The Patriarchal Reasons I Got Married at 18 in the 21st Century

I consider myself a very social person, but if I’m being honest, I constantly feel that I am always on the outside looking in.

I often wonder if it accounts for my strength or my not knowing a damn thing about anything that I actively put myself in these situations where I am knowingly at my most uncomfortable. Perhaps, in essence, it sounds appealing navigating within a location to which you are not native and different from those around you, however, you are in hopes that you’ll come across as an individual – mysterious and unique. Who is this mermaid? Let’s be friends! Who doesn’t want to feel this way?

Unfortunately, this is not the reality.

Maybe it was my choice of timing but to this day I maintain that I picked the absolute WORST time to uproot my life and switch high schools after my freshman year. I’m not sure if it were a testament to how truly unhappy I was feeling at home or the fact that I had a way out – go live with dad. So I did. And I didn’t think twice about attending a new school where I literally did not know a single person or anything about the social norms of such a small school. I went from attending a high school with a capacity of 3,000 students to a graduating senior class of 200. I went from being surrounded by 46 different languages to being bombarded by one. I don’t know if it’s something from the outsiders perspective, but when you don’t know anyone, it always feels like everyone has more friends, more fun, and more to say. I always tried to be vocal and speak in class anyway, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t constantly overwhelmed with the anxiety of saying the wrong thing and making an idiot out of myself. I’m still always worried that I’m coming across as trying to hard. I’ve really learned to love myself for who I am but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to fit in and assimilate into my environment in a way that makes me feel happy and comfortable enough to express myself.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first month of my sophomore year of high school. I would never wish to repeat it. I cringe just thinking about it. To this day, I have a small half-empty perfume bottle from American Eagle Outfitters that lingers a very specific all-too-familiar scent that makes me think of nothing but the exclusion of my first month as the new kid. Sitting in the teachers classroom during lunch period reading the twilight series and Nicholas Sparks books by myself, skipping lunch altogether and not eating to the point where I would heave during the hikes my dad and I would take after school, but nothing would regurgitate because of course I had not eaten. I expressed feelings to both my mother and step father about wanting to move back but never followed up on them. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I met a boy that year that I did not expect to like as much as I did. We’ll call him *Casey. We became incredibly infatuated with each other for three years and I later realized after high school ended that he was my only friend. He broke up with me for a short time after two years together and I was lost. I had lost the friends I had grown up with for being gone so long without visiting and I was unable to create a friendship during high school with a female that truly meant something to me. That kind of connection with a girlfriend was not established until about a year after high school ended. This is when I became best friends with Kayla, who, to this day, is my main squeeze.

I was 19 years old when I got married for what might be the only time I ever do such a thing. To this day, I don’t have an actual reason I can articulate for deciding to do so. I only remember thinking to myself, “Hey! we love each other and we already went through everything that was supposed to break us up! Let’s get married!” My idea was to keep living our lives the way we were, the only difference is that we would be married. I would still go to college and live in his bedroom at his pothead dad’s house in a *raggie-ass neighborhood, but we would just be married. Officially committed to each other, but on paper, I thought. Why not? Who cares?

It turned out my family cared. A lot.

But I didn’t care. I truly didn’t understand what the big deal was. Regardless of my father’s pleading not to go through with it; going as far to say that he would disown me if I actually decided to marry this boy. Just a few days shy of my 19th Birthday, we took a walk down the road. I got married in the middle of a small park with no one but me, him, my mother, step dad, my two younger sisters, and the justice of the peace. No ceremony, no real support, nothing fancy. Just a spontaneous $80 decision that ended up costing me $400 a year later to get annulled uncontested. I don’t even think he knows why he did it, to be honest. But one thing I can tell you is that the thought of me haunts him to this day. This is something I actually feel bad about. Revenge only feels so good for long.

Here’s where it went south. About a month after we got married I immediately noticed a change in his behavior. I knew him so well at the time that I could literally pin point the exact moment I knew something was wrong. One morning we were as in love as two kids could be. We worked together at a summer camp and I was about to drop him off since I didn’t work that day. What was interesting about that day specifically was that a particular girl was arriving to work for the summer that same day. This girl was someone who he had broken up with me for the summer before to be with temporarily. She ended up going to college in Wisconsin and the long distance doomed the relationship very quickly, but regardless it tore me apart to the point where I knew she was going to be there that same day. Even after a year had passed since all the drama. Even though we were married. We were married, I thought. Everything’s fine.

As it turned out, she wasn’t someone I needed to worry about anymore. He broke everything all on his own. I picked him up from work and he was suddenly acting more distant than he was that morning. I asked what was wrong but he insisted that he was fine. He, however, remained distant. It progressively got worse and worse. He became more distant, acting annoyed with me, eventually ignoring me altogether… only a short month after getting married. To this day he can’t tell me why he did it other than saying he got scared and had “cold feet”. I often wonder where we would be had he not acted this way and had we remained married for however much longer. I know my life would be different but I don’t know how. I know they say everything happens for a reason, but that’s just not something I believe. I am only relieved that he did what he did. Because it allowed me to move on, find other people to love, and be free from someone who was completely holding me back. I wasn’t going to allow myself to fall apart like I had the summer before. He ignored me until I finally gave up and moved out and I mean this literally. I would try to talk to him and he would LITERALLY look away from me. I was NOT going to let him make me miserable again. Life was too short for this. I don’t know how he didn’t understand my decision when I cleaned all my stuff out.. but for some reason it did not click. I think he expected me to come running back eventually like I had the summer before.

We got married on May 4th, 2013. On August 10th of that same year, I was already talking to another boy. We’ll call him *Adam. I moved in with my best friend and had the best summer of my entire life. Adam had moved in right across the street from Kayla and I, renting a house that her father owned like she was, so I saw him every day and we fell infatuated with each other very quickly. Our connection was new and exciting. It was a very cliché summer love. I was married, but I was younger, wild, free, and intrigued him, I think. He was by no means the love of my life, let me make this clear. I know now that he was just a boy who had saved me from a life that was in my best interest to leave. I just didn’t know it yet.

Around the same time Adam and I started hooking up, I get a text from my Husband. He’s asking me where I am, what I’m doing. Started asking me to come over but I kept making excuses. I had no desire to see him anymore. The only reason I had ever seen him after that was to visit the dog we shared at the time, Frankie, and I eventually needed to make the very unfortunate choice of letting this dog go as my own. Even though on paper the dog was mine, I couldn’t deal with the drama anymore. So I just realized that I couldn’t see Casey anymore without causing an issue and therefore couldn’t see Frankie anymore, either. I cried for months having to accept this.

Asking me to come back, however, was a bold move. He made the active decision to marry me, ignore me a month later, act like I was the biggest and most annoying inconvenience his life had ever known… and truly expected me to come running back the second he starts to get lonely and sick of smoking himself into a coma. It’s amazing how feelings change when you simply meet new people. People who aren’t even that great, but offer you an amazing distraction and new path for a completely different journey. Sometimes that is literally all you need; no one extraordinary, just someone to make you happy enough to pass the time. It pulled me out of my toxic relationship and, based on where I am now, I think it saved my life.

About a year later, I filed for divorce. I went to court alone. We didn’t share anything and the marriage could hardly be considered real. There were no finances to be divided, to children to talk about, just us two kids. Two kids who impulsively went against societal norms for a quick second. I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to divorce him unless he agreed to it but, at least in Connecticut, our marriage amounted to so little on paper, I was able to divorce him “uncontested”. I didn’t even take his last name. When people die, get married, or get divorced, they still print it in the local papers, not that I expected him to see it, but it wasn’t until a few months later I asked him if he knew we were divorced. Surely I thought one of our mutual friends would have told him, but he was completely unaware and this hurt him very much. I, however, didn’t care anymore. I had cared so much for so so long… and I was done.

Ending things with him definitively for a final time was very difficult. He started acting so irrational and crazy towards me and my really leaving for good. I told him I was in a relationship with someone else and wanted to see where it went. He would just cry and scream out of helplessness because he didn’t understand my sudden change of heart after everything we had been through. At this time in his life he was literally just a pot head loser, doing absolutely nothing and hanging out with no one. I remember stopping in on Christmas Day of that year, probably for reasons relating to the dog we shared at the time, and seeing him just laying in bed, as miserable as I had ever seen him. It was his own fault. It wasn’t my job to pick up the pieces anymore.

He threatened to kill himself, allegedly actually trying to do so. He would text me pictures of the marks on his neck from the “rope” he had used which he said had snapped when he attempted suicide. If he truly wanted to end his life, I believe he could have. His father was quiet and nice but he was one of the biggest pot head losers I had ever met. He literally laid in bed all day when he wasn’t at “work.” He didn’t care what Casey did. He treated him like an equal, not a son. I believe it was a cry for help to try and get my attention but the damage was already done and I literally just didn’t have any sort of romantic feelings for him. I simply told him that if he kept texting me these expressions of wanting to kill himself that I was going to call an ambulance. He eventually stopped. I just wanted to move on.

There was a short period of time after things had ended with Adam that I guess you could say we sort of tired getting back together, but it just wasn’t the same. It wasn’t because I missed him either, it was because I had a hard time being alone. I don’t know if it was my meeting someone new and being with them for a little that changed my perspective or how unexciting it was sneaking around with my ex but it sincerely felt like kissing a stranger that I wasn’t even attracted to anymore. I couldn’t even kiss him on the lips. We would fuck and I would avoid his face because the kissing almost felt gross to me. It’s crazy how you can love someone so much at one time and then, suddenly, not at all. I have a tattoo on my hip that I got for him when we had broken up the first time because that’s how much I felt in my heart I needed him. It doesn’t say his name, thank God, but it’s a subtle reminder that I felt crazy enough to do something so impulsive over someone who is nothing but a memory to me now. That chapter of my life has been closed.

The idea of getting married again is appealing in certain ways if I were to do it “right” this time… but marriage was created for nothing more than a patriarchal institution’s means of making sure the baby a woman was carrying was actually his.

But that’s another blog.

All I can say is that regardless of the good advice I was probably ignoring at the time, it was a learning experience. My experience was marrying my high school sweetheart after dating three years, getting married then getting divorced a year later. My experience has been never seeing my biological parents together because they split when I was a year old. My experience has been watching my mom and step father be married for 20 years and resent each other as a result. I’m 23 and marriage has become less and less important to me over the years the more I have decided to focus on myself, my education, and my career.

Marriage is clearly for people who believe that the love they have found could be eternal; who believe in something sacred when it comes to monogamy. However, one might also go as far to say that, based on the high rate of divorce, marriage goes against human nature. Maybe people aren’t supposed to be with one person forever. Maybe we’re supposed to experience difference people. Needless to say, marriage is an institution for people who are matured in such a way that they are ready to settle down with a single individual. I thought this about myself, but I was too young to understand that my relationship was still very “high school”. I get the sense that woman are still programmed to believe that when they get older, getting married is one of the most important things they will do. I really cannot think of anything more unnecessary and, if I did get married again, I would really have to feel like my relationship was stable enough to withstand the stress that comes with being with the same person for years on end. I might even want a baby first, then maybe a wedding later. I have too many things I want to do and life is way too short for me to waste time and money to buy something that fails more often than it succeeds.

This was my own experience. I know people who got married very young and are actually still together and very happy together. An old co-worker of mine got married and had a beautiful wedding at 19. Another got married when she was 17 and now have three children with the same father at 24 years old. I am merely a common statistic and my best advice is just not to get married for absolutely no reason at 18 years old.

*Notes: “Raggie” is a term I have realized that not everyone is familiar with and this is because I guess it originated in one of the towns I grew up in, Winsted Connecticut. It’s a slang term used for referring to someone who is essentially white trash… or just trash.

*Certain names have been changed

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