I don't want to be a psycho bride to be
May 16, 2012 5:05 AM   Subscribe

[Psycho Filter] - I love him. He loves me. We intend to get married next year. YAY! But it feels like a really long time away. Help me to be patient and enjoy the anticipation and build up, because right now I am suffocating in a world of "OMG CAN WE PLZ GET MARRIED YESTERDAY!" eagerness.

I am in love. I talked about my relationship in a comment recently if you’re curious about the backstory, but the point is that I am absolutely and completely in love with my partner, and he feels the same about me. We’ve known each other for almost five years now, and coming together romantically has been a natural and easy transition. Neither of us has ever been so happy to the point that friends and family keep commenting on it. I’m not naïve. We’re both in our 30s and had enough bad relationships to know how well ours works and how well suited for each other we are. And his son is this fregging amazing kid that I love as my own and I feel absolutely blessed to have a hand in his development and to be a part of his life. Seriously, this kid is amazing. I know that our relationship will have ups and downs and stresses, but I know without question that they are my family and he is the man that I want to be with for the rest of my life.

Here’s the rub – I really want to marry him. It isn’t about the wedding or the whole bridezilla thing. I just happen to have fairly traditional values, and despite being utterly non-religious, marriage has a lot of meaning for me. For me, marriage is what you do when you have a strong mutual love and you want to share your life with someone. It is a loud, public declaration that you love someone and that you’re proud to be with them and that you’re happy. In some weird way, it is as though marriage legitimizes a relationship or makes it ‘official”. He, thankfully, feels the same way so we are both very clear that marriage is in our near-ish future. However, proposal and marriage are a little ways off for the following reasons:
1. His divorce to his first wife isn’t quite official yet. Both he and his first wife are very eager to have it done with. They’ve passed their one year separation anniversary, so they are now legally allowed to file for divorce. All the documents and agreements and everything are all done up and just waiting for one small correction, and then it will be filed with the judge. So while everything is basically sorted out, it isn’t official yet.
2. He is adamant that he won’t be proposing until he is legally divorced and totally and completely free. I totally respect this and actually appreciate that he doesn’t want there to ever be a footnote on our relationship.
3. Divorce is expensive, even when it is relatively amicable, so money for an engagement ring is going to take a bit of time to procure.

I understand and agree with all of these reasons.
I don’t dispute any of them.
They are all totally reasonable.
And he is clear that he intends to propose this year some time, and that we will most likely be getting married next year.
The logical side of me is totally cool with all of this.

The emotional side of me keeps taping her foot, staring at her watch, and sighing exasperatedly.

I’m a very impatient/excitable/over eager person in general. I get excited about things and then I full on yearn for them until they finally arrive. Weirdly the obsessing over them for the time leading up to them never seems to take away from any of the excitement when they finally do arrive. So yes, I get a bit obsessive and eager over just about everything – events, shoes, grapefruits, a new deck chair, my garden, working out, pie - but the idea of being married to him has taken this to a whole new level. I am SO IMPATIENT to the point where it is getting annoying how often I catch myself rubbing my left hand ring finger. Often I find myself staring at the full-year calendar on my wall, lamenting how long it will likely be before we can get engaged/married. We talk about the wedding and being married relatively often, which I know isn't helping, but even when we try not to talk about it it still inevitably comes up because it is kind of exciting and we both are excited for it.

The reality is that I can’t wait to be able to call this man my husband, and I want so much to be his wife. It doesn’t matter that nothing will change once we do get married, apart from a couple legal documents and a name change. Our day to day life will be essentially identical to what it is today, since we already live together and I already function as a step mother for his son.

So the question: What are some tips for calming my overly excited brain? What can I do to just go with the flow and not be so impatient to marry him? How do I learn to enjoy the build up? How do I be content with the knowledge that he WANTS to marry me and INTENDS TO in the not to distance future?
posted by gwenlister to Human Relations (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, and for what it is worth, I have tried to "distract myself" by finding something else to obsess over. It worked somewhat. This spring I got REALLY in to gardening and created a bunch of new flower beds and planted shrubs and really went to town. The yard now looks phenomenal to the point where neighbours are coming over just to tell me/us how transformed and amazing it looks. But now everything is basically done so I am back where I started.
posted by gwenlister at 5:09 AM on May 16, 2012

So the question: What are some tips for calming my overly excited brain?

Why bother? You seem to enjoy being excited and having this big thing to look forward to, so be excited about this big thing you're looking forward to.

From what I can tell, you don't have an actual problem here.
posted by mhoye at 5:16 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go ahead and enjoy planning your wedding, but for God's sake keep it to yourself. After your death, a teetering pile of 200 scrapbooks will be found hidden in the woodshed, in a box marked POISON EXPLOSIVE DO NOT OPEN BEWARE OF THE TIGER. Everyone will say "we had no idea".
posted by tel3path at 5:17 AM on May 16, 2012 [24 favorites]

Hm. Being excited is a good thing, but I understand that it can also be distracting.

Maybe you can reframe this mentally, rather than just try to distract yourself?

I mean, if you're both in agreement that you're going to get married, then you're already engaged. Ask him if it's ok if you can call him your fiance, if that makes a difference. The formal proposal and wedding are just natural extensions of the engagement you already have.

And as far as the commitment, you're already publicly committed. You have a life and a home together. You're a step-mom. People know about all of this. An actual marriage isn't going to change that.

Instead of it being a Big Thing That Is The Beginning of The Rest of Our Lives, let it be A Thing That is a Continuation of What's Already In Place.
posted by functionequalsform at 5:20 AM on May 16, 2012

if you're both in agreement that you're going to get married, then you're already engaged. Ask him if it's ok if you can call him your fiance, if that makes a difference. The formal proposal and wedding are just natural extensions of the engagement you already have.

We discussed this actually, but we both decided that wasn't a good idea. Not because of me and my excitement, but because of him. He feels that a lot of the meaning and emotional impact of the proposal will be dimished for him if we already start using the "finance" label. Fair game, I think.
posted by gwenlister at 5:23 AM on May 16, 2012

I sympathize with you. Waiting for a proposal that you know is coming is a strange and frustrating time period. Unfortunately, I don't think there's a magic trick to getting over it. You just have to wait it out. Your impulse to transfer your obsession and excitement to a new subject is a good one, I think. If you're all done with landscaping, is there some other house project you can work on? Maybe redecorating, refinishing furniture, sewing curtains and pillows and stuff, looking up craft projects or organizational projects and completing them, etc?

There's always hobbies and new activities and sufff too, but I found that it was easier to get wrapped up in and excited about things that felt like they were contributing to our future relationship/life together. So a lot of nesting stuff, and even baby planning stuff (though kiddos are light years away) and yes, some wedding planning too. Also reading relationship books, because again it felt productive towards our future. YMMV.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 5:46 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

How about a promise ring? My SO and I got together young -- too young to do an official engagement for many many years. But after a few years together, he got me a promise ring that felt like an acknowledgement of the seriousness of the relationship, without starting the wedding ball rolling.
posted by xo at 5:47 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I start obsessing over something, I try to find the root cause. Am I feeling insecure for a real reason? Is there a truth that I am missing? Is this a character flaw that I need to work on?

From what you are describing, it sounds like a character flaw. You sound immature and impulsive, not necessarily bad things, but, if you act on these flaws you could sabotage your happiness.

When I find a character flaw, I commit to living every day in a manner that will correct it. This has really worked well for me. At one point I became so humble that I was proud of myself for being humble and had to start all over again (Joke, sort of).

When I had the impulsive, can't wait for other people to do what I want issues a few years ago, I started asking myself this question- "Is this something that needs an immediate response or decision?" If the answer was no, I made myself leave it alone. After a month of doing this every day, it became habit and I am much more relaxed than I used to be. Try it, you may like it.
posted by myselfasme at 6:07 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think it would help if you can start thinking about what you want for your wedding - go scour the internet for dresses, locations, planners, etc. You don't need to share this with your S.O.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:09 AM on May 16, 2012

May I direct you to A Practical Wedding? I know, I know....a wedding blog. But they have a lot of really great posts about waiting, including this recent one.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:10 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't have a ton of useful advice except to remind you that you don't actually need a ring to be engaged. He can easily propose without one (and the two of you can choose a ring later, when you can afford it.) If you take out the "save money for a ring" period of time, you'll advance your marriage date by several months.
posted by Kololo at 6:12 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love the idea of a promise ring. And now, and anecdote.

I too was very eager to marry Husbunny. I picked out a ring and sent him the link. I set the date, I assumed the proposal. I received the ring as a birthday present in December.

The following February, we were in Manhattan and I was obsessed with finding the same "save the date" paper that I used for a friends bridal shower. So we're walking all over New York, going into various Kinkos looking for this cute paper. Husbunny was a bit under the weather, and we had reservations at the Russian Tea Room, so he wasn't too keen.

So I'm schlepping the poor thing here and there, and he wants to walk to Lincoln Center, for some weird reason. The time got late and we ended up going straight to dinner.

We get seated, get our cocktails place our order and then he proposed. I already had the ring, we already set the date, but it was very cute. What he had actually wanted was to propose to me at the fountain at Lincoln Center. But I was so keyed up about planning the wedding that I kind of messed up the whole proposal thing.

My point is, slow your roll. I totally get that you want to get married and to get the show on the road, but as with all things you focus on, your intense focus on the wedding is draining your ability to enjoy your current situation.

If only we had a cute name for the time between the decision to get married and the actual proposal. We don't.

I suggest that you get something to focus on, get a master's degreee, or a certification in something, something that will take the year or so for your situation to change. In the meantime, enjoy this time, now. You'll probably look back on it as one of the happiest times of your relationship.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:17 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you take out the "save money for a ring" period of time, you'll advance your marriage date by several months

Or do what we did. I have a wonderful CZ ring that cost $200. Unless I tell them, no one knows. And I love, love, love it. Also, I didn't have to worry about conflict diamonds, or having a bunch of money tied up in an ornament.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:18 AM on May 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

Well dammit, I could have written this post myself!

My dear BF is everything I want in a partner and more and I'm already dying with anticipation. It's driving me crazy, because I know we'll get there in due time. However, I'm excited not for a big party or wedding, but really because I just want to get over this period and on with our lives and relationship, so I feel you.

What I think has been helping me is to view this period as a step in not only our relationship, but a relationship with myself, and it deserves important acknowledgement. What's been helping me is viewing it as a "pre-engagement" and keeping this all to myself (even though there's no promise ring or any of that malarky) because it sounds a little crazy. As a result, it's been causing me to positively question my own values and reflect on who I am, who I've been and who I will be once we do get hitched, along with what type of wife I want to be. It's more of a shifting of mentality than anything, but I'm glad for this period because it's letting me give that shift the time it deserves.

You also need to remember that there's two of you in this - he obviously hasn't popped the question yet due to the reasons that you indicated above. Different things mean different things to different people, so just remind yourself that he needs his own time and space to do his mental shifting as well. I don't really think this is a couple thing, but an individual thing who is about to become legally bound to another individual producing a couple.
posted by floweredfish at 6:26 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

You don't need a ring or a legal document to commit to each other. At all. Once you feel truly and completely committed to each other, the ring and document will just be a nice icing on the cake.
I've got my ring and I'm soon to get my document, and I am thrilled that we have waited this long. A few years ago, I caught myself really really wanting that legal document, not because we were ready for it, but because I wanted to hold on to him closer and subconsciously thought that that would bind him to me. That's not a real commitment. A real one is one in which each person has NOTHING forcing them to stay, but everything keeping them voluntarily there. Being married or investing in a ring doesn't make people love each other more. It certainly doesn't keep them together, at least not for the right reasons.

This is all my roundabout way of saying: focus on your insecurity. If you two are a good couple, you will be good together. He's technically still married to his wife, did that marriage/legal document keep them together? Nope. Don't assume it will for you either. Have faith in your relationship to each other and allow it to grow. Don't try to force a bond that's not right yet. Hopefully, your bond will soon be so incredibly strong that the process of getting married won't make that much of a difference.
posted by Neekee at 6:39 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your garden project reminds me of my grandfather's favorite saying, "better doing than stewing". Pour all of that energy into other projects, whether it be something solely for you (a new workout plan) or something that would be nice for all of you (learning a new cooking technique or doing home improvement). You'll still be antsy, but you'll also have a lot of great improvements like the garden to show for it.
posted by ldthomps at 6:59 AM on May 16, 2012

If you can't say that he's your fiance, say you're betrothed.

Slow down some. You're already going to be spending the rest of your life with him, so what does it matter that you have to get married right this second? I know you want the fanfare, but you've got to be patient.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:00 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tweak your attitude just a little. Instead of thinking about how far away the wedding will be, consider this time to be your opportunity to work on yourself and your situation in order to be better positioned for the time you are actually married. I bet there are lots of areas in your life that can use some work, both personally and practically. Look at this in-between period as a gift of time that can be used to get "stuff" done. If you focus on what you want your married life to be and work towards that, the time will pass faster. This time period is a gift to you, an opportunity to set your life up to take full advantage of finding just the right partner. Be thankful for this gift and use it!
posted by raisingsand at 7:08 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

I read this essay about the marriage ceremony from Robert Fulghum and think it is applicable. Its a little schmaltzy but I like it dammit!

"You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

You two have already decided to marry... Great! Maybe by seeing that you are currently in the "real process of a wedding", you can savor these moments as opposed to finding them frustratingly deficient.
posted by murrey at 7:27 AM on May 16, 2012 [16 favorites]

Wow, much of your future is out of your hands - you are waiting for a divorce and for your beaux to save some money. No wonder you are anxious - you have almost no control here.

On the upside, you are crazy in love and having a great time. I say go with that. Try to cultivate a sense of living in the present. Even if your relationship is always strong, you will probably look back at this time as one of the best.

And for a bit of cold water - you say you are a traditional gal, but you are dating a married man. It's okay to be conflicted. And in the long run, no matter the circumstances, people like family might be squicked out by a marriage right on the heels of divorce. So, try to relax and enjoy the courtship.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:37 AM on May 16, 2012

Well, for one, you can cut yourself a break on the psycho/bridezilla talk. You want to get married because marriage is very important to you. That is perfectly fine and reasonable, and not something you should feel like you have to be all apologetic and defensive about.

Being in a weird limbo zone where this thing you hugely value and want for your future is definitely probably going to happen, but you don't know when, and it's out of your control, so you're just waiting and waiting and drumming your fingers... well, that is frustrating. Genuinely frustrating. Would try the patience of a saint. Trying to quash down your feelings about this subject by telling yourself they're unreasonable feelings to have isn't fair on you, and it's unlikely to help you deal with them.

I have been in a similar situation to yours, and I sympathise because it truly does suck. What worked for me was first to accept that I felt how I felt, and that it was OK to feel that way and not, in fact, a sign that I didn't truly understand commitment or was turning into a crazed decorative-chair-cover-planning maniac. That reduced the stress and impatience a good amount all by itself, letting me concentrate on working out what things in particular were aggravating me about the situation.

One of the main ones was the feeling of loss of control - that these things I really wanted for my future were going to be happening on somebody else's schedule, according to someone else's decisions, and my task was to just sit around waiting for those decisions to get made. Another one - which I didn't expect - was the feeling that all my mental energy about getting married was going into this big yawning pit of Being Frustrated About Waiting, rather than going towards thinking about things like what I wanted from marriage, whether there were any issues we needed to deal with beforehand, what kind of things hadn't I thought about re: married life, and so on. It's not like either of us intended me to feel that way, but lo, that's where I'd ended up.

So I had a good conversation with my boyfriend in which I made it very, very clear that I wanted to get married because I wanted a marriage, with him - not A Proposal with The Perfect Ring, or A Wedding with The Perfect Cake, or whatever else might get in the way of that - and that I was fed up with feeling like I was living in limbo between us agreeing that we wanted this and us actually planning to do this, because it was making me stressed and grumpy. So in the short term, I was going to take marriage-stuff off my mental table. No "when we get married..." conversations, no idle speculations about who we'd invite, none of it. If he wanted to do the traditional surprise-ish proposal he valued then he was welcome to do that, and once we were properly engaged we could have all the wedding conversations we wanted, but that would be on his time and I wasn't going to push for it or even talk about it. In the longer term... well, either we'd be married by then, or we'd be having a very serious conversation about where else this relationship was headed.

After that, I just decided to actively stop waiting and wondering for the next six months. Which was easier to do than I thought, given that 'six months' was my own deadline, and I knew that once that six months was over I could decide what I wanted to do (bring the subject up again, have a Very Serious Conversation, propose to him, whatever). Instead, I worked on concentrating on other things, like taking some time to work out what I wanted from the rest of my life and how my ideas and his ideas about marriage would fit into that. It was valuable and worthwhile, and I'm glad I did it.

(And then he proposed like, three weeks later anyway, and we're planning a wedding for this November. Which still seems like too long to wait, to be honest - but the waiting is a whole lot easier to deal with when the scheduling's a mutual decision and it feels like we're making good use of the interim period, by far.)
posted by Catseye at 7:47 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Well, one of those objections is a real, legal one. You can't marry him until he's divorced.

If you really want to get married, though, get married then. Husband and I were never engaged; we lived together for years and years, went on vacation somewhere with no waiting period, and decided one morning to go get a license. We were all done by noon. You don't have to have expensive ritual jewelry (put that money toward a house or car), and you don't have to decide to get married, then wait six months or a year or two years.

You do both have to be single, though.
posted by Occula at 8:37 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think it's vaguely creepy for people to call each other fiancé(e) while one (or both) of them is still legally married to someone else. I know that is probably old-fashioned of me, but maybe that's where the future Mr. Lister is coming from?

Stupid legal machinery taking forever. I sympathize with you, gwenlister, and I would also totally be out in the garden shed planning my wedding.

On the other hand, I think waiting to propose until he's bought an engagement ring would be beyond silly of him! Can you make it clear to him that you don't have any truck with that nonsense?
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:37 AM on May 16, 2012

Learn to appreciate the ache, the anticipation. I don't mean that you should convince yourself a bad emotion isn't bad. I mean you should learn to see it for the good thing it is.

Imagine the early going of a relationship, when you're getting to know one another, and everything about the other person is so exciting and new but at the same time they feel so familiar to you and you know, you just know, that this is going somewhere good. Maybe you're taking things slow and there's mostly just a lot of kissing, occasionally followed by their warm breath on your neck, and it gives you goosebumps. And you want to make them a mix tape right now, and you want them near you right now, and you want, and you want, and you want right now.

After that happens a few times with a few people, you know it when it's happening. And you also know how nice it is, that part of it. You ache a little at the thought of them, you love the slow process. With a little perspective and experience, you're willing to let it be, in fact, a slow process.

Because with experience, you know that sooner or later you'll be out of the cloud, and you'll have had the chance to get on each other's nerves a little (and then bounce back from it and handle it in a healthy way), and you're still excited to see them but it's a different sort. Something has not lessened but changed. And when that happens, you look back fondly on that anticipation, on the days before you were so comfortable in having what you wanted.

You love this guy. This guy loves you. He's gonna propose and you're gonna get married. And then there'll be paperwork, and thank-you cards to send to people you don't even know, and maybe you'll fight about money (but resolve it!), and if you have kids of your own, they'll be lovely but they'll also be howling shitmachines which don't let you sleep. Don't get me wrong, it'll be fantastic, and you wouldn't trade it for anything, and years from that point you'll be looking back fondly on those times too, when your kids were tiny enough to be cradled in one arm and your marriage was a new exciting thing, untouched and unweathered. But in those days of screaming kids, you'll be looking back fondly on right now. On the time when you were so full of dizzying, delirious anticipation.

So why not get a head start on that fondness? These are lovely times, you know? Don't be in such a rush to get to what's next - it'll come on its own. These are good days, they're wonderful times. Let yourself savor all of it.

If that isn't enough, then consider this: As I'm fond of saying, the ceremony is not the thing it commemorates. If you die and don't have a funeral, you're still dead. The marriage is just the formalizing of a love which is already happening. I mean, that's what a marriage is: a joining. The wedding is just a formality. But if you think of marriage as a process of joining the lives of two people together, then consider that with every kiss, every touch, every conversation, every time you miss one another, and everything else - then slowly but surely, bit by bit, you're already getting married.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:46 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

I feel anxious just reading your post. Take up meditation. Explore mindfulness. Yoga. Books on tape, breathing exercises, the whole nine. Become obsessive about those things. Honestly, while I am happy for you, you may be missing the point of things. I can guarantee you if you turn this year into a "build up" to the wedding, you will be a stressed-out mess by the end of it. Delete the whole build-up concept! You are floating into the future! Easy, light, happy.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:59 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think taking it slow and making deep breaths would be very, very useful in this situation.

From what I see of your post, your boyfriend has only been separated from his wife for a year-and from looking at the comment, it seems you got together romantically shortly after that separation, so you've been together for a year. Looking at some of your other questions, it appears he also has a five year old son, which may also be an important consideration and factor in how both how these things go-how long the proposal takes, how long the marriage takes, and why it might be totally natural that you're having some anxiousness about it. You say that you intellectually understand why it will take so long, but emotionally it's hard for you. I agree with other posters that this sort of behavior is very indicative of anxiety. Are there reasons you might have anxiety around the wedding? Maybe alleviating those might help. Does the son know that you are going to get married? Have those conversations been had with him? Is there planning in any tangible or fiscal way?

One thing that might help is to realize that delaying the proposal also means increasing the amount of time that you have to save and prepare for your wedding, which means a nicer wedding overall.
posted by corb at 9:12 AM on May 16, 2012

money for an engagement ring is going to take a bit of time to procure.

I don't really understand this statement. Do you want to be married, to him, so long as you both shall live? Or do you want bling and dresses and parties and OMG TEH SHINY!!1! ? Because it's not necessary to have the second part in order to have the first. Promise. I accept that some people like bling and dresses and so on, and maybe I'm feeling a bit meh because I have a wedding to go to and I have nothing to wear and my hair is terrible, BUT ANYWAY, pretty shinies are all very nice but you can totally skip them. Also, and maybe this a bit of a downer, if your partner already did the diamond thing once, maybe he doesn't really want to do it again, because bad memories. Pretty rings not involving diamonds, as well as being IMO prettier, also have the benefit of being available to suit a wide range of budgets.

Good luck. Remember to breathe! Take some time to enjoy your beautiful garden!
posted by Lebannen at 3:08 PM on May 16, 2012

Happiness to you both! A small thing: you could always refer to him as your "intended." Which is old fashioned, but my favorite term for the affianced anyways.
posted by amoeba at 11:41 AM on October 21, 2012

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