One way of discovering he actually isn't the one you want to marry.
"What's he thinking about right now? Is it me? Is he wondering what I'm going to look like in my wedding dress?"
All of these thoughts ran through my head on my wedding day, much like they do in most brides' minds. The difference, however, was that my thoughts weren't about my future husband. They were about someone else entirely.
His name was Jason. No, not my future husband. Jason was the man who consumed my thoughts on my wedding day as I walked down the aisle and married someone else. He consumed my thoughts before the wedding and after the wedding, too. I met him in college and immediately developed a crush on him, which was easy to do since he was cute and funny and so much fun to be around. I knew he would be the perfect boyfriend. There was just one problem: I was already engaged.
Nathan, my fiance, was was nice enough, and he was perfect on paper, but I just wasn't really into him.
I was twenty years old when I accepted his proposal and even then, I knew deep in my gut that it wouldn't last. But what else was a girl from a small town supposed to do? I knew that graduating from college meant getting married, which is why when the proposal came, I said yes—and then regretted it immediately. My regret was made even more clear when I met Jason.
Jason and I had a fling for several months leading up to my wedding. I could tell it didn't mean much to him, but it meant the world to me. He was my escape, my hope for something else. I'm not proud of myself for cheating on my fiancé, but it's a fact I have owned up to. I think I was secretly hoping Nathan would find out and then we could call off the wedding.
So why didn't I just call it off? Because it didn't feel that easy.
At twenty one, I didn't know myself the way I do now that I'm in my 30s. And my friends and family loved Nathan so much. "He's perfect for you and he loves you so much," they would say. I knew that was partially true—he did love me so much, which made me feel worse—but I also knew there was no spark between us. But I figured that was just how marriage was. People complained all the time about how bad marriage could be, so I just figured that was the deal. After all, if everyone who loved me thought he was perfect, then obviously he was.
Only he wasn't.
Ultimately, I walked down the aisle that day. The whole time I thought of Jason and wondered if he knew I was getting married at that moment, wondering if he even cared. As I stood there saying my vows I wondered how long our marriage would last and whether I would be heartbroken or relieved when it ended.
When we divorced a few years later, I felt relief.
I also felt butterflies for Jason once again because right before our divorce, we had reconnected. Interestingly enough, seeing Jason was the push I needed to end my marriage. Seeing him and feeling that excitement that only a crush can bring reminded me that marriage should be like that. It should be butterflies and excitement, not obligation and regret.
In a way, I'm thankful for Jason. We didn't end up together and I later realized he was actually quite a jerk, but it didn't matter. He helped me leave my husband and start over. Strangely enough, he was kind of the book-ends to my marriage. I thought of him at the beginning and at the end, although we didn't keep in contact in the middle. Either way, I'm grateful for that jerk.
I'm married again now, and I love my husband more than anything.
When I walked down the aisle I thought of nothing but him and our life together. Getting married in my early 20s to a man everyone thought was right for me was wrong. I know that now. I know that I should trust my instincts. I know what's best for me now.