34[M] dreads his upcoming wedding - am I doing it for the wrong reasons?
March 31, 2018 1:37 AM   Subscribe

I, a 34[M], dread every single day of my upcoming wedding and think I'm doing it for all the wrong reasons. Is it just normal pre-wedding anxiety, or something more?

I am about to marry my 33[F] fiancee in one month. We have been together in a long-distance relationship (me in Europe, her in Asia) for over three years. She's great, sweet, caring - not without her flaws, of course, but I think I love her.

The problem is, I'm terrified.

With every passing day, I think more and more about how I might be doing it for the wrong reasons and how I wish it could've been avoided. I keep telling myself that it can't be all that bad, and that it doesn't have to be forever - where I live, divorce is painless and largely non-judgmental.

I guess my question is: while I'm sure almost everyone has second thoughts before a wedding, are such intense and persistent thoughts and such reasons (see below) normal?

Here are all the reasons why I'm having second thoughts about it:

- I am doing it so we can end a long-distance relationship I am a (naturalized) national of a Western European country - which, like most Schengen Member States, imposes very strict rules on who can come and live here. Simply put, if you're not from the European Union, your chances of coming to work here (except for the UN) are slim to none. My fiancee is a national of the Philippines, which means that the only feasible way for us to be together would be to move to the Philippines (which I refused when I had the chance to - even with a promotion at work) or for us to marry so she can come and live here.

Of course, after several sessions of therapy with a psychologist, I now understand that I should have placed more importance on my readiness - even if it mean keeping the relationship going long-distance.

- I feel like I'm doing it out of obligation. We both work for the United Nations, which means that promotions often involve going to working in developing countries. After spending her whole life in the Philippines, I convinced my girlfriend to take up a promotion assignment in Africa. She was hesitant, but I pushed very strongly for it - and, in the end she accepted it. Needless to say, she hated every day there - and I felt that proposing to her was the right and honorable way of giving her a way out.

Of course, after several sessions of therapy with a psychologist, I now understand that she is a fully independent adult capable of making her own decisions and that, even though I did argue in favor of her going to Africa, the decision was ultimately hers and hers alone. I was in no way responsible for it and, as a consequence, I was not responsible for getting her out of there.

- I was suffering from PTSD at the time of the proposal. Several months before proposing to her, I survived a life-threatening illness that saw me spend three weeks in the hospital on antibiotics on top of two surgeries. Doctors said that, had I shown up a day or two later, there's nothing they would've been able to do to safe my life; as it was, the first few months after the illness were hell. Every time I so much as sneezed, or bumped my head, I worried about how this might be the start of another deadly infection, or the first sign of a blood clot (which I was at a higher-than-average risk of, given that I lost one of my major arteries during surgeries). Long story short, she was there for me after the illness - and I quickly came to rely on her for emotional support whenever I had these panic attacks. So when the notion of marrying her came up, it seemed like a great way to ensure that emotional support.

Of course, after several sessions of therapy with a psychologist, I now understand that relying on someone to get over basic worries over contracting a cold is not healthy and that this is something I should be able to handle on my own. In fact, it's something I've since learned to do
- and am now stronger for it.


- I let myself be pressured by my family and by her. Though I'm lucky in that my family does not usually interfere in my private life, having met her, they all loved her and strongly encouraged me to marry her. My fiancee herself added some pressure, too, by constantly encouraging me to look for even more and more legally binding options that would help her come here (from arranging a job for her, to - when that failed, signing a civil partnership agreement, to - when that failed as well - marriage). To be fair to her, I did come up these ideas myself - and, ultimately, no one but me is responsible for my decisions, so I'm not here to say that I was pressured and it wasn't my fault.

Of course, after several sessions of therapy with a psychologist, I now understand that I should have disregarded this pressure completely and thought, first and foremost, of what would benefit me. Well, hindsight, 20/20...

- I feel I'm going to miss out on life. For a variety of reasons, I did not become sexually active until I was 29, meaning that this is my first real relationships. I had had sex with women before her - sex workers, really, as it's fully legal here - but I still feel there's a lot more to do and experiment with. Plus, I'm afraid of how this marriage will affect the time I spend with my close friends (I'm a very introverted person - I've one close friend and we generally spend weekends together, hanging out with his wife, playing cards, board games, etc - just a good relaxing time for all).

Of course, after several sessions of therapy with a psychologist, I now understand that a marriage should add to one's life, not make you give one thing up in order to have another just because the society expects you to. As such, I fully intend on maintaining these friendships even after the wedding.

- I'm losing my job. I just unexpectedly lost my job. And, although I have more than enough savings (we're talking two years' worth of salaries) and I plan on making the most of it (starting my own business - as a software engineer, something I've always wanted to do and am qualified for), the prospect of supporting both of us off savings along fills me with dread. To be fair, my fiancee already has informal job offers, so I actually expect her to start earning money before I do!

Nothing much therapy-related here: financially, I'm good; and, again, I'm not responsible for her, her being an independent adult and all.

In the end, I guess I feel like men who got their girlfriend pregnant and now feel obliged to marry her to take responsibility - it doesn't mean you don't love her, but you do feel pretty damn unready for what it's coming. I think I do love her, and I guess that, left to my own devices, I might've married her eventually; what I resent is the fact that I'm doing it when I'm unready because of all the reasons above.

It also makes me confront questions such as children - I know I want to have them, but not for the next 5 years; meanwhile, with her being 33 right now, the biological clock is starting to tick. On the one hand, I know what I'm getting into; on the other, having decided to marry before being ready, I refuse to do the same when it comes to children.

I keep telling myself that this can't all be that bad, that I can divorce after a couple of years. But, in the end, that just makes me wonder: if this is the mindset I'm walking into this marriage with, how's that ever going to be healthy in the long run? While she's excited about the wedding, I resent all its details, from developing our monogram to picking the wedding bands (tough when you're long-distance) - and it just goes to show how not "all-in" I am. And that, in turn, makes me wonder whether this wouldn't just turn into a relationship where I constantly punish her - and myself - for me not having had the courage to let go.

Thanks for reading (if you made it this far) - thoughts?
posted by BetterThanReddit to Human Relations (98 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
She's great, sweet, caring - not without her flaws, of course, but I think I love her.

You don't love her. No need to go into the rest of your long list of legitimate reasons not to marry her. You don't love her is the full stop. You don't marry someone you don't love. Break up now; spare the both of you the agony of a fractured marriage.
posted by headspace at 1:41 AM on March 31, 2018 [37 favorites]


Hm, I should probably clarify - I used to be reasonably certain that I love her; the problem is that all these doubts, reservations, and second thoughts are making me wonder whether I actually do. After all, if I truly loved her, wouldn't I just be thrilled that I'm getting to spend the rest of my life with her? So that's why I've started allowing for the possibility that this isn't love, but something else - it's more like a 90/10 chance in my eyes, but I can always be wrong, right?

On the other hand, just because you love someone doesn't mean you should marry them. I mean, if love along was all it took, we'd be marrying parents and friends (creepy, I know, but just making a point).
posted by BetterThanReddit at 1:55 AM on March 31, 2018


It also makes me confront questions such as children - I know I want to have them, but not for the next 5 years; meanwhile, with her being 33 right now, the biological clock is starting to tick. On the one hand, I know what I'm getting into; on the other, having decided to marry before being ready, I refuse to do the same when it comes to children.

I keep telling myself that this can't all be that bad, that I can divorce after a couple of years.


Please don't marry a 33 year old woman who wants to have kids when you are certain that you don't want kids for at least 5 years and noncommittal about the marriage in the first place.
posted by lwb at 2:03 AM on March 31, 2018 [113 favorites]


Oddly enough, she's actually ambivalent about kids - she says she wouldn't mind not having them, but would have them because I want them. The potential problem is the timing.
posted by BetterThanReddit at 2:14 AM on March 31, 2018


End it. You don't want it. You might regret it later, or you might not, but right now it's clear that you haven't got a strong enough desire to marry without setting one or both of you up for enormous resentment down the line.

You won't find a logical, watertight argument that will satisfy you, your family or your fiancée, you just need to be honest about the fact that it's not what you want.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:18 AM on March 31, 2018 [8 favorites]


How do you envision day-to-day life after your marriage? Who cooks, do you have similar tastes in food, who does the dishes, do you and your wife-to-be go to bed at the same time or is one a night owl and one a lark, do you watch TV or play games together (for instance), do you spend time in separate rooms or in the same one, what do you do if both of you have the day off, do you like to listen to the same kind of music, do you like the windows open or closed, do you have similar interests in bed, will your wife be able to join you and your friend in your weekly hangouts, etc. etc.?

(This all sounds and is incredibly mundane, but these will be the things that make up your marriage on a regular basis. I've never been more resentful of/at odds with my husband than when we were planning our wedding (and it wasn't even a wedding, just a minor party), but, knock wood, we live together pretty harmoniously as a rule.)

If you can imagine various likely answers (no right answers, just what works for you) to the above questions that make you feel content, happy, excited, then my guess is that you will be okay married. If your gut reaction is, oh God, trying to fit her into my life is going to be a chore, just give me my comfortable single/LDR life back, maybe you want to rethink.
posted by huimangm at 2:22 AM on March 31, 2018 [17 favorites]


It also makes me confront questions such as children - I know I want to have them, but not for the next 5 years; meanwhile, with her being 33 right now, the biological clock is starting to tick... having decided to marry before being ready, I refuse to do the same when it comes to children. I keep telling myself that this can't all be that bad, that I can divorce after a couple of years.

At which point she'll be what, 35 and freshly divorced and now with a very limited window to find a partner with whom to have children?

You need to be all in or all out. If you are not committing to this marriage and in agreement about when the two of you want to have children, please do this woman a huge favour and break this off now.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:29 AM on March 31, 2018 [22 favorites]


If your gut reaction to getting married is not "Hell yes!" then your actual answer is "No."

Plus, as painful and difficult as it seems to have to shut down a wedding, it's going to be a lot better than the legal unraveling that comes with a divorce.
posted by phatkitten at 2:34 AM on March 31, 2018 [35 favorites]


How do you envision day-to-day life after your marriage? Who cooks, do you have similar tastes in food, who does the dishes, do you and your wife-to-be go to bed at the same time or is one a night owl and one a lark, do you watch TV or play games together (for instance), do you spend time in separate rooms or in the same one, what do you do if both of you have the day off, do you like to listen to the same kind of music, do you like the windows open or closed, do you have similar interests in bed, will your wife be able to join you and your friend in your weekly hangouts, etc. etc.?

Actually, this is the part I'm feeling quite comfortable about, as we've lived together for several months in a row in the past. In general, I want to see it as a marriage of two independent adults - meaning, though we are married, we still retain the freedom to do our own thing. For example, she's not expected to join me in my weekly get-togethers with friends; beyond that, we've already figured out a basic division of household chores, so I think that's going to work.

Do you have similar interests in bed?

Actually, that's a big one - we don't. I found myself less and less attracted to her over time. Don't get me wrong, I love cuddling with her, hugging her, kissing her - but she just doesn't bring out the whole "drive-me-crazy-and-rip-my-clothes-off" thing in me. It might have something to do with the fact that, having had sex with sex workers, I know that I can basically go off and hire a pornstar-looking woman for a few hours, making it a bit of an impossible standard for her to meet.

Plus, there are quite a few things I'd want to experiment with sexually which I know she wouldn't be OK with (heck, I'm not sure I'd ever actually do it - maybe these are all just fantasies). I guess it's just one of the things to be given up.

If your gut reaction to getting married is not "Hell yes!" then your actual answer is "No."

It definitely is not a "Hell yes!" - it's more of a "Well, guess I ain't go any other choice here."
posted by BetterThanReddit at 2:42 AM on March 31, 2018


Don't marry someone you plan on divorcing. That's being much more harmful to them in the long run compared to ending the relationship. Like, extremely harmful if she moves to your country and you divorce in two years. Then what? Would she be deported? Lose her job? Investigated for immigration fraud of some sort for such a short marriage? Have any friends or resources?

If you end the relationship now she has choices instead of being essentially lied to about your intentions.

Do not marry this person. I would not recommend anyone to marry who had serious doubts. None of this sounds like you like her. You keep coming back in with more reasons why this relationship isn't working for you.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:44 AM on March 31, 2018 [25 favorites]


Don't marry someone you plan on divorcing. That's being much more harmful to them in the long run compared to ending the relationship. Like, extremely harmful if she moves to your country and you divorce in two years. Then what? Would she be deported? Lose her job? Investigated for immigration fraud of some sort for such a short marriage? Have any friends or resources?

I've already thought about it - normally, she will not get deported so long as she has a job. She will acquire a work and residence permit through her marriage to me, which, in turn, I expect she will leverage into a job. Once she has that, that job would continue issuing her residence permits, even in the event of a divorce. If she doesn't have a job, then yes, she would get deported. That said, I don't plan on divorcing her per se - it's more like me telling myself that it doesn't have to be forever if I don't want it to be, that there's always a way out.

If you end the relationship now she has choices instead of being essentially lied to about your intentions.

Well, actually, I've been very transparent with her about my doubts - it made for some very difficult conversations, but I felt that if there was one thing I owed her, it was candor and full knowledge of facts before she signs on the proverbial dotted line. As a consequence of this transparency, though, her getting deported in the event of a divorce is not my responsibility - after all, she's knows the risks she's taking.

I would not recommend anyone to marry who had serious doubts.
I guess my issue here is that I'm not sure whether what I'm feeling - as enumerated above - constitutes 'serious doubts' or is just a case of cold feel. Like I said, I imagine everyone feels apprehensive about their upcoming marriage, no?
posted by BetterThanReddit at 2:51 AM on March 31, 2018


Oddly enough, she's actually ambivalent about kids - she says she wouldn't mind not having them, but would have them because I want them. The potential problem is the timing.

This still presents some pretty ugly failure scenarios. I think you need to get clear with yourself about what you want and what your priorities in life are going to be. You say you know you want kids, so if your then 38 year old wife has trouble conceiving, are you going to leave her in search of someone younger and more fertile? Could your relationship survive the stresses of IVF or adoption?
What if you *do* have kids with her? You're leaning hard on divorce as an escape hatch before you're even married, and new parenthood is stressful even for stable relationships.

I think you should call off your wedding (especially seeing your update, "ain't got any other choice" is not a reason to marry someone, and you're still focusing on what you're giving up over what you're gaining) but if you aren't ready to take that step yet, you need to have an honest conversation with her about your doubts. She deserves to know before she commits to you (and especially before she makes her decision about parenthood with you) where you're at and that you are not in the same committed place with her.
posted by lwb at 2:52 AM on March 31, 2018 [4 favorites]


You say you know you want kids, so if your then 38 year old wife has trouble conceiving, are you going to leave her in search of someone younger and more fertile? Could your relationship survive the stresses of IVF or adoption?
What if you *do* have kids with her? You're leaning hard on divorce as an escape hatch before you're even married, and new parenthood is stressful even for stable relationships.


IVF, I'd be open to if she is (after all, it's her body). Adoption, no - I need to know that it's my own flesh and blood, so to speak. And as for having kids with her - well, I guess that's the point where there really would be no way out: after all, while adults can take responsibility for their actions, kids can't - so, at that point, it wouldn't be just about me and her anymore, but also about the obligation we'd have to our kids. So, I'd likely do what I can to stick it out, unless I'm convinced that doing so would be completely against the kids' interest.
posted by BetterThanReddit at 2:56 AM on March 31, 2018


You clearly don't want to marry her. You are not obligated to marry her (it's not 1950, she isn't 18 and pregnant, her father isn't holding a shotgun on you. Even then there were choices).

This will go really badly. If she's ambivalent about kids she deserves the chance to consider it some more and biologically she has less time to do so than you. I think you'd get a lot out of dating more widely so you can out more of a gap between your 'porn star' sex worker ideas vs marrying the first person you've had a sexual relationship with. Nothing wrong with being a late bloomer and I'm not one personally for think you need to be having heaps of sexual partners but I feel really icky for her about your comments. Seems like it's way too easy for you to go back paying sex workers if intimacy faded between you guys for whatever reason.
posted by kitten magic at 2:59 AM on March 31, 2018 [32 favorites]


Also, you've experienced a significant medical issue. What would happen if you married her and something similar happened and she couldn't work and it was at the time you decided to get divorced?

Re cold feet, yeah, I've seen people a bit nervous but more in the omg wow kind of way, or because they are shy at getting up in public. They didn't have a list like this!
posted by kitten magic at 3:02 AM on March 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm no relationship expert, but it doesn't sound like you want to marry her even a little bit. I feel like normal anxieties about marriage would be balanced with a genuine belief that you can see yourself spending your life with this person, that it's something you'd like and the person makes you happy. I don't see you saying that here. End it now because it'll be harder the longer you want.

Also, what you said about knowing you can always "hire a pornstar-looking woman for a few hours" getting in the way of your ability to desire your girlfriend seems problematic if you ever want to have a real relationship. Maybe you should stop doing that? Sounds like other than your girlfriend, all your other sexual experiences have been with sex workers. Seems like it has hurt your ability to have a healthy sexual relationship with a long-term partner. And I'm fairly confident your girlfriend would be horrified if she knew what you've said here about losing your attraction to her over time and thinking about hiring sex workers. Just let her find someone who actually desires her.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:05 AM on March 31, 2018 [47 favorites]


You clearly don't want to marry her. You are not obligated to marry her (it's not 1950, she isn't 18 and pregnant, her father isn't holding a shotgun on you. Even then there were choices).

You're right, I don't want to marry her. We've talked about it, and, basically, I'm marrying her not because I want to, but because I feel that, for all of the above reasons, I have to. Had she been able to come, live, and work here on her own, without needing the marriage to get papers, we would not be getting married. But that's impossible - so I'm treating this marriage as basically a way to get her to live with me so as to keep this relationship going. Try as I might, I can't find another meaningful way for this relationship to continue.

What would happen if you married her and something similar happened and she couldn't work and it was at the time you decided to get divorced?

That's a good point. I'd probably ask myself how severe the medical issue is and how long she'd have to deal with its consequences. I would never leave her high and dry, but neither would I contemplate a life where I live with someone just for their benefit, even though I resent every second of it. Financial circumstances permitting, I would seek to figure out some sort of a professional arrangement where I would support her financially while she needed it while still living separately. Obviously, this is assuming that I wanted to leave her in the first instance.

I'm no relationship expert, but it doesn't sound like you want to marry her even a little bit. I feel like normal anxieties about marriage would be balanced with a genuine belief that you can see yourself spending your life with this person, that it's something you'd like and the person makes you happy. I don't see you saying that here.

No, I don't want to marry her (please see above) - it just seems to be the only way to keep this relationship going. It's not that there's anything wrong with her, it's just I don't feel I'm ready to marry. In this case, having lived with her before, I know it can be pretty fun, and I'm sort of crossing my fingers and telling myself that nothing needs to change, that things can just continue as they are now except that she'll be around (and wouldn't that be nice?), that we can still maintain our separate identities and do our own things while finding somethings we can do together...

Sounds like other than your girlfriend, all your other sexual experiences have been with sex workers. Seems like has hurt your ability to have a healthy sexual relationship with a long-term partner, and I'm fairly confident she'd be horrified if she knew what you've said here about losing your attraction to her over time and thinking about hiring sex workers. Just let her find someone who actually desires her.

Yes, that's true - all my other experiences have been with sex workers (and, to be fair, we're talking middle-t-upper level companionship services charging $400 - $700/hr). She's aware of it, and we've had discussions about it, including the issue with our waning attraction. I feel awful because sometimes when I have sex with her, it's to make her feel desired - even though I might not be up for it, I know it means a lot to her. Yep, feel pretty miserable typing this...

P.S. Let me just say THANK YOU for all your insightful commentary - I know I can be somewhat of a prolific writer, so thank you, really, so much for taking the time. Just getting all of this off my chest (ahh, the anonymity of the Internet) makes it all so much better.
posted by BetterThanReddit at 3:17 AM on March 31, 2018


Nothing in all that you are telling us (and it's a lot) says that this is a good idea. Don't marry her. It's not worth it... not for her, not for you. You're not doing her any favours even if it seems that way.

Getting married with the idea that you can always get a divorce later means that you don't want to get married. It's like starting a business while saying 'I can always go bankrupt later'.

Just get out now. If you think that's hard now... it's a piece of cake compared to doing it later.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:20 AM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


A friend used to say to me 'nothing lasts forever, enjoy it while it lasts'. Some things have an expiration date. If you don't want to marry but it's the only choice to keep the relationship going... well I think it's time to let the relationship go. More on while you can still smile about the memory.
posted by kitten magic at 3:26 AM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


[BetterThanReddit, moderator here. Just so you know, Ask Metafilter is not for back and forth discussion between the poster and commenters. It's fine to answer non-rhetorical questions if folks need further info in order to supply advice, but the goal here is not to process one's feelings via conversation or have a discussion or debate at all, but rather to ask a concrete question and get a variety of suggestions, which the poster may consider at their leisure and decide how to proceed. So please just relax, take in the answers, and comment only if absolutely necessary to clear up any confusion, or once you've made a decision or resolved the situation, as an update on what worked or didn't. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:27 AM on March 31, 2018 [55 favorites]


No, I don't want to marry her...

Then don't marry her.

...it just seems to be the only way to keep this relationship going.


That's selfish. She deserves to marry someone who wants her unequivocally. Again, don't marry her.

Given that you aren't attracted to her, you want to hire sex workers, you aren't sure if you love her, you guess it's been "pretty fun" dating her, and all the other half-hearted stuff you've said here, I cannot even fathom why you want this relationship at all except for out of loneliness and the need for companionship. In that case, get a dog. Let this woman go.

I'm not sure why you're responding to every comment and what you think it's accomplishing, because with every response here, I become more and more convinced you need to not do this. The kindest thing you could do is let this woman find a man who would never write these sorts of comments about her on the internet. (Also, the mods here don't take too kindly on "thread-sitting.")
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:27 AM on March 31, 2018 [65 favorites]


I'm sorry but I can't imagine talking or thinking about someone I love the way you're talking and thinking about her and the relationship. And if I were you're fiance and read this I would know you didn't really love me and would break up with you immediately. What you have described sounds transactional. You want to marry her because...why? You think you might not be able to find anyone else better later down the line? You marry someone because you don't want to be with anyone else, you want to make their life better and you want to share your life with them. You don't marry someone thinking hey, I'll just divorce them later. Just. Don't do this.
posted by Polychrome at 3:30 AM on March 31, 2018 [45 favorites]


You are standing on the edge of a cliff and you know it. Don't do this. It would be a terrible, terrible thing to do both to yourself and—just as importantly—to your now-fiancée. Reneging will be very painful, but not nearly as painful and psychologically destructive—for both of you—as years of an unwanted marriage.

No, no, no. This is not normal pre-wedding jitters. This is your gut trying to stop you from making a terrible mistake. Do what needs to be done and break it off.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:38 AM on March 31, 2018 [6 favorites]


Hi! There are cold feet, and then there are RED FLAGS. Do not get married if you don't want to get married. The biggest favor you can give this woman is not a Schengen marriage visa, but a tearful apology for your mistakes in the relationship and a genuine offer to help her get her life together without you.
posted by athirstforsalt at 3:54 AM on March 31, 2018 [4 favorites]


Call it off, if only for her sake. It's monstrous to marry someone when you're not really feeling it and thinking that you can always get divorced down the road.

She's the first real relationship you've ever had, and while it seems you've done a lot of processing which is great, you're doing all this therapy and processing based on ONE relationship. Your basis of comparison is this one woman and sex workers. That's fair because that's all you've known, but that's not all there is. There are more options out there.

Just call it off with her. If you want to meet new people, do that. Or don't. But know that this one relationship you had is simply that--one relationship--and every relationship is different and wonderful and sometimes messy and weird in its own. You need to experience more of them, I think.

It's great you're listening to yourself; that's an important thing to do.

Now get in touch with her and call this thing off.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:55 AM on March 31, 2018 [10 favorites]


You've been together three years. I don't see that you're really going to love her much more than you do now. You're asking her to uproot herself for you, waste important years of her life in relationship/biological terms, all with the thought in the back of your mind (actually more like the front) "at least there's always divorce" . Don't do it.
posted by KateViolet at 3:57 AM on March 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


Don't marry her.
posted by RainyJay at 3:57 AM on March 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


Women are not rehabilitation centres for poorly raised men. There is something very off about how you view this women (all women?), as noted above, you seem to have a transactional concept of relationships; certainly it sounds like you require a power imbalance in your favour where you can either pay someone to go away or pressure them into decisions against their own best interest. You also place a great deal of importance on how you have kept her informed of all of your doubts and the possibility you will divorce her, as though that absolves you of responsibility: "I warned you I was bad!" You are contemplating making choices that will severely affect another person, but you are not willing to take ownership of those choices.

You aren't ready for a relationship with her, or anyone, right now. The kindess thing would be to break off the relationship and let everyone know it was you, not here. That you have been lying to yourself and to her and you didn't want to keep her from an authentic, honest relationship with someone who would love her even if she got sick.

I don't say this lightly. Breaking up with her a month before the wedding is bad, really bad. It will probably make her feel rejected, forever unlovable, will probably lower other people's impression of her (women are judged so much harder then men), but it is still kinder than going ahead with a marriage when putting another person's needs before your own wants is simply never an option for you.
posted by saucysault at 4:08 AM on March 31, 2018 [184 favorites]


Don't.

There are really good reasons why people say "trust your gut" in instances like this: In theory, it is possible to set out a matrix of "pros and cons" for marrying somebody, when you are not sure, and then to try to work out a "go/no go" score - this is sort of what you've done at the top of the question. The problem is that the list is long and it is it difficult to be rationally sure one way or another. This is exactly where the emotional part of your brain helps out - it processes all that information in a different way. That feeling you get when you wake up at 4am in a cold sweat with a voice in your head telling you "this is marriage not a good idea" - is that emotional calculus happening. Listen to it!

This is also why people are mentioning the issue of love: when you love somebody this is also an absolutely gut level reaction - much more than a rational one. It is that love that helps you overcome the big challenges which will affect every marriage. If you don't have that immediate feeling of "of course we love each other and that will help us overcome these obstacles" - then that is a major alarm bell then it comes to your joint abilities to handle any areas where there likely to be conflict or difficulty.

(And be aware that this is a very different feeling from "wedding day butterflies" - where you are maybe have some social anxiety issues relating to the wedding itself - but are otherwise looking forward to being married. This is common - but I see no evidence that it is the driving factor in your case).
posted by rongorongo at 4:13 AM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


There is a man who will love her unequivocally and be thrilled to make a life with her, but you need to let her go as soon as possible so she can find him. Don’t be selfish and hold on to someone you don’t really want as a placeholder until someone “better” comes along. It’s cruel.
posted by fireandthud at 4:14 AM on March 31, 2018 [11 favorites]


I feel like you've convinced yourself you have limited options and therefore marriage is the least worst path to take. I'm sure you have far more potential and moving on to discover and live the life you actually want will be better in the long run.
posted by JonB at 4:19 AM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


As a consequence of this transparency, though, her getting deported in the event of a divorce is not my responsibility - after all, she's knows the risks she's taking.

This doesn't seem like a particularly loving or caring way to look at this. It reads as though you aren't really bothered by the consequences she might suffer as long as you feel you've absolved yourself of responsibility. It's an almost businesslike approach, and not one I think is likely to lead to a happy marriage.
posted by lwb at 4:24 AM on March 31, 2018 [41 favorites]


I married someone who I suddenly dreaded marrying about one week before the wedding.

I wish I’d called it off. International flights & hotel reservations & other finanlicl commitments be damned.

It cost me more - financially and emotionally
- when we divorced 4 years later. I still bear the emotional scars of that marriage I did not want.

My (second) husband has a similar story with his first wife. Just because it’s a common occurrence doesn’t mean that it’s a necessary or good or pleasant one. Assuming you are in the Netherlands - yes, the bureaucracy/logistics of divorce is easy. The emotional side is - regardless of georgraphic location - painful.

Wishing you bravery as you call off this wedding. I know it’s hard. The fear of doing it kept me from calling off my own 14 years ago. I still wish I had.

This is more than jitters. Trust your gut.
posted by pammeke at 4:40 AM on March 31, 2018 [11 favorites]


Having been married and having tons of friends who have been married, THESE ARE NOT NORMAL PRE-WEDDING JITTERS. These are reasons to cancel the wedding. People who are going into a happy marriage do NOT have the type of doubts you are having. I wish you the best of luck untangling this. You seem self-aware and are a planner, so I think you can undo this in a way that minimizes (it will be impossible to completely avoid) fallout.
posted by whitewall at 4:49 AM on March 31, 2018 [6 favorites]


What does marriage mean to you, and what does it mean to her?

One reading of your waffling is that you both want to see where this relationship goes, but that due to international laws, you're having to commit earlier than you want to. And that makes you feel trapped. I think the other respondents have sufficiently dealt with the less flattering readings.

I ask about the meaning of marriage because I see the single word used to stand for a number of different things:
1. A private commitment between people to build a life together
2. "Married in the eyes of the church"
3. Marriage in front of your friends/family - I see this as asking your community to bless, celebrate, and support your relationship
4. A legal status, where in return for having obligations to each other you gain certain privileges

It makes sense to me that they can come in different orders for different couples, or that some might not even apply. You certainly wouldn't be the first person to put #4 before #2 or #3 - plenty of people get married in secret for legal reasons, then do the big party / community bit later. It seems like you're after #4, and willing to accept the legal obligations, because you need the benefits in order to figure out #1.
posted by Metasyntactic at 4:49 AM on March 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


A good friend of mine married a man who was not sure about the whole thing - I heard of he was expressing his serious doubts the night before the wedding from a mutual friend.
Needless to say he left her a year later when he finally realised he didn't love her properly and she's never really got over it, there's something about the seriousness of the terms marriage husband and wife which makes it all seem way way heavier than just a broken engagement.
6 years on she still often gets tearful about her failed marriage. And who wants to be a divorcee??

I think your proposed plan of action sounds very selfish and you must take the other kinder path now and leave this relationship.
posted by stevedawg at 4:55 AM on March 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think you should end it. But if you are not able to, I think you at least owe her the truth.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:04 AM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


Breaking up with her a month before the wedding is bad, really bad. It will probably make her feel rejected, forever unlovable,

I think that she’ll quickly realize that she dodged a bullet by not marrying a guy who has come up with six(!) solid reasons to not marry her. She’s probably aware that he’s just not that into her. I can think of several solid reasons for her to not marry him.
posted by bendy at 5:10 AM on March 31, 2018 [11 favorites]


Hey, I hope you don't feel too beat up from the replies. I think it was wise and brave of you to post this question. This is your first relationship, and you are figuring things out. I am on Team End It Now.

My honey and I lived in different countries and had to get married in order to be together. But we were a Hell Yes, All In couple. That is not what you are describing.

Also, that thing you wrote about not always being attracted to your fiancé but having sex with her sometimes anyway? That should be a deal-breaker. I have been the gal pity-fucked by my partner. It is humiliating and damaging. So you need to break up. Not for yourself, but for her.

It will serve your own best interests as well but seriously, don't do this to her. Or anyone else. Not ever.

So thank you for asking this question. The answer is: Do Not Get Married. Cancel the ceremony immediately. Save both of you worse future pain by acting now.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:15 AM on March 31, 2018 [20 favorites]


You say that you don't want to marry her, but maybe what you don't want is your perception of a traditional ideal of marriage. So what does she want? Does she want this ideal too? If not, what does she want? - If you talk with her about it, there's a chance that you can have the marriage that you both want. It does not have to this generic marriage that you seem to be projecting your anxieties on to ...
posted by carter at 5:22 AM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


When marriage isn't about romantic love, it's about enduring partnership so the people involved help each other make their lives better, fuller, more expansive. In the case of citizenship this can get tricky in relation to social morals and the law and stuff - but access to life in a country that your spouse really wants to be a part of is a valid reason to marry, I think. There are other non-romance reasons to marry, like assuring assets and power of attorney go to the right people at crucial times; would you trust your girlfriend to make enduring medical decisions for you if you were in the hospital again? Would you trust yourself to make those choices for her? But. But! I don't think any of this applies to you.

She's a skilled adult who is globally mobile, has access to tech and resources and has job offers from long distance companies. She might want citizenship in your country specifically but marrying you is not the way to attain that, and she's not lacking for options throughout the world. Considering your tone and the way you're approaching interpersonal relationships overall I'd be extremely surprised if you trusted her to make medical decisions for you, or wanted to pool your assets. And in addition to all of this, you're not into her sexually, and see marriage as a limitation to any future change to that. It's all very very wrong. If I were her, I'd be lucky to get a phonecall from you saying the wedding is off. I'd be relieved.
posted by Mizu at 5:26 AM on March 31, 2018 [7 favorites]


I do echo the consensus, but I have a different point to make. There are so many identifying details in your post that she may hear from a colleague or friend about this thread, maybe even before you have a chance to tell her. In future posts here you may want to consider anonymizing more when asking questions that will be this intense for the other person to read.
posted by kalapierson at 5:32 AM on March 31, 2018 [20 favorites]


- I let myself be pressured by my family and by her. Though I'm lucky in that my family does not usually interfere in my private life, having met her, they all loved her and strongly encouraged me to marry her. My fiancee herself added some pressure, too, by constantly encouraging me to look for even more and more legally binding options that would help her come here (from arranging a job for her, to - when that failed, signing a civil partnership agreement, to - when that failed as well - marriage). To be fair to her, I did come up these ideas myself - and, ultimately, no one but me is responsible for my decisions, so I'm not here to say that I was pressured and it wasn't my fault.

It could be that you both pressured each other to some extent. I have the sense you're kind of spinning over whose fault things are, and that makes it hard to really think.

What about doing a thought experiment? First, imagine your girlfriend didn't go to Africa on your advice, or went and didn't have a negative experience. (This seems to be the key thing making you feel like you owe her.) Then, imagine that she did have a negative experience, and it wasn't your "fault" at all. (That she declared she wanted to go for her own reasons, let us say.) Then, that it was 50% your fault. Then, that you twisted her arm and made her go. At what point do you have an obligation to marry her?

The thing is, I don't think you are making this decision freely-- whatever you decide at this point. You seem to be caught up in a lot of blame and quilt, as distinct from responsibility. It may indeed be relevant that you haven't gone through another relationship and breakup. You've only been with people to whom you have no ties, by definition. There is often a certain amount of guilt and blame in real relationships and breakups, but responsibility is about how you move forward.
posted by BibiRose at 6:07 AM on March 31, 2018


Dude, everything you've said here is screaming at the top of your lungs, I DON'T WANT TO MARRY HER SOMEONE FIND SOME WAY FOR ME TO GET OUT OF THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS. I picture you going outside and screaming this at the sky like, daily. You don't seem to like her much, you don't want to bang her when you can get a porn star hot prostitute any time you want (dude, I'm pretty laid back about that shit and even I would have pause about marrying someone who says this while with me), it sounds like all she's good for for you is being there while you were sick. For you this is a green card (er, whatever the equivalent of that is in your country) marriage only and you're already hoping for and planning for a divorce. WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND SOUL YOU DON'T WANNA MARRY HER.

If I thought any part of you cared about this woman, I'd tell you to read Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. She was having an LDR with a man from another country, both of them were divorced and neither of them wanted to get married again and would have happily kept things as they were except for legal reasons they either had to get married or break up forever. Committed is the book she wrote while trying to resign herself to getting married when she didn't want to and wasn't ready even though she loved the guy. It's really good. If I thought that you two were having a great relationship and it was just a case of having to suck it up and get married, I'd say this would help you.

But you don't even like her really. You just feel obligated to green card it. Just break up already before you make things worse. I think she'd rather feel shitty, abandoned and betrayed now while she's still young enough to find someone else for kids than when you inevitably abandon her emotionally while married to her and she finds this out when she's 40.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:19 AM on March 31, 2018 [10 favorites]


On the question of the marriage. What does she want? When you say to her "look, I don't know if I want this relationship forever, but I want to get married so we can give it a go; if it doesn't work out, we'll work out a way to make sure you get the immigration status benefits." is she truly happy or is she hurt but hopeful? Is she honestly carrying happily on in the spirit of marrying for technical reasons and seeing whether it turns into a real marriage down the line? Or is she agreeing to your caveats because she believes that marrying you will have a genuinely binding effect?

On the question of the relationship. Why are you continuing a sexual relationship with her when you clearly don't want a sexual relationship with her? I'm not even sure you really want a romantic relationship, given your stated desire for independence. It's not acceptable to carry on a relationship if you don't actually want it. In the end it will do much more harm than good.

Bottom line. I think its fine to get married to someone you love and want to be with, for technical reasons, even when you're not sure you want to be with them forever. But I think it's really stupid to make a huge commitment to a relationship if you don't actually want to be in that relationship. I actually think the question of marriage is pretty irrelevant. My take on this is that you seem like you don't really want this relationship at all, anymore. This isn't someone you want to have sex with, or even really share your life with. If I'm right, you just need to end it, and you absolutely, definitely need to call off the wedding. Sorting out her immigration needs and pleasing your family is not your responsibility, and fulfilling your desire for children most certainly isn't her responsibility. Being honest with your partner and yourself is your responsibility and you need to make sure you live up to it.

Also don't beat yourself up too much about this. Everyone fucks a few things up really badly in their life, and you're being extremely sensible in trying to make sure that this isn't one of your occasions. Ending things now will hurt everyone involved, but not nearly as much as ending things in a few years.

Unless I'm reading this situation wrong, you need to break up ASAP.
posted by howfar at 6:21 AM on March 31, 2018 [7 favorites]


Imagine if she phoned you up right now and dumped you. How does imagining that make you feel? If the answer is "awesome," then you know what you gotta do.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:24 AM on March 31, 2018 [26 favorites]


Please don't marry her. You both deserve better than whatever this is. To answer your question directly: no, what you are experiencing is not normal pre-wedding jitters.
posted by the webmistress at 7:03 AM on March 31, 2018 [4 favorites]


I feel so badly for this woman. If you think you love her you should treat her lovingly and let her go. Break up with her. You're basically talking about her like she's not a full human in this question and in your follow ups and she deserves better.
posted by sockermom at 7:26 AM on March 31, 2018 [38 favorites]


"I'm marrying her not because I want to, but because I feel that, for all of the above reasons, I have to. Had she been able to come, live, and work here on her own, without needing the marriage to get papers, we would not be getting married. But that's impossible - so I'm treating this marriage as basically a way to get her to live with me so as to keep this relationship going. Try as I might, I can't find another meaningful way for this relationship to continue."

"it just seems to be the only way to keep this relationship going. It's not that there's anything wrong with her, it's just I don't feel I'm ready to marry."

I've never been married, had an LDR or immigrated so take what I say with a huge grain of salt.

So the reasons for marrying her is so that she can come to your country and work, and you feel like you owe her this because you pressured her into taking a job in Africa and she caved to that pressure and she hated it and now you feel guilty so one way to rectify that is by getting her to the country she wants and work there and the only way to do that is to marry her?

Dude.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying things, and we have to toss in other factors like you did well when living together, you like her (even though you're sexually incompatible) familial pressure, etc as additional reasons why you're marrying but is not what I described in my run on sentence what it boils down to?

There are huge consequences to you getting married, and consequences for breaking if off now. E.g. if you get married then she has access to your country and that alleviates some of your guilt. If you break up now then... That means she can't work in your country? How bad is that?

As painful as it is to break up and know that you're limiting her access to your country (and all the other consequences) you have to do it. You can't go through with this marriage.
posted by foxjacket at 7:59 AM on March 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


You keep saying that after a few therapy sessions you "now understand" some highly subjective and debatable thing or other. meaning in reality that you now believe that thing, or you have now decided that thing is true. Ethical behavior is a choice, and your repeated passive revelations about the real obligations of life are not helping you come to the point of making an ethical decision.

for example you do actually bear some minor responsibility for lobbying so hard for this woman to move to a new continent and a position she hated. it's great that your psychologist told you guilt is a fake idea because listening to the man you love is a thing suckers do so it's her own fault, or whatever it was they said. and sure, she made her own bad choices. but it's ok to feel bad about a relationship mistake without feeling compelled to marry her to make up for it. largely because marrying her won't make up for it and will make her life worse in the long run. also, it sounds like she's already left the country she was unhappy in, so it's not even relevant now.

you only have a dilemma if you can't bear to take an action that will leave you feeling a bit bad about yourself for a while. break it off, accept the guilt without trying to understand it into something else, and you'll feel better in a few months.

to be fair, we're talking middle-t-upper level companionship services charging $400 - $700/hr

I hope this is only supposed to demonstrate your willingness to pay an acceptable wage to a skilled worker, and not anything else it sounds like.

You should not have children at your current stage of development.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:00 AM on March 31, 2018 [93 favorites]


"Well, guess I ain't go any other choice here."
Some version of this was why I got married.

Coincidentally 6 years later it was also basically why I got divorced.
posted by PMdixon at 8:02 AM on March 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Of course, after several sessions of therapy with a psychologist, I now understand that I should have disregarded this pressure completely and thought, first and foremost, of what would benefit me. Well, hindsight, 20/20...

Wow. THAT is what you got out of therapy? Really? That in considering your partnership you should only think of what would benefit you?

Dude, just stop. Just stop. Look, the only way I could see this is if you go to your girlfriend and say "I am willing to marry you for two years so you can immigrate, but we won't have children, because I don't see this lasting. Also, I'll be hiring hookers because I want to. Is that a tradeoff you're interested in?"

Without that conversation, God, no. What a terrible, terrible idea. And by the way? You may think divorce is easy, but if you have a kid with someone, that relationship is FOR LIFE.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:08 AM on March 31, 2018 [50 favorites]


And by the way: normal pre-wedding jitters is "I love her so much, but wow a lifetime is a long time! I'm scared it won't always feel like this! I hope it does!"

Not... whatever this is. God, this is such a sad post. Poor woman. Just cancel this. And make sure you do the work of making the announcements, canceling the caterers, etc.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:12 AM on March 31, 2018 [46 favorites]


Extreme bummer question, just reading it made me anxious. YES, cancel the wedding. How would your fiancée feel were she to read this post? If you cravenly let inertia carry you through till the ceremony I guarantee you'll regret it.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:17 AM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


and if your sexuality was formed by the experiences you had with high-wage sex workers, you need to get your head right for your next relationship if you expect to ever have another one. Sex with someone who doesn't work for you will not ever be comparable to sex with someone who does, and if it ever feels the same you should think seriously and immediately about why it feels that way. sleeping with someone who's in it just as much for her own pleasure as for yours should be more pleasurable for you, not less. and I don't mean if/because you love her.

having had sex with sex workers, I know that I can basically go off and hire a pornstar-looking woman for a few hours, making it a bit of an impossible standard for her to meet.


well, no. sex with someone who's physically enjoying herself and who likes you is an impossible standard for a sex worker to meet. no slight to them; that's not their job.

If you are not capable of understanding or believing this, do you think your own sex and companionship is worth $400-$700 per hour to a woman, at your present skill level? if you think only in those terms, if sex as customer service is your only standard of comparison for potential partners, then it needs to be.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:31 AM on March 31, 2018 [72 favorites]


For crying out loud, you’re not even married and you’re already planning the divorce. Just skip the deposits, lawyers and paperwork, and the potential custody battle, and just BREAK UP.

BREAK UP. Are you seriously going to milquetoast yourself into a marriage because you don’t have the courage and integrity to endure one difficult adult conversation? If you don’t even have the guts to say you don’t want to get married, how are you going to tell her you want a divorce? Or are you just going to cheat on her and ignore her, and hope it’s enough for her to initiate divorce proceedings so you don’t have to be the one to do it?

Just, holy cow. You’re 34. It’s time to be an adult and use your words.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:03 AM on March 31, 2018 [48 favorites]


May I recommend Fuck Yes or No? If you're in the grey area to begin with you've already lost. Move on.
posted by 6thsense at 9:15 AM on March 31, 2018 [4 favorites]


You've made a lot of comments in your question and in your follow-up that make me really wonder if you see any other people as full people, beyond you, that have their own in our lives and dreams and hopes and thoughts and feelings. Your comment about having a kid that is your own flesh and blood, the way that you're talking about paying sex workers, the way that you're talking about your own fiance, as well as the way you've talked about your therapist... You seem to have sort of a dehumanized view of others that if I were you I would really spend some time digging in to and examining. Other people are full people that exist fully outside of you, not just in relation to you. This marriage that you're thinking about is not just about you. And it's not just about how she reacts to you. You keep centering this back on yourself in a way that's deeply concerning.

I did already leave a comment about not viewing your fiance as a full person, but upon thinking and re-reading, I think it goes much deeper. Seriously, I think that you have some real thinking to do about other people. And this thinking goes beyond the immediate problem of your impending wedding, which I do hope you will cancel.
posted by sockermom at 9:24 AM on March 31, 2018 [66 favorites]


I didn't read all the details, but in all threads like this, I like to point out that there is a thing, relationship anxiety, or relationship OCD. For most people, yeah, if you're lukewarm, you're not into it. But if you've been happy and then your brain starts torturing you with intrusive thoughts like "maybe I don't love him / her enough," that could also be anxiety / OCD. It's the relationship version of "maybe I left the stove on." I include some links here. Another website to check out is Conscious Transitions.

So when you say:

I used to be reasonably certain that I love her; the problem is that all these doubts, reservations, and second thoughts are making me wonder whether I actually do.

I hear more anxiety than real concerns about the relationship. And when you ask:

After all, if I truly loved her, wouldn't I just be thrilled that I'm getting to spend the rest of my life with her?

I think "it's also possible that your brain is just being a jerk to you and not letting you enjoy a good thing."

Good luck, I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by salvia at 9:36 AM on March 31, 2018 [4 favorites]


Marrying her at this point seems like an act of cowardice and shame, not of kindness and love.

Please be brave and break up with her.
posted by samthemander at 10:03 AM on March 31, 2018 [8 favorites]


This is a variety of AskMe question that takes the form “here are two dozen clear reasons I shouldn’t do thing but I should do thing, right?” Read your question to yourself once, slowly and honestly and if at all possible pretend you are hearing about someone else’s situation. If you can do that last part you’ll have your answer.
posted by Smearcase at 10:04 AM on March 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


You don't love her.

You don't like her.

You don't respect her.

You don't want to marry her.

If you care about being a decent human being, if you care even a little, if you care even at all, you won't marry her.

I got married (the second time) because I was pregnant, and we both felt like we should. I have since given up doing things because i should. I do things because I want to. Because I want to.

Read back over your post and your follow-ups. Ask yourself how you would respond if your best friend said those things to you. Be honest. Then call your girl and break up.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 10:23 AM on March 31, 2018 [15 favorites]


Echoing the people who say you don't seem to be treating this woman as a full-fledged adult human being - you say you do, but that only seems to be for the purposes of abrogating any responsibility you have towards her, not in treating her with the respect and care I'm guessing you'd want to be treated with yourself. Yes, she's an adult capable of making her own choices, but if you respected her you wouldn't be giving her this gross choice of marrying someone who flat-out says he doesn't want to marry her in the first place.

This question seems odd to me in that you launch it with a huge list of red flags indicating you shouldn't marry her (and no, the types of things you describe are not just cold feet, or even frostbitten feet - they're much more than that), but then respond again and again to shoot down the reasons people use to say they agree with you that you shouldn't marry her. What's stopping you? Just "wanting to continue the relationship" seems so ... un-adult like, more like a child clinging to a tattered old security blanket. Setting aside momentarily how deeply unfair it is for her, this isn't healthy for you, either.

Please call off the wedding and work with your therapist - why are you continuing on a path you know you don't want, and which you must know is actively harmful towards a person you claim to maybe kind of love?
posted by DingoMutt at 10:51 AM on March 31, 2018 [14 favorites]


I do know someone who got their girlfriend pregnant and did not marry her because he knew he could step up and meet his responsibilities to the kid without being married to the mom. They actually broke up for Very Good Reasons before either one of them found out she was pregnant. Had they gotten married, they would have made each other miserable and very likely been divorced long before now. That wouldn't have done anything to help him be a better parent, and he is a fabulous co-parent. So the point of this anecdote is that marriage is often thought of as a solution to meeting an obligation that it really is not and does not need to be, especially when it's for the wrong reasons.
posted by jazzbaby at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


1. Dude. I've heard guys waiting on actual mail-order brides speak more lovingly of them than you do of your fiancée. In fact, until I read a bit into your question that you met through your work at the U.N., I thought that was what this situation was. You objectify her, and yet not even in the good, limerent way that might be expected from someone who's about to get married. Call it. Be done.

2. Reread lwb's and DarlingBri's comments above. Again, don't make her make the decision for both of you in 2 years' time, when the stakes are so much higher for her in every way (citizenship, fertility, job, etc.). In no way is putting that all on her fair to her. Man up, own your feelings, and end it, for her sake.
posted by limeonaire at 11:19 AM on March 31, 2018 [16 favorites]


There is this thing that happens sometimes where men who know on some level that they have behaved very badly try to find a way to make themselves into a good guy by doing “the right thing” in the end. This is one of those times, except worse.

You have behaved extremely badly to this woman, and you’re trying to find a way to make yourself into a “good guy” by marrying her at last. But you’re not willing to make it an actual marriage, and the offer you are making has almost no value. You are offering to waste her time and give her nothing at the end of it. This is not a thing a good person does.

The right thing for you to do in this situation is to break up with her and admit fault. Tell her you have realized you’re not mature enough for a marriage, and apologize for leading her on. Then try to think about how you can become the kind of person who is ready for a commitment like that, and do those things before even trying to date someone else. You, and any future partners, will be far better for it .
posted by corb at 11:42 AM on March 31, 2018 [47 favorites]


All other considerations aside, it's worth noting that you may not even be able to get a spousal visa for her while you're unemployed or earning under a certain threshold.

(Don't marry her)
posted by corvine at 11:48 AM on March 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


My god. Just call off the wedding.

Its ok to be single. Its ok to pay for sex. If you need emotional support, you can pay for that too. Pay for everything. But don't make a commitment to a woman, have her uproot her life, and then punish her for it, which is inevitable.

You want sex and to play cards with your friends on the weekends. You want to start a company. Its all ok. Nothing wrong with any of that. It hurts no one.

What you don't want is to be responsible for her happiness. And you will be. Because she will be in a new country, emotionally vulnerable, and dependent on you.

You also don't want to be the bad guy by breaking up with her. Well, breaking up will only take a few days. Marriage will be quite a bit longer. So many more days of you being the bad guy.

Since you prefer relationship transactions give her a generous goodbye gift as compensation for your past bullshit. Nothing wrong with that! It'll make you feel better and will be less costly than a wedding, flights and a divorce.

Imagine doing this. How do you feel? I bet you feel better just imagining this. In 1 week you could be over it. Break up, then therapy, all done.

Its ok. Minimize harm to her . Minimize your guilt by ending it. Prevent your own future pain. Just break up.
posted by charlielxxv at 11:59 AM on March 31, 2018 [15 favorites]


I don't think that everyone has second thoughts before their wedding and that it is normal. Sure, plenty of people do and it is just 'cold feet' and they manage to work through it. However, plenty of people who have these thoughts and ignore them get divorced. I think we can know with reasonable certainty that you are in the latter group.

Also, I would bet that a lot of people who are happily married didn't actually have these thoughts, or not to any serious extent.

Do not marry this person. You don't have to marry this person and however painless divorce might be it is even more painless to break up BEFORE the wedding.
posted by thereader at 12:10 PM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have posted this before on AskMe, but it bears repeating :

I am a pastor. I have been preparing couples for marriage for twenty years. Here is what I would tell you if you were in my study:

In my experience, when people in a wide variety of situations are wrestling with a difficult life choice and they come to me, they almost always already know what the right thing to do is. What they need to hear is not what they should do. They need to hear they are not bad people for doing it.

You already know the right thing to do, and you are not a bad person for doing it.
posted by 4ster at 12:19 PM on March 31, 2018 [56 favorites]


After reading all your comments in the answers section I feel really sorry for this woman. The comments about her vs buying a pornstar looking woman are very cold. You should break it off for her sake as well as yours. She deserves someone who thinks the world of her. Honestly I don't think you should be in a relationship right now.
posted by thereader at 12:25 PM on March 31, 2018 [16 favorites]


I agree with the many people saying don’t marry her, but I want to add one thing. I think you believe that you are doing her a favor by marrying her even though you don’t want to. This is simply untrue. There is no benefit to her in marrying someone who feels the way you do. You think you’ve been honest with her, but I don’t think you really have because I can only imagine someone in the most desperate circumstances marrying you after what you’ve said here. I mean I could see agreeing to it if it were the only way to escape a war zone or desperate poverty. But no one with choices wants to marry someone who feels as you do.

If you really want to be honest with her, show her what you’ve written here. If you recoil at the thought, that tells you how honest you’ve been. In this case, doing the right thing means breaking it off.
posted by FencingGal at 12:26 PM on March 31, 2018 [20 favorites]


Of course, after several sessions of therapy with a psychologist, I now understand that she is a fully independent adult capable of making her own decisions and that, even though I did argue in favor of her going to Africa, the decision was ultimately hers and hers alone. I was in no way responsible for it and, as a consequence, I was not responsible for getting her out of there.

The marriage thing has been well and truly covered, but dude, please get a new psychologist. It's very alarming to me that either what was said or what you got from it absolved you from all responsibility in her taking the job. You do bear some responsibility, just like your fiancee and your family do bear some responsibility by pressuring you into marrying her.
posted by Ruki at 12:39 PM on March 31, 2018 [35 favorites]


Hi OP,

It sounds to me like you're engaged for two reasons:
(1) It's the only way to stop being long-distance with your gf and try living in the same place
(2) You feel guilty that you convinced her to take a job where she's unhappy, and marrying her would fix that problem

Let's start with (2). Though it's nice of you to try to fix her situation for her, she's a big girl and will have to fix it herself. Even if you were reallllllly persuasive when you convinced her to take that job, she made the decision in the end and she will have to find a way out - you don't owe her marriage as a solution. People take jobs they dislike in places they dislike all the time and they eventually find ways to leave. So I don't feel that (2) is an acceptable reason to marry her.

In my opinion, (1) *would* be an acceptable reason to marry her if you honestly thought there was a chance of your wanting to commit to her forever and you just needed some time dating in the same city to figure it out. But from what you've written here, it sounds to me like your relationship has run its course and is getting weaker, not stronger. You've not even that attracted to her anymore. Be honest with yourself, and try to separate your feelings about your relationship with this woman from your feelings of guilt. Do you really think that, with time spent dating in the same city, you might eventually want to commit to her for the long term? If so, marriage in your case could be a good idea. But nothing you've written here suggests that you see a future with her. And, generally-speaking, if you are dreading doing something, it's your gut telling you that you don't want to do it and should not do it.
posted by sunflower16 at 12:48 PM on March 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


You sound like you are feeling trapped, and you are panicking.

When we are feeling trapped we sometimes make really bad decisions. It seems to me that you are seeing going forward with the marriage as the easier option - a way to evade confrontation and heartbreak.

Do you have a friend to talk to about this? Someone who is on Team You? Maybe you need to hear someone tell you that , even though you made some mistakes, you are still human. Can you try to forgive yourself?

So, I broke off an engagement. I felt immense guilt and self-reproach. My situation was different from yours but I recognize the panicky feeling. I wouldn't have had the strength to break things off without the support from my closest friends.

It sounds like you are desperate for a way out of this situation and I encourage you to talk to close friends, someone on Team You, to gather the strength to do the right thing.

If you decide to break things off, I think that you *do* have the responsibility to alleviate at least some of her burdens. Like people mentioned above, this is going to suck for her in the short term. You should be the one bearing the financial and logistical consequences as far as possible. Be generous and *insist* on shouldering the cost, or better yet, just do it instead of asking to do it.

The real strength and kindness of a person comes out in situations like this. You can make the first steps toward being a kind and honorable person today.
posted by M. at 1:01 PM on March 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


I reread your post. This sentence seems relevant: "I think I do love her, and I guess that, left to my own devices, I might've married her eventually; what I resent is the fact that I'm doing it when I'm unready because of all the reasons above."

In that case, why not continue dating long distance and give yourself more time to figure out how you feel? If you marry her and then resent the fact that you felt you had to do it before you were ready, that resentment will likely eat your relationship alive :( Calling off the wedding and telling her you need more time won't be easy but it seems like a much better option than marrying her before you feel ready.
posted by sunflower16 at 1:02 PM on March 31, 2018


Imagine breaking it off. Like really imagine it, don't just get to the uncomfortable/difficult part and then flinch away.

I think you will find it's not as big as you're making it out to be. That she'll get upset and then either change her job or move back to the Philippines or find support where she is. That your families will cancel their plane tickets (you should offer to help pay for hers/her family's, really). You'll let people know the wedding is off and you decided it wasn't the right time and immigration pressures were messing with you.

Imagine it and picture handling it confidently and politely.

You're blowing it up into this huge CANNOT DO terror of admitting you've made a mistake - and I do see anxiety type behavior there - but really... So what? Better to stop making it than to double down.
posted by Lady Li at 1:35 PM on March 31, 2018 [7 favorites]


Yes, you are doing it for all the wrong reasons.

Please, don't marry anyone (or falsely advertise yourself as marriage material) until you've done some more internal work. More therapy. Continue to refer back to saucysault's response and sockermom's response on what you need to work on because they're absolutely right on the money.
posted by driedmango at 2:19 PM on March 31, 2018 [6 favorites]


If I were your fiancee and I found out that this is how you were thinking about our upcoming marriage, I'd cancel the wedding myself.

Going through with this marriage isn't fair to anyone involved. You are only thinking about how this effects you. What about her? She thinks she's getting married to a man who loves her, who thinks she's beautiful and sexually attractive, who wants to be with her for the rest of her life. You are none of those things. You're looking at this like marrying her is doing her a favor, cancelling the wedding is the real favor. She's not some kind of mail order bride.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:51 PM on March 31, 2018 [6 favorites]


It might have something to do with the fact that, having had sex with sex workers, I know that I can basically go off and hire a pornstar-looking woman for a few hours, making it a bit of an impossible standard for her to meet.

Your lack of sexual interest in your fiance likely has nothing to do with her appearance. Sure, you'd love it if she looked like a porn star, but the point is, she doesn't excite you. You are not interested in sex with her - you get no thrill from the idea of bringing her pleasure; you are not aching to receive pleasure from her.

You want to experiment a bit, and you would like to have regular sex with someone you care about--but she, specifically, is not who you want for that; you just want it to be someone, and she's currently available.

This is not a horrible setup for a relationship, but it's terrible for a marriage unless it's fully acknowledged and accepted, in advance, by both partners.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:38 AM on April 1, 2018


Wait, is she basically stuck in Africa, where she's entirely miserable and alone, after your persuasion of such for your "benefit", (fire your therapist; he/she sounds quite damaged) and now she's counting either on this marriage, or on deportation, to get her out?
Because that's the only possible reason, If you indeed have been as transparent as you claim, that any person in this world, would agree to marry you under these terms, circumstances, and with your clear aversion to the state of healthy interdependence that relationships are supposed to be for the "benefit" of both individuals involved.
Are you actually asking wheter you've an ethical obligation(despite your therapists opinion for otherwise) to help her out of her terrible situation, and this is the best solution you can come up with? Your arrogance, flippant remarks and total disregard (and current therapy?) indicate on some level that you're feeling quite badly about yourself, not badly about her.
If I'm reading this correctly, and this is the actual case that you've burried here, if I were you, I'd straight up ask her if she would prefer to postpone the wedding to either work on the relationship or break up, and offer what you're delved out for the costs of a wedding to help her get back home and reestablish herself, because I can imagine the horror and grief, and desperate things one may try to remedy these feelings, of being stuck alone in a foreign place having moved there for "love," and realizing, after the expression of your "transparency," what a fatal and inexperienced move that was for her, or rather for the both of you.
posted by OnefortheLast at 2:12 AM on April 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


And, to offer something to consider from your perspective, because the answers you've been given are largely focused on your financees perspective, so listen; you straight up know this is a bad idea. Given that you've reported having discussed all of these concerns with her, can you also reasonably assume that she too knows this is a bad idea, but is doing it for other (a business-like transaction, such as you've discribed the relationship being, or even visa/immigration privileges,) type reasons instead of for an actual marriage. I hate to suggest this with your current worry load and issues requiring therapy, but you do claim to be extremely inexperienced in relationships. Perhaps even your therapsist suspects this and is framing it as they are (which also sounds bad from an outsiders perpseptive, but also assume for a second that they are competent caring and doing their job properly) to attempt to gently coax you into considering this potential scenario in an alterior light considerate to your capacity/maturity level, and getting you to focus on the potential outcomes vs. the details of the sensitive subject matter involved here.
posted by OnefortheLast at 2:36 AM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


> You have behaved extremely badly to this woman, and you’re trying to find a way to make yourself into a “good guy” by marrying her at last. But you’re not willing to make it an actual marriage, and the offer you are making has almost no value. You are offering to waste her time and give her nothing at the end of it.

QFT
posted by MiraK at 8:00 AM on April 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


Still uncertain? How about you share this thread with her and have a talk and then, if she still wants to get married for practicality’s sake, both of you knowing everything, all eyes wide open, then it’s a contractual arrangement. And you move forward, communicating and accepting what comes.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 9:59 AM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wait, is she still stuck in that miserable job in Africa?
I hope you help her out of this situation in any case.
posted by M. at 10:07 AM on April 1, 2018


but she just doesn't bring out the whole "drive-me-crazy-and-rip-my-clothes-off" thing in me.

Yeah- That drive me crazy rip my clothes off energy rarely translates into a realistic long term relationship. This is an false expectation that people today get from the media industry.

"I know I want to have them, but not for the next 5 years; meanwhile, with her being 33 right now, the biological clock is starting to tick. " You are a year older than her and it's normal for couples to be around the same age. I remember witnessing lots of men who think about kids at around 40 and then they desperately look around for 26 year old woman that will have them.. A lot of those guys are now approaching 50 and still hoping for that woman who is 15-20 years younger that will choose them to have a kid with. The reality is that women do not want men that are that much older than them unless the guy has a very healthy bank account. If this is a major issue than you can try to see about freezing her eggs so you guys can potentially have a child whenever.

I have noticed in the last 15 years that a lot of men seem to think more and more that the ridiculous standards they see on TV should be their own norm and these expectations have completely changed the dating scene and family dynamics of the western world today.

It does seem to me that you are probably not mature enough for marriage since you think you're going to find that fertile 20's girl when you're ready to have children at 40 that will give you this drive me crazy rip your clothes off thing for you and you'll live happily every after ripping each other's clothes off. 20 years ago men of age 30 knew this already, while today they seem to have fantastical ideas of what a marriage is supposed to be. On top of this- the difference in culture between you may not have accurately shown during the long distance relationship. Just reading what's in front of me, I don't think you're mentally ready.
posted by fantasticness at 10:47 AM on April 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


I don't think you're ready for any relationship, never mind marriage and especially not to this unlucky woman.

If you're kind of "meh" about her in bed because you could pay and have some porn star looking girl instead perhaps you should ask yourself why you prefer a woman who will not even touch you for a few hours for much less than a grand to one who would spend the rest of her life with you out of love. Clearly her love is not of value to you and thus nor is her pleasure or her joy in pleasuring you. Having sex done to you by a pro is not what a healthy sexual relationship is. Until you learn how to be a lover rather than how to receive paid-for pleasure please don't shackle any poor unfortunate to your marital bed.

Break it off with her asap and see that psychologist A LOT more.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 3:29 PM on April 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


Now that everyone has told you not to get married, here’s what you should do in practical terms.

Call (no test or email please) your fiancée and tell her that, after thinking long and hard, you are not ready to marry her. Tell her why. Then stand back and let her process it. Once it is clear that she has understood, inform your family and start unwinding the whole thing by calling all the suppliers to cancel.

It won’t be pleasant. Your own family won’t be pleased. But if you have some measure of respect for that woman, set her free.

Because frankly, even if it was purely transactional, ie. you helping her immigrate to your country, I don’t think you’d be able to hold up your end of the bargain.
posted by Kwadeng at 3:59 AM on April 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is fucking awful.

May I say you come across as someone with zero cultural awareness? You should not have had a relationship with a woman whose culture you have no idea about. To people in many (most) developing countries and or non-western cultures, marriage is not just an emotional step. It's an agreement with serious economic implications and very significant deadlines. Your relationship is a serious investment to her.

You strung her along and now whatever you do, you will be cheating her of her investment. First, because you have no feelings that justify marriage (couldn't you have noticed this before!?) and second, because you are leaving her at a relatively lower social status (middle aged and unmarried in the Philippines is not a fun thing to be).

I just wanted to be clear about this. No matter what you do, you have negatively impacted her life, whether you marry her or not. Think about it before you decide to start another relationship in the future.

If you have any decency or regard for the time and effort she has invested in this relationship, talk to her before you make any decisions. She might want to marry you anyway in the hopes of stabilizing her situation or attempting to recover the relationship. I know this is not a western-friendly perspective, but for real, don't make this decision unilaterally. You owe her some consideration. She stands to lose way more than you do.
posted by Tarumba at 7:40 AM on April 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


Break it off with her asap and see that psychologist A LOT more.

I would amend this to "break it off with her asap and see a different psychologist, one who doesn't seem to think their job is to validate all of your most self-centered impulses as fine or normal."

I get the feeling that one of the reasons you are hesitant to let this go is specifically because of your one previous taste of “in sickness and in health”— when she acted like a true partner to you when you were weak and terrified and facing your own mortality and struggling with your mental health. What a gift, that she was willing to stick with you during that time, to endure along with you.

You are clearly not willing to offer her the same kind of partnership— you are casual about the closing window of her fertility, you are planning multiple exits, you offhandedly mention the possibility of her being deported.

Keeping her on the hook because you might need another caretaker at some point (and you know escorts aren’t up for providing that particular service) is objectifying and cruel.

You have already wasted a lot of her time because you didn't want to be honest with her, and the benefits have mostly worked out in your favor so far. Don't waste any more of her time just because you're starting to feel the strange flutter of guilt that you keep trying to rationalize away.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:42 AM on April 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


Almost ten years ago, I left my fiancé at the altar. Our wedding was only about a month away. People had bought plane tickets already. It was awful. I lost some of my friends. It’s also one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Just to be clear, the problem was me, not him. He was a great guy who didn’t deserve to be put through the wringer that way. Still better than just struggling through it and then getting divorced anyway. I know this seems impossible from where you’re standing, but you can find the courage to do this.

I’m now happily married to someone I would do anything for.

I know this is hard, but you can do it.
posted by spacewaitress at 1:22 PM on April 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


The reality is that women do not want men that are that much older than them unless the guy has a very healthy bank account.

This is a sexist and untrue statement that perpetuates a really gross gold digger stereotype. Here at All Women, Inc, we actually value different things in our partners.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:05 PM on April 2, 2018 [17 favorites]


Please break up with her. Just being honest about how you feel doesn't absolve you of all responsibility in this relationship. Here's the thing, and you haven't learned this before, because this is your first relationship: sometimes relationships just have run their course and are over.

You said: "No, I don't want to marry her (please see above) - it just seems to be the only way to keep this relationship going." The thing is, you've reached an impasse, a stepping off point and instead of saying well, I guess that's the end of this relationship, even though it's not exactly what I want, you asked her to marry you.

End the relationship. Don't tell her all the horrible stuff you wrote above. Decisively end it. Mourn it. Then, find a new therapist, work on your shit and move on with your life.
posted by purple_bird at 2:58 PM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


A relationship is not something you begin and continue indefinitely until you have a very serious reason to get out of it. If a relationship continues, and progresses, you should feel invested in the actual relationship, not the idea that it's going to seem more real once you go to the next step. Each step should feel real. You have very real things that have happened, including your fiancee taking a chance on a job that didn't work out. You do not pay her back by making her take on a marriage that won't work out.

The only reason you've outlined for continuing forward is your fear of losing this relationship. This is not a good, equitable, loving relationship. Have you ever met someone who had a car but refused to do any maintenance on it because they're planning on getting a new one eventually? The phrase "running it into the ground" is sometimes used, because you have a sunk cost (a car you're willing to walk away from) and a vague idea you can move on. You are running this relationship into the ground, and every moment past the current one is one you may regret.
posted by mikeh at 3:20 PM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


While it will probably be very useful to you to read over many of the responses that criticize you for various aspects of how you have portrayed yourself here, and to try to figure out why you are eliciting some of these undisguisedly hostile reactions, I wanted to say that I don't particularly find you objectionable in how you've written about yourself or your fiancee.

Here is the question that you bolded:

"I guess my question is: while I'm sure almost everyone has second thoughts before a wedding, are such intense and persistent thoughts and such reasons (see below) normal?"

I don't think that such intense and persistent thoughts etc are all that common among folks who then go on to have contented and fulfilling marriages, no. I can't really get into the heads of other people who have been about to get married. There is also a sort of taboo about speaking about one's own headspace before getting married as well. Nor finally is there a guarantee that with the right pre-marriage headspace one can expect a successful marriage to emerge Athena-like from your brain, obviously. But what I can report about my own experience is that I felt excited to be joining up forever with someone who I felt so grateful that I had somehow found. More accurately, we had found each other.

You seem like a thoughtful person who came to sexual experience with women late. This, I believe, requires some time for you to heal. Consider kindly but decisively breaking things off with your fiancee. In the months that follow you might try to visualize the sort of person that would help you feel expansive and creative and compassionate and whole and all the adjectives that you dream would shine forth from you as you hold hands. Then when someone shows up who both aligns with this dream and is of course different from the dream, so different that the dream sort of disappears as being not very interesting in retrospect, and somehow everything feels right to you, go for it and be worthy of her and your own best self. Good luck.
posted by sommerfeld at 7:44 PM on April 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted; AskMe isn't a space for getting into back-and-forth debate with other commenters. Trust the asker to be able to read the answers and discern what's useful for them.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:25 PM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm afraid of how this marriage will affect the time I spend with my close friends (I'm a very introverted person - I've one close friend and we generally spend weekends together, hanging out with his wife, playing cards, board games, etc - just a good relaxing time for all).
Well looks like here's your real problem.
You're in introvert with low social needs who's already designated 2-3/7 of your weekdays with another man and woman.
Likely these 3 people, especially the woman, already entirely fulfill all of your personal needs for companionship, intimacy, and emotional and mental connections.
You have no room for anyone else nevermind a girlfriend of wife.
And no wonder you can compartievely replace a girlfriend with a sex worker, because that's likely the only thing you're not getting from being the 3rd to complete this couple.
You're going to either need to cut the cord to these people and make room in your life, mind, and heart for another person, or enjoy life as it is, a couple of 3 and sex workers.
posted by OnefortheLast at 9:42 PM on April 3, 2018


Your therapist sounds like he/she is getting $400-700 an hour too. They are doing the same job as the sex workers: massaging your ego, preening over your choices, giving you no responsibility, and telling you that you are the best, baby, the best.

Fire them and work with some actual therapist who will hold you to account, who doesn't provide you with your happy endings each session and gives you something to really work upon.

eg
Other people have feelings about their One and Only Life, their one go around the planet. Their time is valuable, their life is valuable, their hopes for happiness and security are valid and valuable.


Also, don't get married.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:54 AM on April 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


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