All You Need is Love (And Other Myths)

I was having a read of some user discussions on a well-known parenting forum today when something caught my eye. It was a commentary from a user feeling frustrated about young couples putting all their effort into their wedding days rather than any thought at all into what makes a marriage.  I expected to find myself nodding along to her points, but in reality the woman was a nutjob who was using it as a platform to rant about sex before marriage, non-church weddings and how disgusting it is to live with a partner before one is actually married.

Still, it got me thinking. Thumbing my way through the “related articles” section, I was blown away at the sheer idiocy from people who hold the outdated opinion that marriage before children is the ONLY way forward and that women who live with, have sex with or have children with a man before they are legally united are sluts doomed to regret their decision. There were also oodles of folks who swore that a man who was willing to marry his girlfriend once she had become pregnant were heroes, and the woman in question should thank her lucky stars and marry him as soon as possible to avoid the shame of being an unwed mother.

I mean, are we serious? Are there still people who think like this?? Sure, in an ideal world, we’d fall in love with the perfect person at the perfect time, have the perfect wedding and then live a blissful life together having perfect children at exactly the right times. But more often than not, this just does not happen.

Let me tell you a story.

Here’s me. A girl of 19 years, who meets and falls in love with a man on the other side of the world. After nearly two years of intercontinental dating, we decide to get married, and I give up everything I know in life to move across the Atlantic and make it official. The fact that we are in love seems the only thing worth knowing here. Never mind the fact that we had not spent a huge amount of time in each others’ presence, nor did we really know what it was like to live with another person. As young as we were, we hadn’t yet figured out who we were as individuals, let alone how we might slot together as husband and wife. The fact is, we “gave it a go” because we naively believed that love was enough to see us through any possible hindrance. And if not? Well, that didn’t bear thinking about…

Over the next few years, our problems became bigger and bigger. Fighting over money, the state of the house, whether and when to have children, work and family. We were seriously miserable. We had the love side of it down, but EVERYTHING else was a big pile of poop.

By three years in, we had broken up countless times, and he’d moved out once. Four years in, I’d left the country in despair and come back again in an agony of missing him. Five years in, I’d left the country again, with the hope that he’d follow me back to America and start our life anew – I was back six months later. Just before our six year anniversary, we were well and truly done.

We’d tried everything. But love just was not enough to hold a marriage together. Compromise, empathy and the ability to communicate properly were things we just could not grasp as a couple. Part of it was our backgrounds and upbringings. Part of it was the difference in cultures. A huge part of it was our naivety, each of us thinking that we could change the other one into who we wanted them to be.

You CAN’T change a person just by hoping. And really, if you have such a big desire to change your partner, you have no business getting married in the first place!

In the end, our break up could have (maybe even should have) been brutal and heartbreaking. But we were lucky because we managed to salvage a true friendship from the wreckage. We took the good that we’d had and focussed on that. The support we’d always given one another became the staple of our future. The bad stuff couldn’t be erased, but it could be forgiven and moved on from. So we did.

And then I met the true love of my life. I was still living with my then-husband, and we hadn’t yet begun divorce proceedings. But things moved quickly. By two months into our relationship, I was invited to move in with him, and in the first month of our cohabitation, I got pregnant. Just after our first anniversary, we welcomed our son into the world.

Luckily, my divorce came through a month before Dex was born. It might have been awkward otherwise!

My now ex-husband was one of the first people to hold Dexter, mere hours after he was born.

And now, almost two years later, Mark and I await the birth of our second child, due in just a handful of weeks. I love him just as much now as I did then (maybe more!) and even though we aren’t married yet, I would not change a single thing about our life.

I did the church wedding, the big reception, and the marriage. And I don’t regret any of it.  But it didn’t save me from heartbreak or make us into a happy family. In fact, being married did a lot of damage to the both of us. It was a blessing that we’d never had children, as I can’t imagine the pain that would come with splitting up a family unit.

Happily, we have both moved on to better things. My ex has a lovely girlfriend and step-daughter and is very happy. And I have my long-awaited family.

There are those who would tell me I am loose and immoral for living like this. They would say that I am setting a bad example and that my children are illegitimate.

I thumb my nose at those people. Because I am one who knows without a doubt that marriage is NOT the answer to security and a lifetime of happiness. Often it is exactly the opposite. True love does not need to be validated by a legal document.

What matters in this life is finding what makes you truly happy and keeps you chugging forward, always knowing that the best is yet to come.

I do hope that sometime soon, when things settle down, I’ll make that walk down the aisle again. But this time I will be doing it NOT as a gamble… I will be doing it knowing that I am cementing myself to the person I love above all others for time and all eternity.

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Katie Reed

Katie Reed

Katie Reed is a 38 year old mom blogger from Salt Lake City, UT. She is married to the man of her dreams and together they have four beautiful boys. Dexter is 9, Daniel is 7, Chester is 5 and Wilder is 2. She writes about living with mental health issues while navigating motherhood. Her blog focuses on tips and tricks for moms, information and parenting news, kid-friendly recipes and crafts. She loves to reflect on the humorous side of parenthood and shares the reality of her life, with a "warts and all" attitude.

44 Responses

    1. Thank you Vick. I am so very happy that Ross and I both were able to find people who could make us happy and give us what we want/need. We are both very lucky. And I’m even more happy that (even with a few hiccups along the way!) we all get along so well. 😉

      xx

    1. Thank you Vick. I am so very happy that Ross and I both were able to find people who could make us happy and give us what we want/need. We are both very lucky. And I’m even more happy that (even with a few hiccups along the way!) we all get along so well. 😉

      xx

  1. Brilliant post! I honestly can’t believe there are still people in the 21st Century that think like some of those women do!! It’s surreal :S
    Aaron and I are getting married in just under 4 months and by all accounts we did things ‘backwards’ and I’m sure I’d probably inspire a lot of spite and hatred from some of those women you wrote about for living how we do but honestly, I couldn’t care less 😉 We’ve been together almost 7 years, lived together for 4 years and we have a 3 and a 2 year old. We’re finally getting married (woot!) and we’re still completely in love with each other. If anything, I’d say that doing all the other stuff first has already taught us a lot to take into our marriage; we both know each other very well, know we can live together, how family life works for us, how our finances work and each others quirks and habits. I’m glad we waited to get married; being honest, without meaning offence to anyone, getting married to someone I’ve only known a few months and haven’t even lived with would terrify me! How do you know you’re compatible? Scary! xx

    1. My thoughts EXACTLY, Shay. 🙂 Mark and I have been living together for most of our nearly 3-year relationship, and we have our routines down perfectly. There will be no surprises when we tie the knot (hopefully next year!) and life won’t really be any different than it is now except I can stop feeling awkward saying “my fiance” rather than “my husband.” 😉

      When my kids are grown, I will urge them to live together BEFORE marriage, simply because I think it is so important to do so. While it works for some folks to do it “the old fashioned way,” I think it is not necessarily the best way.

      In the end, I just want people to be happy, however they think they can achieve that. 🙂

      Good luck with your wedding. 🙂 I wish you a lifetime of true happiness. Truly. 🙂

  2. Brilliant post! I honestly can’t believe there are still people in the 21st Century that think like some of those women do!! It’s surreal :S
    Aaron and I are getting married in just under 4 months and by all accounts we did things ‘backwards’ and I’m sure I’d probably inspire a lot of spite and hatred from some of those women you wrote about for living how we do but honestly, I couldn’t care less 😉 We’ve been together almost 7 years, lived together for 4 years and we have a 3 and a 2 year old. We’re finally getting married (woot!) and we’re still completely in love with each other. If anything, I’d say that doing all the other stuff first has already taught us a lot to take into our marriage; we both know each other very well, know we can live together, how family life works for us, how our finances work and each others quirks and habits. I’m glad we waited to get married; being honest, without meaning offence to anyone, getting married to someone I’ve only known a few months and haven’t even lived with would terrify me! How do you know you’re compatible? Scary! xx

    1. My thoughts EXACTLY, Shay. 🙂 Mark and I have been living together for most of our nearly 3-year relationship, and we have our routines down perfectly. There will be no surprises when we tie the knot (hopefully next year!) and life won’t really be any different than it is now except I can stop feeling awkward saying “my fiance” rather than “my husband.” 😉

      When my kids are grown, I will urge them to live together BEFORE marriage, simply because I think it is so important to do so. While it works for some folks to do it “the old fashioned way,” I think it is not necessarily the best way.

      In the end, I just want people to be happy, however they think they can achieve that. 🙂

      Good luck with your wedding. 🙂 I wish you a lifetime of true happiness. Truly. 🙂

  3. Superb piece of writing, very true indeed and obviously I can vouch for everything written here (I’m “the ex”, for the uninitiated!)

    It sort of reminds me of that episode of Friends (sorry for lowering the tone) where Monica wants to spend Chandler’s savings on a wedding but comes around to his idea of saving some of it for the future, saying that she wants “a marriage, not a wedding”.

    In today’s instant-win culture that does seem to be increasingly ME ME ME and, moreso, “look at me, aren’t I swish”, too many look at “the big day” and not enough look at “the big picture”.

    I don’t think we were ever those people though, interestingly enough – but agreed we were certainly naive in our decision making and focussing far more on what could be rather than what was. Still, I think in your early 20s, a lot of things come down to what could be… so I don’t lose sleep over the “mistake” since we both learned a HELL of a lot from it, ended up in the right spot in each other’s life and with the right other people, and as you point out – it all could have been a heck of a lot worse. So I think we’re probably the poster children for excellent divorcees! 😀

    1. Lol. I couldn’t agree more. I always liked that episode of Friends and think it should be something all engaged folks watch before they start wedding planning. It makes sense! 🙂

      I also agree that we were never that fussed about the wedding side of it and just wanted the chance to make a life. And even if the life we imagined never came to fruition with each OTHER, I think we’re both getting closer to living the dream now. 🙂

      And I don’t think there have ever been two better poster children for divorcees. Haven’t we done well!! 😉

  4. Superb piece of writing, very true indeed and obviously I can vouch for everything written here (I’m “the ex”, for the uninitiated!)

    It sort of reminds me of that episode of Friends (sorry for lowering the tone) where Monica wants to spend Chandler’s savings on a wedding but comes around to his idea of saving some of it for the future, saying that she wants “a marriage, not a wedding”.

    In today’s instant-win culture that does seem to be increasingly ME ME ME and, moreso, “look at me, aren’t I swish”, too many look at “the big day” and not enough look at “the big picture”.

    I don’t think we were ever those people though, interestingly enough – but agreed we were certainly naive in our decision making and focussing far more on what could be rather than what was. Still, I think in your early 20s, a lot of things come down to what could be… so I don’t lose sleep over the “mistake” since we both learned a HELL of a lot from it, ended up in the right spot in each other’s life and with the right other people, and as you point out – it all could have been a heck of a lot worse. So I think we’re probably the poster children for excellent divorcees! 😀

    1. Lol. I couldn’t agree more. I always liked that episode of Friends and think it should be something all engaged folks watch before they start wedding planning. It makes sense! 🙂

      I also agree that we were never that fussed about the wedding side of it and just wanted the chance to make a life. And even if the life we imagined never came to fruition with each OTHER, I think we’re both getting closer to living the dream now. 🙂

      And I don’t think there have ever been two better poster children for divorcees. Haven’t we done well!! 😉

  5. I’m so glad you managed to retrieve a friendship from your marriage and maintain such a loving and understanding relationship still. It’s ironic that many marriages lack these vital ingredients, but you have managed to find them outside of one. Good luck to all of you.

    1. Thank you hon. It is definitely not easy, but I guess the thought is that you married for a reason, and while things may have gone awry it doesn’t change the fact that there was a lot of love between you. So why throw it all away just because you didn’t get the romantic side of it? Better to have a good friend than nothing at all. 🙂

  6. I’m so glad you managed to retrieve a friendship from your marriage and maintain such a loving and understanding relationship still. It’s ironic that many marriages lack these vital ingredients, but you have managed to find them outside of one. Good luck to all of you.

    1. Thank you hon. It is definitely not easy, but I guess the thought is that you married for a reason, and while things may have gone awry it doesn’t change the fact that there was a lot of love between you. So why throw it all away just because you didn’t get the romantic side of it? Better to have a good friend than nothing at all. 🙂

  7. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Katie! Excellent post, well-written as usual! My hubby and I did things “in order”, as it were, and although we have been married for almost 3 years, it has been far from smooth sailing for us! Love does matter, but as my Mom said when we announced our engagement, “You don’t need to get married to have a committed, loving relationship with a man.”

    1. That is exactly right, Brianna. I love the idea of marriage, and I can’t wait to get back in the saddle myself. But it is just not the only thing that matters. A wedding for us would be a celebration so that we could share our happiness with our friends and family. Not a ritual so that we have permission to be “legit.”

  8. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Katie! Excellent post, well-written as usual! My hubby and I did things “in order”, as it were, and although we have been married for almost 3 years, it has been far from smooth sailing for us! Love does matter, but as my Mom said when we announced our engagement, “You don’t need to get married to have a committed, loving relationship with a man.”

    1. That is exactly right, Brianna. I love the idea of marriage, and I can’t wait to get back in the saddle myself. But it is just not the only thing that matters. A wedding for us would be a celebration so that we could share our happiness with our friends and family. Not a ritual so that we have permission to be “legit.”

  9. Howdy, it’s Janelle from Renegade Mothering. Came over to check out the post you mentioned on my blog. How crazy we wrote about virtually the same thing at the same time! It is insane that people still think that about women/marriage, etc., and hats off to you for calling them out. I was genuinely surprised by how much crap I got for having a kid out of wedlock. Great post. I love your blog. Cheers.

    1. Hey girlie. Thanks for stopping by. It does really confuse me how outdated some folks’ views can be in this day and age. But it just makes me that much more committed to teaching my kids acceptance and how to be true to themselves and do what makes them happy. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  10. Howdy, it’s Janelle from Renegade Mothering. Came over to check out the post you mentioned on my blog. How crazy we wrote about virtually the same thing at the same time! It is insane that people still think that about women/marriage, etc., and hats off to you for calling them out. I was genuinely surprised by how much crap I got for having a kid out of wedlock. Great post. I love your blog. Cheers.

    1. Hey girlie. Thanks for stopping by. It does really confuse me how outdated some folks’ views can be in this day and age. But it just makes me that much more committed to teaching my kids acceptance and how to be true to themselves and do what makes them happy. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  11. I believe there is a place for traditional thinking; however, I also read that rant that you mentioned in the beginning of your post and firmly planted my face in my palm at the time. It was not a positive way forward for her platform.
    Found you through Bloggy Moms.

  12. I believe there is a place for traditional thinking; however, I also read that rant that you mentioned in the beginning of your post and firmly planted my face in my palm at the time. It was not a positive way forward for her platform.
    Found you through Bloggy Moms.

  13. Fantastic post! I’m so pleased that you and your ex managed to stay friends, and that you have found the right person for you now. Love is wonderful but it isn’t enough, there are so many other things that make a relationship/marriage work, and communication is the key. Thanks for sharing your story xx

  14. Fantastic post! I’m so pleased that you and your ex managed to stay friends, and that you have found the right person for you now. Love is wonderful but it isn’t enough, there are so many other things that make a relationship/marriage work, and communication is the key. Thanks for sharing your story xx

  15. brilliant and a little scary. I am in that relationship hoping love is enough. Actually I am not, I am just out of the love is enough relationship but hoping with all my heart that we can try again, after a little time apart, and find our way to be together. Hearing that you and your ex have become great friends is really re-assuring and I hope that one day I am as lucky as you with family and love, regardless of who it is with.

    Sorry, a bit of a ramble but what I am trying and failing to say is that your post struck a chord – thank you!

  16. brilliant and a little scary. I am in that relationship hoping love is enough. Actually I am not, I am just out of the love is enough relationship but hoping with all my heart that we can try again, after a little time apart, and find our way to be together. Hearing that you and your ex have become great friends is really re-assuring and I hope that one day I am as lucky as you with family and love, regardless of who it is with.

    Sorry, a bit of a ramble but what I am trying and failing to say is that your post struck a chord – thank you!

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