Being a 29 year old divorcee (yes, you read that right) wasn’t part of my life plan. I married my university sweetheart when I was 24 in 2010, then proceeded to watch my personal and professional life unravel pretty spectacularly. We tried for 18 months to make things work, then we separated and eventually divorced nearly four years later. It was the right decision, but whichever way you slice it, getting divorced at 29 sucks ass. When I separated from husband number one in 2012 (that makes me sound far more glamorous and exciting than I actually am) I didn’t really have remarriage on my horizons. I thought that maybe, maybe I might get married again one day, but that would be a long time in the future. I couldn’t imagine getting married again without being totally certain that it was going to work out. Besides, what would people think?! There was no way I was get married again any time soon.
Well… Yeah. I was wrong. I’m getting married again in March, with my divorce becoming finalised last year. Why? How?
I suppose that, fundamentally, my divorce didn’t actually shake my belief in marriage. It shook my belief in myself, in my ex-husband, in trust and in loyalty, but not in marriage itself. On reflection, I’m kind of glad we were married; I can now say with total certainty that I did everything in my power to make that relationship work. We stuck at it for a lot longer than we would have done if we’d ‘just’ been cohabiting. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that relationship wouldn’t have worked, but being married gave us the best possible chance.
That said, starting a new relationship and learning to trust someone else was not easy. The divorce did make things hard in the early days. After all, if your marriage failed when things got tough, what chance did a new relationship have? But we got over it. Well, I got over it; he was patient with me. Slowly, my view on my remarriage started to shift. It went from, ‘I’d marry this person one day’ to, ‘I want to marry him now but I can’t’ to, ‘ah, fuck it, let’s get married’!
Basically, it got to a point where the only thing that was stopping me was a concern about what other people would think. I was worried that people would think it was too soon or that I was some kind of desperate marriage fanatic. In reality, I think that being divorced will actually help me make a success of this marriage. It’s a cliché but I do believe it’s true that you learn from the difficult times and from your mistakes. I now look back at my first marriage and I know that we just weren’t right for each other. That taught me a lot about what I need in a husband and what I need to do as a wife. I really believe that I’ve learned from the past and that I’m getting married to someone who suits me, who meets my needs and wants, and who I bloody love. So screw you, everyone else!
How am I entering into this marriage? I guess it’s a little bit different to the average 29 year old. I don’t have any desire to get married just to have a wedding, or for the excitement of getting married. I also feel like there’s not much naivety; I know that nothing immediately changes. I know that it won’t all be sunshine and rainbows and lollipops (and cosy nights in and avocado on toast and Instagrammable puppies). But I also know that I’ll work bloody hard. That being married will give us a sense of commitment that makes us fight hard for our relationship. I’ve realised that there are no guarantees in life, but this time I’m feeling confident.
– Liz Stephens