in: Dating & Relationships

Why Getting Married Wasn’t the Most Important Decision I’ve Made

Nicholas Mancini reflects on whether or not getting married was the most important decision he’s ever made. His response left us swooning.

I have been with my partner for 6 years. Two years ago we got engaged. This past year we married. At a recent dinner party with friends, someone asked, “Is getting married the most important decision you have made in your life?”

My answer…No.

Dating for six years often comes with societal pressures this common quiz:

The Questions

(A) Do you think about marriage?
(B) Is she “The One“?
(C) When are you going to get engaged?
(D) Why are you dragging your feet?

 The Answers

(a) yes

(b) maybe
(c) I don’t know
(d) well… I’m afraid.

Not the most confident answers when you have been dating long-term. I could have said I was being “mindful” about the process of intimately sharing my life with someone. However, at the time that would not have been an honest answer. The truth was, I had shit inside my head to work through. About the time we started dating, my parents separated the weekend of their 25th wedding anniversary. A year later they divorced. This experience made me realize the impact of divorce and whenever it happens is the worst time it could happen.

I cognitively understood divorce, had friends experience divorce and certainly did not think it was something I was going to experience. I felt myself go into safety mode by putting up barriers to protect my heart and those around me from painful experiences.

This was the wrong move.

I noticed I was distancing myself from my partner. Was I dragging my feet? No, I was afraid to be vulnerable, to expose my pain and admit that my parents’ divorce made me question the validity of marriage. I was afraid that their divorce increased my chances of having a divorce. My fear became a powerful influence on my decision-making and behavior.

I was amazed at how the phrase “we are getting a divorce” opened my mind and worldview to the realities of relationships. It also made me question the foundations of marriage. I realized very quickly how little thought I put into marriage and what it means to be married. Admittedly, I thought marriage was an expectation after you graduated college and found a job in the field you studied for four years. American Dream, right? For those of you familiar with the game Cards Against Humanity, I am reminded of the white card stating “Getting married, having a few kids, buying some stuff, retiring to Florida and dying.”

I struggle to admit that there is/was some truth in that card for me. I viewed marriage through idealistic, optimistic and naïve lenses. My parents’ divorce cracked the glossy lenses I was looking through. After cleaning up the broken pieces through conversations with friends, a couple counselors and a very patient partner, I started to face the fear and pain stuffed inside my heart. I began to redefine marriage. 

The question:

“Is getting married the most important decision I have made in my life?”

The answer:


The most important decision I have made in my life is to decide that I want to be married every day.

The most important decision I have made in my life is deciding with my partner what marriage means to us. The most important decision in my life is deciding to be loving, vulnerable, intimate, angry, frustrated, sad, scared, excited, respectful, honest and myself every day I am married. The most important decision I have made in my life is to face my fears with acceptance.

[image: courtesy of the author]

About the Author:

Nicholas Mancini

Over the past couple years, my understanding of adventures and experiences has shifted from continental moves to minimalist backcountry excursions to walking with myself and others in my day-to-day life. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities to experience a deeper self which in turn allows for greater connection to the world around me. I am honored to be in a career field that allows me to walk intimately and intentionally with others through their adventure story. I currently provide individual, couple and family therapy in Denver, CO. For more conversations and information, please visit Lift Colorado. Thank You.


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