just a 20 year old being a 20 year old. With some confidence.
I worked in a 24 hour restaurant. It was pretty good. I liked the people I worked with and I made great tips. One night at about 3 in the morning, the phone rings- it’s one of the morning girls calling in sick. Now typically when that happened, it was an hour or so before the end of the shift, not in the middle of the night. I’m not phoning anyone at 3, and by the time the end of my shift came around I decided I would pull a double shift. No big deal.
At some point during the lunch rush, a couple of girls walked in. Both of them really pretty, but one of them kinda looked like Brandi. You know, from the other side of the restaurant, with tired eyes that had been up all night. Once I got an opportunity, I asked the girl running that section if she knew who those girls were, and if I had a shot. Turns out she did know them and offered to hook me up… with the blonde one. I remember telling her “no, no, no… the short red head!”, to which she replied- “she’s 14”.
So I dated the blonde! It was OK. She was pretty, a little shy, a few inches taller than me but smelled great and hey- who was I to say no to going out with another pretty girl? We went out a couple times and were fooling around on her couch one afternoon when she said those 3 little words that every horny boy in his prime wants to hear… “I’m a virgin.”
I went from a horny young man to Christopher Columbus in 0.4 seconds! Ladies, I am sure it’s WAY different for you, but for us guys- at that age getting your V-card was a badge of honor. Not a lot of girls at that time held out that long- at least none that I had been with, so this was an opportunity I had ZERO interest in passing up. I was going to break new ground! I was going to go where none had gone before!! About 2 months before we finally got there, my birthday in fact. There were candles, and flowers… I wanted to do everything I could to make it perfect for her first time.
Just because I was crazy horny, didn’t mean I couldn’t be a gentleman. I was raised right.
As the evening was moving along nicely, I was about to take the next step forward when what should have been the first red flag in this roller coaster of doom relationship suddenly reared it’s ugly head. “I’m allergic to latex”, she said to me as I paused to open a condom. I froze. I didn’t know what to say. I had never heard that before. I didn’t know what to do. I started running through the bullet points in my head;
- It’s sex with a girl, I HAVE to wear a condom…
- What is the purpose of a condom…?
- Number one- prevent transmission of disease. I know I’m OK. She’s a virgin, so she’s OK.
- Number two- pregnancy. I’m too young to have a baby. I can’t have a baby.
- Number three- She’s a virgin. Can virgins have babies? I’m not sure…
- Virgin. Baby. Womb. Cervix. Hymen- wait, that’s it. Hymen intact- no baby, right?
- Hang on… the hymen breaks during this part, then its gone, then stuff can get through…
- I… oh, whatever she’s doing… that feels good.
- What was I thinking about again?
At the risk that my kids may one day read this, all I will say is that we had an amazing, near perfect night. End of story. We went out a few times after that, but it didn’t feel like it was going anywhere, so I had planned to break it off. She came into the restaurant one day during a work shift and asked if we could talk. I was kinda busy so I said sure but make it quick. So she looked at me with excited eyes and said, “I’m pregnant”.
Let me stop for a moment and say- I always wanted to have kids. I wanted to build a family, and a life one day… I really wanted to be a dad one day but I wasn’t prepared for it to be THAT day. I stared at her for a moment, let the statement sink in then I did what I felt a gentleman should do… I asked her to marry me. She said yes. It was May. My birthday is in April. We got married in July.
The next 2 months was a frenetic sprint to get things booked, invite friends and family and prepare for “the big day”.
Kids- any kids not just mine, and not just teenagers, I told this to a 23 year old male friend the other night. Never ever, ever, ever, ever get married unless you have love. I also tell young men to never ever, under ANY circumstances sleep with a virgin. But that could just be my experience clouding things…
I spent 17 years married to her hoping one day I would grow to love her, but I never did. We didn’t have a horrible life, those were some of the best times of my life, raising my kids. My kids mean everything to me. We had 3 children together, 2 boys and a girl. The boys are both over 18 and my daughter will be 18 this fall. We had some great times, some amazing experiences and so many obstacles that we overcame save one; I never loved her.
17 years. We broke up 3 times not counting the final separation and divorce. According to statistics, the average duration of a marriage in Canada is 14 years. In the U.S. its only 8 years. 17 years, 3 children and a comfortable life, but no love. At least for my part. And she knew this. Countless hours with multiple marriage counselors every time coming back to the exact same issue. I did not love her. But why? Why couldn’t I love her? Was she a murderer? No. Was she abusive? … OK well maybe mentally. Was she a horrible human being? The jury is still out on that one, read my blog on depression and then let me know what you think of her.
After we broke up for the last time, she told me it was because I was incapable of feeling love.
That I could never be happy in life because I was a heartless robot with a frozen cold heart. I knew this wasn’t true. I loved my children desperately. All 3 took “her side” during the divorce. It’s been 4 years and they don’t really talk to me. They all still live with her. I have a hole in my heart in the shape of all 3 of my kids. But can I love anyone else?
It didn’t take much soul-searching to find the answer to that, and the answer was Brandi. We reconnected years ago thanks to the internet. She was married with kids, much like me and she too married for the wrong reason. Not because she was pregnant but because she too had a very low self-esteem and didn’t feel she was worthy of anyone else. She told me once that when we dated in high school, she was afraid of her feelings towards me. She felt it was impossible to meet “THE ONE” at such a young age. It was impossible that true love could exist so early in a person’s life, right?
She was wrong. And according to her, it was the only time in her life that she was ever wrong. We are engaged now. She asked me. We have been together for almost 4 years and are both blissfully in love with each other. Turns out we always had been. We have had fights, but we always seem to talk it out. We spent years in marriages we didn’t want, that didn’t work. We both want this and know what it will take to make it work.
We settled for what we had instead of fighting for what we wanted. Love.
I can still remember that beautiful summer day, so many years ago waiting to see her walking towards me. She was late. I remember thinking to myself that maybe she changed her mind, and what a relief that would be. If you get into a relationship for the wrong reasons, and constantly feel like you need to stop and take a breath, do it! For the sake of your own mental health and potentially an entire family, stop. I kept setting landmarks for myself as to when I was going to get out but I never did. I was too scared. I was a frightened little boy with my pants around my ankles not knowing what to do for my entire marriage. But that’s the thing about life, one day having the wisdom to understand your mistakes, learn from them, and then start again.
What am I going to do different the next time I get married? I’m going to marry the person I actually love, of course. You should too.