The man that you decide to make a home with is one of the most important decisions any woman can make. Speaking from personal experience, I almost married the wrong man when I was twenty-four. He was a friend of my godfather and we met in karate class. After seeing each other for a couple of months, he asked me to marry him. I said yes.
My mom loved him because older, (thirteen years), was a professor and came from our country of origin. She believed that he could protect me and take care of me. But when it came time to making it down that aisle, I became like Julia Roberts in “Runaway Bride.” I did not quite hitch a horse and escape into long strips of pasture, but I did engage in some serious beating around the bush, hiding, and ducking when conversations around setting concrete wedding plans surfaced.
It was inevitable that I received an ultimatum about marrying him, but I had to be honest with him and everyone involved: I had no business agreeing to get married.
It was painful not only for me, but also for him. In hindsight, here are some of the signs that I let me know I was not ready to be a wife. Check out these five signs because they may apply to you:
You agree to marry because he asked you. Prior to meeting my ex-fiancé, I had no interest or intention of getting married at that time. But when I saw the ring and he popped the question, I automatically said, “yes” because I was not thinking. I did not really think about what I wanted, what I thought about him, or how compatible we were. I thought that when a man asks to marry you, you are supposed to say “yes.” Please know that you say “yes” because you want to be with him, because you love him, and because you see a future together— not because you want to please him or because you think that is what you ought to do.
You’ve known each other for less than two months. It sounds really romantic to have a whirlwind love. It’s intense and something for the movies. And for some of us, meeting and getting engaged after two months works and leads to happy and healthy marriages. For others, it takes that same amount of time for the pleasantries to fade and the true spirit and character of your partner to surface. If you are enjoying the company of your new beau and it’s only been a couple of weeks since you have met, what’s the rush to marry?
Seriously, if you feel that you are being rushed to the altar, you need to stop and ask, “Really, what is the rush? I know I am fabulous, but does he want to be married to me or just married?” (Quite as kept, men, too, have their own biological clocks and timetables when it comes to when they want to fathers and husbands.)
You are too young to get married. I was in my early twenties and he was close to forty. I was in school full-time and working two jobs. Basically, I was trying to take over the world. Forget about what they say about women being more mature than men. The average twenty-four year old African-American woman is still trying to figure out what she wants in life and needs space and freedom to do so. While the argument can be made for a man of any age, getting involved with an older man that already knows what he wants because he has lived his life, made his mistakes, and has settled into a routine of life can be recipe for disaster, especially if she starts to want to explore new things or begins to change her world perspectives.
The more time you spend with him, the less you like him. My ex-fiancé was a fierce intellectual and had a healthful approach to living, which I found attractive, but that was where our similarities ended. When you know someone for a short period of time, you have an idea of who they are based on what they tell you. When you spend more time with them, however, you can begin to draw your own conclusions about who they are, without them strong-arming the observations. You may find that after spending more time with your new beau, you may not be as compatible as you think you are. You may not have similar values, goals, or aspirations.
You have different faiths. My ex-fiancé was an atheist and I was not. While I have always been open to learning from those of different faiths, it is very difficult to create a spiritual foundation or intimacy with someone that does not have one. Think about how you will cope with life’s uncertainty if you can’t pull from a similar spiritual framework.
You become passive-aggressive about wedding planning. I found myself irritable and edgy when I was asked about the wedding. I dragged my feet when it came to picking on wedding rings. Once I bought my wedding dress from Express, I kept it stashed under the bed. On top of that, I went weeks without wearing my engagement so much so that a stranger at work pointed it out to me. When you start acting like this, you are avoiding commitment and should not be getting married.
Once I said “yes” to engagement, it was hard for me to say “no” to marrying someone that I did not love. For a while, I was worried about disappointing my mother, my family, and my ex-fiancé. But that was until I realized that I would be the one living unhappily—not them. My opinion about my happiness became more important than what others might think about my decision to be a runaway bride.
Marriage is an offer and request—not a mandate—so know that you always have the right and option to say “no.”
Frugalistas: When did you realize it was time to hightail it out that relationship or engagement?