Tomorrow Mr. Donovan and I are celebrating a milestone anniversary. Last year on our anniversary, I shared one of those “secrets to a happy marriage” posts. This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how, according to most articles I read, we got married wrong. Here’s some of the advice I’ve seen…

Date for a long time before you get married.

Mr. Donovan and I got married about six months after we started dating. He popped the question after we’d been dating for three weeks.

To make the story clearer: when he and I were both in the same creative writing program, I started dating him with the intention of marrying him, and finally hinted very hard: “Isn’t there something you want to ask me? Something really important?”

In that three weeks, we did get to know each other pretty well. We talked nonstop. He let me read all his old journals, which not many people would do. But even before we started dating, I was sold. He was unfailingly kind, intelligent, cute, and funny, we liked the same obscure fantasy author, I liked the way he looked at me and listened to me, and I felt deep down that we should be married.

Everyone tells you not to do it this way, and logic is on their side. At the same time, I’ve heard so many couples say things like: “I saw her at a party and I thought, She’s the one.”

Don’t get married too young.

I was twenty-three and he was twenty-five. I don’t think that’s scandalously young, but it sometimes surprises people.

Wait until you’re financially solvent… or at least have a steady job.

We were both students and part-time instructors, and for the first two years of our marriage, we were living below the poverty line.

Don’t live together before you’re married.

We did, and part of it was financial (see above.)

Don’t believe in “soul mates.”

This one has gotten a lot of traction lately. The idea is that if you believe you both were meant to be, you won’t be prepared to deal with the tough stuff.

I believe more than ever that Mr. Donovan is my soul mate. It never made me expect that things would always be easy, because no part of life is always easy.

I’m not saying that other people should believe in soul mates, because I’m not in the habit of telling other people what to believe in (other than themselves and their potential.) I’m just saying it worked for me.



When I got married, I didn’t even plan the wedding. It was in another state, and besides, this was before Pinterest. If I were doing it today, I would be geeking out over every little detail and spending whole weekends researching centerpieces, but that’s not who I was then. My parents did the hard work of planning all the details of a lovely traditional wedding (thank you, Mom and Dad!!), and I showed up with a fancy dress. (I went to a bridal shop, tried on three dresses, and bought the cheapest one. It took an hour.)

I think there’s a lot of good relationship advice out there, and I am always looking for ways to be a better wife. I’ve never read The Five Love Languages, for instance, and I’ve heard good things. And 10,000 Ways to Say I Love You is one of my favorite books ever, and I need to read it again! Mr. Donovan and I have had a wonderful time so far, and I want to make the next years even better.

However, I’m not sure advice on how to get married is all that useful. Everyone’s path is different. Some people do absolutely everything “the right way,” and it still doesn’t work out, and it’s not their fault at all.

Sometimes divorce is the only sane choice. For a lot of people, getting married at all would be the wrong choice! There are no rules for any of these things.

I’ve met couples who were embarrassed to say how they met. Sheepishly, they’ll admit they met at a bar and hooked up, or they got to know one another online. But everyone should celebrate their story!

If you’re married, did you “get married wrong”? If you’re single or divorced, what are your opinions? I’d love to hear — I always learn so much from the comments section. Thanks for reading!