Most married couples are likely familiar with the infamous “wedding jitters” that set in as you prepare to walk down the aisle. Marriage is one of the most life-altering commitments you can make, and it’s natural to feel uneasy as you prepare to change your future for good.
While your marriage is likely a natural ebb of peaks and valleys, there are couples who have real regrets that keep them up at night. Research shows that one in five newlyweds regrets marrying within the first year. These men and women expressed their greatest regrets about their marriages.
Not having kids
- “Not having children is often described as ‘selfish.'” – Carolina Miranda, TIME.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, research suggests one in four women who choose not to have children live to regret their decision. They site this as a developing regret that comes as they face growing old without family.
“They feel lonely, they’ve got no one in the world, and no one to hand things down to,” Dr. Bronwyn Harman, an Edith Cowan University families researcher said. “They think perhaps this is something they should have considered more carefully, and thought about the future.”
Not traveling enough
- “For the sake of your relationship, and in order to avoid regrets down the road, travel early and often.” – Jack, HuffPost
There are numerous reasons couples procrastinate travel. Some don’t want to risk financial and job security while others put it off to have children. Many look at exotic traveling as something best left until after retirement. An 81-year-old named Jack, whose wife Lynne died of cancer after they retired, shared his painful revelation of waiting too long.
“We always thought we’d do a lot of traveling when we retired, you know?” he told Karl Pillemer, a Ph.D. gerontologist at Cornell University, “But then Lynne passed away, and it was too late … I just want to share things with her when I travel, but we waited too long.”
Staying together for the kids
- “You may think you’re doing your kids a favor by keeping the family together.” – Zaren Healey White, Washington Post
Divorce can wreak havoc on a family and has a lifelong affect on the children. Some parents stay in an unhappy marriage to avoid changing their kids’ lives forever; many regret this decision. Reddit user solstice38 is among these parents. “I do regret getting married, and I regret not getting divorced as soon as I was sure it wasn’t working out – even with kids. People don’t change.”
Marrying the wrong person
- “While their insides told them to run, their outsides marched down the aisle.” – Jennifer Gauvain, How Not To Marry The Wrong Guy
One Guardian reader in particular regretted marrying the wrong person over anything else. “The fact we weren’t right for each other didn’t emerge straight away … but the more time we spent in the same city the less we had to talk about. I knew I would grow impatient with him, so I left,” she wrote, “I remain convinced that our marriage would have grown biter and miserable.”
Jennifer Gauvain, a licensed clinical social worker and author of How Not To Marry The Wrong Guy, found that 30% of divorced women knew they were marrying the wrong man on their wedding day. Gauvain reflects on this research, and found that the problem is that these women ignored their concerns. “Instead of facing up to the red flags or exploring their gut feelings — they squelched them and stayed in the relationship anyway,” she wrote.
Marrying someone who didn’t share their beliefs
- “You can’t change another person. You can only change yourself.” – Elliott Katz, Psychology Today
Opposites attracts, right? Not necessarily for these couples who sited their differences as a key downfall to their individual and relationship happiness. A HuffPost reader said that getting married to a person who did not share their religion, lifestyle, and diet was what wrecked the relationship.
Another HuffPost reader said that while they married their partner based on “surface” similarities, by “not considering deeper connections like faith, morals, values, communication styles, and shared goals,” they put their relationship in jeopardy.
Giving up on the marriage
- “We stopped putting the other first; growing in separate directions and/or not growing at all.” – Anonymous, HuffPost
Love is the best thing we do, but that doesn’t make it easy. Good things come to those who wait, and in many relationships, those who work at it … yet more marriages end in divorce than happily ever after. For some divorcees, their greatest regret was giving up on a marriage that may have worked out.
“It’s never just one thing that ends a marriage – even if that one thing is infidelity. There are usually lots of signs and problems leading up to that. The regrets most of us have [are] that we didn’t correct some or most of those “little things” along the way. We can’t control our spouse but we can control our actions and we know – deep down – we could have done more,” Eric Jackson, a Forbes’ contributing writer, writes regarding life’s biggest regrets.
- “Don’t be me and live with regret.” – Jacob*, News24
The number one thing that breaks up a marriage is infidelity. Many people live with regrets they associate with cheating, whether it be straying themselves, taking back a cheating ex, or not trying harder to make the marriage work.
Research suggests up to 41% of people engage in some form of physical or emotional infidelity. “I regret cheating on you with women who didn’t matter to me,” an anonymous source wrote to Kevin A. Hansen, author of the Secret Regrets book series.
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