I’m not married nor engaged but “pre-engaged,” I guess you’d call it, because my boyfriend and I intend to get married at some point when we are ready. No question about it. I just feel that right now we are not ready for personal reasons (nor are our families ready for our marriage).
Except, my boyfriend has been offered an incredible job opportunity abroad! (YAY for him!) He has to make a decision in less than a month and would start in two or three months! We are adamant that we do not want to live apart at all—completely out of the question—but I am adamant that I will not live abroad with him unless we are married. (I don’t want to be the “pushy” girlfriend, but that’s just how I feel.) So we are faced with some tough decisions right now.
My question is: if we rush to get married in two to three months so we can live abroad together married (which is one option), would it devastate the process that we have set up for us working towards a life together? I know many couples have faced these sorts of tough decisions where marriage came fast because of approaching life changes. If it came down to getting married right away, I feel that my boyfriend and I will be able to work through our outstanding issues that need to be resolved. However, I fear that rushing into marriage may stress our relationship with our families, my parents especially, who do not seem ready to let us go mostly for the personal reasons that are holding us back from marriage. I imagined our wedding being for our parents to help them recognize our transition into a life together and realize the beauty of our relationship. I don’t know if this would be the case if we married quickly. I wonder how much will these issues affect the outcome of our marriage?
Afraid of Rocky Roads Going Headward
This is an easy one.
Don’t get married if you’re not ready.
I’m not being flippant or glib; it really is that black and white. If you aren’t ready to get married, there’s no reason in this world that is good enough for you to rush into it. In fact, that’s another word that worried me about your email. Not just “not ready,” but also “rush,” and while we’re at it, “unresolved issues.” Those are some scary words used individually, and terrifying when all clumped together. Don’t rush into something like marriage when you aren’t ready. That’s the bottom line.
But, of course, I need to dig further. From your email, it almost sounds like by, “I’m not ready,” what you really mean is, “My parents aren’t ready,” and that, to me, is an entirely different ballgame. Your marriage is your marriage and, while family is important in the process and you want to be sure to maintain good relations without harming any feelings, there will always be some amount of familial transition (and usually, it’s going to be a little tough). Put another way, my dad would never have been ready for me to get married, no matter how awesome my husband is. (He still refuses to acknowledge how he came to have a grandson. Storks and magic and things, I guess.) Whether it’s because you’re moving out of their house for the first time, leaving the old neighborhood for one a bit farther away, or they’re reconciling the fact that they need to share their holidays, parents are sometimes reluctant to let go of their little babies. Sometimes they just need a gentle nudge toward understanding that you’ll be okay, they’ll be okay, and though things are changing out of their control, you’re not falling off the face of the earth. These growing pains happen (not just around weddings), but can help bring you closer as a couple while also helping you feel out your new footing as both “daughter” and “wife.” Your parents, too, are always learning how to understand their ever-evolving roles as parents, protecting without sheltering.
That says, after a big staff discussion (we do that for you ATP question askers!) Meg disagrees a little with me on the family issue. She argues that family issues are issues you’ll need to face for awhile. If your parents say they aren’t ready, and you proceed anyway, you may need to brace yourself for some possible bumpy roads (and hence, thinks if you’re going to do it, great, but you’d better feel personally ready). Keep in mind that when you marry your boyfriend, you’re essentially marrying his family too, and all of the lovely baggage they bring along for the ride. So, that is really something for you to decide. Are your parents being overprotective, unwilling to see their little girl grow-up and move on? Or is their concern something that will cause a problem later down the line, if ignored?
What concerns me a bit about your email is that you seem to pose the question in such a way that only leaves two options: marry early (as discussed, inadvisable if you’re truly not ready), or ask your boyfriend to forgo an amazing career opportunity in favor of a relationship to which neither of you are ready to commit.
So, let’s take a look at the options you’ve negated at the outset. I’m sure you probably have very good reason for crossing them off the list, but let’s revisit just for the sake of argument (and to make this blog post long enough for me to get paid, obviously).
The one option you nixed off the bat was moving abroad without having married first. I agree. Moving (and such a distance, too!) may seem like an entirely huge commitment without the whole marriage thing nailed down. But think about it. You’re asking him to make that same sort of huge commitment by skipping on a big opportunity to stay with you, despite there not being a wedding. I’m not saying that you should move with him, but I think it’s worth weighing why you would expect him to make a concession similar to one you’re unwilling to make yourself. Besides, of the two options, which is the most drastic? Rushing to move somewhere with the guy, or rushing to marry the guy? Both of them are big steps, but one of them comes with a bigger headache if you decide to undo it all.
You also completely threw out the idea of a long-distance relationship. Let’s not sugarcoat it, those are tough. I understand why you’d like to say “no” to that one. But, compared to “rush into marriage” or “ask him to give up his dream” or “break up,” Skype chats and Friday nights alone don’t seem like such a tall order. Bonus, those parents of yours that aren’t convinced you’re ready to be serious about this guy might consider things with a bit more weight when you two go the extra mile (Ha! Mile! Because it’s long distance… I’m here all night, folks!) to stay together while so very far apart.
The important thing here is the gut. If your gut says you’re not ready to be married, don’t do it. If deep down, you think your parents are making valid points, listen to them. And if that same gut still wants to be with this guy, try to find a way to make it work without rushing into something for which you’re not ready. I’m not saying it won’t be tough—it might. But as tough as a rushed, too-soon marriage? Unlikely.
Team Practical, do you have any advice for our frustrated pal ARRGH? Have you had to untangle some parental issues while planning to get married? How have you handled large decisions as a couple before you were ready to marry?
Photo: Leah and Mark Photography.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!