Don't make the same mistakes I did.
I'm divorced now so I won't say "wish I didn't get married" on this list, because I gained a beautiful girl, as well as a lot of experience and life lessons from my marriage. But there are things I wish I did before I said "I do" and "I don't."
With perspective, I'd like to pass this on to those of you who are still single and considering getting hitched. Before you put a "ring on it," read up!
1. Had a more serious relationship experience
Before I said "I do" to my ex, my longest relationship was three months. Before you become a Mr. or a Mrs., have enough relationship experience under your belt to truly know what it takes to make a relationship like marriage work, and know what a good long-term partner truly looks and acts like.
2. Traveled the world
I didn't travel enough before I got married and had a child. I can still travel (it's not like the airline is refusing me board), but traveling now as a parent is harder financially and logistically, especially as a single parent.
Travel, travel, and travel! See the world now as much as you can. Visiting other countries and places makes your life fuller, helps you gain perspective, and allows you to view life with different eyes. Nothing can replace the experience of travel and different culture. Nothing!
3. Moved to the city of my dreams
I'm happy to report that I lived in one of my most favorite places of all time, New York City, and left my hometown for a long time. But I never got to live in California, something I always wanted to do.
Leave your hometown and get out of the area to learn how to find your way independently in the world, and get to know more about where you would like to permanently settle down. Typically, most married couples aren't transient, so before you become part of a duo, know where you want "Home sweet home" to be.
4. Dated for fun, not as an end goal
I dated for an end goal: the relationship. So many of us, especially women, date with the end goal of love. This is a mistake. Before you get married, date for fun. Date to learn something new about someone. Date to have someone to try something new with. Date to have an experience, not to simply find the one.
Do this and you will learn a lot about what you like in someone and who you are as a person. You might also have a ton of fun rather than fretting over stuff like "Is this person my soul mate?" and "Where is this going?" Everyone knows that those questions aren't fun at all.
5. Taken a girls' weekend
I didn't have a girls' weekend until after I was married, but oh how I wish I had taken one before we all were married or divorced with kids. Let me tell you: whether you're male or female, having a singles' weekend is a fabulous way to unwind and make some interesting memories. I'm glad that as of this year, I finally got to have a girls' weekend for my best friend's fortieth birthday and it was a blast.
6. Studied abroad in college
I wish I had traveled as a student and most importantly, taken classes or an internship in another country.
7. Learned about my religion
My mom converted to the Jewish faith from Catholicism and Protestantism to marry my dad, who's Jewish. I never received a Jewish education as a child, and while I can still learn now, I have less time to learn and understand all the different traditions and history of a significant part of my background.
I'm not religious and I celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, but it would've been nice to have a solid background before having a kid and getting married. Now I'm learning along with my daughter. I love learning about different cultures and religions, and I wish I devoted more time to it before married and now divorced life.
8. Told the bad guys to f*ck off
There were many bad seeds in my previous life before saying "I do," and I wish I'd had the guts to say "f*ck off" to those that deserved it. Even more so, I wish I had let the hurt and baggage from those bad seeds go sooner than I did, because in order to choose a good partner, you need to be at peace with the demons you've collected along the way and understand how a good partner behaves.
I'm at peace today, but when I said "I do" I still had some past voices muttering in my head, as well as past experiences clouding my judgment of men.
I was a volunteer for a brief time in the New York City school system, and it was a great experience when I first got married. If I could do it over again, I would've volunteered before marriage to have more time to devote to passions in a way that, as a mom, I don't have now. The good news is, eventually, as my daughter gets older I will have the chance again.
10. Asked for what I wanted sexually
Women are socialized to be people pleasers, even in bed. I wish I had been more forthcoming and direct with my dating partners, as they were with me before I got married. I would've then understood how to ask for what I wanted in my marriage, diplomatically and with honesty.
I was always afraid to ask outright for what I wanted or to complain about what I didn't like, yet, as fifty percent of the "party," I should've felt free to speak my mind but didn't.