Cold feet, or bad idea?
May 12, 2008 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Three months in to my engagement, and freaking out. Should I go through with it? Lot's more after the jump of course.

I am a 24 year old guy, getting ready to marry for my first time, to a girl who is 26. I have been with my fiance almost a year and a half now, and we have been engaged since late February. We dated for just over a year before getting engaged. I am so scared I am literally shaking as I am typing this, but I feel like I might have to end it.

I feel like everything is moving too fast. I can hardly recount how it all happened. I really love her, but ever since we have gotten engaged I have felt a sense of impending doom. We had some drunken conversations about getting married, and every time I felt unsure the next day, but she took them very seriously. I then convinced myself it was a good idea, and went for it. She picked out the ring, pretty much all I had to do was give them my credit card number.

We (mostly she) decided that we would have a fall wedding, since we didn't want to wait for the following summer. We have the reception hall in November. When we first got engaged, we decided we would have a small wedding. Our guest list has ballooned to 150 people, and every time we talk about it, I get a sense of panic. Consequently, I have been terrible about helping out with the planning. She has been very gung-ho about the planning, and has gotten a ton of stuff figured out without me doing a whole lot. She has gotten frustrated with my lack of effort, but I've convinced myself that this is a good idea and get a few things done here and there.

Since getting engaged, she has pretty much given up on her social life. She goes to bed around 9 or 10 most nights (including weekends) and I'm getting a little bored. I go out and do my own thing, but it would be nice for her to have her own life rather than just hanging out at my apartment. She's just graduating from grad school, so I'm hoping it's that, but I'm nervous that she's not going to want to get out of the house at all once we have kids.

As far as kids, she wants to have kids a year after we get married. I'm not sure if I'll be ready to have kids when I'm a fresh 25 years old. Also, I'm afraid to bring this up because of the way she will react. She is definitely feeling the clock ticking on having kids. I just feel like she has her whole life planned out, and I'm just an innocent bystander.

That said, I really do love her. I feel like I can be myself around her, and we get along well most of the time. I'm not sure if I'd be able to end it just knowing how terrible she would feel, and how far along the wedding planning has gotten. I'm just not sure if I'm ready for my life to be completely planned out. Maybe this isn't so bad though, and I'm just getting cold feet. How can I know if this is a good idea?

I realize that these are things that I should have figured out and talked to her about already, but the rush of the engagement has made it so difficult to have much of a talk with her. I feel like I still have time though, and need to figure this out before it gets any further. Am I too young / immature to get married? If I do call off the engagement, how should I tell her? Am I just having cold feet? Help!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (51 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: removed at poster's request -- mathowie

Holy cow, that's a textbook case of "call off the engagement." You love her, and things were okay until all this, so just tell her that you want to take a big step back and describe to her what some of your reaction has been this last few months. You both have puuuhhhlenty of time to think about marriage, so no need to rush it.

This is more than just cold feet. Your gut is telling you it went too fast and you didn't slow the train down when you could and should have. But you're right; it's not too late. Faar, far better to talk to her about this now than to go through with a wedding you are dreading.
posted by Miko at 7:31 PM on May 12, 2008 [9 favorites]

Dude: You're not ready. What else needs to be said? Your fiancee does NOT want you to half-ass a wedding and having kids no matter how hard she presses you to do so whole-assedly. If she can't deal with the fact that you (at two years older than me holy shit) are not ready to turn a stereotypical 35, then she needs a MAJOR perspective shift.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:35 PM on May 12, 2008

I can't say anything that Miko didn't, other than to add my voice to the chorus that is soon to follow of "too soon". I would say this though - sit down and have a serious talk with her about this and pay close attention to her reaction. Sure, she'll be mad initially - but after that passes is she more concerned about how it will affect her or what is going on with you. I'm betting it is the former, and that's not a good sign.
posted by true at 7:35 PM on May 12, 2008

You can call off the engagement without breaking up. It doesn't sound like you need to break up. It sounds like you need to communicate. You need to have a serious talk with her -- one that does not involve blaming. You need to learn strategies for setting your own boundaries and managing a relationship. These are good skills to have, as you will need them in all aspects of your personal life.

The clock may be ticking for her. I know many women who wanted to have children by a certain age. If she is 26 now and wants to have two kids by 30, this may be why she is feeling pressure. There's nothing wrong with her feeling that way or wanting to plan things out. Women have a different set of biological issues to manage.

BUT...that doesn't mean you should have kids to appease her. It sounds like you need to figure out what you want from the relationship and to move toward a partnership. She may be completely astounded that you haven't been making decisions together -- if you're not saying no and you're going along with things, that probably sounds like you're working as a team. But you're not working as a team and you have to let her know that you're acting out of fear and obligation. You need to slow things down and be honest and speak up. It's not fair to her and it's not fair to you.
posted by acoutu at 7:43 PM on May 12, 2008 [4 favorites]

I'd suggest talking to her before calling off the engagement. You made the decision to get married collectively, you need to make the decision to not do so on a level playing field.

It's perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed, take a breather, and talk to your fiance.
posted by iamabot at 7:44 PM on May 12, 2008

You're young, my god. And she's 26, why is her biological clock going off? She's probably got another good ten years in to get ready for kids. It sounds like she's rushing towards some plan she's got all figured out without considering your feelings on the subject. I'm sure she loves you, but her motives for getting married and settling down this quickly suggest that it's not all about the two of you, it's about her. You don't have to break up with her, but wow, take some time to work these issues out before you get married.

I realize there are people ready to get married at this age, but I'm 24 and I would freak out if someone I loved - even someone I planned to eventually marry - started rushing me in that direction. So I don't think your reaction is unreasonable at all. Listen to these feelings.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:46 PM on May 12, 2008

You're not ready. If you don't call it off, this will end spectacularly badly. You will be stuck in a marriage you don't want, with a person who you will be able to stand less and less due to the resentment.

but after that passes is she more concerned about how it will affect her or what is going on with you. I'm betting it is the former, and that's not a good sign.

That is exactly the impression I got. I've known some girls who are like her (yes, I know, we have minimal facts, just take that as read ok?): they want to get married, and the groom is basically an interchangeable accessory.

We (mostly she) decided that we would have a fall wedding

It's the 'mostly she' in that sentence that gets me. If it's not 50/50 at this point, it won't be 50/50 later.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:47 PM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Postponing it or calling it off at this point, is going to be majorly hard, but you owe it to both your own self, and this poor girl who thinks you're happily on board with all of this, to tell her this is not the case.

Think of it this way - you're worried about the inconvenience of calling off or postponing a one day event, to make sure you're not making a MAJOR life mistake.

Postpone it, tell people you've decided to do Vegas when the time is right, and make sure the time is actually right for both of you, soberly, before making this. It really is a lifetime commitment, not something you enter because you don't have the courage to say, let's think about this a minute...
posted by mazienh at 7:51 PM on May 12, 2008

As a woman, I have to tell you, this is not cold feet, this is your sensible self screaming that you are not ready. Your passiveness has probably not gotten you into too much trouble so far in your relationship, but this wedding thing is EXTREMELY serious. You cannot NOT ACT. Stop it now.

A marriage is about a friend, an ally, a partner in life against all troubles. A woman who seems eager to ignore your tentativeness and whose whole life has changed in her frothy drive to plan her perfect day is not a partner, friend or ally.

Good luck.
posted by generic230 at 7:53 PM on May 12, 2008 [4 favorites]

I see some major resentment in your future.

If you feel like you were talked into getting married after a few drunken conversations, then maybe you should have said something earlier. But you didn't and that remark isn't very helpful, so...

She is evidently very pleased with the situation. She probably feels she had a genuine proposal and is behaving in a way that a lot of women do when they become engaged. It's best that you slow this train down before any more money is spent and she continues planning.

I have friends that pretty much talked their boyfriends into marrying them. Oh, you get a motorcycle and I'll get an engagement ring sort of thing. It always ends in divorce.

Talk about the wedding. Talk about your future. Be honest with her. Tell her about your desire to wait a bit to have children. Don't get married unless you are 100 percent sure. It's not fair to you or her. It sounds like she is doing all the talking and planning and you're not asserting yourself. She can't read your mind and as far as she knows you're hunky dory with the idea or marriage and kids.

It's not fair to her to look into the future and fear that she will be a homebody when children arrive. She may be. Most people don't have grand social lives when a new baby is in the house.

You are feeling out of control. Maybe you are feeling parented. Nobody wants to be told how to live their lives. So speak up! She is making all of these plans for the both of you, without your input. It's your responsibility to give input. Maybe if you have an honest talk and share your opinions and wants, you'll feel better about getting married. Maybe. Maybe not. Only you can know.

Another idea is to continue being with this woman that you love and proposing and planning when your heart is in it fully.

Good luck.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:00 PM on May 12, 2008

Dude, if you don't talk to her now, you're gonna be the guy who runs screaming away from her at the aisle in front of everyone she knows. I second the "you don't have to break up," but you gotta talk to her and put brakes on this train NOW before any more money gets spent.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:01 PM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Tough situation. I am 24 also and understand when some woman have a "biological" clock when you dont. This is pretty similar that i gave in some other post....but I think this is what you should do. If you work take of thursday and friday and go somewhere for 4 meditate on all the responses you will get here. Meditate about your life....think about where you want to see yourself in 25 years......if the thought of marrying her scares you...then I think you should back-off....the way you made it sound it sounds like you should call it off but there are many variables that I dont know about just by reading this I advice....stop the running, press pause (you said everything is going too fast) and see if this is a movie you really want to star in for the rest of your life.
posted by The1andonly at 8:17 PM on May 12, 2008

I'm afraid to bring this up because of the way she will react.

Stop protecting her. She's an adult and she deserves your honesty. It's patronizing and destructive for someone to withhold their feelings because they don't want to "hurt" the other person (what they really mean is they don't want to feel like an asshole). You're not being an asshole. You have legitimate fears that this isn't what you want. She needs to know this. If she thinks you're on board with this, and finds out later that you felt pushed into it, well... just imagine her reaction THEN.
posted by desjardins at 8:23 PM on May 12, 2008 [7 favorites]

Call off the engagement.

Do it in whatever way you feel you can manage - in person, by letter, by boarding a plane to Argentina, whatever.

Ask for your engagement ring back.

Promise yourself you won't propose to another person until you've passed 30.

The relationship will not survive. Accept it.

posted by Sitegeist at 8:24 PM on May 12, 2008

If you can't talk to her about any of this, you shouldn't get married. Especially the having-children part-----that's a biggie!
posted by hulahulagirl at 8:28 PM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Another perspective is that since getting engaged, your expectations and the reality haven't really been meshing. The wedding that you decided on isn't happening, the girlfriend that you used to know has been replaced by someone that you find boring, and you aren't sure you're ready to be a dad next year. That in and of itself is enough to warrant some major conversations, and it's a red flag that the only real discussion preceding your decision to get married was some drunken conversations that you regretted the next day.

I mean, you can think you're sure, but didn't all those other people think they were sure before their marriages ended? Or did they have your same thoughts and they didn't speak up in time? Regardless, you need to share yourself with her and not just roll over in his relationship - talk to her about your fears. It won't be pleasant, and don't drop it like a bombshell, but you're much better off working this out now than the day after you're married.

There's a LOT of pressure on young women (not sure where you are located) to get married and even though I think she sounds a bit overzealous, I kind of get where she's coming from (based on what I've seen of my friends, and even myself sometimes, at that age). All my friends sort of went engagement/wedding-crazy when we hit 26, male and female. I'm not saying it's right, but it's really easy to get caught up in the frenzy and not examine the bigger picture, as you are doing right now. Without wanting to draw too much ire, I'd say that's even more true if she is among the first/last of her friends to get married.

I agree with some of the folks upthread who think it's not that you need to break up, you just may want to postpone a bit. Pre-marital counseling is always an option and it may help you work out these issues or help you (both) realize that this may not be the best decision.

Good luck.
posted by ml98tu at 8:28 PM on May 12, 2008

At your age, I'm pretty sure only being together a year and a half and being well into an engagement is moving pretty fast. Tough as it is, either call off the engagement or request postponing the marriage indefinitely. You have a lot to sort out---if you need more freedom, if she is planning to change socially now that she "has you", and so many others.

Best wishes on taking a step back and sorting things out.
posted by lacedback at 8:58 PM on May 12, 2008

First of all, I'm sorry. You're in the middle of something rough and you have rough times ahead, regardless of what you choose.

I think you should do the courageous thing and tell her how you feel. How she reacts will largely determine whether you have to break up or not (assuming you still want to stay together). She'll be incredibly hurt and shocked and embarrassed and resentful at first. There's really no two ways around that part. Despite how this all unfolded and who was or wasn't responsible, since February she's been making plans, executing dreams, telling the world about her joy, etc. You should give her space to go through that. You should be supportive of her when she goes through that. She'll either come around and recognize that, under the circumstances, canceling or postponing the marriage is what you had to do, and that anything else would have been a betrayal of both of you, or she really only was using you to attain her goals of marriage and a kid by 27, in which case she may never forgive you and it may be over. But you need to find that out - if it the marriage and kid on her timeline are more important than you, than clearly you need to get out and the sooner the better. If you're more important than the timeline, she'll stay and you'll work it out, and down the road you may end up married to her and happy to be married to her.

As for how it happened - I think you were cowardly and she was blind. I've been both those things many times so I can fully understand how the desire not to hurt someone can cause someone to go along when one shouldn't, and I can fully understand being willfully blind because I want something so much I can't stand to acknowledge the truth. She's not crazy to want to be married and have kids now. She's not awful for taking advantage of your agreeing to get married. She's just a girl who has been a bit weak herself and is allowing herself to plan a marriage to someone who she has to know is lukewarm about the whole thing. And you're not awful bc you are afraid of how you'll feel when she reacts badly. You've both made mistakes; now is the time to correct them before anything serious results. Short term you'll make her happier by marrying her, but long term I'm willing to bet you'll both be happier if you deal with this now.

Go for it. You can do it. Good luck.
posted by n'muakolo at 9:07 PM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Postpone the marriage or call off the engagement. You are not ready. I would not want to enter into a marriage with someone with so many doubts, and if she truly loves you, hopefully she will understand that. But be prepared for the relationship to end.

I, for one, don't get the whole "biological clock ticking" bit at 26. I'm 33, and my clock is... asleep, I think. But at 26? I didn't know what the hell I wanted, but it sure as hell wasn't marrying a guy who wasn't into it, even if we had a great relationship.
posted by bedhead at 9:08 PM on May 12, 2008

I second all the advice that says you need to call of the engagement, but it doesn't mean you have to break up. I also second desjardin when he/she says that you need to quit protecting her; it's natural not to want to hurt her feelings, but in this context it's disrespectful of her as a person. The mere fact that you feel so unable to talk to her about this is more evidence you shouldn't get married.

You need to get out of the engagement immediately, or alternatively you could have a long engagement with no wedding date set for a while. If the latter will make her pushy, don't do it though.

There's no way around it, and this is not normal cold feet. You don't want to get marry, then be a pushover about having kids too. It's so, so unfair to the kids that would be involved, and they will NOT go away once you finally snap and can't stand things anymore.

There's nothing wrong with taking things slow. She might want kids asap, and that might end up being a dealbreaker. You might be able to talk some sense into her, though.
posted by Nattie at 9:26 PM on May 12, 2008

There's such a range of diversity in people that it's entirely possible the woman in question feels an urgency to have children. What I see as a problem for you, OP, is the need to father those children when your desire to have them is less than strong. How will you get up at 2am with a smile (even if fake) to change or feed a small and new human being if you didn't absolutely and desperately desire one in the first place.

Sometimes we love people who just aren't right for us, at the time. For most people, losing control over personal decisions (like when and how to get married) is a clear sign that a relationship is not working, not a sign that there isn't love. You don't wait until there isn't love to break up, it's far far too late then, and after a way lot of misery.

I don't really understand how you can be yourself around her if you find it difficult to tell her important things, like feeling you're being rushed into marriage and fatherhood. And because it's important to her to do these things now, I'd suggest you break it off quickly, so that she has the opportunity to find someone with the same sorts of values and ideals. Nobody's fault, just an unlucky mix.
posted by b33j at 9:32 PM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

You are currently following a plan that you seem to have agreed to when you were drunk. You need to reevaluate. You can stay together, but you need to take responsibility for having just gone along with all this. You bought a ring. Yeah, you were just keeping your mouth shut to be nice and all you did was get out your credit card -- but you should have spoken up. Speak up now. Don't be so passive -- how this all happened was that you told a woman you would marry her and bought her a ring, and since you've been keeping your mouth shut she has proceeded as though you will be getting married. Speak up already!!!! She probably feels that you would prefer she do the planning.

I'm not sure if I'd be able to end it just knowing how terrible she would feel, and how far along the wedding planning has gotten.

Well, she will feel worse if you wait until her relatives have all made their travel plans, even worse if she's already sent out the invitations, far worse if she's walking down the aisle and you aren't there, once she's pregnant with your child is pretty bad too, and once you have a baby on hand would be tough, and of course once the kids are school age it might be really rough on them. Eventually you might grow old together, and if she dies before you then you will be single again without having had to bring up this topic.

Rip the bandaid off already, or the two of you will end up like that woman who had a broken leg and ended up with her skin bonded to the couch from laying on it so long.
posted by yohko at 9:47 PM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Just one word to stick up for your fiancee here. If she has a family history of fertility problems, or difficult pregnancies that got worse as the woman got older, or any number of extenuating medical circumstances, that can hugely contribute to a sense of urgency. Not saying you have to get on the train, because I agree that you don't sound ready for this particular ride, but I think these people saying "Well MY biological clock isn't doing that!! Your lady is nuts!!" are out of line.
posted by crinklebat at 10:20 PM on May 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

I have an acquaintance about your age who called off his wedding about a month or two before the ceremony. He mentioned he felt guilty, awful, confused, like he wanted to throw up, a liar, desperate not to hurt her, disassociated from himself, angry with himself for getting into this situation - but most of all-MOST of all what he felt then and still does almost a year later after calling it off - is relieved.

You aren't doing her any favors by not telling her. Not in the long run. Be honest. Be a friend. Tell her how you're feeling and don't get browbeaten(by anyone, your family, her family, well we've already paid for everything arguments, how could you do this to me arguments, what will we tell everyone arguments, etc. Really, just google 'how to call off a wedding'. There is a protocol for everything these days, and that will get you through the technical piece....) ....browbeaten into something - because marriage is about being ready. Yes, anxious, doubtful, but mostly excited. Ready.

It could be right girl, right place, wrong time.

Best of luck to you. Listen to yourself. If your fears diminish after talking to her, great. But if you can't talk to her, if you can't support each other -where you are and how you feel- that is, if she's not your partner in crime, then why are you marrying her in the first place?
posted by anitanita at 10:28 PM on May 12, 2008

You definitely should postpone the wedding - and you should do it NOW, before the planning goes any farther. Tell her what you told us - you love her, you're freaking out, you're not ready yet. It happens more often than you might think - and it doesn't necessarily mean the end of the relationship. But DO IT!! SOON!!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:29 PM on May 12, 2008

She's just graduating from grad school

Ok, in her last semester of grad school, she pushes to get engaged, decides that the wedding should be the following fall, children to follow within the next year, and shits her focus and attention to planning the wedding and blows off her social life....

Is it possible that she is having some identity issues and jitters about going out into the big, bad career world post-graduation? I'm not trying to suggest that she doesn't genuinely want to marry you and start a family. However, based on the timing, she could just be trying to replace one secure identity (student), with another (wife/mother). Planning all of that out before she graduates replaces all the fears of the unknown that follow graduation. This is probably not a conscious thought process, so if graduation and her need to get married and start a family are attached in her mind, she may be unaware of it at the conscious level.

Her focus is no longer directed on herself or her life as an individual, she's focusing on the wedding, and the thereafter. So she's kind of less of a partner now, and more of a barnacle, attaching herself to you, and at the same time, controlling you. About kids, when you say she wants to have kids a year after getting married, does that mean start trying after the first year? Or does she plan to get pregnant ASAP and have a child within the year? If it is the latter, wow, that is like living in fast-forward mode. That would cause most people to freak out and get cold feet. It is actually beyond cold feet, that is clearly in "bad idea" territory.

I was going to suggest that you call off the wedding, but then I realized that it doesn't matter whether you do this now or a month or so from now. So before you go that route, why not start by your discussing your concerns with her? Might not be a bad idea to seek out a few counseling sessions to sort out the differences between her expectation for the future and yours, with the help of a therapist/counselor/clergy member/any other professional with a background in pre-marital counseling. Hopefully, a professional will be able to get to the root of her need to put your relationship on fast-forward, and your cold feet. If you and she are unable to get on the same page about the future (kids, etc.), it will be apparent in these sessions, and calling off the engagement might even be the counselor's recommended course of action. If you are able to get on the same page, and you no longer feel like a bystander in her plans for your future, great, keep the wedding plans as scheduled. If not, call it off.
posted by necessitas at 10:34 PM on May 12, 2008

*SHIFTS her focus, obviously.
posted by necessitas at 10:37 PM on May 12, 2008

I'm not trying to minimize your situation with my short answer, but if you have doubts already, just don't do it. Follow your instincts. That is your best guide. I speak from experience.
posted by wv kay in ga at 11:39 PM on May 12, 2008

I know two people who got married while having big misgivings about whether it had been a good idea to agree, but didn't want to make a fuss/dissapoint anyone/whatever.

They were both separated from their respective spouses inside of 6 months.
posted by rodgerd at 1:13 AM on May 13, 2008

Your story is not a million miles away from mine, and while I don't regret having a marvellous daughter, I do regret what proved to be an unwise marriage to an unsuitable long-term partner, which ended in a painful divorce. Add me to the man-up-and-bail-out brigade.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:32 AM on May 13, 2008

Dude - do not do this. N-thing those who say call it off NOW. Not tomorrow. Not next week. *NOW*.

I was in pretty much the same shoes you are in - and I didn't call it off. That is, until some weeks AFTER the wedding.

Trust me, however hard you think it is now, that's nothing compared to how hard it it is once there's been a wedding ceremony.

If you subconsciously feel that this is not the time to be doing this - you're absolutely right. Marriage is great - WHEN you're ready for it (and I'm also in favour of 30+). I've had two wedding ceremonies, but only one marriage.

Good luck!
posted by MadMage at 2:24 AM on May 13, 2008

Listen up, Anonymous, because what I'm about to tell you will save you enormous emotional and financial hardship: Skip your first marriage.

Talk to as many married males over forty as you can. Find out how many got married young and were able to make it work, and how many jettisoned that first mistake and found a true partnership after they'd matured a little and gained a little experience in the love-and-romance game.

In your thirties (or even forties) you'll be a better at everything that makes a great marriage, and will be a better, wiser father.

There is a right time to marry the twenty-six year-old woman of your dreams, and it's sometime in your mid-thirties.

I mean it: Skip your first marriage.
posted by dinger at 2:39 AM on May 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Just for some perspective, people absolutely do postpone weddings and stay together and then get hitched two or three years down the line.

You should for sure postpone the wedding. You should try to stay together because it sounds like you love her. You should accept that this may not be possible, but know that it can be done and happens all the time.

You should read The Concious Bride. It's written for women but I don't know of an equivilant book for grooms. Sorry. I think you'll find a lot that resonates with you in there, though, and it may help to give you some clarity and confidence around what you really feel.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:53 AM on May 13, 2008

Actually, based on some perceptive comments from other posters here, she should read The Concious Bride, too. Get two copies and read them before you do anything drastic.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 AM on May 13, 2008

I agree partly with dinger - While I was 24 when I got married, my husband was 32. We've been together for a decade now and we have a great partnership. That said, many of my friends married in their late 20s and are happy.

What is most important is not when you get married (if you get married), but how you feel about it. You have to be certain without a doubt that it is the right decision for you. My husband and I would have stayed togther regardless of marrying, but it was the extra thing that solidified our relationship.

I know many people with broken engagements who go on to meet the right person for them - it will be difficult if you choose that path but things work out.
posted by wingless_angel at 3:06 AM on May 13, 2008

Tell her EXACTLY how you feel and the two of you can figure out where to go from there.

This didn't happen overnight. Why didn't you make your true feelings known on any of the many occasions this subject came up before? Your unwillingness to do so is the biggest problem you need to solve going forward.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:18 AM on May 13, 2008

I wish I'd asked myself these questions before I got married, but no, I just went along with it, she wanted it so I should too, right? Right?. By the time I did ask myself these questions, I was married. I'm not married anymore...
posted by jontyjago at 4:42 AM on May 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

She (HORROR OF HORRORS) goes to bed at ten while in her final semester of grad school, and you're ready to write her off completely as being BORING FOREVER!!!!!

What if she gets MS? or the flu? or diabetes? or (GASP) pregnant? You have to be there to take care of her and cherish her. Even if she can't go out drinking with you until 3am. That's what marriage is about. Loving the hell out of your partner, even when she goes to bed at 10.

If you're making life decisions while drinking, you might want to reevaluate the drinking.
posted by sondrialiac at 4:58 AM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

How much of this have you talked over with her? That is your problem. Lack of communication will doom any relationship. Before you decide to end it or go through with it you need to talk to her about your feelings. Then you can decide what way is up.
posted by Silvertree at 5:07 AM on May 13, 2008

Well, it's a unanimous chorus of "call of the wedding IMMEDIATELY" here, so I'll just add my two cents on how to make the conversation less unpleasant for her and for you. For one thing, make sure you're both stone cold sober for the conversation. Stress that you love her and that you want to stay with her. Tell her that you believe when people get married they should both be absolutely sure of their decision, and be whole-heartedly committed to it, and that you just aren't at this point. Don't make any promises or suggestions about marrying her at some point down the road, because that's how you got into this mess in the first place. Tell her what you do want from her, which from the sound of things is just to keep dating her.

She'll be upset, and she'll probably want to know when you'll want to get married. Just say you can't make any promises at this point. She might threaten to leave you or actually do so, but stand your ground. Ask her if she really wants to marry someone who has to be browbeaten into doing so.

This situation is no fun at all for either of you, and you have my sympathies. But from now on make sure you know your mind before you commit yourself to anything and don't let yourself be railroaded into anything you don't really want to do, especially not something this big. It's a lot harder to cram all the troubles back into Pandora's Box than it is to just sit firmly on the lid to keep it shut.
posted by orange swan at 5:56 AM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Of course, this is the whole point of an engagement. A time to see if this really works for you. Other than that, ditto on everything Orange Swan said.
posted by anitanita at 7:39 AM on May 13, 2008

Wow, ever feel like you read a completely different question?

I'm not with the posters above who are so sure you need to call off the engagement or delay the wedding. We don't know enough about your relationship to say anything about that. The stress of wedding planning is enough to make the most committed person question if this is what they want. From reading your question, I felt like you were feeling the wedding bearing down on you like a freight train, not the relationship.

The first thing you seriously need to do is slow down the process so you feel like it is as much yours as it is hers. Try this, "honey, I feel like the process is really getting away from us. Can we take a some time this weekend to talk over some of the plans?" Then in that time, be realistic about what you want, how much you can take on, and what's really important to you. Then plan on times to check in on the process. Have a night a week where you split a bottle of wine or a pint of ice cream and plan.

The second thing you need to do is work with her to find some time for your relationship. make dates like you used to. Try to have wedding planning free dates. Love is worth the work.
posted by advicepig at 8:01 AM on May 13, 2008

i know a guy who felt rushed into the whole marriage, house-buying, kids thing by his first girlfriend and he agreed to it all without speaking up about his reservations and then when the kid was a few months old he totally flipped out and drank a whole lot and totalled their car disappeared for days on drinking benders etc. now they are split up and get along well as co-parents.
posted by beccyjoe at 8:07 AM on May 13, 2008

I work with all of these guys who are very tepid about their wives, and from what I can gather, it all started like this: mid 20's wedding, kids within 2 years, almost complete relational listlissness 6,7 years later. Half of them have their first divorce under their belts by age 32. For the ones who are still married, I hate to hear them talk about life at home, because they don't even sound like they like their wives, let alone love them.

Please don't turn into one of them. You sound like you are well on that path. Please listen to yourself. I feel bad for you, and I feel bad for her, but I can guarantee that you will feel much much worse in about 5 years if you don't put the brakes on this now.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:18 AM on May 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

Perhaps it might be worth talking going to some relationship counseling...especially if you want to save the relationship. Hell make the first appointment before you even tell her you are thinking of stopping the wedding...that might be a sign you are serious about still making the relationship work.

I also feel the need to comment about the going to bed around 10 thing...I used to be a midnight person, my wife was 10...I have adjusted and now actually feel more awake during the day, my body wakes itself up in the morning and if I am not tired at 10 I just stay up myself and read or something. Part of a good relationship is learning from each other and making compromises if you are not ready to do that then perhaps you are indeed not ready to get married.
posted by UMDirector at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2008

As most others have suggested here, call it off. You can still love her and still live with her. If she truly loves you, and has a modicum of intelligence, she'll listen to you and respect your decision for now. You are both very young, and have plenty of time to both get married and have children. There's absolutely no need to rush this, especially when so many parts of your brain are in panic-mode.

As far as love, goes, trust me on this: there will always be other women in your future if your fiancee bails out on you after postponing your wedding/engagement. I promise you this. Don't sell yourself short when you have so much ahead of you.
posted by Lucy2Times at 8:37 AM on May 13, 2008

I'd like to address the thread within the thread that says "if she flips out when you say you want to call off the wedding, she never really loved you and is more in love with the idea of marriage than you." I've never been in this position, but I'd have to say that if I'd dated someone for a year, started talking marriage with them, actually begun planning the wedding, and they were there every step of the way agreeing with me and appearing to go along with the idea, then I would indeed be shocked and righteously angry when I heard the news that they hadn't been on the same page with me for some time, and had let me get this far in planning without saying word one about it.

An angry, hurt reaction is NOT evidence that she doesn't love you or is obsessed with marriage. It's to be expected. The thing is, if you do love one another, you can weather anger and hurt. If this always was, to her, some sort of shallow relationship hurtling toward her personal goal of being somebody's (anybody's) wife, you'll find that out soon enough in the aftermath of the discussion, because she'll move on, seeing that you're not going to fulfill that wish. But I would really caution you to make judgements about her love for you or the role of marriage in her life based on her initial reaction during the first few days of making the large mental (and social) adjustment she's going to have to make. She does have a right to be angry at you for not being honest and open with her, and she will feel hurt and worried about how much you love her, and she will feel embarrassed that she has made this event public and now has to renege to her friends and family. Serious emotions - but none of them mean her love was never true. Have enough respect for her to let her display and be honest about her own reactions. Don't expect her initial reaction to be some kind of litmus test about whether she's the real thing or not. Think about how you'd feel if you found out something of similar cognitive dissonance - imagine that, for instance, while you'd been ostensibly both saving for a vacation together, she was withdrawing her share from the account and spending it on expensive lunches and spa treatments without telling you. You'd have a right to be all WTF? for a while when you found out the balance was half what you thought and that you'd be going on vacation to the Poconos instead of Paris. That's the kind of thing you're facing - she's been working on one assumption that you two were in accord and had a shared goal, and it's going to take some grappling to realize that you have not really been on board with it for a long time.

I like the idea of inviting her to go to counseling - that really is a sign of committment and wanting to make the relationship work before taking such a big step. I'm not sure you should book an appointment ahead of time, because she may want to be part of the choice of therapist, but it might not hurt to print out a list of counseling centers in your area and offer to call one of them, when the point in the conversation is right for that.

Good luck.
posted by Miko at 9:05 AM on May 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

I agree with Miko, it's a bit stupid to think she'll be anything but shocked if the OP has been completely passive this whole time about everything, and now at this juncture decides it is all a horrible idea.

And the real issue here seems to be that you're way too passive. For real.
posted by chunking express at 9:29 AM on May 13, 2008


Just because you have spent a year and a half with someone, does not mean that you owe them the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Getting married is a big deal, and is too often thought of as "the next step", instead of: HOLY FUCKING COW I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU SO MUCH that I want to hitch myself to you as my best friend, partner in crime, fuck buddy, and sidekick forever. This latter scenario is a great reason to get married. Someone's "ticking clock" is a BAD REASON to get married. My fiance used to tell women (including me) that he didn't want kids, because there were so many ladies looking for a sperm donor husband rather than a true partner. I'm not saying that is what is going on here (relationships and desires are always much more complicated than this) but it can sometimes be a blinding motivator to walk down the aisle. When he told me he didn't want kids, it didn't really mesh with my life plan, but I adored him and we fell in love anyway. During a road trip I brought up that I was planning to have kids in X years whether he wanted to participate or not. Turns out he wants 3 kids. Ha! Anyway--

The point is, getting married before you are absolutely sure will put you in a legally binding situation that is expensive to get out of, and on a life course that you sound like you are not ready to pursue.

Granted, calling off the engagement is not going to be fun or easy to do. But it will be much easier than waking up in 10 years with a 9 year old kid that calls you Daddy, a wife you are not so sure about, and a feeling of "how did I get here?"

Trust your gut.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:37 AM on May 13, 2008

Miko makes an excellent point which I would consider before making judgments about your (ex?) fiancee's "true" motives.

And honestly, I bet that her "true" motives are to love you and create a new nuclear family with you. Not as creepy as some are making it out to be--in fact, it is pretty much what marriage is all about.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:41 AM on May 13, 2008

Chunking Express: I think this goes way beyond passivity. A person can be passive, and still willing to take responsibility for ones actions (or inactions) and their consequences.

It sounds like the OP has a big problem with with personal responsibility, and a strong aversion to honest communication.
posted by Ashley801 at 10:17 AM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

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