When I was younger, I had my whole life planned to a T. I just knew I would get married by the time I’m 22, that I’m going to have 3 kids and a successful career.

I dreamt about a big white wedding like almost every girl dreams about. I imagined myself in a big white gown walking down the aisle. I imagined my honeymoon somewhere in the mountains. I imagined me and my future husband spooned together in front of the fireplace.

It was so cheesy. It was too romantic, but it was perfect. And here I am, 20 years later and 28 years old. None of my dreams have come true. None of the things I imagined have come to life. Everything happened unplanned and too quickly.

I went to college, got pregnant and got married. I came back to school and I did it—I got my Masters. I got a job and I am raising a beautiful boy. Let’s say that that part of the plan came true. But actually I was never happy in my relationship.

We were just two different people. We were young when we met and we thought that life would be easy, that we will figure something out. But it’s not quite like that.

No one could have prepared me for what was coming. No one could have told me what my life would actually look like. My man is nothing I expected him to be. He wasn’t the man for me. I wanted something completely different.

I wanted him to…

1. Tell me and show me that he loves me

You have to hear those three little words from time to time. I know it’s stupid. I know it’s childish, but sometimes you just have to hear it. When you’re down and when your life is crumbling on top of you, those three little words can do miracles. And I wanted him to show me he means it. I wanted him to show that he cares, but he never did. He was too selfish and he only took care of himself.

2. Have the habit of working

He never did anything in his life. He only knew how to talk about things but never actually do something about them. We have a child together and he didn’t care if that child had something to eat. He didn’t care that we barely had enough to survive. I had to take charge and even though I was going to college, I had to work to make ends meet. I had to be the head of the household—something I wanted him to be.

3. Understand me

I wanted him to realize there will be times when I’m going to be difficult, when he will have to be patient with me. This, of course, goes the same for me and I was ready for that. I wanted him to understand that nothing ever is going to be perfect, that we would have to compromise and find a solution together.

4. Be able to trust and forgive

No relationship or marriage can survive without trust and forgiveness. No one is perfect and when you screw something up, you have to own up to it and your partner is supposed to forgive you for whatever you have done. I’m talking about everyday things—not cheating or manipulation. He never knew how to do that. He only knew how to overreact, and scream and yell if something went wrong. He never knew how to talk to me like a normal person.

5. Show me the future

We never had any plans. We never talked about the future. We lived from one day to another. I wanted to do so many things, but I simply couldn’t do them for the both of us. I needed a wingman and he was only in the way.

6. Challenge me

He only pulled me down. With his laziness and selfishness, I couldn’t go forward. I could only go one step back. Couples are supposed to make each better. They are supposed to be there for each other. With their own success and dreams, they should make their other halves better and stronger. They should encourage them to want more and be more.

7. Be patient

I’ve already said, no one is perfect. I know I’m a handful. I know I ask for a lot but I give a lot in return. I need someone who is going to be patient with me. Someone who knows when to let go and leave me alone because I realize what I’ve done and how I reacted, and I apologize every time. You just have to be patient with me and let me go. I need someone who knows how to do that and that was never you.

8. Talk to me

He had so many things to say to me, but he kept them inside. He never knew how to talk to me. He never knew how to say anything without screaming and making a scene. I need a man who will tell me right away if something bothers him. I need a man who will sit me down and explain what he likes and what he doesn’t like. I had all kinds of feelings, too but I never had the chance to spill them out. Whenever I tried, the conversation would turn into a fight somehow. He never asked me how I’ve been and if I’m tired of studying and working, if I needed a break.

9. Share responsibilities

I’m not a Wonder Woman although when I think of it now, I think I was. I managed to do everything because even when I came home from work, I had the feeling I’m at another job. The house was a mess. He never cleaned up after himself. I never asked him to be my housemaid, all I asked for was a bit help because I was so tired.

10. Give me a day off

I needed some space because I didn’t have any time for myself. I’d lost the sense of who I was. Between taking care of the household, studying, working and taking care of my child, I didn’t have any time for myself. I was completely lost and he didn’t care about it. He had his time. He knew that everything will get done. He wasn’t interested in how.