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Another "should I get married?" question.
April 6, 2012 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Why can't I control my stupid feelings? Love one guy, distracted by another, engaged to be married. Advice/personal experience?

Six years ago, when my boyfriend and I had been dating for five years and were sharing a house with friends, I did a dumb thing. I fell for a roommate, broke up with my boyfriend (he moved out) had a careless and tempestuous relationship with the roommate until he broke up with me to go back to his old girlfriend, and then in the aftermath allowed the ex-boyfriend to convince me to go to counseling and eventually to get back together again. I wasn't feeling the butterflies the second time around and it was awkward, but we eventually got back to a solid relationship where we were confident we loved each other. 

Fast-forward to the present, and we are supposed to get married in two months. For the past little while (months? a year?) I've been strongly attracted to one of our friends. However, I know how this story goes. I understand that it isn't necessarily this one guy, he might just be representing my urge to get with someone new. I've read the theory that I could be attracted to qualities of his that I want to have myself. I've read a lot of advice here for other people in similar situations. But I am a special snowflake [sarcasm] and my circumstances are just slightly different enough that I'm hoping for my own advice. 

I am trying to do the right thing. I told my fiancé about my infatuation. We went to counseling again, I decided to stick with the fiancé, because I believe he is worth sticking with, and yes, I love him, and shift the other guy into the friend column instead of the love interest column, and this worked for a while. (Incidently, we also ruled out the possibility of polyamory.) 

But I've started to feel queasy or like crying when I think about the wedding, or wedding planning. Relatives are pressing in on all sides asking for progress, and there's a certain amount of stress that comes with that anyway. 

And since we're all friends, we still see the guy. I'm not pursuing anything, there has been no acknowledgement, but nonetheless I feel like my interest might be returned, which is not useful under the circumstances. Most of the time I can still convince myself that it will pass, despite the what ifs floating around in my head, and that the fiancé and I will be able to have a good relationship without that distraction in the future. 

But here's the thing: I don't think I'm being fair to my fiancé. Going into a wedding thinking about someone else just feels wrong. My brain is trying to justify going through with the wedding, and canceling the wedding, and I can't pin down a decision either way. I know I'll have to soon, though, probably this weekend. I've started to hope that he feels as uncertain as I do, because then it would be easier to come to a decision. (I know he feels a little uncertain, but he's a person who agonizes over decisions. If I felt for sure that we should get married I think that would be enough for him.)

Additional complications: 

- Having whittled down my job options to something that is not lucrative but that I enjoy, I am currently financially dependent on my fiancé. I could probably get a "real" job within a few months. 

- Our relationship is pretty solid, we understand how the other person operates, we don't fight much and are good at communicating, but. It's so easy to start to shift it into "maybe we should just be friends," especially since I'm the motivator for almost everything. He'd be content to come home every evening and eat dinner, watch Netflix, stare at computer screens in bed, go to sleep--or if he wouldn't be content, he probably still wouldn't act differently. I plan vacations, date nights, weekend activities ... and I feel vaguely guilty when I try to get him to plan things because I know it takes him a lot more mental energy than it takes me. He spends a lot of his time in work-brain, and it's an effort for him to shift away from that. I understand this! We both have our strengths and weaknesses. I just wish it was different, that he could challenge or motivate me sometimes. 

- I would be pretty freaking sad to lose him.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't try to control feelings. Its about how you react.

In the end, the other guy is nothing. Every relationship I've been in, I crush on others. That's normal.

Which brings us to the question. If there was no other guy, would you want to marry your fiance? If the answer is no, stop the wedding.

Also, tell your fiance what's going on. You owe him that.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:52 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd at least put off the wedding until you were sure.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you don't want to get married, don't get married.

It sounds like you've been happy to go along for the past 6 years with this guy with no issues and lots of happiness, until you got engaged. Wedding planning makes you weepy, but being with your fiance doesn't. So stop planning a wedding.

But if you're staying with him because your job doesn't pay well, cut the poor guy loose.
posted by headnsouth at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2012


But I've started to feel queasy or like crying when I think about the wedding, or wedding planning.

A message to you from my 20something self who felt exactly like this before marrying my now-ex-husband: call off the wedding. Maybe you guys don't have to break up (and maybe you do), but DO NOT enter into a marriage under these circumstances.

I should have called off my wedding, and my ex and I even discussed it at one point, but I (we) chickened out because we didn't want to disappoint family and friends (including my friends who had just bought plane tickets from New Zealand to come to the wedding). Believe me, the people who truly loved us would have much rather coped with the disappointment of us calling off the wedding in 1997 rather than see us each go through the pain and sorrow of ending our marriage in 2001. Your loved ones will feel the same.
posted by scody at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2012 [37 favorites]


do you see a counselor just for you?

and not to be terse, but something i've learned thru life, counseling, and wise askmefites....you don't control your feelings. you control your reactions to them.

it's hard for some of us. counseling helps. being aware of it helps.
posted by sio42 at 12:55 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I've started to feel queasy or like crying when I think about the wedding, or wedding planning.

you should not be getting married to this guy. at least not yet. not until you figure out why the idea of being married to this guy brings out these kinds of reactions in you.
posted by violetk at 12:55 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


been there, canceled the engagement and haven't regretted it for an instant. i would not go through with the wedding.
posted by BlueMartini7 at 1:04 PM on April 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


then in the aftermath allowed the ex-boyfriend to convince me to go to counseling and eventually to get back together again.

Emphasis mine -- I think based on this alone, you should not go through with the wedding. No judgments, it just seems that on some level, you feel like this relationship is something that your boyfriend perpetuated on you in a way. That you would not be in it if not for his convincing.

As long as there's a part of you that feels that way I think you will always resent him. So unless you can really turn that around in your mind and feelings to where the fact that you are in this relationship is 100% your choice and responsibility and not something anyone did to you, I really really think you will break up. Otherwise I think you will be just dissatisfied forever and grow to resent him. That doesn't rule out the possibility of getting back together with him down the road - but only in a circumstance where you feel like it is completely your active choice.
posted by cairdeas at 1:08 PM on April 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Like Scody, I wish I had called off my wedding one month before it happened. I had serious reservations but went through with it because everything was all planned and everyone was flying to our destination wedding, etc, etc. We divorced a year later and it was ugly. While my pre-marriage reservations were very different than yours, our instincts are the same.

When you feel queasy or like crying at the thought of marriage like I did, it is our bodies, our gut instincts, telling us that it isn't right. The reason why is irrelevant frankly. Your body is telling you not to do this now for whatever the reason. I just don't see this ending well so best to break up now before marriage (unless putting the wedding on hold is acceptable to your fiancé until you figure it out).

I can also tell you that the same person can feel entirely different about impending nuptials under different circumstances. When I got married the second time, I had zero reservation or hesitation and had absolute joy and giddiness at the thought of it. We celebrated our anniversary yesterday and as we reminisced about that special day and I was giddy all over again.
posted by murrey at 1:12 PM on April 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


a note related to the practical reality of marriage:

canceling/postponing the wedding to figure out how you feel could be very important. the practical reality of getting married (which i am assuming, but do not know, is the legal marriage certificate, not just a spiritual/religious/community/etc. component?) is important to consider. i recognize that marriage has a great deal of "symbolic" significance to people. it also has a lot of legal significance. there often are waiting periods to divorce, assets and distribution of property gets messy.

these are probably things that you do not want to think about (for good reason, they're hard to think about for many people), but before committing to the "benefits and burdens" of a legal relationship, i would make sure that this is really what you want right now. perhaps the language of "postponement" is easier to breathe through than canceling the wedding. that's fine. but giving yourself time to figure out if this is right for you seems invaluable. and the most honest thing to do for your relationship with your sweetie. if you two do move forward together, i would imagine doing so from a place of strength could be very important.
posted by anya32 at 1:16 PM on April 6, 2012


Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay is brilliant. You can read it immediately on their cloud reader if you get the kindle version. It will help you commit or decide to move on. Extremely practical and no nonsense.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:44 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


My cousin went through something similar; she and my uncle were walking through the site of the new house she was going to move into with her future husband and she started crying, and my uncle said, "Honey, you don't have to do this if it makes you unhappy."

She canceled her wedding. Then her ex-fiancé talked her into eloping. They were married unhappily for a few years, then they got a divorce.

Eventually, she met her awesome second husband and they've been happily married forever, but I know my uncle wished, for her sake, that she had trusted her instincts about not wanting to marry Husband #1.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:51 PM on April 6, 2012


For a while, reading your question, I was thinking, "Weddings are stressful. Maybe once things settle down on the other side you'll feel better." I remember being mega stressed/depressed and crazy in the months leading up to my wedding.... though not about our relationship.

Then I got to this part:

I'm the motivator for almost everything. He'd be content to come home every evening and eat dinner, watch Netflix, stare at computer screens in bed, go to sleep--or if he wouldn't be content, he probably still wouldn't act differently. I plan vacations, date nights, weekend activities ... and I feel vaguely guilty when I try to get him to plan things

I didn't want to call of my wedding, but when I felt like this 4 years later, I called off my marriage.

Amazingly worth it.

At the time, I was also financially dependent on my husband. I've spent just over 18 months living with friends and family to keep a roof over my head as I get my career feet under me again, but I'm finally financially independent for the first time in my life.

Also amazingly worth it.

At the very very least, put the wedding on hold.
posted by itesser at 1:52 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wasn't feeling the butterflies the second time around and it was awkward, but we eventually got back to a solid relationship where we were confident we loved each other.

Hm, this doesn't sound very good to me... you have to be convinced and confident that you love each other, before even getting married?

Also, while usually encouraging of counselling, it almost sounds to me like your boyfriend ushered you into counselling, twice, to fix the problem of you not loving him enough. Which may well not be a problem at all, but just the way things are.
posted by gilrain at 1:56 PM on April 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


If after 11 years (if I've added correctly) you are not sure you want to marry this man, don't do it.
posted by zadcat at 2:02 PM on April 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I also notice that the roommate you broke up for then broke up with you... so I'm a little worried that wounded your self-confidence enough that you wondered if maybe your ex was the only person who would or could love you, and so you went with that even though you weren't attracted to him the second time around.

And the counselling thing is really squicking me out, for some reason. You've had trouble remaining faithful to him twice, and he treats it as... what, a borderline mental illness? It seems so much more likely that you just don't want to be with him forever. I really worry that he's the type to dismiss that as, "Oh, just your craziness, honey! Do you need to see the counselor again?"
posted by gilrain at 2:03 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Re-frame this bit of thinking:

allowed the ex-boyfriend to convince me to go to counseling and eventually to get back together again.

to:

"I agreed to counseling with my ex-boyfriend and we reconciled."

And not only because "the ex-boyfriend" is your current fiance but because it would really help you to own up to your part in all of this.

I don't envy your position and it sucks to feel trapped, but part of your problem from where I'm sitting seems to be not really taking full responsibility for your life and the choices you've made. You sound stuck in a the "why does this keep happening to me?" way of thinking, which is a passive stance that is forever going to muck up your life until you stop thinking that way. You have made these choices and this is the outcome of said choices.

Ask yourself a question. Let's say this other person wasn't in the picture at all. This other guy you're crushing on. Would you still be freaking out about not only getting married but marrying your fiance in particular? Because it sounds to me like you would. That, to me, means that you're just looking for a way out of this relationship yet again, and your way of doing that is to start obsessing over someone else instead of taking responsibility for how you feel (or, in this case, don't feel) about your fiance. You don't sound like you really love him. You're not fully committed to him, at the very least. You should do the hard thing you know you have to do, take scody's excellent advice, and get on with your life without dragging your fiance through a marriage to somebody who doesn't want to marry him. You'll get through the pain eventually, and so will he, and you will be free to really take a look at what you want in a mate and how to go about getting that without financial dependency entering into the equation.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 2:16 PM on April 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Our relationship is pretty solid, we understand how the other person operates, we don't fight much and are good at communicating, but.

This sounds comfortable but not wonderful. Shouldn't you feel wonderful about your relationship just before you get married?

The thought of canceling a wedding does sound truly dreadful, and I really feel for you about that! Hopefully you have a friend that can keep reminding you that you are not a bad person while you deal with the fallout. But it will be worse later for both you and your fiance, as others have said. And it sounds like you already know you gotta do it.
posted by Glinn at 2:51 PM on April 6, 2012


It doesn't sound like you want to get married.
posted by mleigh at 3:08 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing call off or postpone the wedding. I had similar feelings to yours 19+ years ago and thought it will be okay or get better. It's not worth settling your heart. It's way easier to sort your feelings out now, while your single, than when you're married. No one I know who has postponed ot cancelled a wedding has referred that decision.
posted by jennstra at 3:22 PM on April 6, 2012


Forgot to say. I wish I had cancelled.
posted by jennstra at 3:24 PM on April 6, 2012


Wow? I would really think hard before I let some people off the internet (who don't know me, just the story I'm telling today) tell me to call off my wedding. Sounds like he is a solid guy who has been pretty loyal in the past even after going through some real shit storms. Maybe he's been loyal because he is weak or maybe it's because he really loves you. Maybe those are the same thing.

I think you need to do some real soul searching and figure out what your motivations are. Why are you with this guy? Why are you attracted to other guys? Sex, security, beards? Don't lie to yourself or make excuses. Figure it out before you get married or ruin your chances of getting married.

And no matter what, in ten years, on a bad day you will tell yourself you made the wrong decision. You will be wrong and you will be right.
posted by kenaldo at 3:24 PM on April 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


You shouldnt get married, that is for certain.
posted by pakora1 at 4:08 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would really think hard before I let some people off the internet (who don't know me, just the story I'm telling today) tell me to call off my wedding. [...] Why are you with this guy? Why are you attracted to other guys? Sex, security, beards? Don't lie to yourself or make excuses. Figure it out before you get married

There's only two months to go till the wedding, and being able to answer the (excellent, important) questions you raise may very well take much longer than two months. Hence why it's a perfectly legitimate answer to suggest that Anon should consider calling off/postponing the wedding. Calling it off now doesn't mean they can't actually get married in the future if that's what she realizes she truly wants and they mutually decide to get married after all.
posted by scody at 4:18 PM on April 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh my gosh. I'll try to relate.

The fact that you feel queasy about it is scary but understandable. But I think it's at least partly because you feel guilty about your past transgressions. I've made similar mistakes before (bf, thing with other guy, back with bf, overall solid loving relationship) but it just didn't work (yet another guy, bf dumped me, we're both better off now). The whole time I was beating myself up about my own feelings. Feeling like I needed to control myself, or even punish myself. But infatuation is rather natural, I think.

Like you, I am also now engaged to be married soon. I also have a long-standing attraction to my friend (I figured out the underlying logic- that's because he's my best friend, I see him more often than my long-distance fiance, etc.). But I have never even considered putting off or canceling my wedding. I'm not going to pursue this attraction to my friend, because we're better off friends and my fiance is an amazing person and awesome lover and is gonna be an awesome dad to our future kids and fantastic husband and I'm really looking forward to the many amazing decades we're gonna create for ourselves!
I'm surprised that in this question you talk very little about the future you expect to have with your fiance. What's that like? It should be something to look forward to!
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 4:40 PM on April 6, 2012


A lot of the answers are long versions of : If you like the guy, then do the right thing and don't ruin his life.

Those are the correct answers.
posted by rr at 5:23 PM on April 6, 2012


rr: If you like the guy, then do the right thing and don't ruin his life.

I was about to have a pretty bad reaction to this, and then realized I might be misinterpreting what you mean by "do the right thing". Can you clarify?
posted by gilrain at 5:37 PM on April 6, 2012


If you are hoping that he also is uncertain about getting married, than you have your answer. Don't do it. It would be one thing if you just had some jitters, but the fact that you want your boyfriend to feel the same way means that you are not ready to get married.
posted by markblasco at 8:08 PM on April 6, 2012


But I've started to feel queasy or like crying when I think about the wedding, or wedding planning.

Your physical, gut reaction will tell you whether a decision is the right one or not, if your mind doesn't know. Listen to your gut- it's always right.
posted by bearette at 9:14 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree you should postpone the wedding if you're not sure.

Now, for what it's worth, I'm a big fan of realism about love and marriage. That means, in my book....
  1. Lack of butterflies isn't catastrophic. The butterflies go away sooner or later in 99% of relationships, including most of the really good ones. The goal is to end up with someone who you'll still love and respect and be comfortable with when the butterflies are gone.
  2. Crushing on other dudes isn't catastrophic. It's not like marrying the right guy will turn off your libido or disconnect your eyeballs. (Thank goodness!) There are always going to be people who turn your head. It sounds like you're basically telling yourself "this crush is proof that my fiancé is wrong for me, because if we were right for each other I'd Only Have Eyes For Him," and that's just not at all true.
  3. It's not even necessarily a catastrophe that you're wishing he were different in some ways. That happens in any long-term relationship too, even the good ones. No two people are perfect for each other in ever way.
Long story short, you don't need to have a perfect relationship to get married. You're allowed to be two mere mortals who still get crushes and feel dissatisfied sometimes and all that normal human stuff. But here's the catch. You need to have really made peace with that stuff before you start in on anything permanent and legally binding.

If you can say "I know, my eyes are gonna wander and it's not all going to be giddiness and glee and I'll probably always wish he were more adventurous and I can live with all that," then you should totally get married. The problem, it sounds to me, is that you haven't actually gotten to the point where you're willing to say "I can live with that."

Maybe he's the wrong guy; maybe you're just not ready. Either way, you need to hit "pause" on the wedding thing.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:21 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was about to have a pretty bad reaction to this, and then realized I might be misinterpreting what you mean by "do the right thing". Can you clarify?

She's clearly going to dump him later.
posted by rr at 10:21 AM on April 7, 2012


If you can say "I know, my eyes are gonna wander and it's not all going to be giddiness and glee and I'll probably always wish he were more adventurous and I can live with all that," then you should totally get married. The problem, it sounds to me, is that you haven't actually gotten to the point where you're willing to say "I can live with that."

I agree with this. I would only add the qualifier that the "I can live with it" part cannot be something that comes out of resignation (i.e., the dreaded "settling"), but out of real, loving acceptance -- that is, actively embracing your partner and your relationship as imperfect and still the best thing in your life. In other words: does the idea of "living with all that" make your heart sing... or does it make your heart sink?

Don't talk yourself into anything this important that doesn't make your heart sing.
posted by scody at 11:32 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's already a lot of wisdom in this thread so I'll just pull out one thing that no one else has yet in so many words.

Why can't I control my stupid feelings?

Do yourself a favor. Close your eyes and say out loud, "my feelings aren't stupid."
posted by toomuchkatherine at 9:02 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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