Even though I've worked in the matchmaking industry for over 23 years, I have to admit I married the wrong man. There was nothing romantic about my marriage. I was married on November 1, 1998 in my mom's living room, and my daughter Mikayla was born on November 11, 10 days later. That should give you a hint about why I got married, even though I knew my partner wasn't "the one."
Looking back at my wedding photos taken by one of my family members, you could tell there wasn't anything really happy about this moment for me. I was nine months pregnant, wearing a pant suit, surrounded by two of my best friends, my partner at the time and my immediate family. I didn't want to get married.
I remember looking in the phone book just a few weeks earlier, searching for pastors who would perform legal wedding ceremonies at the last minute. I found a female pastor and two weeks later, and she performed the ceremony at my mom's home. There were many reasons I got married, even though I knew my partner wasn't the one. Here are three of my most memorable ones:
1. I wanted to please my family.
I am a Filipino-Canadian, who immigrated to Canada at the age of 2 with my mom, dad, older brother and younger brother. My parents are strict, practicing Roman Catholics and the idea of their daughter having a child out of wedlock was horrifying. I remember what really made me decide to get married, even though I didn't want to.
I was preparing dinner in my parents' kitchen because I had moved back home after finding out I was pregnant. I felt I could make the most sense for my situation if I went home. I had a very strained relationship with my father, and always felt I couldn't measure up around him. As I was in the middle of cutting up some vegetables, he turned to me and made some sarcastic remark about my "bastard" baby.
I don't recall his exact message, but how that word "bastard" landed was impactful. It was one thing for him to say mean things to me, but I was not going to give him a reason to call my baby a bastard. It enraged me to think he could possibly label my child with a negative word around anyone else. I felt his statement helped make up my mind to get married.
2. I was scared and inexperienced.
At 26 years of age, I wasn't ready to settle down. None of my friends at the time had babies. My only experience with kids was based on my niece, who I adored, and was 3 at that time. If you knew who I was back then, working hard and playing hard were the most important things to me. I was actually on the verge of a breakup when I discovered I was pregnant.
Even though my boyfriend at the time was a wonderful human being, we really didn't have much in common. I didn't take our relationship seriously, and getting pregnant forced me to get really serious in a short timeframe. I contemplated the consequences of not having the child, and even adoption. However, I decided to move back home to my parents' place and raise the child with my boyfriend. I hoped it would all work out.
3. I thought I could make it work.
I have always been a perfectionist and very competitive. It was not in my nature to fail. If other people could do it, so could I. I knew I did not want to raise the baby as a single mother. One of the conditions my parents told me was if I wanted my boyfriend to live with us then we would have to be married. This didn't make sense to me, considering I was already having his baby, but being together as an unwed couple meant we were fornicators and "living in sin."
My mother would be supporting the devil's work by allowing him to live with us if we weren't married, and she wasn't going to support that. I remember having conversations with my mother about this at length, but she stood firm about my boyfriend not being able to come to the house or sleep over unless we were married.
This was another compelling reason to tie the knot. She had her own moral standards that set the rules for how things were going to go for the baby and I.
4. It was convenient.
I was working full-time as a sales director at a matchmaking company, and figured I would need help once the baby arrived. I don't really know why I didn't opt to have the baby as a single mother. Perhaps I was being lazy. I was so focused on my career, that marrying my boyfriend seemed like a great way for me to share the responsibility of raising my child with another full-time caregiver.
My boyfriend earned less than me at the time, so I was the breadwinner of our household. If I got married, that would allow me the freedom to go to work, continue with my business travels and do all the things I did before the child -- or so I thought, anyway. I was very ambitious and my boyfriend was extremely laid-back. I was working 50 to 60 hours in the matchmaking business with flourishing opportunities. He had a job as a laborer working for a trucking company.
We were one of the two most mismatched people you could ever meet. He is Type C, a quiet, truck-loving, video-gaming, "Star Wars" junkie. I am Type A, a jet setting, socializing workaholic. It wasn't all terrible and he was a very patient man, but we were just not made for each other.
I also thought working in the dating industry would provide me with many more tools to make things work inside of our marriage. Although this may be true, I was also still learning all about relationships. I had never been a mom or married before. The compounding differences in our lifestyle, personalities and upbringing eventually took a toll on our marriage. We finally separated in 2006, and by 2007 our divorce was finalized.
It's ironic how as a matchmaker and dating coach, I would hear all sorts of stories about why marriages failed and my marriage was not exempt from those reasons. I got married out of poor circumstances, not thinking about our future, and zero agreement for how our marriage was going to work. It was a marriage and relationship based on trial and error. In the end, we made too many mistakes to salvage our marriage. The best thing that came out of our pairing are our two amazing children and countless invaluable life lessons.
Our failures in communication and experiences as a married couple have allowed me to coach my clients from a place of knowing, and a relatedness that can only be shared from living through those painful moments. My advice to anyone on the fence about marriage is to do whatever work is necessary to do as a couple and as an individual, before going through with your choice to marry.
In fact, I didn't even know who I was or what I wanted before I got married. Any life coach, dating coach, relationship or success coach will tell you to be clear on who you are and to love yourself before attempting to share your life with someone else.
Today my ex-husband and I maintain a friendly and open relationship for the sake of our children. We have both come a long way from where we were. The journey to our healing and understanding each other has not been an easy one. Today I choose all my relationships very carefully and don't allow poor circumstances to dictate my actions or predetermine my outcomes. Now, my actions determine my outcomes.
I am creating my own circumstances and a healthy environment around me. You can, too.