Married ladies, be honest: Have you ever tried to plan your “escape” if things got too risky or too demanding? This wife shares why she decided to trade her escape plan for full commitment instead.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a planner, strategically and intentionally moving through life with plans A, B, and C intact — and, if I’m candid, marriage was no different. Even walking down the aisle, I knew that if this “Black love thing” didn’t work, I would have a plan to “abort mission” and safely route myself back to my independent, well-educated, much-loved single women’s utopia in Brooklyn.
Don’t get me wrong, I was committed, but I’d be lying if I said there were no caveats.
See, before dating my husband, I had experienced a plethora of healthy, happy relationships, both romantic and platonic. However, there were always contingencies to keep me in control. As an independent woman, I felt I needed boundaries and a clear path out if things got too risky or too demanding. Ensuring that I always had an escape plan made me feel prepared in life and ultimately prepared for whatever deal-breakers a relationship, or a marriage, would (in my mind) inevitably bring my way. Looking back now, I realize that these beliefs were rooted in nothing more than fear.
As an independent woman, I felt I needed boundaries and a clear path out if things got too risky or too demanding.
A year into our marriage, we got into one of our routinely, unruly quarterly arguments that resulted in me almost unconsciously plotting my exit. Like many times before, I thought through plans B, C, and D without saying a word, but this time was different. This time, instead of keeping the feud going for weeks, my husband came to me and said, “Let’s start over.” I agreed. I was skeptical, but amid my hesitation, I saw a glimmer of our growth.
After we’d reconciled and had a chance to talk sensibly, my husband jokingly called me a “flight risk.” Offended, I reacted immediately with anger, and there went all of our growth right out the window. Sitting alone in the bathroom, with the notion of being compared to a fugitive top of mind, I realized that I’d been indeed behaving like someone in captivity contemplating an escape. What had once been my testament to “staying ready” and in control was consequently preventing me from living freely and choosing to love him wholeheartedly. He had joked, but the reality was, I was a flight risk, and we both knew I hadn’t been fully committed.
I was a flight risk, and we both knew I hadn’t been fully committed.
It was apparent then, that if I wanted to experience the abundance of a loving, happy marriage, I would eventually need to abandon my marriage contingency plan and consciously choose to show up for our love and our marriage wholeheartedly, with no plan-B in-tact.
It was also the first time that I’d acknowledged that my crisis planning and what-if strategies were getting in the way. From the moment we’d said, “I do,” I’d been planning my exit to avoid marital challenges, mitigate generational hurt, and escape the possibility of disappointment. Marriage was the most permanent situation I’d ever been in, and, up until that point, I needed to believe there was a clear way for me to get out unscathed. Not knowing that sometimes coming out of a situation unscathed is a direct correlation to being uncommitted.
Changing my mindset came with several unfamiliar challenges, but now I know that’s what marriage is all about. The first step I took was to remove the option of leaving altogether. Doing this took work and recalibration. I still needed options, but escaping couldn’t be one of them. Now, instead of contemplating jumping ship when things get hard and allowing fear to lead, I choose to lean-in and dig for multiple solutions. Sometimes I find them, sometimes I don’t, but usually, we explore the options together.
The second significant change I made was to relinquish some control. Marriage is a partnership, and we are equal stakeholders in our union. I had to learn to trust him and believe that as my husband, he has my best interest in mind.
Lastly, I had to get clear on what the actual deal-breakers were because let’s be honest, they exist. However, being transparent with each other about deal-breakers is key. This way, you know that you’re on the same page and honoring the same values.
Oh, and I still make contingency plans, but now they include alternatives and strategies for us both. I’ve learned that having a plan in place to mitigate our disagreements and help navigate our thoughts and emotions when things get rocky, is ideal.
As a married woman, most days I wake up uncertain, and with fewer plans than I did the morning before, but one thing is for sure, every day without a doubt I wake up, and I choose our love.