Teresa Piela has been happily married to her second husband for seven years now. But in the letter below, she addresses the apprehensive bride she was when she walked down the aisle the first time around. (Piela’s first marriage ended in divorce after 10 years of marriage and two kids.)
Dear 27-year-old bride,
Your wedding day is here. Finally, the day you’ve waited for all of your life. Wait, no, that’s not true. To be honest, you haven’t thought about being a wife much less having a big ol’ ostentatious, one-day, super expensive party with a giant, lacy, white dress that weighs roughly 100 pounds, with you in the center of it.
Yeah, I know you’re starting to wonder how it got to this point. But there’s no returning anything, no refunds available and no dramatic running from the altar like they do in movies. Nope, you have to go through with it. You tell yourself you want to go through with it. Everybody gets cold feet, right? Your parents are smiling — your grandpa is even smiling! — aunts, uncles, friends are in attendance.
It’s not that you don’t love your husband-to-be. It’s more that you don’t really know what love is exactly. And you surely do not know what marriage is. At this moment, you remind yourself that most of your friends are already married and you’re about the “right” age to do the deed. Above all else, people seem genuinely happy that you’ve decided to join the club of well-adjusted, married folk. You’ve endured the black sheep label for years; being accepted eagerly by others while you wear that gloriously imposing gown is a stark contrast to that.
I’ll tell you what ends up happening today: You take a deep breath and you do this thing. That little voice you hear in your head right now is called intuition. I wish you were better at listening to it and trusting it. I’m not trying to re-write history here but you have no idea what daily struggles follow after the wedding.
One day in your distant future, your oldest daughter, one of the two undeniably amazing things you will produce from this marriage, will tell you, “Mom, I never want to be divorced.” What you say to her is what you imagine would have been a good thing to hear yourself way back when: You will tell her in life there are choices, risks with those choices and rewards and consequences as well. And while there is no fool-proof way to avoid divorce, there are some things you can do that might help.
First of all, wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Experience all that you can especially in your 20s. Take advantage of opportunities to do things completely on your own, live away from home, go away to college, travel if possible, spend time developing your own interests independent of anyone as much as you can. Get deeply acquainted with yourself. Know when someone or something is right for you and do not use other people’s choices or timing as your guide. You have something deep within you that, if developed and respected, may help guide you more smoothly through this life choice. Intuition is the word I choose to label this gift. Listen to it.
Later in life, my dear 27-year-old self, you will stand strong, having learned some tough lessons in your first marriage and beyond. (Yes, you marry again!) You will struggle with others’ judgments of your decision to divorce but the little voice of kindness and strength inside of you will one day drown out all their desires for your life. You will realize that if you stayed you would have been invisible. You wouldn’t be living in an authentic or healthy way. And eventually? Eventually you will find a mate who is the right fit for you and your life. I promise you: You will find happiness and peace.
Your 46-year-old self
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