A co-worker once wistfully told me she’d married her husband because he picked her up at the airport holding a bouquet of balloons and an engagement ring. Made her completely forget that a week before, when she was knocked out by a miserable cold, he’d expected her to join him for happy hour with his colleagues so he’d have a ride home.
Now this man was handsome, charming, smart, and from time to time successful, but all in all, he was no catch. I later learned she finally left him, taking their two kids and accepting full custody, knowing she’d never get a dime from him for any part of their life together. She got tired of being second best. But it took a long, long time.
Madi, you asked us how you’ll know how a man is going to treat you after you’re married. I guess, in a way, you don’t. But there are clues. Clearly, if he doesn’t treat you the right way now, get out. It isn’t going to get better. If he seems to be trying too hard to get you to like him, give it some careful thought. There should be more than that.
The best advice I can give you is this: Never, ever forget the foundational importance of being valued. If being with that person makes you feel free to express who you are, even to fail, you’re on the right path. It may or may not end up leading where you want it to go, but remember that path.
There’s settling for less-than-perfect, which you have to do, and there’s settling for hell-on-earth, which you should never do.
I have a close friend who for years knew she wanted to be married and have a family. She surefire wasn’t going to settle, though. It took her a long time and frankly, some good therapy, to get to a point where she was ready to meet the right man.
I remember finally, long into this, she called me and said, “I feel like I’m in the right place now, but I’m not even meeting men. At least before I could always meet bad ones.”
I told her, “Your outside hasn’t completely caught up with your inside yet. You know what you want and you’re sending out signals to the wrong guys saying, ‘go away.’ You just haven’t started sending out signals to the right guys saying, ‘Well, hello there.’ ”
Okay, I didn’t say “Well, hello there.” But that was the gist of what I said and it struck a chord with her. In fact, she told me later it meant a lot.
You can guess the rest. She met her husband shortly after that and now they have two kids, a boy and a girl. She didn’t settle. It took a long time, longer than most, but if she’d gotten married before that, she would have settled, because that was the way it worked in her life.
Madi, you were wise to ask us this question. Listen to the other ladies; they have a lot more experience than I do. There’s wisdom in the words of many.