I am chatting with one of my roommates from college. I will call her “Marlena.” A nod to the “Days of our Lives,” soap opera, college watching spree.

“Col,” she says in her New Jersey-ease. “Don’t you remember the first year that you two started dating?”

I know that she is right. There were red flags that first year.

I just made excuses…He hasn’t had a long-term girlfriend before. He doesn’t know any better.

Of course, my old roomie is merely reinforcing the sentiments of one of my best friends from high school.

The enabler in me likes to hold onto the positive.

The years that we didn’t fight or argue at all. The times that my mom said that she never saw two people get along so well. On the contrary, my friends were echoing jointly, what my mother didn’t have the front row seat to witness. We got along well because I looked past things and said, “it’s fine,” and moved on. I would go along to get along. I was not getting my way or being heard nor was conflict being resolved.

As my friend from high school says, “Things were never resolved. You just would pick yourself up after a few weeks, twice a year of trying to be heard and move on.”

So my friend “Marlena” is correct. There were red flags in the very beginning. They had been there all along. I was just skipping down the yellow brick road, plucking up those ugly red flags and turning them into red roses.

I was sifting through some college keepsakes not long ago. I opened several cards and they all eerily contained what later became the foundational ruin of my marriage. The one achilles heel that ultimately proved more than I could bear was written in those cards. In other words, what hurt me from the beginning is what hurt me in the end.

There is a danger in ignoring red flags in the early stages of a relationship. If you do not walk away from danger, you settle into danger. It becomes comfortable and you no longer have the vision to see the red flags.

I think when we love someone, we disguise those red flags as red roses. We make them into something pretty when they are ugly. We make them seem non-threatening when they are deadly.


I was determined. I just continued skipping down that yellow brick road with my head, held obliviously high. I kept plucking those red flags out of my way. I created a beautiful, bouquet of red roses with them and I placed it high upon the mantle – just out of my eye’s view.

What I should have done was leave those red flags firmly planted. I should have maneuvered them like the minefield that they were and looked for a better yellow brick road.

When you begin to date someone, you don’t make excuses for bad behavior. You don’t turn a red flag into a red rose. You tell yourself that you deserve to be with someone that you make zero excuses for.

A person whose yard is free of red flags and whose garden is overflowing with red roses.

(Saying goodbye to my wedding dress and clearing the way for red roses)
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