By Atiya Shrieves
I was over my close friend Bam Bam’s house about to have a conversation I’d had about a million times with numerous people in the last few months. I hadn’t seen my friend in over a year and a half because of her deployment. The last time we spoke was a few months earlier through email when I told her I was engaged so, needless to say, the face-to-face conversation we were having in her living room came as a bit of a shock to her.
“So, how are the wedding plans coming along?”
“Girl… the wedding is postponed, indefinitely.”
“WHAT!!!! What does that mean?”
“It means I am not getting married!”
“I am so sorry,” Bam lamented
I know, a bit harsh, right? But I wasn’t sorry. Let me explain. I’d had this same conversation for a few months now and I’ve been getting the same reaction. Friends, family, and strangers alike were sorry for “my loss,” but what they all failed to realize is it wasn’t a loss, at least not for me.
I called off the wedding. I decided that I no longer wanted to spend the rest of my life with the man I once wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I changed my mind. Therefore, I am not sorry. I am actually at peace. Why? Because I’d just avoided one of the biggest mistakes I could have ever made—marrying the wrong person.
When I was proposed to, I felt like I was on top of the world. What woman doesn’t want the man she loves, to ask her to spend the rest of their lives together? Of course I said the only proper thing to say: YES! And it was off to the races after that! I started making the guest list, looking at venues, picking my wedding party, and, of courses, trying on dresses. I was so excited, I actually bought my dress within a month of being engaged.
Once the euphoria of becoming the future Mrs. Fill-In-The-Blank wore off, reality set in. What was I getting myself into? Without bashing or being too transparent (as if I’m not already), this man and I had our fair share of problems and I’m being modest when I say that. I mean he was just anokay boyfriend, so what made me believe he was going to be a good husband. Was I being like those women on reality television reunion shows? You know the ones who say yes to their deadbeat celeb boyfriends, who feel the best time to get on one knee is after their side piece throws a chair at their main chick, in this case, me? My life wasn’t being played out on television, but I could certainly relate to drama.
My situation was more down than up. So why did I say yes? Was I stupid? No, I was hopeful. I hoped that maybe being engaged would help us and magically make everything alright. Well it didn’t. It made things worse.
I was engaged to the okay boyfriend, now my fiancé. And what did that mean? Just more of the same problems with a different title. I could not, I repeat, could not turn this man into the okay husband.
I made a list. It wasn’t your usual list of pros and cons. It was a list of things I wanted in my life, things that I liked, and things that really grind my gears. Then I asked myself a few questions: Does he add to any of these aspects of my life? Does he know any of these things about me? Do any of these things matter to him? The results were staggering. I realized one thing with this simple list and these simple questions. I was settling. I realized that these things only mattered to me. That he wasn’t really in tune to me and what I liked at all. I was about to make a huge mistake. I was about to marry someone who I was good for (because for me, all of these things mattered when it came to him), but who was not good for me. I realized that I did not exist in my relationship at all. I gave so much of myself that I barely knew who I was until I made that list. In fact, I now understood why he wanted to get married. Not because he loved me so much, but because I gave, and did so much to uplift him and I didn’t require much in return. Who wouldn’t want to keep getting the best while only giving the bare minimum?
My heart sank, the tears fell, and the hurt was piercing as more questions flooded my head. How could I not see this before I’d said yes? How could I let it get this far? How could I be so stupid? What was I going to tell all of my friends and family? What was I going to tell him? I asked that question of myself, God, and my bestie. How could I tell him that I no longer wanted to spend forever with him; that I realized I was settling? Walking down the aisle would only end in heartache for both of us and I knew that. I should’ve never said yes in the first place. There was no point in beating around the push. It wasn’t going to change how I felt and wasn’t going to change my mind.
It was hard. Very hard. He didn’t give up easy. He fought tooth and nail against what I believed would be best, not only for me, but for the both of us, in the long run. The hard part was over… or so I thought. Imagine telling a bunch of people who already started planning for time off, telling family members on both sides who just love you two together, and calling venues telling them you are no longer interested because there isn’t going to be a wedding. Let’s not even get into that wedding dress that you just had to have!
The point of me sharing all of this is I want someone to take my story as a lesson—an example of what not to do when you know something isn’t right in your relationship. Saying yes to an engagement doesn’t mean you have to say yes to the marriage. We all hope that is what will happen, but sometimes you must take a step back and look at all the factors involved. Just because it feels good at that moment and you love that person doesn’t mean that marrying that person is the right thing to do. Never stay in a situation because you don’t want to hurt the other person or you are afraid of what other people are going to say (even on Facebook). We all make mistakes, but it’s not the mistake that matters, it’s how we fix that mistake and grow from it.
So I’m not going to say “I do” and get to have the wedding of my dreams, right now, but I do get to have peace of mind and the satisfaction in knowing I did the right thing. In the end, that is what matters the most. Oh, and I’ll wear my beautiful dress just because. Who knows? Maybe I’ll marry myself in it!
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Atiya is a mother of two who served eight years in the United States Navy. She has an A.A.S in Justice and is currently pursuing a degree in Nursing. Atiya is also writing her first novel.