Goes together like a horse and trumpet
March 20, 2009 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I've never been someone who practises their married signature or plans a dream wedding dress. Now, suddenly, I like the idea of getting married to my SO very much. Why? Help me reconcile this!

Is this what they mean by 'The One', or does this come with age? It's a bit of a weird feeling and I'm not sure how to deal with it - and I don't want to ruin things by saying it to him!

It was pretty common where I'm from for girls to settle down in their late teens - I've always been a romantic, but in the poetic 'big love' sense, not the Hallmark card-and-ring-on-the-finger sense. I don't want children (this will not change, but let's not go into this here) and I could never see myself being with someone I wanted to be with for life, nor vice versa. And not being religious nor caring about having a princess day, the ceremony/event in itself never meant that much to me.

Now, I've been in a few LTRs and am now with someone wonderful. We've been dating for two years now, don't live together yet but have plans to when the circumstances are right for us both. I feel differently about them than I have other people I've been with - I don't believe in 'soulmates' but we fit together perfectly, we know each other's flaws and love each other enough to work through them. He's told me he wants to spend the rest of his life with me, and while part of me wonders when he's going to snap out of it ;) I don't see anything wrong with this plan.

The problem is that suddenly I feel like I really want to get married - not now, but definitely in the future. It's not that my friends are getting married, it#s not that my parents want me to get married (one sibling never has, the other is divorced), it's not that I feel like I'm 'on the shelf' or 'it's about time' - I've never seen marriage as a cast-iron part of my future/hopes/dreams and I've always seen The Rules idea that 'if he doesn't want to marry you, he isn#t really committed' as a load of horseshit. I find the idea of weddings, both cost-wise and the whole etiquette minefield/paraphernalia around it, a little bit terrifying. So what's this all about? Am I just a bit drunk on love? Or is this what happens when you meet the person who you're going to eventually marry? Help me reconcile this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you want to get married. Great, congratulations!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:24 AM on March 20, 2009

I think it means you love him and you're ready to settle down, relax, it's normal.
posted by Penelope at 11:24 AM on March 20, 2009

It's not a disease. You've met someone you love and could see yourself marrying. Enjoy it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:24 AM on March 20, 2009 [4 favorites]

It sounds to me like you just reallyreally like this guy, and he's the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Whether or not you actually do marry the guy is something only time will tell, but for right now - you'd like to. That's certain.
posted by katillathehun at 11:25 AM on March 20, 2009

Just because you want to get married doesn't mean you're required to have a Wedding. Really. You can do the ceremony part in any way you want (your controlling relatives mileage may vary). You can invite ten people or no people or a lot more than ten people. You can dress up, or not. I went to a wedding a few years ago where the ceremony was so short we (the attendees) barely had time to stand up or cry, and then the party started. I've been at weddings where the ceremony last ages because half the attendees got to stand up and say something nice about the couple.

It sounds like you found someone you want to marry - congrats!
posted by rtha at 11:33 AM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

You've been in LTR's before, but has any other partner you've had ever actually said the words, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you" before?

Maybe that's where this is coming from--your current partner did say those words, and in the back of your mind you associate that with getting married.

I know that rationally, you realize that a lot of marriages end in divorce, nothing is forever and that, on the other end of the spectrum, people don't have to be married to spend their lives together--but something about the culture you were brought up in, where girls 'settle down in their late teens', is subconsciously kicking in now that he's mentioned forever. Maybe your biological clock is even adding to it all (I have no idea how old you are really) even though I realize you don't want kids.

Or maybe you have one of these reasons.

I don't think it's anything to worry about, or analyze too much. You're still you, and if this is a phase it will past, and if it isn't, it's not really all that terrible since he seems to feel the same way, right?
posted by misha at 11:40 AM on March 20, 2009

some friends of mine, a couple who were totally the not-getting-married types, got married, much to everyone's surprise. when asked why they decided to do it, they said that at some point they realized that they loved each other so much that they themselves wanted to deepen the relationship and honor their bond -- that it had nothing to do with societal or cultural conventions.

yay for you!
posted by penchant at 11:42 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

He's said he wants to spend the rest of his life with you. So how would you "ruin it" by saying that you like the idea of eventually getting married? This is how healthy adult relationships work! You start talking about it, and through talking about it you get the point where both of you are ready to get married and want to set a date/make plans. You can just say "Hey, I liked that you said you want to spend your life with me. I never liked the idea of marriage before but now i keeps worming its way into my head. I think we should maybe start talking about making long term plans because I think I'm on the same page as you on the rest of our lives thing." You don't have to get engaged now but you can start integrating your lives more as you move in that direction and see how it goes.

And just because there are people out there who "don't believe in marriage" doesn't mean marriage is a bad thing. Don't let yourself get caught in the its not perfect so it can't even be good trap. And you are definitely not required to have religious elements you don't like, or really do anything you don't want to do. A marriage/wedding is YOURS and you can do it however you want.
posted by ohio at 11:44 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I find the idea of weddings, both cost-wise and the whole etiquette minefield/paraphernalia around it, a little bit terrifying.

I just want to strongly second rtha's point: you can get married without having a wedding at all, despite what the Wedding Industrial Complex tries to drive into everyone's heads. If you and your partner so choose, you can declare and celebrate your commitment to each other any way that makes you happy, without a single poofy dress or bridesmaid or gift registry or army of relatives drunkenly doing the chicken dance at the reception.
posted by scody at 11:50 AM on March 20, 2009 [7 favorites]

When I got married, I didn't expect it to make a big difference. But it did.

I think a lot of people have reacted, consciously or unconsciously, against societal pressure to get married by devaluing its meaning--i.e. "it's just a piece of paper." Or, it's just a piece of paper plus some legal benefits. Whereas, I would say, marriage is not for everyone, and you can have a very meaningful and fulfilling relationship without being married, but for many people marriage can be hugely significant and meaningful--aside from all those legal benefits. For many, in large part because of the public, and, yes, societal nature of the commitment. But for others, maybe just because of what it means to them privately.

What I'm saying is, it's okay to want to be married. It doesn't mean you've drunk the Kool-Aid. It might just mean that that it's beginning to seem like something that could be meaningful to you.

Plus, hey, those legal benefits aren't anything to sneeze at, either.

(Also, about eight people attended our wedding, I kept my last name, and I hate being called "Mrs.", so yes, you can definitely get married on your own terms. No one's going to force you to sign the marriage contract with hearts over the "i"s or anything.)

Also, congratulations on being with someone who leads you to think these thoughts!
posted by Herkimer at 11:55 AM on March 20, 2009 [4 favorites]

I think a lot of smart, intelligent, non-mainstream, un-femmy girls get it in their head that marriage is for clingy unfeminist Barbie dolls, that wedding dresses are the grown up Lisa Frank™ unicorn Trapper Keepers™ , that asking your significant other about marriage is as manipulative as "forgetting" your birth control. We're too logical and realistic, bitter and jaded, cynical and sarcastic, smart and independant, whatever and whatever, for marriage. We're just happy living in sin and getting laid, thank you.

Then, of course, you start falling in love, and there's this war between the logical part of your head that says there's no reason to get married and part of you who loves this person more than anyone else in the world and wants to keep them around for the rest of your life.

Don't feel guilty for the impulse toward marriage. It's natural, it's sweet, and there's nothing wrong with talking about it, thinking about it, dreaming about it. However, I do think logical and rationality should govern the decision behind actually getting married. Getting married is not the ultimate I love you. I think a lot of us were taught that when you really love someone, marriage is the next logical step, when it isn't, necessarily.

How do you decide when it logically makes sense to get married? That's going to be different for everyone, I think. For me, it's when it makes sense financially (already living together forever and splitting the bills is getting old, somebody's got health insurance), or you've been together so long it's just obvious to both involved. I think there's a point where it just makes sense, and you might be terrified about it, but it's the right thing to do. I'm gonna get all girly here and quote Doe Deere, because I think she had a pretty good reason behind getting married:

"Most importantly, our relationship evolved to a new level where we no longer saw each other merely as boyfriend and girlfriend. It felt silly to say, “Hey everybody, this is my boyfriend Mark” when in reality we were family. So we decided it no longer made sense not to be married. "

Anyhow, I don't know if you're anything like me. I know, perfectly logically, it makes absolutely no goddamn sense for me to marry my boyfriend. We're too young, too broke, we're moving in together anyway, nobody's got health insurance (thank you America!), we haven't been together that long. The rational, emotionless part of my brain would probably scream HELL NO at being offered a ring. Do I still think about marrying him sometimes? Oh, yeah, I would be a total liar if I said I didn't.

Talking about the urge can make it feel more natural and less furtive and obsessive. With me, I had to. This is incredibly embarrassing to discuss, and (I'm guessing) you don't have Tourette Syndrome, so it's not really relevant; however, when I'm in love, I have lots of uncontrollable vocal tics like "I love my boyfriend" and "I want to get married" and "I'd like to marry my boyfriend." It's something that's often on my mind, and what is on my mind often comes tumbling out of my mouth without my permission.

He overheard me one day, and of course I was mortified that a sassy little firecracker of a girl like me was caught indulging in pastel-pink Stepford Wife urges, but you know what? He was fine with it. Logically, we're not going to be planning a wedding anytime soon, or maybe ever. But it's a nice idea, and we're both cool with it happening someday when we both agree it just makes sense, and it's perfectly natural and ok to think about.

Once you feel it's kind of inevitable, it stops being something you're rushing toward, and you can relax.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:08 PM on March 20, 2009 [7 favorites]

Congratulations! It feels weird, but it's great, huh?

Here's one key: "getting married" and "having a wedding" are two different things. Don't let the big one (getting married) get subsumed into the smaller one (having a wedding).

As for your seemingly sudden change of feeling:

Yikes! I went through it, too, and I remember how utterly alien it felt! After a lifetime of never giving even a half-damn about either marriage or wedding frippery (and breaking at least one person's heart by refusing to marry him), I remember my shock when I looked at my partner and realized I wanted very very much to marry this guy. It's not that I wanted to get married: I wanted to marry this guy.

I didn't feel it necessary to express it to him blankly as "I want to marry you; do you want to marry me?", largely because, as you say, I wasn't ready to marry him right away. I was just ready to entertain the idea, which was enough of an internal shock for me to deal with --- I was so busy ruminating on this change of heart that introducing another voice into the contemplation would've been premature.

I just turned the idea over in my head (and my heart) for a while, watched our relationship grow and noted how very happy I was to be with him every day. When we started talking about "forever," I was ready to look the idea of "forever" right in the face and smile at it, instead of running away.

We're getting married this summer. I couldn't be happier.
posted by Elsa at 12:09 PM on March 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

I think my wife felt like you do. She didn't have the Big Book of Wedding Dreams, she didn't really dream of meeting Mr Right and being swept away. But we met, went on an odd unstated date ("let's see a movie" "ok" .. and it unfolded into spending the next few hours talking together), and we latched onto each-other from that point. I was an awkward guy, so it wasn't a rush of physical, sexual attraction. We, for lack of better term, bonded from early on. We were together for only a few months when I asked her about her ideas of marriage, and we talked about it on and off for a few months. Neither of us had set plans and ideas about all that. After a few more months, I proposed. Though she hated the planning of all the silly details of the wedding, we got married and had fun in the ceremony. We've been married almost 2 years now, and it's still fantastic. We're still individuals, but we're also a happy couple.

My rambling back story leads me to something you wrote: I don't believe in 'soulmates' but we fit together perfectly, we know each other's flaws and love each other enough to work through them.

That's all you need. I didn't start dating the lady who is now my wife because I wanted to get married, and she was the same way. We fit, and there is some unexplainable comfort to it all. Marriage shouldn't be used to tie someone down, or result in a showy, lavish wedding. It's just the agreement between two people that they love each-other and want to be together forever. You can make that agreement different ways, but marriage is the most common.

If you're frightened / annoyed / unimpressed by all you imagine is involved with a wedding, you can have as little as a civil wedding without a ceremony, or anything else you want. Don't like your family? Don't invite them, but realize that there is a LOT of emotion tied to the notions of weddings and family, and some people who might hold grudges find weddings to be very personal, even if they're not getting married. In the end, the wedding is about the two of you, everyone else be damned.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:16 PM on March 20, 2009

The way you describe yourself, you could be me. I agree with scody and Juliet Banana and a bunch of other people in this thread. Be happy that you've found a life partner, make a commitment in any way that makes sense to you, and be happy!
posted by matildaben at 12:27 PM on March 20, 2009

It's called a change of heart. Relax. But if you previously communicated to this person that you were not the marrying type and they were of the same mind, proceed very cautiously, because that gets into changing the deal territory.
posted by nanojath at 12:44 PM on March 20, 2009

It's a bit of a weird feeling and I'm not sure how to deal with it - and I don't want to ruin things by saying it to him!

It's okay. You can say it. Don't you want him to feel as goofy and elated as you do?

I totally understand this. I didn't think I'd ever get married and ultimately I married somewhat young (at the time I felt much older). It's scary to fall in love! Maybe one of the first real and difficult conversations you'll have with this guy is telling him completely how you really feel.

I think if he says he wants to spend the rest of his life with you, he means it. If you think you'd like that too, say it back and see where it goes.

A Wedding is a whole other construct that is what you make of it. That is definitely the cart that goes after the horse. Don't worry about that.
posted by amanda at 12:51 PM on March 20, 2009

Honey, like everyone else here has said, don't sweat it. You're anxious that you maybe found a life partner and as scody points out, we live in a society that capitalizes on love and commitment by turning it into a lace-bedecked beauty pageant complete with diamonds, gift cards, anniversary necklaces and a "push presents." Fuck that noise. You can be one of those couples who never has pet names, you can get married at the courthouse, you can never have kids and travel all the time and come home rip-roarin' drunk every Saturday night until you're 80. No one gets to tell anyone else how to be in love, what institutions to revere, or what ceremonies they need to observe. Just keep doing what you're doing--namely, staying in love, having regular sex, and thanking your lucky stars you found someone awesome to wake up next to. The rest is just radio static.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:11 PM on March 20, 2009 [5 favorites]

I got married at the courthouse. No wedding ceremony whatsoever. I highly recommend it.
posted by Nattie at 1:34 PM on March 20, 2009

I eventually realized that a marriage is created by the 2 people who are wed. For the first 29 years of my life, I had ideas about what 'husband' and 'wife' mean, what a marriage is supposed to be like -- and none of those sounded right. It took quite a while for me to get that it's not a role you step into, but can be unique.

I really think you're in great shape regarding future marriage. So many people divorce because their married life or their partner doesn't meet their expectations -- and some of those expectations were developed before they even met the partner. You don't have that hope chest full of imaginary husband-and-wife traits weighing you down. And if when you do catch yourself thinking, "But we're married! He should__________," you may be able to question it before you get stuck in that thinking.

Weddings are kind of like that. You invite your people and have a party... whatever kind of party you want. It makes no difference what guests are expecting or how other people get married. Worrying about other people will always cause wedding anxiety.

Think and talk about your future together all you want, and if 'marriage' and 'wedding' sound jarring, ignore them while you develop your own relationship. Just think about yourself and your guy.
posted by wryly at 4:44 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm not a big fan of using the term "natural" with marriage, but a ton of what Juliet Banana said is spot on, especially her opener. And yes, as others mentioned, congratulations on this bizarre, unexpected sensation you're having. It's really weird, isn't it? I struggle with feeling like I am running counter to my inner convictions sometimes with this too, but then I realize the fact a guy could make me feel this way says a hell of a lot about the guy!

And a million times nthing scody. I think the trick is to have ironclad resolve and remind yourself constantly being married and the whole wedding shebang can be on your own terms. It's this gargantuan effort to just say screw it to the wedding industry because it is SO ingrained and monolithic, but you can do it! We're probably going to go to the courthouse and do the technical thing in advance and just have a big un-frou-frou party to give us an excuse to eat good food and dance to good music with people we like. Not a bewildering dress in sight!

It's complicated. Just have an ongoing dialogue with yourself and be honest with yourself in how you feel and what you want day by day. I still have issues with getting married. But I savor the feeling of wanting to be close to my boyfriend forever, making a distinct, pointed act of commitment to that, as insane as that commitment is. Life isn't simple.
posted by ifjuly at 12:36 PM on March 21, 2009

Now I so want a unicorn Trapper-Keeper. I'd completely forgotten their existence.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:09 PM on March 23, 2009

Ideas can change. Goals can change. What you thought you wanted for your life can change as different things happen to you, and as you change yourself.

It's kids instead of marriage, but I had a similar thing happen. I had always been on the fence about whether I wanted kids; I never really thought much about having them, never felt any burning need to be a Mom someday. Even babysitting made me a little uneasy. I could be an aunt, I thought -- that way I could just have all the fun and not have as much of the agita. Yeah, I could rock being an aunt. All my serious boyfriends and I, if we ever had a "do you want kids someday" discussion, all were thinking that "yeah, maybe, I'm not sure yet, I don't know".

Then I met my last boyfriend, who was probably the most nurturing person I have ever been involved with, and was the most compatible relationship I have ever had so far. (We're not still together, but that's a very long story; and is tangential to my point.) At some point, after a few months, I suddenly started having daydreams about my boyfriend and a kid of about ten or eleven -- picturing them doing things like riding bikes together or my boyfriend helping him tie his tie. And it hit me that -- that kid was our kid. I was imagnining having kids with my boyfriend, and I liked it.

I talked about this with friends, about suddenly thinking about having kids out of nowhere, and someone said something very wise -- she said that her own mother had said, "I didn't know I wanted kids until I met the man I wanted to have them with."

As I said, that guy and I are not together any more - but now I still think that I may want kids. With the right guy, still, but I'm more open to the possibility.

It could be that that is all that's going on -- the reason you're suddenly thinking about marriage now, after not having done so before, may just be because you've finally met someone that you think is actually worth marrying.

Take your time about actually deciding whether you both actually do so, but these ideas coming now out of nowhere are fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 AM on June 19, 2009

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