A couple of years back, I ran into an acquaintance who got married that year. I saw her wedding play out on social media. From her extravagant engagement and her radiant ring, to that gorgeous gown she wore on her picture-perfect wedding day (that took over my feeds!), she was the epitome of a blushing bride like in one of those one-off fairy tales we often hear about, yet never really see happening to people we actually know.
So, when I saw her for the first time about six months later, the first thing I asked was: “How’s newlywed life?”
Without missing a beat, she looked at me and told me that she ended things with him, and she’s the happiest she’s been in years.
I was taken aback by how calm and confident she was (especially since her wedding had taken place less than a year prior and looked like a dream come true). I was moved by her openness, and in turn, it motivated me to end things with my long-term boyfriend. At the time, my relationship was with someone I loved and respected but which turned out to be more of a friendship than a passionate romance. I never thought about ending it, until she told me point blank about her journey. And instead of judging her, I was in awe.
These days, many people get married and may feel like they need to stay in the marriage to almost prove a point, or to not follow in the footsteps of some of the notably famous nuptial fiascos (think Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage.) But just because you said “I do,” and posted it all over social for everyone and their moms to see and comment on, doesn’t mean you need to stay in a relationship that isn’t working out how you imagined. Things change. People grow apart. We’re human and life is too short to stay in a situation that is no longer working for you.
Stuck in a dwindling relationship? Allow us to give you some insight. I spoke to two Toronto women (one being the aforementioned in this article) who cut the cord on their marriages before the one-year mark, to find out their biggest takeaways after calling it quits and moving on. Their names have been changed to Thelma and Louise to protect their privacy.
Q: What about your experience can you share with readers who aren’t sure whether they should stay or go, or are worried about hurting their partner by bidding them adieu?
Thelma: I think at the end of the day, it’s always important to follow your gut. Happiness is the true key to life. Find your own journey and live it. It’s amazing if you can live it with someone, but never be afraid to live it alone, until you find what’s right. Also, I think it’s so important to take a step away sometimes, as we all have a different purpose. Do not judge your situation based on your lifestyle — (the friends you’ve made together or how much you love their family, etc.) — as it’s not a reason to stay. We all know that gut feeling…you just have to make the decision that goes along with that feeling and be true to yourself and your partner.
Q: After you got out of your marriage, how did you feel? How do you think it’s helped with moving forward and dating?
Thelma: I felt guilty after I left. Was I a failure — not for me but for him? Was it okay to post fun things on social media? (So dumb, right?) How would these things make him feel and what would people judge me for, especially being in a social career? It took a while, but I had to follow my gut on why I made my decision to live the best version of my life. I was always respectful and still do not discuss any of what our problems were. At the end of the day we both deserved more.
Louise: When I started dating my husband I was 21, when I married him I was 29 and when I divorced him I was 30. The person who started dating him at 21 was a completely different person than the one who left him at 30. I never thought I would leave my ex, but here I am now almost three years later and (I’m) the happiest I’ve ever been. I wake up every day happy, which before was rare.
Louise, who has been in a relationship with someone new for the past couple years, continues by saying this:
Louise: When you’re in the right relationship you will know — you won’t have to convince yourself of it. You won’t look at other couples with envy and say “I wish we were more like that” because now other couples are looking at you saying those exact same words. Don’t ever settle, find the man you want to share all your experiences in life with, who you want to travel the world with, have a family with and mostly because you couldn’t imagine your life without him in it. That’s how I feel, and I am here to tell you it’s all worth it.
Q: How have you grown from your experience?
Thelma: A big thing for me was to make a plan based on goals so I could keep myself busy. It’s important to continue on with your life, but also take the appropriate time for you to think, be upset, and ultimately heal yourself. I turned to the gym because I needed something to keep my mind off things and I liked that I could see and feel physical and emotional strides. I could see and feel myself becoming stronger. I’m stronger today than I would have ever thought possible. So there’s no easy answer to “get out” but if you take the fact that we live one life seriously then you should be able to dig deep enough inside and make the right decision for you.