Like most 20-somethings in America today, I know a lot of couples who have gotten married. Every weekend it seems my Facebook feed announces the engagement of at least one more couple. At my age, 26, I am essentially a spinster by “normal” American standards. It is especially trippy when I realize that a lot of the couples getting married starting dating years after my ex and I did. HOW is that possible? I constantly ask myself that question. I’ve known my ex about five and a half years now and for the first five years of that I definitely thought that someday I could’ve married him. (Yes, I am so pathetic that’ve only realised in the last 6 months that truly isn’t going to happen.) Anyhow, in comparison I wonder how a lot of these couples feel they know each other well enough to get married after only a year or two of dating. I guess it’s different for everyone, but the first warning that maybe people shouldn’t be rushing to complete this milestone in life came today.
I’d just come back from my weekly shop at Trader Joe’s (where I was repeatedly texted by both my parents we need dishwasher detergent and I told them I bought dishwasher tabs and they said I bought the wrong thing. I didn’t but the wrong thing but I guess no one calls them “tabs” here….cultural differences! Anyway…) and I was speaking to my mom in the kitchen and she suddenly got very serious. “I have to tell you something”, she says. Coming from my mom this almost never worries me, it’s usually a reference to something one of her friends who I only know the name of, but have never met, heard on Dr. Oz about how oxygen will kill you.
“Jake* is getting a divorce” she says solemnly, her eyes welling a bit. I did the worst possible thing I could do at that moment. I laughed. Hard. You see, Jake has been a family friend for years. I grew up across the street from him and his mother and my mother have been very good friends for years and years, despite the fact Jake’s family moved around a hundred miles away when we were in middle school. My mom and dad had made the trek just three months earlier to Jake’s wedding.
From photos, his wedding looked like it had three themes: pink, things-covered-in-burlap, and is-this-dilapidated-or-antique? Here is an example of all three coming together: A bunch of rusty old keys on pink strings tacked onto a cork board that was covered in burlap. According to my dad, they also had porta-potties. Now I don’t think the wedding decor is any indication of how a marriage will last, but I also don’t think it’s necessarily not an indication either.
In looking at photos of Jake and his soon to be ex-wife from before and during their wedding, it doesn’t seem like there’s any indication that he is not completely happy. Apparently, Jake had wanted to call off the wedding, but felt that the ball was rolling too quickly and he couldn’t call it off. He felt like she was too unstable to live with every day or have kids with. But he kept smiling in photos and he married her. He married her even though he knew he didn’t want to.
When my ex and I broke up and had multiple conversations about the potential of ever getting back together afterwards, he always said “something is missing”. I think about this statement constantly. It is always where my mind wanders to. What could be missing? He says he doesn’t know, we are best friends. I imagine that this is going to stick with Jake’s ex for a long time. He knew it was wrong and he stayed and he married her. And he let her believe that he loved her and made what was supposed to be a lifelong commitment to her. I imagine this will hurt her much more than the alternative, that he could’ve stopped the progression of the wedding and called things off before they made a public commitment to one another. Of all the things my ex ever did, of all the things that stick with me and make me wonder, at least he never did that.
*Names changed to protect the innocent.