You may have already said 'I do', but the worry in the back of your mind is telling you to run away from the ceremony as fast as you possibly can. These people didn't acknowledge their instincts when it came to marriage, which definitely paid off in disastrous consequences down the line. Red flags are super obvious for a reason! Content has been edited for clarity.
Too Many Red Flags
“The morning of my wedding day, I woke up knowing that I was making a huge mistake. Not because there was anything wrong with the woman — my wife was and is a wonderful human being. I had ignored numerous red flags because I was only 21 years old and very much in love.
Red flag #1: I couldn’t stand my in-laws. In particular, my mother-in-law is overbearing, condescending, and prone to throwing temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. For example, if she decides everyone needs to take a group photo, you have about three seconds to assemble before she starts with the yelling and foot stomping.
Red flag #2: Our long term goals did not match. I wanted to make lots of money that I could use to have a lifetime of thrilling adventures. She wanted a stable environment to raise children. Her vision of the future looked stagnant and boring to me. Mine looked overly ambitious and risky to her.
Red flag #3: She was my first serious girlfriend. I knew I didn’t have sufficient data points to be making this huge commitment. I had made a decision with my heart when I have always been the type of person to intellectualize everything. It wasn’t a question of whether I could do better, but whether I really knew what true compatibility looked like.
But it was too late. At that point, the show had to go on. So I showed up on time, stood in the front of a church wearing fancy clothes, and exchanged rings and all that. That was over 15 years ago. I am still married to the same woman today. I have never strayed, but I am not happy in my marriage. Every red flag I ignored back then signaled a real problem that still troubles me today.
I resent having my mother-in-law in my life. Tremendously. I haven’t found my wife attractive for almost our entire marriage. I am stuck with a house I hate upkeeping, children who (though I love them) are a time sink I never wanted, and every adventure I have is with friends because the woman I married doesn’t have the same interests as me. I have since met women who I have amazing chemistry with. I behave myself, but it isn’t lost on me that I could be much happier in a different relationship.
My advice? Have a long engagement and spend some time considering what red flags you see before you commit to a wedding date. There is a world of difference between pre-wedding jitters and the somber despair of realizing you have made a life decision that is wrong for you.”
Relationship Moved At Lightning Speed
“My relationship was a whirlwind. He moved at lightning speed. He told me he loved me after only two weeks of dating, and for one of those weeks, I was out of town. Big yikes. We were living together within four months and quickly became engaged. After not even a year and a half together, we were getting married on a beach. As I stood there, waiting to walk across that beach, the whirlwind tornado that I had been caught up in finally slowed down, and I realized that I was making a huge mistake.
He had secrets that I’d caught on to, mainly that he was addicted to physical intimacy. I didn’t find this out until we were within a few months of the wedding, and it felt at the time like it was too late to back out. His explanations for his behaviors never made sense. His behavior itself didn’t make sense. He claimed to be this compassionate, stable person, but he could be incredibly harsh and judgmental. And he would switch jobs, careers, and even whole identities with incredible regularity. I was also going to be wife number three, a major red flag if there ever was one, and he had a long string of relationships, which sometimes started within a day of the last one. He just couldn’t be alone, at all.
But because he was pushing so hard for us to get married as soon as humanly possible, I didn’t take the time to slow down and ask myself if this made sense. I had one last inkling right before the wedding, when his best man’s marriage advice to me was, ‘Don’t be so nasty to him.’
But I felt stuck and so there I was, standing on that beach, and suddenly realizing I was making a huge mistake. I’ve never felt so sad in my life as I did during and after that ceremony. I can’t even look at the pictures, the sadness behind my eyes is truly palpable.
We were divorced less than five years later, and he literally moved in with his next victim the next day. It turns out that he was remarried only a few months later. And now he’s making her miserable. So if you find yourself being rushed to the altar and feeling miserable as you get there, don’t do what I did, just run away as fast as you can. The only good thing I can say about my marriage is that I got an amazing child out of it!”
Finally Revealing His True Colors
“I really, really did not want to go through with the wedding. I felt like it was all a horrible mistake. I tried to talk to my son about it. But he ignored my feelings. I tried to talk to my girlfriend about it, but she did not believe what I was saying. These were the closest people to me on my wedding day. And I felt that if I could only get them to hear what I was saying, they could help me turn all of these feelings off. But instead, they did nothing. We got married, and it was the biggest mistake I ever made. The reception was so, so boring. The food was good, the guests were nice. But it was not all peaches and cream. Two weeks after the marriage, I ran into the Justice of the Peace. He asked how things were going with us? I let it be known it was a horrible mistake, and I asked if there was some way that he could undo it? He didn’t answer my question. And just like that, we parted company.
Throughout the entire marriage, he cheated on me. I even uncovered who he was cheating on me with and how long they had been together. When he finally confessed all of this to me, I asked him why he didn’t just divorce me and marry her? He said that this woman would never agree to that. I asked him point-blank why we got married then? He refused to give me a straight answer. He merely avoided the topic whenever I tried to bring it up again.
When he discovered that his girlfriend was a woman of the night, he broke up their affair. I ceased out intimacy as soon as I discovered that he was cheating on me. It turns out that he didn’t care one way or another. He did everything in his power to try to hurt me. He tried to push me down the stairs. He tried to slam the door in my face. When we were grocery shopping, he had a habit of pulling the cart away from me, so I would lose my balance and fall to the ground. After a while of this, he became verbally abusive too. I clued in my adult son on this experience. His advice on this subject was for me to leave this ‘marriage’ immediately, before I could get hurt even worse.
I had him arrested twice for domestic violence. I also took out a restraining order against him, so he had to leave me alone, or risk being arrested. My breaking point happened when he began calling me up and harassing the daylights out of me over numerous days. My nerves were shot and couldn’t take it anymore.
We finally divorced in 2019, and it is a welcome relief having him out of my life entirely.”
“I was in the habit of ignoring all the warning signs during the three years that we dated. Yeah, I knew there were some issues, but I naively thought that things would get better once I got the ring on her finger. What can I say? I was young and dumb. It was during our honeymoon when I began to realize that things were not going to get better. They would get worse. She kept me at arm’s length for the duration of the trip, as well as for the duration of our 14-year marriage. Being a guy, I immediately got to work, trying to fix the problem.
Me: What’s the matter?
Her: I don’t know.
Me: Is it something I said?
Me: is it something I did?
Me: Is it something I can fix?
Me: Then what it is it?
Her (crying): I don’t know!
When we got back from our honeymoon, I made an appointment with a counselor. After explaining the problem to him, The counselor began asking her his own questions…
Counselor: What’s the matter?
Her: I don’t know.
Counselor: Is it something he said?
Counselor: Is it something he did?
Counselor: Did he hurt you?
Counselor: Do you find him to be unattractive?
Counselor: Do you find something about him to be gross in any way?
Counselor: Does he smell bad to you?
Counselor: Did anyone touch you inappropriately when you were a child?
Counselor: Did you have a bad experience in a previous relationship?
Counselor: Then what is it?
Her crying: I don’t know!
The counselor was professional, but I could tell that he was getting a little frustrated with not being able to get anywhere with her. I wanted to tell him, ‘Welcome to my world,’ but I decided to keep my mouth shut instead.
The counselor finished the session by explaining our roles to us, and then he gave us a book to read. As we walked out the door, I turned to thank him for his time. He smiled and he gave me a knowing look, a look that said, ‘I’m sorry, but your life is going to suck and there’s nothing you can do about it.’
When we got home I read the book, but my wife never did.
Fast-forward 14 years. We had two children, we had survived moving across the country, we survived four years of me being in the military, and we managed to survive her having the one affair that I knew about at the time. We were laying in bed after she had rebuffed yet another one of my advances, when she had a sudden realization.
‘You know what?’ she asked rhetorically. ‘I love you, but I’m not in love with you, and I don’t think I ever was!’
Then she rolled over and went to sleep. Things began to quickly unravel between us after that, and about six months later I discovered that she had been having another affair. At the end of our marriage, she admitted that she had never been faithful to me.
All the signs were there when we were dating. I should have known that she was never going to be a good partner, but I was too inexperienced to know that I should have been paying attention to those red flags.”
“I got this gut wrenching feeling right after my engagement to my ex-wife. Not once, but twice.
I am from India, and against the norms, I went for the love marriage. My ex and I used to work in the same company, and we fell into the trap of affection called love. We were from different linguistic regions. Naturally, getting our parents to sync up was a big deal. I managed it eventually after a lot of heart ache, negotiations, compromises, and emotional drama.
One thing that was odd for me during this struggle was that it was a one man’s effort, and my wife would do whatever her father told her to. This included not talking to me when things were not working out as far as making everyone to agree was concerned. This was the first clue that maybe she was not right for me. However, I passed it off as her naivety. There were several such signs, but I mostly ignored them, as I thought that maybe I am thinking too much.
Then finally we got engaged and then things really looked serious. There was a gap of four months between engagement and marriage. There were many incidences during this period, but there was one that clearly stood out to me the most.
One day, she and I had a minor spat, a lover’s quarrel you can say. She immediately stormed out and went home crying. I could not understand what there was to cry about. Anyway, she went home and complained about everything to her father, who summoned me to his place. I went there, still confused that what was the fuss about. Her dad is a guy who takes everything too seriously, especially if it concerns his daughters. He met me with a grim face and lectured me for an hour, saying how he had trusted me and how his daughter is a princess and how he will not accept tears in her eyes and blah blah blah. I heard all this while being completely dumbfounded. Her dad was sitting just a foot away from me and was blabbing all this right on my face. I was humiliated to my core and wanted to turn that man’s face into a pulp. Trust me, the issue was trivial and a mere disagreement between me and her. But, it was blown out of proportion. All the while, my would-be wife was standing in a corner with a victorious ugly smile on her face, as if to tell me ‘Gotcha’.
I immediately thought that this encounter was just a preview, and there would definitely be much more to come in years to come.
Many of you might think that this was a small incident, but the years that followed had several such incidents which showed my wife’s gross immaturity and her dad’s unnecessary involvement. But that day I knew for sure that I have gotten into a bad deal, and I was very close to call off the engagement. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had reached that point after a lot of struggles and even doubted myself. Moreover, I had loved that gal. Had I gone ahead that day, my life would have been beautiful with a better partner.”
All Of The Signs Were There
“While I was walking down the aisle, I couldn’t stop feeling so emotional and I started crying. I can feel a big lump in my throat, and I just couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks. I then stopped and tried to compose myself and then I looked at the altar, where my groom was waiting for me. I saw him, he was laughing, and not in a loving and supportive way. I just felt that that laugh was like somewhat mocking me! It really hit me, but then I just ignored it. Then at the exchange of wedding vows, as I was saying my vows, I started crying again (I am a cry baby what can I do), and there he was, smiling sheepishly. I thought I was just imagining things, but I just felt that there was something wrong with it.
Fast-forward eight years later, when he left. Every time I see our wedding pictures, those memories come flashing back. Much more when I saw our wedding video. I cringe when it came to that walking in the aisle part. The gut feeling was right. There was something wrong in it.
So yes, there are lots of times when your gut or instinct is warning you, but of course there are lots of instances as well that you can not just back out just because you have a gut feeling or your instinct says otherwise. This, the wedding, is one of those times, unfortunately.”
She Won’t See Any Reason
“I realized it was all over during the reading of our vows on the altar. It’s funny the things we do. When I realized my doubt, I deliberately read my vows extra loudly with enthusiasm. Maybe it was to try to convince myself. Although she was nice and kind and stable, I wasn’t totally in love. It was like a 75% thing. She was nice, and I was nice and a pushover. I let myself get roped into this with one of the first girls I met while in college. I had just gotten out of the military. To be clear, I accept responsibility for not having a backbone. That’s extra bad when the other person tends to be assertive and pushes issues. Bad combo. Family and social pressure got heavy on me at the 1-year point of our dating.
It made me cave into her also, at a key moment. We’d been exclusive and it was at the 1.5 year mark that cinched it. When I did something stupid, I didn’t see the significance until it was too late.
I flubbed and hinted about a special Christmas gift I was getting her. It was a ring, but not an engagement ring.
From there, she went into a not so subtle overdrive about where our relationship was going. She said that she was disappointed in the gift of a blue topaz ring. She actually acted mad and insulted, and before I knew it I gave in, and I was on a honeymoon.
At year two of marriage, our intimacy totally tanked, and as some of you may know, one issue then leads to another, which leads to another. Before I knew it, there were several issues which seemed unsolvable. My wife would not change, and neither would I. That was it.
I should not have caved in the first place. I was kidding myself that I was in love but wasn’t 100%.”
Maybe The Problem Was Her?
“Well, my first wedding began as peaches and cream, and it ended up pickled onions and olives. My second marriage was just a court event. The third marriage to the same glorious human was also a court affair with a judge confused for over our remarriage. The fourth marriage to the same dear heart was a church wedding and all present felt the spirit of the Lord. I did. We have one happy picture to prove it. Somewhere.
And my fifth marriage was to my best friend of 20 years. You would think that would be okay. The wedding itself was huge. I knew about 20 of 250 guests and it was fancy and my dress didn’t work last minute, so I wore a black dress. I didn’t have anything else. I’d just come out of a neck brace after a neck operation, and my head felt heavy. When we got home, a guest had broken the washbasin taps and water was shooting down the bathroom. A fabulous plumber came and was puzzled as to who the bride was.
Upon reflection, I married three engineers, one of them three times. There has to be something really special for me about engineers. Dear God. In my next life, I’ll probably return as an engineer myself. I did not have a bad feeling about these marriages when they happened. When you get married, it’s a bit like going all in at poker. You win some, and some you break your neck over. I loved being married and my family. I am still close to the two latter ex-husbands. The first two, I don’t give a hoot about.
My advice to anyone would be to not be scared. You have as much chance of losing as you have of winning. You can reverse the order. It works both ways. My school friends made it through 40 to 50 years of marriage. Clearly, I don’t have their exact skills. I kind of took the vow thing seriously and that didn’t really work out, but I did give it all my best shot. If I did have a bad feeling though, I would not have acted on it. There was no clear signal that I was a serial wedder. Until my fifth husband.”
One Meeting Changed Their Lives Forever
“I met him at a global company meeting. He worked in the Milan office. I walked up to him and told him I liked his tie. I didn’t know that doing so would alter the course of my life. That marked the beginning of an unlikely long-distance relationship. He was working in Italy. I was working in Mexico. Because we were both employed by the same company, we did our best to keep our developing romance under wraps. That was when the CEO called us and asked us if we wanted to start a life in California. He needed two senior people to work on the Apple account, and it would give our relationship the space it deserved. We immediately said yes. We left our countries, our families, our friends and our way of life.
We started from scratch. Found an apartment. Built a team, then another. Bought a house. The day we got married, I knew with certainty he was the one. We were married 15 years. We were an extraordinary team and incredibly good, supportive friends, but when it came to the marriage part of the equation, we felt increasingly unsatisfied and trapped. We got an amicable divorce and remain extremely close to this day. I never imagined I would divorce him. If I could go back in time I would again tell him I liked his tie. I’d again bet my life on that relationship, say yes on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, read on our red sofa, and look at the moon through the skylight at the top of the stairs.
We’d again hold hands in that dreary divorce court and I would again know that beyond words like ‘marriage’ or ‘divorce’, we choose the people who are to be part of our life forever.”
What About His Friends?
“It’s not just the divorced people, but their close friends and family members who had gut feelings about the divorce. I myself tried to stop several of my friends, but they went ahead with wedding because the deposits were non-refundable. People had been invited and the dress had been purchased. They did not have the nerve to walk away. Instead, they stopped talking to me. I heard from them about few months after the divorce. It was so awkward that the friendship never grew from there. The shortest marriage was three months. The longest was two years.
A couple of them married divorced women who started living with these men unofficially, in order not to pay the rent when the divorce was not even finalized with their ex-husband. They were good in bed. As soon as they were married, intimacy stopped and the man became the wallet. All of these women moved to a new man when the man decided to divorce. A few got married because the woman got pregnant within a few months of dating with a plan to trap the rich man, but they acted as if it was an accident. The rest married because they wanted to be married, and they thought it was their only chance.
In all cases, the family and friends did not like the boyfriend or the girlfriend. Still, they went ahead with the wedding.