He hated my friends and never laughed. It was a disaster just waiting to happen.
My parents opposed my marriage from the moment I first mentioned it. They were right to do so. (Of course I didn't realize it at the time.)
But as it turned out, they opposed our union it for all the wrong reasons.
My husband to be, came from the other side of the world: They really did not like that. It wasn't a racial or cultural thing for them — not that it would've made it right.
They just didn't want me marrying someone from another country because he might sweep their little girl away from them. (This was before the days of the Internet and Skype.)
So, how did they respond to the news of my impending marriage? They told me that if I married him, they'd disown me.
The problem with ultimatums — which even in middle age my parents hadn't learned — is this: Ultimatums often backfire.
They forced me to make a difficult choice. I chose my future over my past, adulthood over childhood.
They used the most powerful deterrent they could find. I made the best decision I could at the time.
But it might have saved a lot of time, and heartache, for both my husband and me, if they'd been wise enough to object to the marriage for the right reasons, and object in a more constructive way.
It turned out there were plenty of right reasons.
Here are Top 10 real reasons my parents should have told me about:
1. I'd never met his parents.
Because he came from the other side of the world, I'd missed out on gathering some very important information.
Not everyone grows into their parents, but a lot of people do. It can help to see what kind of people the parents are; and the kind of relationship a prospective spouse has with their parents.
I discovered I really didn't like his parents or the stifling relationship they had with him, from the first time I met them. They didn't think much of me, either. But by then I was already married to him.
2. We were both "in love with love."
We were in love with that heady cocktail of pheromones and infatuation and thought that was all we'd ever need to tide us through the next 50 years, or so, together.
Of course, it wasn't.
3. We didn't talk about the important, unromantic stuff.
For us a biggie was which country we would live in. We both preferred our own country. We didn't find out whether or not we both wanted children. We didn't talk about our expectations: He wanted a stay-at-home wife; I wanted a career.
4. We didn't share the same beliefs, attitudes and values — about almost everything.
Opposites may attract, short term. Over the longer term, however, opposites can often abrade. That's what we did.
5. We were better at conflict than we were at compromise.
We'd both been brought up in homes where the person who shouted the loudest got their way. That was very poor training for a harmonious relationship.
6. We didn't much like each other's friends.
As it happens, he didn't like or value his friends very highly. But he regarded mine as intellectual inferiors and treated them accordingly. This made for ill will, isolation and frustration.
7. We didn't share the same outlook on life.
His glass wasn't just half-empty, it was cracked and chipped as well. It got harder and harder living with unrelieved negativity 24/7.
8. We didn't share a sense of humor.
As a congenital pessimist, he didn't see much to laugh about. Ever. This greatly reduced the opportunities for sharing playful, light-hearted moments.
Living in a state of constant doom and gloom is hard work.
9. We didn't have the same approach to money.
His mental "thermostat" was set to imminent bankruptcy, despite a healthy income and a healthy bank balance. I hated living in The Last Dime Saloon.
10. We didn't share the same desire for intimacy.
I needed continuity and consistency, whereas he thrived on drama and was forever blowing red-hot or icy cold.
That left me feeling very unsafe, as if my emotional world was governed by rules that I didn't understand, or like.
When my parents thrust their ultimatum on me, they did so because they wanted a son-in-law who would be biddable. They were right in sensing that my intended was anything but biddable.
Sadly, they were thinking more of their own best interests than mine. I was too naïve to know that forever is a long time and over time, relationship fault-lines become relationship fissures.
If you're a parent and you object to your child's choice of partner, you'll serve your child best by keeping the lines of communication open.
That way, you're most likely to earn the right to highlight — respectfully — the problems that need addressing before they cause your child and their partner major damage and distress.