4 Ways Getting Married Nearly Ruined Our Perfect Relationship

Making our marriage legal was our undoing.

Legal marriage nearly ruined perfect relationship Valery Sidelnykov | Shutterstock

"I can marry you spiritually — but I can't do it legally," I said. Instead of a euphoric "YES!" to his proposal, those words tumbled out of my mouth. After two divorces, I vowed never to marry again.

But, a "spiritual marriage" felt doable — it felt freeing and right. Just in case it didn't work out, I wouldn't have to go through the legal angst of another divorce. So we did it all. We had a church wedding with a willing minister and all our family and friends to help us celebrate.


The only difference? We signed a license attesting to being married under the "Laws of God" instead of the "Laws of the State of Maine." We were married (except for a document requiring legal accuracy.) And all was happy until it all went wrong. Why? Because eight years later, we decided to make the marriage legal.

RELATED: I Don't Believe In Marriage, But I'm Happily Married

Here are 4 ways getting married nearly ruined our perfect relationship:

1. I became a "wife" — in all its dysfunctional glory

Suddenly, I was a pestering, judging, clinging cliche. Before, I used to love my alone time, suddenly my husband going out felt like a sign he no longer desired me.


His once-endearing ability to make me laugh when I felt completely stressed out had morphed into me complaining he never takes anything seriously. I started nitpicking what he wore before we could go anywhere. "I love you, you're perfect, now change" became my mantra.

In our spiritual marriage, I was his friend and lover, someone who appreciated all of him — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, something about being a wife made me act more like his mother than his lover.

@relationshiprestored Getting Married Will Not Fix Your Relationship | Do Y'all Agree? Let us know in the comments! | "Real Love Scenario" podcast #relationshiprestored #reallovescenario #fyp #gettingmarried #relationship ♬ original sound- relationshiprestored

RELATED: A New Model For A Healthy Marriage — And How To Practice It


2. He became "the husband" and donned that role like a royal mantle

He became the hero, the breadwinner, and the king of the roost in one fell swoop. However, not in the way you'd think.

He didn't treat me like "the little woman" he was in charge of or like a helpless princess to rescue. Instead, when he couldn't live up to that ideal image of the perfect husband, he heaped a pile of guilt and shame on himself, withdrew, and became silent.

And, in my wifely role, I added fuel to the fire. In our spiritual marriage, we were equal partners, discussing the roles best suited for each of us. We didn't assume responsibilities or lack thereof. We mindfully decided which role each of us played in running our daily lives together.

3. We became caricatures of an ideal marriage

From dysfunctional marriages in magazines to the romantic fantasies we watched on TV, we wrapped it all into what marriage "should be." The problem was his "should" disagreed with my "should" and we didn't need to discuss it because the other person was just plain wrong!


In our spiritual marriage, we had common values we nurtured with love. But those became lost, forgotten, and hidden under the new legal marriage ideal we tried living into, built from everyone else's beliefs.

She had shut off from her perfect relationship Nicoleta Ionescu via Shutterstock

RELATED: The Devastating Way I Found Out I Wasn't Actually Married To My Husband


4. The legal document became the glue that kept our marriage together

Eventually, we forgot we chose this path together of our free will. The legal marriage felt like a trap. And feeling trapped is a recipe for disaster.

Good manners went out the window, kind gestures and anything loving was a thing of the past. We took each other for granted. In disagreements, we fought to survive, as if only one of us could emerge the winner.

Free will was the glue for our spiritual marriage. It was free will that brought us together and we fully understood that if we ignored the free will of our partner, our spiritual marriage could dissolve quite simply. It made both of us more thoughtful with our words and clearer with our intentions.

Quite simply, the legal document made us lazy. Luckily, before permanent damage set in, we recognized the insidious slide into the dark place we knew too well from previous divorces.


We realized we had to shed the assumptions and expectations about having the "perfect marriage" we inadvertently embraced when we made our legal vows. We already had a great marriage before the legal paperwork. But we figured, "Hey, we made it through the seven-year itch. We're buying a new house together, so a legal marriage makes sense."

We certainly didn't expect things to change between us. But wow, it changed so much we almost didn't make it. (Don't worry, I'm happy to report we did!) Looking back, on the other side of the fiasco, I can see what went wrong and why legal marriage nearly ruined our happy relationship.


So, with hard work and the help of an enlightened counselor, we found our way back to the real foundation of our marriage — the free will and shared values that brought us together in the first place.

RELATED: Why We Chose To Have An Open Marriage Without A Legally Binding Contract

Jane Honeck coaches couples with money and other difficult life issues. She believes letting go of assumptions and approaching life with curiosity is the anecdote for falling prey to life's expectations.