How do I decide whether I should marry my boyfriend?
May 26, 2008 3:20 PM Subscribe
Do you have any suggestions or insight that could help me figure out whether I should marry my boyfriend?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
My boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years (we're both 26.) In our day-to-day relationship we're very happy together, get along very well, and enjoy being a couple. The problem is that although we've been together for quite a while now, I don't feel myself getting any surer about whether I want to get married. He's known for a while now that he wants to marry me, and he's recently started to set some boundaries and let me know that as much as he loves me, he doesn't want to wait indefinitely, especially if I'm not at least moving closer to a decision. Clearly I owe it to him and to myself to be moving towards more clarity on this. But I don't know how to do it.
More details: I love him very much, and he is loving, supportive, and kind to me. We were close friends for years before we started dating. We have very compatible outlooks on life (attitudes towards money, children, religion, etc... almost all those things that show up in the lists of "things you should discuss before you get married.") We make a really good team. We have a lot of fun together. We do have mismatched sex drives (mine is very low), which is an occasional source of frustration, but we're generally able to respect eachothers' feelings/needs on that front.
My biggest concern is that neither now nor ever have I felt really head-over-heels, intensely in love with him, and I don't know how much that matters. There's no crazy butterflies and overwhelming passion, no powerful feeling that I want to spend the rest of my life with him, just a calm love and affection that's wonderful but doesn't match with what I always thought that you ought to feel to want to marry someone. That makes me worry that I don't love him deeply/strongly enough to marry him... but then I wonder if I've just bought into an idea about what love and marriage is "supposed to" be that isn't necessarily the only way.
-- I am incredibly indecisive about most things in my life, tending to obsess about the pros and cons both before and after I make a choice.
-- My only other romantic relationship of note was a dizzingly intense "I could be content if I died tomorrow because I have now experienced this great love for you" at age 20, but in retrospect the love was not that deep or substantial, and afterwards I came to be really regretful and ashamed of how I put that relationship ahead of everything else in my life while "under the influence" of that intense emotion. Other than that relationship, I don't really have anything to compare this one to.
-- When we first started dating, his mother was dying, so my can't-stop-thinking about him phase was less "I wish we were spending time together now, I love him so much" and more "Oh goodness, he is hurting so much right now and I wish I could make it better." I often wonder whether the beginning of our relationship might have been more passionate if that hadn't been the case, and if so, whether that is relevant.
Anyway, I'm having a really hard time figuring this out. If this could really be a happy and satisfying mariage then it would be a terrible shame to throw it away based on unrealistic expectations about how I should feel. But on the other hand, I don't want to end up getting married but having growing doubts that undermine our relationship. (And if he deserves to have someone who feels "more"/differently, then I don't want him to miss out on that; and if "more" is actually really worth giving up what I have in order to try to find, I don't want to miss out on that myself.)
I think that if I continue feeling this unsure, then we shouldn't get married (which essentially means breaking up.) Thinking of getting married really scares me because I'm afraid it's the wrong choice. (Although for what it's worth, thinking of breaking up scares me because I'm afraid it's the wrong choice, too. And saddens me, of course.) But I really want to figure this out (as much as possible) rather than say "no" by default.
So I guess I have two questions for all of you:
1) Do you have any suggestions for ways I can think about this to help me get more internal clarity? Questions I can ask myself? (Even thought-provoking books-- nonfiction or fiction-- exploring love, marriage, and/or committment?)
2) Have you been in a similar situation? What decision did you make? How do you feel about that decision in retrospect?
Thanks, and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.