General chatter - Marriage Angst




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Unna
12-18-2011, 04:28 AM
I've been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years. We've had minimal problems - the majority have actually come from external family and friends (he has mostly snobby friends and parents that are still very "active" in his daily life).

We have a great apartment together, we like to do a lot of the same things (travel, jogging, etc.). We've both been a good influence on each other in the alcohol-cigs department and we try to help each other stay motivated to exercise together. He has always told me I was beautiful - even at 180 he was saying it. He never even mentioned my weight gain (when we met, I was closer to 150!)

He has a stable job that he loves. He is also supportive of my career interests - doesn't care if I attempt to freelance translating German texts I am passionate about into English (which involves applying for lots of grants, etc.)

We were in America last year and I took him to see my Great Aunt - he really spent a lot of time talking to her in broken English.... he then proceeded to fix her computer (it had a virus) and other things around the house. He is a hard worker. She said "Don't let this one go!"

I think she is right. But here is the dilemma: When we start talking about marriage, I get anxious. I love how things are right now. I don't want to change them at all!

So, why talk about marriage? 2 reasons: We can save ca. $85 a month on healthcare, and the biggest reason, I currently have a student visa and my life here would be easier if I had a marriage-visa.

He is generally such a happy guy. I should be jumping up and down when it comes to the thought of him proposing. But, to be honest, I never dreamed of getting married. I've never dreamed of having kids.

I sort of think that the bond of willingness that we have holding us together right now is perfect and that having the state bond us together will make our committment to each other more forced, so to say.

But yeah - then we come back to the visa problem, and the solution is rational.

Have any of you had this fear? I know on Television the women always typically just know that they want to spend forever with the man - they cannot wait to get married and start their life with someone. Uh, I'm not so romantic, I guess.

Bottom-line: I love him. He is of excellent character. He is extremely stabile, much more than me. He lets me have my own life and supports all my endeavors. He also doesn't even think about wanting children - we are both quite similar there.

Why does this "bond recognized by the state" scare me? Why do I avoid the topic when he brings it up? Has anyone else felt hesitant regarding this? Has anyone hated talking about getting married?

I am perfectly content - I hate thinking about "modifying" the situation.

Thanks for reading my rambling!


bargoo
12-18-2011, 07:12 AM
I don't know why you are scared, but I agree with your great aunt' Don't let this one go."
Why are you afraid of marriage ? Did your parents have a bad marriage ? Are you afraid it might not work out and you will divorce ? Do you think he , or you will change after marriage ? Just some questions to ask yourself.

ArtyKay
12-18-2011, 09:56 AM
Marriage is different for everybody. I honestly only married my husband for legal reasons. He has a dangerous job, and I had a scare one day when he'd been hurt. He wasn't hurt badly at all, but I started thinking...if something ever happened to either of us I want both of us to have legal rights regarding visiting, having a say in what happens, and financial stuff.

Its just a piece of paper for us, it doesn't bond us emotionally any more than we already were. Its not a magical piece of paper that controls us. He's still my boyfriend, and he will always be my boyfriend. Like you guys, we had already been living together for a while...so there was no merging of households, no big life changes made afterwards.

Honestly, nothing changed after we got married. We had a courthouse marriage, no wedding, no reception, and we went camping for a week at a lake afterwards. The only difference is my last name and our tax forms. It was a logical and practical decision for us to get married, not an emotional one.

It also shut my parents up about us "living in sin," so that was a perk. ;)


JessLess
12-18-2011, 10:25 AM
Getting married is easy. Getting divorced is expensive and difficult. It doesn't really matter why you aren't sure, but if you aren't sure, I would not advise doing it.

Beach Patrol
12-18-2011, 11:18 AM
Ok, first of all - BREATHE! Deeply, slowly, concentrate on each breath.

Now. Look at what you said:

When we start talking about marriage, I get anxious. I love how things are right now. I don't want to change them at all!
AND
I am perfectly content - I hate thinking about "modifying" the situation.

It doesn't matter that you can "save $85/mo" or your "life here would be easier if I had a marriage-visa" - what matters is that you PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR INNER VOICE. It's telling you "I DON'T WANT TO GET MARRIED!"

SO - answer your own questions:
Why does this "bond recognized by the state" scare you?
Why DO YOU AVOID the topic when he brings it up?

I bet you know the answers, in fact, I'm sure of it. The important thing is that you RECOGNIZE what you DON'T WANT. Getting married is a serious decision. NOT getting married is a serious feeling. Don't take your feelings for granted here. Not everyone wants or needs to "get married". Make a list of pros/cons. List every single thing, no matter how minute or silly it may seem, of each pro & each con. Look at that list carefully. Which one is stronger? Which one is longer? YES, IT MATTERS.

People get married for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes it's love! Sometimes it's money. Sometimes it's companionship. Sometimes it's to get out of a current situation. Sometimes it's for social status, sometimes it's a ridiculous reason, sometimes it's a well-founded reason. But the bottom line is that IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GET MARRIED - NO MATTER WHAT THE REASON - THEN DON'T.

The cool thing about the decision to NOT get married? It's easy to change your mind at any time. A week into the future. A month. A year. 10 years. 20 years! ...The same cannot be said of getting -or rather BEING -married, for divorce is painful & expensive & long & hard & there-aren't-even-enough-adjectives-to-describe-it!!!

You know what you want, and what you don't want. LIVE YOUR LIFE YOUR WAY. After all, you're the only one who can! :hug:

124chicksinger
12-18-2011, 11:22 AM
Unna, I was surprised this entry was by you. Other than posting about your love-hate relationship with the scale ( <---- I'm paraphasing and attempting humor) you seem like you've got your $hit super together.

From other posts where you mentioned your bf, you sound in love and it sounds like a 2-way relationship where you are both supportive and into each other. That written, see the below:

Why are you afraid of marriage ? Did your parents have a bad marriage ? Are you afraid it might not work out and you will divorce ? Do you think he , or you will change after marriage ? Just some questions to ask yourself.

This. Exactly is what I thought when I read your post. You say that his family and friends cause any friction b/c they are active in his life and snobby. But, here is the thing about that. a) They will always be in his life (family anyhow) and you've both dealt with that for 3 years thus far. b) HE CHOSE YOU, so what formed and shaped the adult that he is stems from the childhood he had so, ultimately, his family is responsible for the good man he is and his interest in you. That my friend Unna is something to think about.

So long his family and friends don't cause too much of a stir, and you and he remain bonded despite any issues they cause, you shouldn't doubt being together, whether there is a paper or not. It sounds like perhaps you have a fear of commitment (or think you don't deserve commitment and/or joy in a committed relationship via making it legally bound) and are looking for a reason to validate your fear.

Clearly, there are more pluses working for you than minuses. Nothing is ever perfect, nothing is perfect forever, and you have to live in the now. I promise you, when you are 52 like me your life will seem as if it has gone by in a flurried blur so swift it'll make your head spin, while simultaneously feeling like it was only yesterday [when my child was born; when my dad passed away; when my mom passed away; when I changed jobs for the last time; when my daughter graduated h.s.; when we bought our first home; when we moved to this home] fill in the milestone, Unna.

Life is too short. If you are happy now, after 3 years of being together, chances are that will not change overnight because you got married. Married makes you more committed to each other legally for instance when you buy a home together (which you can do w/o marriage), share your names on debts and asset (bils/bank accounts) have kids, got through illnesses, experience a great tragedy, etc. Ending a marriage is harder with kids and assets and debts--so it makes one think twice about working on the relationship instead of merely walking away. Actually, I think it makes it easier to stay together rather than making it harder to leave.

It doesn't sound like you want to walk away anytime soon. Unless I'm mistaken, you are both smitten with each other. I would say don't be afraid of marriage, but the fact that you are says more about what is going on inside you than the external mosquitoes (his family/friends).

Lastly, I've been very candid here, because I have come to really like you on these boards and I don't want to just "yes you" when you make a sincere post. So, the best advice I can give you is....focus on the positive and don't dwell on the [small bits of] negative. Life is too short.

Sinoia
12-18-2011, 12:58 PM
The problem with marriage is that there are a lot of bogus rules surrounding it and we are preconditioned into believing we need to `act out' marriage according to the rules.

It is nonsense.

If you love him and you set your own rules, as you have done thus far, then you will simply continue a loving, committed and fulfilling relationship.

You have said that your biggest fear is that the relationship will change if you marry. The fact is that it will change whether you marry or not. How it changes is down to how you two grow together. As long as you are honest, willing to take risks and trust in one another then I think all that needs to be addressed here is your preconditioning. You are an adult and your own, intelligent person ... and you are above being dictated to by anyone else's history.

I think your advice and input more appropriately comes both from within yourself and through discourse with the man you love. There is a great deal of danger I perceive in a number of posts above.

When people say to trust your gut ... don't. Your gut may very well be misleading you totally because it is basing its angst on something misleading. Go back to your first premise, do you love him, can you talk to him, do you see that you wish to remain with him for as long as you can perceive? If you can answer those questions you really do not need outside input - after all in the first sentence of your post you say ...

"We've had minimal problems - the majority have actually come from external family and friends" Whatever their axes to grind, how can you know what influences the input of strangers or internet aquaintances?

krampus
12-18-2011, 02:41 PM
The idea of marriage petrifies me too, but for me it is because I have commitment issues and can never stay faithful or interested in relationships. There is the idea now that you have to be totally 100% enthusiastically in love with someone or you shouldn't be in a relationship with that person at all, so I think I have internalized that pressure and freak out if I'm not first-month-together giddy over someone.

It seems to me like you don't need to be married right now. I wouldn't push it until you find yourself really struggling either financially or with visa issues. But then again, you practically already are married since you live together - I don't know that anything would really change if you did get married!

Justwant2Bhealthy
12-18-2011, 05:11 PM
I don't know why you are scared, but I agree with your great aunt' Don't let this one go." Why are you afraid of marriage? Did your parents have a bad marriage ? Are you afraid it might not work out and you will divorce ? Do you think he, or you will change after marriage ? Just some questions to ask yourself ...


^THIS^ ... and, you do mention that there have been some issues with friends & family -- that could put doubts into someone's mind. It depends what those issues are: are they directed towards you? Does he support you completely or takes sides?

Plus, there may be some subconcious issues that are niggling at the back of your mind --so take a good look at his family. Are his parents still together? How do they get along? How does his father treat his mother? That may be important ...

Are your finances handled in a way that is mutally agreeable? Would that change after you get married for any reason? Sometimes power issues come up after marriage for some people. There will be changes in your life whether you are married or not; the question is -- will marriage help them?

To some degree, you have to have some faith in your partner; but you sound like you don't want to get married at all right now. What are his reasons for wanting to get married? Are they only for convenience? Some people get married for love; some for convenience; some for companionship; some for religious considerations; and for some or all of those reasons.

I sort of think that the bond of willingness that we have holding us together right now is perfect and that having the state bond us together will make our committment to each other more forced, so to say.

^Interesting that you feel the opposite of how others think. I am a believer in marriage myself, so I preferred to have a man that was willing to show his commitment to me that way. Let's be honest: some men can be flighty and/or pretentious. As long as you have no doubts about your guy being pretentious in any way, things may only stay the same or get even better.

I guess you are asking if you should get married for marriage sake, or just for convenience? That's a personal call; but like someone else said, you don't HAVE TO get married right now -- and you may change your mind some time down the road, so you can take your time and wait until you are sure ... :D

EDIT TO ADD: oh, I just read another post you made about the subject of marriage where you said you are already engaged (you refer to your partner as your fiance). I'm puzzled why you agreed to get engaged if you don't want to get married?

Plus, you mentioned his relationship with his parents: esp the fact that at home his mother served him food; meaning she was the kind of mom that doted on him. He is only now taking an interest in cooking with your encouragement. What about household chores; how will they be divided up?

And, you mentioned that you have separate finances. How will that work out in your marriage? Who will handle the money; and how will it be handled? If you read the other posts, you will see that finances are a huge issue in marriage. As a social worker, I would say it comes in the top 3 (power/control, money, and communication), and is often #1. There are others: religion, education, respect, family & friends, lifestyle issues, children, and sex (and not necessarily in that order). ;)

Yes, I do think that there are some other issues niggling at the back of your mind ... and I don't blame you. :hug:

Unna
12-19-2011, 01:36 AM
I know when you send something out on the internet, it is highly probably that you'll get a myriad of completely different answers - that is exactly what I wanted. Thanks for responding, everyone. But, considering the different answers are helping me work through this mental issue.

One person that I should be talking about this with, my Mother, is very religious - all she cares about is that I do get married. If it were up to her, I would have been married 6 months after I met my first boyfriend at 19 - I'm 30 now! I'm simply not religious, so her argument is not compelling. She simply cannot help me out. Maybe my inner child is rebelling and that is why getting married is scary???


I would like to reply to most responses - I found them all very intriguing:

bargoo: I suppose I am afraid of marriage insofar as it seems to fail often. My parents are still married - they had fights like any couple, but nothing too extreme. I would not say they have an "ideal", beautiful, marriage, but they've always made it work with a pretty good, considerate attitude.

"Do I think one of us will change?" If anything it wouldn't be him - he has been stable and kind for three years. It would have to be me. One thing is, if I look back at my life before I met him, I was completely unstable, depressed, smoking, drinking, with bad boyfriends. He was a work-acoholic, quite literally, it was his distraction from being lonely. After time, we both calmed down. He became more relazed, I cut out some bad habits, started exercising with him, and my depression slowly started lifting (of course I'm not "cured", but it is much better).

Good questions to think about bargoo....

Unna
12-19-2011, 01:53 AM
ArtyKay: I think our situations are SUPER similar! We would go to the court house too and then take a few days vacation to celebrate - no reception, etc. His older sister did the exact same thing - she lived with her boyfriend for 11 years before they got married. They only got married because both of them earn quite a bit but would not receive the others pension, should anything happen.

My family would also like to see me "not living in sin"!

I really like your input, that your husband is still your boyfriend and that nothing changed. Things are the same. That sounds really nice, that is exactly how I would like things to be.

Beach Patrol: I will take your advice to make a list of pros and cons to see which one is stronger. I also think your advice, that marriage is not for everyone, is true. My inner voice is contantly telling me conflicting things - so it is hard to listen to - that is where writing concrete things down will help me.

124chicksinger: I'm SO glad you posted. I am really interested in hearing from people who have been married awhile. You also really hit the nail on the head with "focus on the positive". I have a big problem with negative thinking - it has driven me into some pretty bad places. I naturally think negatively and expect all the wrong, bad things. I have to remind myself daily to think positively. It is not natural.

Ultimately, I want to experience life in a relationship with someone else I can trust and laugh with. I have been single, I know what real independence feels like, and I prefer being in a relationship, with my boyfriend - in addition, he is, by far, the best boyfriend I've ever had. No emotional games whatsoever.

Unna
12-19-2011, 02:22 AM
Sinoia: You are right about my gut, I agree %100 - it is untrustworthy. Since I am naturally a negative thinker, it tends to make every situation worse and more complicated than necessary. The only headache we have in our relationship is my future visa issue, which marriage would fix. I have no intentions of leaving this relationship. In fact, I can't imagine him or I with anyone else. He has made it clear to me, repeatedly, that he wants to get married. Of course it freaks him out a bit too (he's a man), but he still wants to do it.

I feel like I am slowly making him not want to get married - all of my worries from what others who are divorced tell me. The statistics. We have talked about children, neither of us has any interest. That does make the decision a bit lighter.

krampus: I feel like I've also been programmed to think the 100% enthusiastic first year should never end (darn that hollywood and bollywood for such absurd ideas!). I suppose that is why tons of people get married quickly - maybe is not a bad idea, makes for a better honeymoon! After 3 years, it does change. But we are still having fun and we always do things together - freely.

I would be lying if I said commitment doesn't freak me out. I have a past of running. I also have a past of boyfriends that behaved quite rudely (to put it nicely).

Justwant2Bhealthy: His father and mother get along wonderfully. He has always taken my side in absolutely every situation with parents and friends - I was actually surprised by how supportive he is. I was having a problem with his mother being controlling in a kind way.... she wanted to do EVERYTHING for us, including cleaning, cooking, ironing... that is too much for me! He talked with her and she has laid off big time.

His snobby friends: that is not all of his friends. His 3 absolute best buds are gems. The others that I have problems with, he is actually finding that he has problems with them. It seems they were great drinking friends, but when he's not drunk, there is nothing there. The women in his friend circle are not good at letting new women into the group..... Germany has a different culture when it comes to friend circles: it takes years to get access. Also, the women and I are on completely different planes - they have part-time work they don't really care about and cannot wait to have babies and I am the opposite, I love everything I do career-wise and am not concerned with babies.

Finances: I know this drives couples apart - it is important to think about. We will do a pre-nupt and they will mostly stay separate. He has a large inheritance he acquired before we ever got together. I have student loans. It would not be fair for either of us to share these things. As we are both working full-time, I pay a percentage of the rent, we split groceries, etc. But I have no interest in merging finances more.

Househild chores: he is getting better. It isn't his fault. His mother loved him SO much that she wanted to do all his chores for him. Haha - my mother was the opposite! He is naturally pretty tidy..... I think this is mainly because we have a super minimalist apartment and it is hard to really dirty it up.

I really appreciate the real-world questions you asked, from a unique social worker's perspective.

ArtyKay
12-19-2011, 02:36 AM
Finances: I know this drives couples apart - it is important to think about. We will do a pre-nupt and they will mostly stay separate. He has a large inheritance he acquired before we ever got together. I have student loans. It would not be fair for either of us to share these things. As we are both working full-time, I pay a percentage of the rent, we split groceries, etc. But I have no interest in merging finances more.

Househild chores: he is getting better. It isn't his fault. His mother loved him SO much that she wanted to do all his chores for him. Haha - my mother was the opposite! He is naturally pretty tidy..... I think this is mainly because we have a super minimalist apartment and it is hard to really dirty it up.

I really appreciate the real-world questions you asked, from a unique social worker's perspective.

If those finances work for you, stick with it. Don't fix what isn't broken. ;) You don't have to change anything if guys get married. I think this is especially true for people who have been living together for an extended period of time.

indiblue
12-19-2011, 02:49 AM
We're in similar situations! I moved across the world to be with my fiance for his job. It would have been much easier to get married before I did, both visa-wise and financially and whole host of other reasons.

But we didn't. It was because of me- I was afraid of marriage. I am an economics wonk... I love "perfect information" before I make a decision. I wanted to know my fiance would stay the same after we got married. I wanted to have met a sufficient number of other men before I confirmed rationally what I thought emotionally- that he was a very good person in my life.

Of course, all of this is nonsense! It's not possible to know what marriage is like, or what your own marriage will be like, until it happens. We had talked a little about marriage, I knew a proposal was coming, and then BAM, without notice, he proposed in June. We hadn't even talked about what kind of ring I wanted.

I was initially shocked and freaked out and scared to death. I wanted to emotionally and mentally prepare myself for the whole process... the side of me that my fiance finds kind of a buzzkill :)

Now that we've been engaged for 6 months I can't imagine not being engaged. I can't imagine not having that commitment and not having begun plans to start our lives together. I can't imagine not having had all of those premarital books that we read together that brings up really important issues and helped us talk through them (how to argue, gender differences, communication styles, etc).

But, to be honest, if my fiance hadn't have proposed and we were still dating, I would probably tell you now that I couldn't imagine being engaged.

When my fiance went to talk to my parents about proposing, my dad asked him (after my fiance told them how I make him a better person) how he makes me a better person. He said that he helps me have a little more faith. I couldn't sum it up more perfectly. My reasons for holding back on marriage and commitment is that I don't really have any blind faith... which I think you have to have for making decisions about jobs, marriage, and other big life decisions. I am hyper-rational and calculating and my fiance is a bit more head in the clouds. It was because of my rationalism that we held off on marriage for a few years (which was a good thing) and his faith that we actually finally got engaged (which was also a good thing). We balance each other out.

I don't really know what I'm telling you. I guess just coming from someone who sounds fairly similar to you in some respects I can tell you 'over here on the other side' things are not as scary as they seem.

carol2208
12-19-2011, 05:28 AM
You should look into the immigration and coexistence laws where you are (I guess Germany?). Here in Spain they have something called "Pareja de Hecho", which is a law that recognizes the bond between two people that have been living under the same roof for more than 12 months (that might vary depending on the state).

For health care and etc the state allows the same rights as to a married couple, for immigration purposes it allows you to have a residency card (equivalent of a work visa), and itīs not quite like marriage, no divorce necessary if it doesnīt work out, much simpler process for everything ...

Esofia
12-19-2011, 06:34 AM
There's a huge amount of social pressure to get married, often placed on you by people who don't even know your partner and may not know you. There are also many more people these days who deliberately choose not to marry. If you would prefer not to marry, then don't! You can always marry later if you change your mind, but doing that the other way around is much harder and much, much more expensive.

CrystalZ10
12-19-2011, 08:55 PM
If getting married is a deal breaker for you, than you have to ask if you can live without him and be happy. If your living together than its not any different getting married. Its just a legal piece of paper and to a lot of people its a big deal.
Does he bring it up a lot? Is this a deal breaker for him, or will he be happy with the way things are?

nelie
12-19-2011, 09:43 PM
I never wanted to get married and was in a couple fairly happy relationships prior to dating my husband. Then I met my husband and when we started talking marriage, I actually wanted to get married. It was an odd switch and I would also say that I just thought I was anti-marriage. I wasn't, it just didn't feel like the right thing with the previous guys I dated.

astrophe
12-19-2011, 09:49 PM
I have a friend who had parents who behaved so badly in their marriage that it has turned her off it. Yet she lives with her 2 kids and her common-law spouse just fine.

My spouse and I creep up on almost 20 years together. We met when I was 18 and I'm 36 now. I cannot imagine life without him -- and it is interesting to look at a relationship in terms of years. That was a good year... that was an ok year, that was a rough year. Life throws things at you and you ride it out as a couple.

But I remember I was anxious when I married him because of the way our society is. I was worried about losing my individual identity to that of the couple. Or that I'd be pushed to his shadow -- "the little mrs." or something.

I got over it when I realized "Wait a minute here... WE decide how we want our relationship to be. Not other people." I also realized that the name of my internal newspaper is still "Astrophe" -- all the life events including marraige are the stories within. But the me I am is still the me I am and the name on the masthead!

If you do not want to be married right now, don't sweat it. If you do, go with it. Only you can answer if this is the right time, right reason, right person. Your reason(s) do NOT have to be the same as other people's and what makes is "right" is you deciding it is.

The right time/person for YOU. :)

GL!
A.

Unna
12-20-2011, 02:49 AM
carol2208: I am looking into it - thanks for the tip!

indiblue: I wish we lived closer to each other! I think we'd be great friends! You've explained, like, exactly how I am!

I think one thing easy to overlook is: if I don't have a visa, I go home ASAP. My boyfriend and I both share this fear and want to make things more permanent. If the visa issue wasn't there, neither of us would be in a hurry because life is great just as it is.

Actually, I tend to fit in better with the Europeans than the Americans when it comes to marriage - I think couples "date" an average of 5 years here before they get married. My boyfriend's buddies are all in relationships - 10-15 years - they never got married! I'm actually quite shocked that he wants to marry at all, he is sort of going against the grain in Northern Europe!

The more I think about it (and thanks for the helpful comments), I am excited to continue spending my life with my boyfriend (with or with no certificate).

What really freaks me out are all of the terrible divorce stories. I am a bit of a hypochondriac in real life - I literally can no longer watch medical dramas on television because I fear I have everything (and the fear is legitimate at the time).

More generally stated, I have a fear of bad outcomes and failures. As indiblu said, I like to calculate everything. I will just always be a scaredy cat.