Should I still marry her?
November 13, 2011 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Doubts about getting married after 15 years together. Please help. If you were with a woman for 15 years, you live together and were engaged but really wasn't sure if you wanted to marry her or get married at all for that matter would you feel differently about the whole relationship if the following things occurred:

1. You have childhood abandonment issues where your father wasn't there for you and you felt abandoned by your mother so you became a "bad boy" and made sure no woman would ever hurt you so you settled in this relationship.

2. Since childhood you regarded your fiancee's family as your own since you had none of your own.

3. Her family no longer likes you because you are not proceeding to marry her.

4. When you really needed her family's help in a life and death situation they failed to come to your rescue and left you on your own.

5. Close friends did not want to get involved or help you when you ran into other problems because they felt that perhaps your fiancee's family was the cause behind your getting into these problems.

6. You are extremely attracted to another woman (a friend) you met about 2 years ago who you turn to and who helps you despite the fact that your previously treated her poorly. She is more compatible to you.

7. You know your fiancee is not behind the bad things that are happening to you but you suspect her family is though you cannot prove it.

8. The other woman likes you but when she found out about the extent of the relationship between you and your fiancee she is not sure she will continue to help you and you need her continued help.

9. The other woman has been extremely instrumental in helping you solve these problems that were happening to you and also suspects your fiancee's family is behind it.

10. You are extremely hurt by your fiancee's family and refuse to entertain the thought that they may be behind these bad things happening to you because they feel you are hurting their daughter by keeping her on hold all these years.

Should this affect the relationship with the fiancee who you know does not have anything to do with this but who you are not certain you want to marry though you feel you owe it to her after being together so long? What about her family?
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness to Human Relations (88 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know whether you should marry your fiancee, but I think you need to go before a therapist before you go before a member of the clergy. I am sorry that things are so rough for you right now.
posted by Maisie at 3:52 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think it's really interesting that, in a post on whether you should marry your girlfriend, you spend the vast majority of the time talking about anyone who is NOT her.
posted by vivid postcard at 3:52 PM on November 13, 2011 [49 favorites]

this sounds like a huge load of rationalization. if you don't want to get married, don't. but don't bring in a bunch of irrelevant stuff to justify it.
posted by facetious at 3:52 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

There's a whole lot of you in this question. What your partner does for you, what the other woman does for you, what your partner's family does for you. You need to start thinking about other people, particularly your girlfriend of 15 years old. What is best for her? Does she deserve to marry someone who does not want to marry her, who's entertaining notions of getting together with someone else?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:53 PM on November 13, 2011 [37 favorites]

you are not certain you want to marry though you feel you owe it to her after being together so long

If you are staying with her because you feel you owe her, you are not doing right by her. She might mourn the loss of the relationship, but she deserves to be with someone who loves her and wants to be with her.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:54 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

I think you need to be a little more explicit about the thing with the fiancee's family because there isn't enough hard data to give you advice there.

That said the only things that matter in terms of if you should marry this woman is a) Do you love her b) do you have similar goals c) do you communicate well d) are you sexually compatible.

The "being extremely attracted" thing may or may not be a red flag. You'll always be attracted to people outside your relationship because you're human and that's how we're wired. It's only an issue if you're not being careful with that and putting your partner and your relationship with her first.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:55 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's a whole lot in here about your fiance, your new crush, your fiance's family, but not very much about yourself, dude.

No one else is responsible for being engaged for 15 years to someone you might not want to marry (!! I hope that feeling is a new one, otherwise you've been really stringing her along). No one else is responsible for a growing attraction to someone else. And frankly, I'm not surprised your fiance's family would hate you if they feel you've been stringing along their daughter/sister/whatever for 15 years.

You're obviously feeling guilty and looking for "permission" to ditch your fiance and put a move on this other woman, and you seem to be resentful at this other woman that she is a bit squicked out by the fact you have a fiance for the love of god.

Maybe some others will, but I want. Happiness is not a right, if you want it, you have to make it happen and then take it. To answer your question, yes, this should affect all the relationships.
posted by smoke at 3:55 PM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think you should be taking a look at yourself here before anything else.

Why are your relationships based on how others can help you? What do you contribute to your relationships? You've stated that you are currently contributing (at least emotional, but you didn't specify whether there's more going on) infidelity to your relationship with your fiancee, so why should she want to be married to you?

Therapy would be a phenomenal idea.
posted by so_gracefully at 3:56 PM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

I won't, that should be.
posted by smoke at 3:57 PM on November 13, 2011

There's nothing written here about any feelings of love for her, just a lot of stuff about her family and this other gal. Please don't marry her out of a sense of obligation -- she deserves a chance to find love with someone who loves her, too.
posted by vespertine at 3:59 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

I'm having trouble parsing the majority of the details in this question, but I'll pass on some advice from my own experience.

In my last relationship, I was with a woman whom I loved. When she was ready to make a more serious commitment, I spent months waffling over whether I was ready and whether she was the right person for me. Eventually, I realized that indecision is an answer. You've known this woman for 15 years. If it's not blatantly obvious that you should marry her, it's blatantly obvious that you shouldn't be with her at all.

Leave her, get yourself right, and find someone who you can love fully.
posted by auto-correct at 4:00 PM on November 13, 2011 [29 favorites]

If you have doubts after 15 years, you should not, repeat not marry your fiancee. You are doing her no favors by "settling" for her. She deserves to be with someone who actually wants to be with her, wedded or no. Who isn't targeting "help" as the most important reason for a relationship. Who isn't contemplating someone on the side/a replacement. Your fiancee needs to move on. Added bonus: no more problems with/because of her relatives. To quote the Great Humperdinck: Please release her. Let her go.
posted by likeso at 4:05 PM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

You need to restart all of this in a more coherent form, with more detailed explanations of all of the events, and take it out of second person. That said, I doubt this will be a popular opinion, but I think fifteen years is a ridiculous length time to remain unmarried in a relationship where at least one party wants to be married. If you had both mutually agreed that marriage was not for you, that would be different, but it sounds like at a minimum you want different things out of the relationship. You're not willing to confront her with that and come to a resolution. If you don't want to be married to her, it's way past time to break up. It actually sounds to me like you're using your fiancee and her family through her, and the constant focus on ways that she and her family have let you down is a red flag. What have you contributed to the relationship in all this time?
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 4:10 PM on November 13, 2011 [25 favorites]

I think you need to work on your relationship with yourself before you get involved with anyone else.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:14 PM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

"though you feel you owe it to her after being together so long"

You SO don't want to get married to someone simply because of this. It's like saying you want to have a baby because you're bored. Bad idea.

I don't think you want to get married to this person. I also don't really think you're that interested in the other woman in LTR terms (more friendship).

But all of this is good experience for sorting out who you really want in life.
posted by mleigh at 4:17 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

on behalf of the internet, i give you permission to break up with your fiancee and date the other woman.
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:28 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

You used the word "settle" in #1. Let her move on.

Imagine every answer here were, "Yes, of course you should marry her." Then imagine you went through with it and married her. Wild guess here, but do you feel totally miserable? Yeah. From the way you phrased your question it's obvious what answer you're looking for.
posted by chickenmagazine at 4:29 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for your answers. I know I am indecisive. I know. I tried and I am trying to work on determining what I want. But it isn't as easy as that for me. I have know her since childhood and also her family. They were like family to me. I considered them family. I thought that when I was ready to be married that I would marry her because she is a wonderful woman. However, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I know I should and I guess I just let the years pass. Now her family hates me, and I know she is holding on because she feels I will proceed with getting married soon.

I went to counselling because she asked me to but I don't feel any different than I did prior to going.

Her family and I got into an argument a year ago about the marriage that they know I am stringing her along and will not marry her. She loves me and will not leave me. She will not no matter what I do. I cannot end it. I'm miserable and depressed. I don't know what to do.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 4:29 PM on November 13, 2011

If you don't want to marry this woman, you should let her go.

But you won't be able to do that until you resolve your massive abandonment and paranoia issues surrounding her and her family. No one is out to get you; you are creating this drama for yourself.

You will not be capable of doing the right thing by your partner of 15 years, your girlfriend (yes, your friend on the side is a girlfriend; you are emotionally involved with her in a way that crosses a line), or yourself until you commit to therapy.

I'm sorry. That's just the way it is.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 4:30 PM on November 13, 2011 [6 favorites]

You shouldn't marry someone you're settling with, don't want to marry, and are just marrying because you feel you owe it to her after 15 years together.

What you owe her is to break up.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:32 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

However, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

You couldn't "bring yourself" to marry her? Dear gods, have some mercy on this poor woman and break it off.

If my (now) husband had to talk himself into "bringing himself" to marry me, there would have been no wedding. Either you're both enthusiastically and wholeheartedly into it, or you're not. If you're not, the worst thing you can do is talk yourself into it and set yourself up for many years of heartbreak and resentment until you can talk yourself into lawyering up and getting the hell out.

If you care about her, let her go.
posted by MissySedai at 4:36 PM on November 13, 2011

Couple of things.

(1) I wish you were more specific (what life or death situation? Why do you think her family is behind it? What help did they withhold? What help did the other woman provide which you need her to continue to provide? What is the quality of your relationship with your girlfriend?) This question is your only contribution under this account, I see no reason why you can't offer more details which will help us provide better answers.

(2) You sound very troubled. Before you make any final decisions it seems wise, as others have suggested, to seek therapy and sort yourself out. This woman has been good enough to stay with you for fifteen years without marriage, don't you owe it to yourself to pull it together and stand on your own two feet before making a decision about marriage?

(3) The most puzzling thing about your question is the extraordinary reliance on others who are not related to you by blood or marriage. You expect your SO's family to help you out of a life or death situation? That's odd since the two of you are not even married. And it's hard to imagine what type of life or death situation you're talking about, since it's apparently ongoing and you're relying on ongoing help from a woman who, I guess, you're flirting with? Life or death generally signifies something one-time and sudden (trapped in a burning car, etc.) so I'm puzzled what the situation could be. They didn't pay for a medical treatment or something?

(4) You say you had abandonment issues that led you to settle with this woman. I would guess that your less than stellar estimation of her as a partner, your desire to exploit the family for your own ends, is apparent to them. Why wouldn't they turn a cold shoulder to you?

(5) Perhaps because of your own issues from childhood, you come across as very helpless and dependent in your question. That's not, to put it mildly, a quality parents want to see in a suitor/fiancé of their daughter. It inspires disgust and contempt. Once again, why wouldn't they turn a cold shoulder?

It all comes down to going to therapy and sorting yourself out. It really sounds like you're nowhere near ready for marriage, and working on yourself is the first order of business before worrying about marrying her or not.
posted by jayder at 4:38 PM on November 13, 2011 [10 favorites]

I cannot end it.

You can.

And you probably should.

What you're describing isn't what's best for anyone involved.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:41 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I know I should break up. I hear you guys. It's just hard. She has always been there for me and would do anything for me. She really loves me. I am the only man she has ever been with. Her first and only boyfriend.

As for her family. I almost went to jail for something I didn't do. It was a complete set up and alot of personal details only my fiancee or her family would know. Today I am still confused about this. I suspect it is her family behind this and it hurts me when I used to be so close to them notwithstanding what is going on between me and my fiancee.

The other woman helped in proving that I was innocent. My fiancee's family kept saying how they thought I was guilty. This is part of my dilemma.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 4:42 PM on November 13, 2011

You're just repeating the same stuff in the OP over and over, and frankly it's all a bunch of excuses, centered on poor pitiful you and how sad you feel and how this is effecting you, not your fiancee. You "can't" break up with her because you are using her and you don't want to give up the advantages stay with her have entailed so far. It's actually pretty telling that the reason you appear to be considering breaking up after all this time is that her family stopped providing whatever advantages you felt they owed you.

After fifteen years of cohabiting, this should not even be a question if you have actually built a life together with her, because the significant part of building a marriage, all that emotional work, should have already happened at this stage. If your relationship with her was healthy, marriage would merely be a legal formality at this point. If you're even considering whether or not to marry her, or go shack up with this other chick, it is because you have invested nothing in the relationship. When people cohabitate and spend years together, after the first few years, they are effectively married anyway. That is why common law marriage exists. Since you clearly don't feel like that, it's because you've invested no emotional energy in the relationship other than looking for ways that she and her family can benefit you and provide you a safe refuge. Stop. Be a better person than you have been and walk away.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 4:42 PM on November 13, 2011 [34 favorites]

Do you love her?
posted by jayder at 4:45 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I love her but I'm not in love with her.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 4:46 PM on November 13, 2011

Is there a religious or cultural aspect that is keeping you in this? I'm asking because of how often you're mentioning her family and their expectations.
posted by sweetkid at 4:46 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

You always marry someone in spite of their family and not because of it. This is perhaps one of the only universal laws of human behaviour...

You shouldn't marry your partner because you feel you owe it to her. Marry her because you want to stay with her. That is the only reason.

I'm married but it only happened because I need a spousal visa to continue in a relationship with my wife and we couldn't be considered as common law because we had lived apart due to school for the preceding 4 years even though we lived together off and on for the preceding 10 years. It changed nothing between us at all except every now and then I feel silly calling her either my wife or my girlfriend neither of which really seems to fit quite right.
posted by srboisvert at 4:47 PM on November 13, 2011

I love her but I'm not in love with her.

That seems like your answer, then. You shouldn't marry someone you're not in love with.
posted by jayder at 4:48 PM on November 13, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I keep mentioning her family because I sort of grew up in their house as a son. Then I had criminal charges brought against me for something I didn't do. I almost lost my house, my job and was talked about by people for something I didn't do. I couldn't understand it. I was ostracized and no one would help me. I was confused. I now suspect as details are unfolding that my fiancee's family is behind it though I cannot prove it. Everything points to them. I believe they did this because I would not marry her and they feel I am wasting her time. Her family is a powerful family.

They could have helped me because the allegations was indirectly related to them and they chose to not help me when all it would have taken was a simple word to say I was innocent which they knew. They chose not to but left me on my own. This hurt me but I know my fiancee is not involved.

In fact I think she also believes they are involved because she without my prompting stated that she chooses me over her family and made it a point to express that to them. Now she is pressuring me to proceed with getting married.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 4:56 PM on November 13, 2011

Her family and I got into an argument a year ago about the marriage that they know I am stringing her along and will not marry her. She loves me and will not leave me. She will not no matter what I do. I cannot end it. I'm miserable and depressed. I don't know what to do.

Yes, you CAN actually end it. Facing this fact may be terrifying, but the fact remains that you do actually have the free will and the power to end this relationship. If you do, you will certainly be faced with a barrage of painful feelings. Some of those feelings might include guilt, fear, anger, and grief. These are all difficult feelings to experience, and may last for quite awhile. You may even feel like you won't be able to survive the depth and intensity of such feelings. But you CAN. It may be very difficult, and you may not be able to conceive of how you might survive them, but they are survivable and there is a life (for you and for your fiancee) after this relationship.

Tweak the language you use to express this situation. "I cannot do it" renders you a helpless child, at the mercy of the world and its miseries. "It would be difficult and painful to do it" renders you an actual adult with agency who can face the world (even if imperfectly) and its often painful challenges.
posted by scody at 5:03 PM on November 13, 2011 [12 favorites]

To add to the chorus....please, please, please do not marry your fiance.

Let her go now. She might "love you and would never leave you, etc...." which tells me that she deserves someone who feels the same way about her. Simple as that.

You may have heard this before, but it bears repeating here: "Don't marry the person you think you can live with. Marry the person you know you can't live without." Yes, it's a bit of a cliche, but it's a good one. And I think you'd rather live without your current fiance.

It will be awful in the short term to break up with her. All those tears, all the drama, re-thinking of living situation(s), divvying up the stuff, etc etc. But do you know how very much worse all that will be if you actually form a legal bond with this woman and THEN break it off? Exponentially. In the long term, breaking it off and cutting ties now is the BEST thing you can do for everyone concerned. Everyone.

This will simply never work. Do the kindest thing for her and for yourself, and end it.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 5:03 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

The way you talk about her family creeps me out. You clearly have serious, deep-seated grievances against the family you are proposing to join, AND you express paranoia regarding their interactions with you. It's not going to be a good marriage if you can't either resolve or neutralize these problems.

Regarding the paranoia: Is it you or is it them? That is not a joke or jab. If it's them, RUN, do not walk, for the door. It won't get better, and people who set up situations who make you question your grasp of reality are dangerous to one's mental health. That includes liars & people who protect lies. If it's you, address it, then get back to the question of whether you're ready for marriage and to whom.

But gut reaction based on the contents of this post? Lucky 8 Ball says this marriage will be a slow-coach to Hell for one or both of you.
posted by Ys at 5:27 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

You think you're being kind by staying, but you are wrong. Of course it will take her time to recover, but she can't start doing that until you leave. She deserves to have her better life start sooner rather than later. And you actually allowed it to get to a point where she had to choose you over her family, and she's going to have to deal with that, too. Ugh. Go now and work on being a more honest person.
posted by Glinn at 5:34 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Look, you want a family. You want the whole experience of having a family and that's what you got through her and her family before you failed to live up to their expectations by stringing your partner of 15 years along for 15 years. You don't love her. They know it. They are very disappointed in you and sick of you and want you to shit or get off the pot. That's the bottom line, and this whole other mysterious arrest thing you keep alluding to? Just a smokescreen. A total red herring, okay? If they had really screwed you over and made it so that you unfairly rotted in jail, why would you want to be entangled with them, anyway? Forget the court thing. Forget the legal drama with the family. That's not the point. They are not the point. The point is, you are squandering your chance at happiness, your partner's chance at happiness, and the girlfriend you've latched onto's chance at happiness. Your dithering is costing everyone, most specifically YOU. You cannot re-create the family experience with a family that is done with you and your bullshit. I'm sorry; that is harsh and I don't like being harsh. But, dude. Get a grip.

Let me ask you something. When's the last day you can remember that you didn't obsess over this situation? When did you have a solid hour where you weren't thinking about all of this? Do you just ever give yourself over to, say, reading a book or running or few miles or working on something - anything at all - that gives you pleasure? Do you drink a lot or smoke pot or do drugs? I ask because you sound like this drama is the main stuff of your existence. Aren't you exhausted by it? Aren't you sick of this being the only thing you've got going on in your head all the time? Well, what are you going to do about it? What you've done so far hasn't worked. What are you going to do differently? What. Are. You. Going. To. DO?
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:36 PM on November 13, 2011 [29 favorites]

You have already wasted many years of this poor woman's life (I hope to goodness she has not missed her chance at having kids if she wanted them through this). I am no saint either and have drifted through a lot of life decisions so I'm willing to believe you haven't done this deliberately. If you marry her you will only become resentful of her for not having the qualities you desire such as whatever attracts you to the other woman. It is simply not fair to her to have her thinking everything is fine and she is in a deeply mutually loving relationship when she is not. This lie is eating you up and will continue to do so until you summon the courage to bite the bullet and end it for both your sakes. I sincerely hope that day comes before rather than after you get married, because I keep reading others say that breaking up via divorce is much more painful than simply ending a co-habiting relationship, bad enough as that might be. You clearly know the right thing to do and you simply * must * do it rather than betray this woman who has done nothing wrong except fall for the wrong guy. Give her a chance on having a relationship with someone who loves her as much as she does them, and you will start the process towards having some peace of mind for yourself.
posted by AuroraSky at 5:42 PM on November 13, 2011

Response by poster: TryTheTilapia you have said it. You are right. I know what I need to do but I simply don't have the balls to do it. I'm a louse. You all are right. I can't bear to see the look of disappointment in her eyes. It will kill both of us. I've made a mess of things. I am depressed. I've become a recluse. I don't think of anything else. This is all that occupies my thoughts. I don't even like myself and what I've become. I have wasted years of her life. She is in her mid 30s and so wants to get married and have children. I made her believe that I would marry her soon, then soon again, then soon again. I'm in a cycle on a merry go round and I don't know how to get off. I just don't know. I am a coward. I am.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 5:43 PM on November 13, 2011

Okay, you're a coward. Everybody's a coward sometimes. You're still here and you still have a chance to get your shit together. You still have a chance to do the right thing, and there is dignity in that. Wouldn't you like to do something you could feel at least decent about for a change?

Get to a church, a meeting, a friend's couch, a homeless shelter, anywhere that is not in this same situation. Pack a bag and go somewhere where you can start over. I nor anyone else here can do it for you. Either you do ONE THING that you know is right - even though it scares the shit out of you - or you don't and you wake up tomorrow in exactly the same shitty situation with exactly the same paralysis.

Yes, she's going to cry and throw a fit. Yes, she's going to go crazy. You're going to finally have the balls to hurt her in order to be kind to her. You know what? At least that pain will be in the face of uncertainty rather than in the face of the happiness that will certainly never come. It is better and you will be able to feel just the tiniest bit better about yourself for having done the right thing.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:56 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

The fact that YOU are a coward doesn't give you the right to rob this woman of the possibility of having children. The disappointment in her eyes and for the year or two that follows when you break up with her will be nothing - nothing - compared to the decades of grief and disappointment when she realises you will not marry her, her chance at a family of her own is gone, and you robbed it from her.

Christ, I'll break up with her for you. That's how badly this needs to get done, right now. I'm serious; feel free to MeMail me.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:58 PM on November 13, 2011 [37 favorites]

I mentally tell myself the below before breaking up with someone, to kinda slap myself in the face.

You think by not breaking up with her you are being kind ... but you aren't, you are actually being selfish and cruel. She deserves to find someone who will be happy, ecstatic with her, and that person is not you.

So stop this "I can't do it to her" line of thinking. What you are currently doing is far worse. Will her family hate you? Probably. Will she cry and call you names? Its likely. Will you feel like you are doing the worst thing in the world? Potentially. But if you know its the right thing to do, then you kinda have to rise above it all.

Good luck.
posted by Admira at 6:05 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Everything all of you say is right. I am the only man she has ever been with. She has never expressed an interest in or been attracted to any one else. I am all she has ever wanted. I tried to break up many times but she always said I was her family, and I guess because of my own childhood issues with abandonment by my family, I readily became a part of hers. I always knew we were incompatible. She is very religious and I'm not. I sometimes drink and she complains when she sees me having a drink. But I loved being a part of her family who made me feel like a son. I guess I settled into this but never gave any real thought to marriage.

I just assumed that when I was ready I would marry her. The years went by and her family started agitating when we both came home from college and started living together. They wondered when we would get married. So I proposed. I didn't want them to be disappointed in me as their 'son'. I still felt that eventually I would want and feel to get married and then we would. I didn't want to lose her because she is a great woman, and may never find anyone as great. But while I love her I know I'm not in love with her. I thought that I would eventually fall in love with her but it didn't happen. We separated for a short time but couldn't stay apart so we resumed living together.

Then I fell out with her family and now I'm not on speaking terms with them. I know they do not like me. This has made my depression worse.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 6:12 PM on November 13, 2011

I want to echo DarlingBri. I don't even want kids but if your girlfriend does want kids, you need to get off the "merry go round" right now and BREAK UP WITH HER so she can go find somebody who does want to be with her and have kids with her.

That person is not you. So instead of rehearsing this same old debate in your head again and again and again for the next god knows how many months (or years!!), own up to the fact that you do NOT want to be with her enough to marry her and that what is stopping you from breaking up with her is not concern for HER but concern for YOURSELF.

Breaking up with her will be a kindness. Why, you ask? Answer: re-read the first paragraph of my comment!!!

By the way: somebody above said that you weren't mentioned or invoked anywhere in the question you asked. Conversely, I thought you were aaaaaalllll over that question -- which was full of talk about what this person didn't do for you, and that person did for you, and your gf's family failed to do for you though you think they should have. Dude, YES, you DO need therapy and you also need a wake-up call: other people do not exist to do things for you. In fact, if you go through life with the attitude that other people owe you things, you're not going to get much at all from anyone. It's one of those weird quirks about life, the rare instance in which cliches are true: to get, you need to think mostly about giving.

You can't break up with this woman because you're getting certain things out of being with her and you're afraid to lose all those things, even though, by your own words, everything you're getting in this arrangement is mediocre.

For her sake, if not for yours, END this. And then take a long, hard look at yourself and see if you can't do some work to twist your attitude inside out. If you manage that, you may end up a whole lot happier in the long run.
posted by artemisia at 6:15 PM on November 13, 2011

If you want to dump the woman you've been with for 15 years because you fancy someone else, then just be honest about it. If you've already wasted 15 years of her life, don't waste any more of it, just call it off and give her a chance to meet someone who actually loves her. You're looking for people to say it's just fine and dandy to break someone's heart because it's more convenient to you, but just because people will do that here doesn't make it so. You're going to behave really badly here, so don't pretend you're the victim.
posted by joannemullen at 6:17 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

If I'm reading between the lines of your question correctly, you two may still be quite young ... late twenties or early thirties, is that correct?

If so, there's still time for her to get out there, marry at a somewhat traditional age (it sounds like that's important to her and her family), have kids if she wants them, and put you in the past.

The best thing you can do for her is to break up with her. She may be very sad at first but trust us, she will be better off.
posted by jayder at 6:17 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

She loves me and will not leave me. She will not no matter what I do. I cannot end it.
I am the only man she has ever been with. She has never expressed an interest in or been attracted to any one else. I am all she has ever wanted.

Darlin', I hate to break it to you, but she will be absolutely fine without you. She will get over you, then will meet some fan-fuckin-tastic guy who actually likes her. She will wonder why she spent so much time in a dead-end relationship, and will be thankful that it finally ended so she could meet the guy who is currently her husband and the father of her kids. Move on so she can do that. You've already wasted enough of her time (and yours).
posted by lulu68 at 6:25 PM on November 13, 2011 [28 favorites]

You may find yourself very surprised after a year or so. I split from my husband (thanks AskMe) about a year ago. Not the same as your situation, but I held on a long time because I felt I owed him, because of his unconditional love. I thought I'd never meet anyone else.

Now, while he is still single, he's moved to a place that suits him better, has plans for travel and music lessons, and has really stepped up in taking care of himself, physically, psychologically, financially. In fact, me leaving him is one of the best things to happen to him (though I'm not sure exactly he'd view it that way). For me, it's been a tough year, but I've discovered that I can date (woowee - what a rollercoaster ride) and I am far far better off being by myself than locked into an unsatisfactory relationship.

You think it will kill you both - but it won't. You'll probably be sad for a while, maybe even a long time. You (both) might find your lives a little emptier for a while, but then, you'll start making plans and start doing things and 5 years on, you'll be wondering what the fuss was all about.

Move on, for everyone's sakes. It's the kindest thing you can do.
posted by b33j at 6:26 PM on November 13, 2011 [5 favorites]

I can't bear to see the look of disappointment in her eyes. It will kill both of us.

It won't kill her. It will hurt a lot, like re-setting a bone without anesthesia. But it has to be done, because there is no such thing as anesthesia for this, and because if you don't do it you will absolutely drain the life out of her. Out of yourself too.

Whatever you do, don't fall into the "well, she has to have kids soon, so I'm past the point of no return, better keep going" trap. That would be making it much, much worse.

And you don't really know, by the way, that she hasn't ever felt a flicker of interest in anybody else. She just thought she had no reason to look. And maybe she wanted to reassure you that you could feel secure with her. Maybe that was something she used to say to you because deep down she sensed something might be wrong and wanted you to reassure her back.

This is such a painful position for you to be in, I know. You need to get yourself a therapist, stat. Not to help you decide; if you have any doubts left, for the love of god, re-read this thread and what you've said in it yourself. But you need to address your depression, and it'll be good for you to have somebody non-judgmental in your corner, somebody whose self-selected job is to listen to you and help you learn to help yourself.

And in the future, please try to remember that a person's family is most emphatically not a reason to date or not date someone. The relationship between you and your partner is between you and your partner.
posted by Adventurer at 6:30 PM on November 13, 2011

I know I should break up. I hear you guys. It's just hard.

Being an adult means that sometimes you need to do difficult things.

She has never expressed an interest in or been attracted to any one else. I am all she has ever wanted.


I'm going to give you some tough love here. You are not the hub of the universe. She is and will be attracted to others.

Break up with her. Then spend some time with a therapist who can help you learn about self reliance. It's not about your needs for her or her family's support. It's about being an adult. You don't love her and frankly you don't even care about her. If you did, then you'd see that wasting 15 years of her time is cruel.
posted by 26.2 at 6:32 PM on November 13, 2011 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: I think I have fallen into the 'point of no return' trap. I feel because I wasted so many of her years already I owe it to her to keep going so she can have children. She is 36. That was part of the big argument I had with her family. They believe I am using her and I'm stringing her along and don't want to marry her, and I am going to hurt her. And they would by all accounts be right. She believes they are wrong and that I will marry her, she just knows it. She knows that I will marry her.

I hear you all and I know I have to do it.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 6:36 PM on November 13, 2011

You need to man up. However, even though I feel sorry for this woman, she bears some responsibility too- she should not have stayed with you so long if you weren't moving from the engagement to setting the date. She's going to beat herself up over that because there is a realistic possibility that she will not have kids if she's 36. It's probably going to take her a few months before she trusts anyone enough to seriously date them and then she has to get used to dating again. Point is, I can't lie- it will suck for her. However, it is for the best. She doesn't want to have a baby with someone who doesn't love her after 15 years. Let her go. Tonight.
posted by superfille at 6:52 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why is she so certain you will marry her? How recently have you told her you will marry her?
posted by jayder at 7:04 PM on November 13, 2011

To drag this out any further is to choose to hurt her SO MUCH MORE than you imagine it will hurt her to break up with her.
posted by so_gracefully at 7:07 PM on November 13, 2011

Response by poster: Jayder,

When I had the argument with her family in August of this year, and they told me they know I'm not going to marry her, and I'm just using her, she was there and shouted 'we are going to get married' 'he is going to marry me'.

I said to them that our getting married was none of their business and it was between she and I. She told her sister that she knows we are going to get married because we belong together and we cannot be apart because we tried once and it didn't work, and we've been together for this long that we had to get married.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 7:11 PM on November 13, 2011

Do you love her? Marry her.
Don't you love her? Don't.
posted by midnightmoonlight at 7:21 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

TryTheTilapia you have said it. You are right. I know what I need to do but I simply don't have the balls to do it.

No balls? OK, we have solutions.

1. Send me her email address, I'll send her a link to this thread.
2. Leave this window open on your computer.

I'm more than willing to do #1 as kindly as I can. But if you think those are lousy ways to go, guess what? Only you can do it better.

Based on your last comment, it sounds like you have a mix of pride (you don't want her parents to be right about you, even though they totally are) and guilt (you don't want to have to make her face the fact that this marriage is never going to happen). Both are terrible reasons to get married. Frankly, I think it would be bad if you got married, but it's even worse and even worse with every minute that goes by that you continue to NOT deal with this. The worst-case scenario of all is not actually that you marry her or don't marry her, but that you continue to do nothing. She's had years of that already. Is it awesome? No. Is she happy? no. Are you happy? No. Is anyone happy? No. No one is happy. No one can ever be happy until you start being honest.

YOu mentioned you went to counseling and didn't "feel any different." I'm not sure how many sessions you went to, but it doesn't sound like you opened up or worked at it enough to really begin to address your issues (no surprise there, you have to be honest in counseling). Are things shitty enough for you to try again? You have to be honest. You have to be honest. You've got a whole bunch of people around you who are listening to and watching you lie, and it's making everyone else crazy. Own up. Stop the lying and deception. I'll tell you something - you may feel guilt and you may feel sadness, but the main thing you - and everyone - will feel the day after you do this is sheer relief.

Let me know if you need #1.
posted by Miko at 7:37 PM on November 13, 2011 [9 favorites]

36 years old? I hope that you realize that your indecision may have consequences that will last her entire life. You can produce children for years to come. She is almost at her end.

Whether you mean to or not, you are being a selfish coward who is about to ruin a substantial part of another person's life.

There are people in this thread who have offered to break up with her for you so all that you have to do is disappear. It would be nice for you to man up, but since her/her family is all that you have ever known, then if you have to take a Mefi up on their offer, I suggest that you do it.

Do whatever it takes to get the hell out of her life before the damage that you have already done becomes irreparable.
posted by Shouraku at 7:44 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

Oh dear god. Please don't post to this thread again until you have broken up with her, because you're not listening and you're not getting it. Get DarlingBri to do it, if you must. I realize that you sound super immature and aren't sacking up for that reason, but this is gonna make your adulthood start.

You are going to hurt the living shit out of her if you break up with her, but you will hurt her worse if you (a) string along this relationship while not marrying her and making damn sure she can't have babies with a man who actually loves her, (b) caving in and marrying her and having a miserable marriage because you just want out, (c) proceeding to have children with her when you don't want them with her, and then treating her and the kids like shit. You think you're living a nightmare now? THAT WILL BE WORSE. Anyone who's been in a shit marriage will swear to you that that is worse.

Oh, and for the record, after about two years you know what you are dealing with with regards to a girlfriend as to whether or not you're gonna want to marry her.

Her family already hates you, and for good reason. This is no longer a loss to you. And for the record, nobody is *your* family unless you are related to them by blood or legalities. They are not your family. I can understand the part where you wanted to be with them more than you wanted to be with her, but that is not how partnership and families work. You'll have to go without for awhile.

Seriously, random strangers on the Internet are willing to break up with her for you if you won't. (Also, let her see this thread.) Hell, I won't do it for you and I am not a pray-er, but I want to pray that she'll see the light and break up with you because you won't for her.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:46 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Two things strike me about your post.

First, it doesn't seem clear that you have any idea what you'd do if you weren't clinging to her, clinging to you, like some sort of life raft. But do you have plans, OP? Imagine it's six weeks or six months after the breakup. It happened. What are you doing? It's not clear that there's a there there. Just a present misery.

Second, you seem to be under the impression that ending a relationship like this (one that should have ended years ago, or never happened at all) comes with some sort of feeling, or sign, that gives you the courage or insight to end it. That there is some right moment, where you can have this difficult conversation, or some life altering thing happens, like a death scare, and you decide not to 'waste any more time'.

Please know that the reality is often way more banal. There is no 'clarifying moment', that 'gives you the courage'. It's just basically a horrible conversation to have. It's horrible when you're 30, it's horrible when you're seventy. It is horrible to have if you plan it on some quiet Sunday, it is horrible to have if you blurt it out when she's walking in the door, it's is horrible to have if she corners you and forces you to tell her that you aren't marrying her, etc. It's just a horrible conversation to have.

But you don't wait to tell her just because you don't have a tidy story to explain to her, or yourself, or her family, about why you're not going to marry her. You just start with the words, "I'm not going to marry you. I want to end our relationship. I am so sorry.", and then you shut up, and let the universe unfold as it should. You let yourself feel whatever mixture of guilt, or glee, or contempt or whatever, and let her feel what she's going to feel, and you let the family feel what they are going to feel, and you put one foot in front of the other each day, until one that you've moved out, and another day, you go back to therapy, and you see how it goes. In short, you live your life and let her live hers. Stop trying to control other people's happiness.

Other people have withstood this, and you can too. You've both just backed yourselves into a corner, dug yourselves into that hole, or whatever you want to call it, and one of you just stops digging one day, and lets it all fall apart. That's just how it works. It's not 'bravery', as compared to your 'cowardliness'. It's just something you do.
posted by anitanita at 7:58 PM on November 13, 2011 [11 favorites]

Seriously, why did you post this question? You consciously, purposefully wrote a question that begged us to answer "Don't marry her!" But when you got to response you were seeking, you started in with the "I can't! I'm in too deep and will just have to marry her now."

What did you hope to get out of this posting? Really, this is an important question. Did you want an honest answer? Did you want fresh perspectives? Or did you kind of want to relive all of the drama and unfairness again so you could steep in your own misery because part of you is addicted to it?

You posted this question for a reason. Figure out what it is.
posted by pineappleheart at 8:00 PM on November 13, 2011 [20 favorites]

You sound really alone and lonely, and part of this has to at least be recognizing that the relationships that rescued you earlier and that you have built your life around are no longer nurturing for you. I'm really sorry about that, I'm sure you got the short end of the stick in the family-and-secure-upbringing department. However, once you recognize that, it's nobody else's to solve. You have to become, for yourself, that analog of a secure, grounded family that you didn't have. You have to do the nurturing and you have to give the "help" to yourself.

You mentioned "help" so many times in your initial description it was amazing. Harsh as it is, other people don't exist to "help" you. And "help" is not always the good thing we imagine it is. Beware "help." "Help" can be a means of controlling you. "Help" can be a means of allowing yourself to stay passive and blame others. "Help" can be a means of creating obligation in others. Help can be a way to manipulate or get closer to you. "Help" is something to be very careful about accepting. And the only help you need right now is some practice helping yourself, and only accepting help from yourself. Even the fact that you see the new girl as "helping" you suggests you are just about to repeat this pattern of letting other rescue you, then letting them provide you something that at first feels like security, then finding that over time that security only feels like obligation. Based on the way you express yourself, I suspect you are carrying around (and have been all your life) a tendency to want people to "help" you so much that you give up your own agency and choose passivity in return for what seems like the security you've always craved.

This isn't all that unusual, especially for people whose parents weren't adequately prepared or present. A good counselor will help you sort it out. One idea to think about right now is just taking care of yourself. Putting yourself first for a change - not arrogantly, but honestly - and detaching from all these people who seem to have every idea how you should behave. You need to develop your sense of yourself as an adult, grounded individual in command of your own decisions, and not as someone at the whim of a bunch of things that just seem to happen to you. Take responsibility, and begin by taking care of yourself. It is lonely to realize you really are the only one in the world whose job it is to look out for you - and that some of the people who most want to "help" you are sometimes the very ones you most need to stay away from. That includes new girl, who's only doing her bit by showing up just in time to play her part in what may become a recurring drama for you, unless you take the steps to grow out of it and move beyond it.

So please, go back to counseling. If you don't know how to start or what to say, just print this whole thing out and bring it. You've expressed yourself really beautifully and clearly here and it should not be hard for a therapist to figure out where to start. I sincerely hope you do this because it could represent the difference between your going on to live a very happy, integrated and together life and a really miserable one. I know it's lonely and I'm sorry for how you feel, but there is help for that.
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on November 13, 2011 [14 favorites]

I am all she has ever wanted.

Honey, it's not YOU she wanted. It was the version of you that you pretended to be. What she wants is not the real you, the you that is posting here, the you that her family can see clear as day as a user who's strung her along for years without really loving her. She wants the fantasy version of you, the you that lies to her, the you that lets her believe marriage is on the horizon.

You are not at all what she wants. What she wants is a man that will love her, want to marry her and raise a family with her. You are not that man. You keep lying to her and letting her believe that you are that man, and that's why there's this silly idea that you're all she's ever wanted. She doesn't actually know the real you.

Stop pretending that it's noble to stay with her. It is not noble, it is cowardly. If you stay with her, you will ruin her life. Let her go, let her find someone who actually does return her love and want to build a life with her. Why would you want to prevent her from being happy and having real love in her life? You don't? Then quit dithering around and whining about how hard it's going to be. Of course it's going to be hard. Hard things still have to be done, and the longer you want the harder it's going to be. Do it now. No more dithering.
posted by palomar at 8:04 PM on November 13, 2011 [13 favorites]

I'm not as convinced as some people that you're a user and she's being helplessly strung along while her outraged family agitates for you to shit or get off the pot.

It sounds like you ALL have been behaving dysfunctionally, and that maybe, by resisting the tremendous pressure to marry her, you are finally coming into your own and you are the only one showing a modicum of sense.

The family made a huge mistake in sheltering you and treating you as an adopted child THEN expecting you to marry their daughter. That seems rather suffocating, unhealthy, you get the point.

She seems as though she may be as wounded as you if she is unable to recognize that you're not the perfect guy for her.

Plus there's the added outrage of the family framing (?) you on bogus criminal charges then silently hoping you are convicted and thus you are conveniently removed from their and their daughter's life. I'm a criminal defense attorney and I have no doubt your suspicions are correct.

So -- you are showing some maturity in saying "hold up, I don't love this woman, who am I kidding?" What people here are saying is, don't stop there. Follow through. Sever your ties with this extremely dysfunctional, bizarre situation. These people sheltered you, then shunned you, then tried to disappear you into the criminal justice system. Their daughter is deluded to think you are right for her, especially given your history. It sounds like you are practically siblings.
posted by jayder at 8:21 PM on November 13, 2011 [10 favorites]

She told her sister that she knows we are going to get married because we belong together and we cannot be apart because we tried once and it didn't work, and we've been together for this long that we had to get married.

Either she's delusional and hasn't noticed everything is not peachy keen, or you are really good at deluding her. Either way, you are NEVER going to live up to the you that she thinks you are. It doesn't matter whose fault that is. It DOES matter that you get honest with her and bring her -- and you -- back to reality.

Let her go now so she can move on with her life.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:30 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think I have fallen into the 'point of no return' trap. I feel because I wasted so many of her years already I owe it to her to keep going so she can have children.

Don't you dare bring kids into this situation. That would be the single most fucked-up thing you could possibly do. Better she should adopt with somebody else or even by herself later than be trapped forever in a loveless marriage that exists only because you are lying to her and therefore dooming her to never be loved in her life because it's easier for you that way. You'd better believe that deep down she secretly wonders what the fuck's wrong with her when you say you love her and she doesn't feel it. You want to teach a new person that a family -- that his or her very existence -- is based on resentment, neediness, laziness, guilt, and lies? If you want to come away from this feeling like you've done a good thing, ensure that you do not do this. And get a therapist yesterday.
posted by Adventurer at 8:32 PM on November 13, 2011 [18 favorites]

There is no "point of no return trap". There just isn't. Just stop that. The family is right. You know they are, and you admit to being, essentially, a heel; and you are not hearing the good advice as you claim - it seems you are only echoing, as you must have been for years, with what should be said in response without acting on it. Of course you have issues, of course you need therapy - but I wonder, do you somehow like the position you're in? Your persistence in this situation, over so many years is incredible. Fifteen Years. It's an unbelievable amount of time to have strung anyone, and everyone, along. Despite your assertion that they have all this power over you, you must realize that you have this whole family in thrall over this? What is marrying versus your marriage to this situation?!

This right-fighting to prove your worth (through being right about marrying her some day) is stealing the value and worthiness from your fiancee at the same time. If the family couldn't/didn't scare you away with whatever may have happened; and if the other woman isn't enough (yet) to get you "fired" by your fiancee; and if your fiancee is the one person who still believes you're going to marry her and after this doozy of a question and all the responses you're still leaving her on tenterhooks, what is it going to take?!

Ay yi. I'll stand in line behind Darling Bri and artemesia and Miko then. For a first question, this is a doozy. You are uncannily able to manipulate, it seems - and not just your fiancee and her family. You are not helpless in this. You've got some of this site's best willing to work for you for the sake of your poor fiancee and so that you can go on and get better yourself. But anitanita has it - say the words, watch it unfold. Or don't. I'd say pack one thing, then the next, and then when you have what you need, walk out and keep going - then deal with it all when you're not so entrenched and living in it. But please, stand up for what you want, and for what she deserves.
posted by peagood at 8:34 PM on November 13, 2011 [8 favorites]

You have been very cruel to her. Let her go and move on. Now.
posted by deborah at 8:42 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know, I wish I hadn't said what I said so harshly, because it does kind of sound like you're so depressed that you might be asking what to do just so you can beat yourself up about what a "louse" you're being.

You can have a kid with her, but only if you tell her what she needs to know in order to make an informed decision. Tell her you're not in love with her and you don't really want to marry her but you're willing to do it because she might possibly not get to have kids of her own if she doesn't have them with you. If you don't tell her that you're effectively making her decision for her. You're committing a very serious kind of fraud.

Hell, run away if you have to. If you trick her into having a baby, you're going to wish you had. You're going to have a long time to wish that.

And get help for the depression. It's like a parasite that wants to live and it is heavily invested in making you think (over and over and over again) that everything is too hard and you can't ever feel OK on your own. When in fact you have the same right to happiness everyone has. So don't waste your own time thinking about what you've done wrong before, and what's been done to you; concentrate on doing the right thing right now. The fact that you know what that is gives you a leg up on a lot of people.
posted by Adventurer at 9:06 PM on November 13, 2011 [6 favorites]

Also, this other woman? You state you treated her poorly until she "helped" you. This is a pattern: you are reciprocating with loyalty and/or kindness only when a woman has what you need (a family, help with a legal matter). This is a pattern of using. This is a behavior that needs to be discussed with a therapist. You'll never be able to hold anyone closer than an arm's length away if this is not addressed.
posted by pineappleheart at 9:22 PM on November 13, 2011 [11 favorites]

You are not all she ever wanted. She wants kids. You are not going to give them to her. There is not a parent in this thread who, if their house was on fire, would save their spouse before their children. This is not a Whitney Houston song and you are not the greatest love of all. Break up with her, right now, so she has some chance at having kids. And I mean today, because at this point ever day is valuable to her in a way it is not to you.

Stop whining about you, you, you and your needs and your abandonment issues and your legal problems and go do the thing that is clearly and without reservation the only moral and ethical thing to do. I don't care that it's hard; I care that you do it. Straight up tell her "I don't want to get married and I don't want to have kids, and so we need to split up so you can have a chance at that. I am not willing to take those opportunities from you."
posted by DarlingBri at 12:51 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

PLEASE go to more therapy..... I know you said you "don't feel any different" than you did before, but how MUCH therapy did you try? One or two visits? It'll take more than that, I'm afraid.

Her family, as much as you want them to be, is not YOUR family. Many of us have little to no family, and wishing won't make it otherwise.

Breaking up with her after 15 years won't kill either of you; it'll hurt for both parties, but any breakup hurts. You tell us that you're the only man she's ever loved, but that is immaterial. She wants kids and you don't. The two of you marrying because of 15 years inertia or her family's pressure or whatever is a recipe for misery.

Finally: please do NOT breakup with her only to immediatly go into a relationship with your 'other woman' --- or anyone, for that matter. If you (as many here think would be best) break up with your fiancee, go to therapy, and STAY SINGLE until you get your head a lot straighter.
posted by easily confused at 2:20 AM on November 14, 2011

I can understand why everyone is getting frustrated with the OP but I'm not sure that yelling at him and calling him a fork-grabber or whatever is going to do much.

It looks to me like the OP has a serious lifelong problem here, far worse than indecision, worse even than depression. IANAD but I believe some people don't really quite grow up, and maybe the OP literally does perceive himself as a helpless infant in search of a parent. I think he literally doesn't know how to take care of himself or be considerate of others' feelings, despite knowing that these things are necessary.

I think you understand that what everyone is saying is true, OP, but you might need the guidance of a therapist to help you do what you have to do here. I really think you need to address this in therapy right away, like, today if possible. Maybe printing out this page and showing it to the therapist will help.

Good luck.
posted by tel3path at 3:19 AM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: We went to pre marital counselling for about 5 months earlier this year. The aim was to work on the relationship to see how we could make it better. We both spoke about our expectations in the relationship and what we thought our marriage should look like. I thought I would feel differently afterward, and that I would be enthusiastic about marrying her afterward but I didn't feel any different after.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 4:32 AM on November 14, 2011

I'm not clear what you want out of this question. You don't want to marry her or have kids with her, but feel you owe it to her and also that you have to prove her family wrong. So, fine. You owe it to her. Go, propose to her, plan your wedding.

Are you relieved? Are you dreading it? If you're relieved, maybe you just didn't want to make the decision. If you're dreading it, well, you are the one who is choosing to stay in this situation that is making you unhappy, but at least if you married her you would have her family back, probably. I am not sure if she would be happy or not, but she's also stayed with you for 15 years.
posted by jeather at 4:45 AM on November 14, 2011

No, don't go to relationship counseling with her. There is no relationship to work on. Go to individual counseling, which is a completely different thing, for you. If nothing else, you need to talk about your depression. I've been there. It's scary, and it distorts your thinking. Start there. If you find the right therapist for you, a lot of these other issues might start to look a bit clearer. But by no means should this counseling include her.

Don't give up. You can be happy, and so can she. Just not together. Ever. At all.
posted by pineappleheart at 4:46 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, re: therapist. Since you need to take this really big step, you might need somebody to help you figure out how to do it and which smaller steps you can take to get there. Find a therapist who does cognitive behavioral therapy in your area. You're not ready for CBT yet, but a good therapist will see that and wait until you're more stable to introduce some of the ideas that will help you make a life of your own, away from this mess. I'm sure a MeFite in your area would be able to hook you up with a therapist like this. As others have stated, this needs to be done yesterday.
posted by pineappleheart at 4:52 AM on November 14, 2011

Yeah. Relationship counseling is a completely different thing with a different goal. You went to a set of sessions aimed to see if you could make your relationship work. You didn't feel any different about making the relationship work because you don't want to make the relationship work, and no amount of counseling can compel you to do something you don't want to do. In these sessions you were not focused on your patterns, your history, your depression, your fears, your needs. That is the kind of counseling you need - counseling for only you, that brings you in touch with what you want and need to live a happy life, and how to learn the steps involved in getting there. As pineappleheart says, if you get a counselor now, it may help you get through the breakup better. Counseling is support. The counselor is on your side - especially when you're the only client, not part of a couple or a family. They are there to support and assist you in growing. They do not have the kinds of needs or agendas for you that everyone else in your life has. Their only agenda is guiding you into habits that will develop a more functional life for you. So one thing you can do right now, today, is pick up the phone and make an appointment.

Please, take SOME action. Inaction is one of your vices.
posted by Miko at 5:47 AM on November 14, 2011 [14 favorites]

OP, you can call this couple's counselor and tell them that you are in crisis. That is what you need to say and that is how you need to look at this situation. This is a crisis. Yeah, you've got a lot of people down on you and you are down on yourself, but the reality is THIS CRISIS MATTERS. Just because it is yours and just because you feel like a piece of shit doesn't mean that the crisis you're in isn't important. It is. It is hugely important because you need help and your partner needs help. Both of you need serious, serious help. Yes, you've fucked a lot of things up. Yep, you need to get your shit together. But you are not helpless or hopeless, and you are not worthless. You've admitted to doing some bad things and making some bad decisions. That is step one toward making right the things you've done and left undone.

The next step now is for you to call this couple's counselor and tell them that you need to speak with them TODAY. Not tomorrow, not next week, not, oh, sure, whenever you have an opening, TODAY. Here's what you say, "I'm sorry, I cannot wait until tomorrow or the next day. I am in a crisis and I badly need assistance right now. I do not need the police. I do not need an ambulance. I need a counselor right now." If they can't see you, ask them to put you in touch with someone they trust who can. Insist on this. You have a right to insist on this. You are going to do the right thing and you need help to do it.

Tell the counselor that you want out of this relationship. Tell them that you are terrified of what will happen to you and your partner but insist that you have to break things off. The counselor will likely think this is run-of-the-mill pre-marital cold feet. You need to tell them unequivocally that you never wanted the marriage, you are doing this because you feel guilty, and that you do not love your partner. Say those words. "I do not love her and I do not want to marry her and I never have wanted to marry her." You have to say those words out loud. Tell the counselor that you do not feel you can end the relationship on your own. Tell them you need help to do it and ask them to be the support that you need in order to do the right thing by your partner. Tell them you are terrified that you will not be able to go through with it on your own. Be honest.

I know that you cannot conceive of being able to handle what's going to happen to you and your partner if you end this. That is why you have to have a counselor present. It is not unusual or freakish for things to be done this way. Nobody has helped you in the past when you needed help, correct? Well, a counselor is help. A counselor's job is to help you find within yourself the courage to live with integrity, honesty and strength.

Call the counselor right now. Good luck. Do the right thing even though it's hard.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:51 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I will go find a counselor. Thank you all for your very wise words and getting tough with me. I needed that.
posted by WhatrightdoIhave2happiness at 7:50 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

It is a long hard road that you have before you. If you need any more help, I hope that you will come back and post again, as there are many people here who are worried about you.

Good luck to you.
posted by Shouraku at 7:53 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

This video Sliding vs Deciding is a Ted Talk that focuses largely on relationships of adolescents and folks in their 20s, but I think you'll get a lot from it. A lot. (Someone previously posted it on Metafilter, maybe in Ask, maybe on the Blue, I don't remember.)

Additionally, yes to therapy. I also join the chorus of people who hope you return in the nearish future to update us, and I wish you well. There is clearly no malice or ill will in your question. It is clear that you want to keep everybody comfortable.

You just are going to need some time to learn the healthiest way to do that, while getting yourself comfortable also.
posted by bilabial at 8:08 AM on November 14, 2011 [6 favorites]

I'm glad you're going to see a counselor. I hope you break up with her first. It would ruin my entire life to find out that my husband had married me out of inertia. If he broke up with me, even after 15 years, I could forgive him eventually, but if he'd married me under false pretenses I would hate him forever.
posted by desjardins at 9:42 AM on November 14, 2011

Good luck. and it's going to be hard but a funny thing about these things - they're usually not as hard as you think they are once you've built them up in your mind.
posted by Miko at 10:19 AM on November 14, 2011

You should set her free now so she has more time to find a partner to have children with, at 36 she won't be able to have children soon! Every second you delay you are ruining her dreams. You also have a weird preoccupation with needing family, many people have none or fled awful ones and are perfectly fine.
posted by meepmeow at 11:08 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know I should break up. I hear you guys. It's just hard. She has always been there for me and would do anything for me. She really loves me. I am the only man she has ever been with. Her first and only boyfriend.

That is very patronizing.
posted by xm at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2011

You owe it to your fiancée to set her free so she can go meet her husband.
You owe it to yourself to let your fiancée go so you can go meet your wife.

If you've been together for 15 years and you have to ask whether you should get married or not, the answer is no.

Go. Thank your fiancée for the years together and go find someone for whom the answer to the marriage question is an unhesitating yes.
posted by phoebus at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2011

Also, dear OP, please, please stop agreeing with everyone here about how big you screwed up, and how wrong you have been, and how bad a person you were all these years... not because you didn't screw up, mind you —which you did indeed; and not because you aren't in the wrong, too —which you definitely are.

What I mean is: I fear that, this readiness of yours to admit guilt and your tendency to self-loathing may just be one of your ways to keep the status quo and avoid doing anything about it. It's not uncommon, this Dostoevskian pattern. I myself would do this everyday in the past, and still fall back to it occasionally. My big brother, who has been in a familial crisis much like yours for years, still does it. He will accept every and any blame: Yes, he has been bad. Yes, he is making his wife and himself miserable. Oh yes, he is the vilest creature on earth. He cries on the floor and he swears he'll be better. Then he gets up, drunk with the pleasures of self-torture, secretly congratulates himself for it —and goes on to do the same mistakes all over again. We do this because people tend to pity you and back off a bit when you are already beating yourself over something. We do it because it creates the illusion of us finally accepting our situation as it really is and that we are on the verge of taking the necessary decisive action. You are not taking it, you're but talking about it. It's just petty procrastination.

Stop rationalizing. Stop thinking about it. Distance yourself from yourself —who will only lead you to the same cul-de-sac because it's oh so familiar. Familiar is deceptively comfortable, and comfortable is not what you need. You already know the answer to your question —and even if you didn't, a dozen people above me have already given it to you. Please act on it.

Good luck.
posted by procrastinator at 6:45 PM on November 14, 2011 [17 favorites]

Have you called yet? If not, this would be a good time.
posted by Adventurer at 9:35 AM on November 18, 2011

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