I married my husband without getting engaged first

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Once a bridesmaid and once a bride, but never a fiancée.

I’ve been a bridesmaid exactly once; I’ve also been a bride once.

What I’ve never been is a fiancée. Being engaged sounds like fun, and I’m sorry I missed it.

When I decided to get married at nineteen, I had just one problem. My boyfriend hadn’t proposed to me yet.

It wasn’t surprising that marriage wasn’t on his mind. He had just turned eighteen. That’s old enough to get married, but it’s not old enough to want to get married — at least not for most people.

My boyfriend and I only had one thing in common. We wanted to move out of our family’s homes and live on our own, but we didn’t have enough money to do it alone.

Combined with my jealousy over a close friend’s recent marriage, my desire for a place of my own without parental supervision caused me to approach my boyfriend about marriage. We had been dating for a little over a year.

We discussed the pros of getting married; we didn’t discuss the cons.

That was our first mistake. After our conversation, we agreed to get an apartment and plan a wedding.

There wasn’t a proposal; there was just an agreement, and there’s nothing romantic about an agreement to get married. It was dry and impersonal, an arrangement based on anything but love.

I never felt like an engaged woman because I wasn’t an engaged woman. We were two people who had agreed to a single outcome, marriage, without ever having the excitement of a proposal or the satisfaction of an engagement.

As a result, I’ve definitely romanticized the idea of being engaged in my mind. A long engagement sounds like something from a fairytale. Any length of engagement is better than what I had. All I had was a stressful month of planning a haphazard backyard wedding alone.

The groom’s only responsibility was to show up on time, and he didn’t even do that.

My husband was late.

A month after he and I got engaged, we said our vows with only fifteen people present. It was a beautiful day; everyone was happy but me and my parents.

I was miserable.

I should have asked myself why my parents and I were the only ones that weren’t happy, but at nineteen, those questions didn’t occur to me. I just wanted to get through the night.

The day after our wedding, we moved into our new apartment and started living together as husband and wife. So, despite never having a proper engagement, I experienced marriage, an actual marriage, albeit a short-lived one. We divorced less than five years later.

From my experience, men are more willing to commit when they are confident that you will be by their side. This is not about blind trust, though. It goes both ways.

It can take time for people to understand each other and build a healthy relationship.

Since marriage means commitment, it’s normal that one or both partners may need some time before wanting to take this step together. There’s no perfect number of dates until getting married.

Anything is possible as long as there is honesty, communication, and mutual understanding between partners.

To me, marriage is a beautiful promise between two people who love each other and who want to take responsibility for their lives together. When I think about my life with someone, it makes me happy and excited, which is why marriage has always seemed like a perfect choice to make in the future.

However, getting engaged or receiving a proposal seems quite foreign to me since I don’t know what it feels like. I never remarried, and I've still never been engaged.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Boston, MA

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