I regret getting married at 19: I don't regret getting divorced at 24

Tracey Folly

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

When I got married at nineteen, I didn't realize what a bad idea it was. I didn't realize how young nineteen was.

When I was nineteen, I thought I was all grown up, and sure, being nineteen made me technically an adult. After all, people can join the military and go to war at nineteen, but then again, they can't buy beer. So what does that say about society's belief that a nineteen-year-old is old enough to get married?

At nineteen, I was not old enough to get married.

Choosing the wrong partner didn't help, but I was also incapable of keeping a household running smoothly. The concept of paying bills was foreign and confusing. Cooking, cleaning, and doing the laundry were tasks I rarely completed to anyone's satisfaction, especially my own.

From my wedding day until the day I filed for divorce, I felt overwhelmed. Being married felt like drowning on dry land.

I regret getting married at nineteen, but there's one thing I don't regret.

I don't regret getting divorced at twenty-four. The feeling of being single since my mid-twenties would have been less sweet if I hadn't suffered through nearly five years of marriage first.

I didn't appreciate being single until I got married. I spent the first half of my twenties in a relationship that didn't make me happy, and I ignored the warning signs for far too long because I was afraid to be single. But after getting divorced, it felt amazing to be free of the responsibilities of marriage and finally have time for myself again.

It took some hard years, but today I don't regret getting divorced at twenty-four. In fact, I feel grateful that the experience taught me so much about love and life. Before settling down with someone else someday, I hope to first discover who I am as an individual. And no matter what happens next, I know now that the best things are worth waiting for.

Getting divorced was a relief and a revelation. That's when I realized how much freedom I had. I didn't have to answer to anyone but myself. I could come and go as I pleased.

I got married too young, but getting divorced was the best decision I ever made. And for that, I am grateful.

Now that I am on my own, I have learned to be independent. I've become the best version of myself. And if I ever decide to get married again, it will only be when I know I am truly ready.

I was young and naïve when I walked down the aisle at nineteen years old, believing that this would be a decision that would last forever. But as it turned out, choosing the wrong partner was just one part of what went wrong in our marriage; other countless mistakes on both sides led to an unsustainable relationship and ultimately to our divorce just five years later.

As I reflect on my past, I realize that there are many things that I regret. Of all the mistakes I have made in life, getting married at nineteen is one of the biggest regrets of my life.

Getting divorced has helped me realize what really matters in life—and it's not being tied down to another person. It's being free to live my life the way I want to. And for that, I will always be grateful.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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