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I should be excited about getting married, shouldn't I?

(29 Posts)
TheDemonShedMaster Tue 25-Jun-13 13:22:38

Sorry about the epic post..don't want to drip feed...

I am feeling very ambivalent about getting married and just don’t seem to be able to unpick why I feel this way. DP and I have been together for five years and have a two year old DS. We have been engaged for almost two years, but just don’t seem to be able to move on to actually getting married.

DP set the pace to our relationship when he asked me if I wanted to move in together after just four months of dating. He had been so very far from my experience of the two other serious relationships I had been involved in (one eight years, one three and a half). He was a “slow burn” IYSWIM. I didn’t instantly fancy him, but enjoyed his company and the falling in love crept up on me. I’d also never been in a relationship with a man who did not have ENORMOUS commitment issues.

We eventually moved in together after six months. He is lovely man, who I love very deeply. He treats me well, we share a sense of humour and I know without any doubt that I will spend the rest of my life with him. He is a wonderful partner and father to our DS. However, like everyone, we are not without our problems. Sex has always been an issue, in as much that I would have liked an awful lot more. Even before our son was born, once a month was about average. Perhaps I had done myself a disservice in always feeling that my confidence, my sense of being attractive came from my comfort in my own sexuality. The upshot was that I felt somewhat insecure about things - does he love me? Am I attractive? Is this going anywhere? All questions I struggled with.

We had often talked about getting married. It was quite refreshing to discover that not all men run away from the topic and owing to previous disappointments in this area, I was quite upfront about the fact that I hoped for marriage and children in my future. That said, we have not always been on the same page about it. We once had a (drunken) argument where he told me that a marriage certificate meant about as much to him as a swimming certificate. I was rather devastated about this and told him that this was a deal-breaker for me and that much as I loved him, if we weren’t moving in the same direction, it was probably best to split up. This was in no way an ultimatum or me trying to pressure him. I genuinely felt that I didn't want to waste any more time on the wrong relationship. We managed to work through this though and he said that he did want to marry me and have children with me, but that the notion of a big wedding in front of lots of people made him incredibly anxious.

This I totally respect and scaled my expectations back. A large wedding was not what I ever really wanted anyway. What I wanted was a carefully planned, intimate day, with immediate family and a few close friends and he, I think, felt relieved that we were able to meet in the middle. He said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and that he would propose, but he would do it in his own time. I was sort of fine with this. I would have much preferred for him to propose sooner rather than later, but I also didn’t want to feel that I had forced him into it. I would get hopeful around special occasions (birthday, Valentine’s Day etc..), but it never came and I always felt a little bit sad about it.

Three years into the relationship, I then discovered, quite by surprise that I was pregnant. Although we’d talked about the possibility and I knew that he was, if anything, a bit keener on the idea of children than me, I was very happy. It was at this point that I felt more able to say to him, “What are you waiting for?”. I was open and honest with him and told him that I had always envisaged being married before having a child and that now we were expecting one, that was never going to happen, so I would like to be engaged before the baby arrived. Unsurprisingly, this did not happen and he eventually proposed on my birthday, when DS was four months old (he had asked my father’s permission on the morning that DS was born).

We began looking into small venues and went through several ideas before we found somewhere we both loved, booked it and set a date. All seemed to be going really well until a couple of months later, when my mother passed away very unexpectedly at the age of only fifty-nine. My father then put enormous pressure on me to cancel the wedding. Mum died in January, the wedding would have been in December. I don’t think he could bear the idea of me doing this without her there. I sincerely wish I hadn’t now, but I did cancel it and the idea of getting married was put very much on the back burner.

DP and I eventually got back to thinking about planning the wedding. I felt very strongly that I could not go with the original venue we had chosen. I had planned a lot of this with my Mum and I felt like that wedding went with her when she died. I still pass the venue twice a day going to and from work and seeing it makes me feel quite, well, bereaved. I should have been married for six months by now, but I’m not.

My close friends keep asking about wedding plans and I keep saying “Oh, we haven’t found a venue we like,” or some such excuse, but the truth of the matter is that I just cannot muster a scrap of enthusiasm for it. I’ve spent time looking for appropriate venues that would suit both of us, we’ve agreed a guest list, we’ve both found clothes that we like. It should be easy, but it just isn’t happening. I want to get married, DP wants to get married - that’s not in any doubt - I just don’t really feel excited by the prospect and I cannot understand why. It could be unresolved issues about my mother’s death; it could be because he dragged his feet for so long that I had made my peace with it probably never happening. Whatever the reason, I just can’t bring myself to believe that we will ever marry.

I have had some minor issues with my MIL-to be. She is lovely and we get along very well, but she seemed to go a little bonkers when we announced my pregnancy. She had a metaphorical attack of the vapours and insisted that we ought to be married. As I say, she and I get along very well and I hoped after my Mum died, that as a mother to an only son, that she would like to be involved in the planning. She completely blind-sided me by going the other way totally and being a bit sniffy about the venues we were interested in, telling me how expensive everything was and we can’t afford it (not an issue, as my father has given us a sum of money, as he did for my sister) and that no-one would judge us if we snuck off and did it without telling anyone. As she has always been so welcoming and kind to me, I would belying if I said that this did not hurt my feelings rather a lot. DP and I talked about it and he pulled her up on it, which I hadn’t expected him to do. She did apologise, but her stance does not seem to have altered.

Events finally came to a head this weekend. We went to see a possible venue and although we both liked it, I could sense DP was not really in to it. We talked about it and he basically said that he did not want such a big wedding (forty guests) and that the whole idea of it made him sick with anxiety. He later apologised and said that although he still feels very nervous about having to be in such a large group of people, he will do it for me, because he knows it matters to me and that he wouldn’t want us to look back and wish we’d made more of a celebration of things.

Of course, I now feel that I cannot possibly “force” him into something which makes him so uncomfortable. I do think he has anxiety issues - he dislikes socialising and is perfectly happy at home on the sofa with DS and me. The irony is, is that he is an immensely charming person with beautiful manners and you would never know in a million years that being in groups of more than three people makes him feel so wretched.

I don’t know how to move forward with this now. I don’t know if I can. I have no intention of ending the relationship, but cannot see us marrying. I cannot really deal with any more obstacles and have completely lost my taste for the whole endeavour. I had been collecting things on a couple of Pinterest boards for the best part of two years and deleted them last night, because I simply cannot bear to look at them any more. I have taken off my engagement ring and put it away, because it seems meaningless to me now. I love him, so surely I should feel something? If I could go on line and just fill in a form that would make us married, I would. I feel that anything we do now will be only for the benefit of DS. I just do not understand why I feel like this and why and I don’t feel that I can say anything to anyone in real life, as the thought of getting married should be a happy one, but for me, it’s not. I am confused, sad and feel hollow.

mistlethrush Tue 25-Jun-13 13:28:14

Why don't you turn it on its head - have a simple registry office do with a couple of witnesses (known or otherwise (!)) and plan a party for the following weekend or something - a 'bring something to share and we'll provide the venue' type do?

Cherriesarelovely Tue 25-Jun-13 13:37:43

Agree with mistlethrush. He never wanted a big wedding, you now don't have the enthusiasm for one. Have a tiny one here or go away and do it. That will completely take the pressure off and then you can have a dinner or party for everyone else. So sorry to hear about your mum.

Cherriesarelovely Tue 25-Jun-13 13:39:23

I'm sure that your feelings of emptiness and sadness are directly linked to losing your mum. You must still be greiving.

mistlethrush Tue 25-Jun-13 13:39:59

I wouldn't even tell people what the party was 'for' unless that was the only reason you could get them there... or you might say 'we have something to announce at the party' or words to that effect, for people that you need to give an excuse to to get there.

DonutForMyself Tue 25-Jun-13 13:44:02

I know that crushing feeling of waiting for a proposal which never comes. In the end I just said to my XH "lets just skip the engagement and get on with it" because I was so disheartened as each 'special meal' or occasion failed to bring the promised proposal.

I don't think it was a lack of intention from him, just that he didn't see the potential in those situations for the big gesture, there wasn't an urgency (come to think of it, not sure why I felt any urgency either, but for you, I can see why you would want to just finally get on with it after all your planning!)

If its the formality you want, I agree, just have a simple ceremony with the minimum of fuss, maybe a meal for close friends/family afterwards at a local restaurant. If you want the big party reserve it for your birthday instead, so that its not about him, its just for you (he can even skip it altogether if it makes him uncomfortable).

I think that once you have DCs it does make sense to get married, purely from a legal perspective (i.e. if anything happens to one of you, the other is better provided for if you are married. Not sure what other advantages there are tbh, but I'm sure there must be some!)

I'm not surprised it all feels a bit flat after losing your DM, I think that bereavement changes you in a way that people can't understand, you're never quite the same again and you do have to put up a little wall of protection and numb yourself to get through it. Don't be too hard on yourself.

stepmooster Tue 25-Jun-13 13:56:11

Hi Op, I can totally understand where your DP is coming from. I witnessed all my friends and sister turn into mini bridezillas the minute they started to plan their weddings and stress out over table decorations, music, who is going to sit where... etc etc. None of them wanted to end up that way but things just snow balled and all of them cried at some point on their wedding day because they were so stressed by everything.

I nearly married my ex, we had it all planned, it was abroad took some effort to arrange even though there were only a small amount of guests it still took some doing. I didn't marry my ex because he turned out to be an EA twunt, and was not sympathetic at all when my mother died. I lost a lot of money and I had a overpriced dress I couldnt take back and I wasted £1000's on the wedding. After swearing blind not to become obsessed by the wedding I had in fact become obsessed with the wedding and I realised just how much I had wasted and how much none of it meant anything really.

When DH and I got together we put starting for a family before a wedding. But we decided to get married before the baby was due. Quite honestly the stress of venues/menus/flowers/dress etc was far too much for me to bother with.

We booked the registry office local to us, then we booked a table in our local beefeater, got their 2 for 1 menu and sent out email invitations to our nearest and dearest and asked them to let us know if they wanted to come to our wedding and to let us know by a certain date and what they wanted to eat.

I bought my dress for £40 of ASOS a whole £960 cheaper than the first one, and it could cope with a growing bump and I've worn it again. We went to the baker ordered a cake, and told them to do what they wanted and you know what it was a lovely cake. When people asked about our colour scheme I just laughed. My cousin got my bouquet for the ceremony but I couldnt have cared less.

Our wedding took 3 hours to organise and was amazing, no stress and I enjoyed myself so much, it was thebest day of my life and the only time I cried was when I heard DH do his speech. Afterall its not the wedding that is important but the getting marreid to the love of your life.

MumnGran Tue 25-Jun-13 14:15:24

I think your feelings about a wedding are now wholly identified with your mum (I am so sorry that you lost her) and the planning the two of you did together. Anything else feels just ....not right.
Your DP has always had an issue with being the focus of a wedding.
I think the solution is all about compromise....for you both.
Suggest to your DP that you get married at a registry office, with just his parents as witnesses and your father to give you away. Perhaps even plan it mid-week. Literally the legalities, and little fuss.

Then ... have as much fun as you both can, planning a big party! huge!!
No formality, but the nicest venue you can afford ....and preferably lots of friends rather than the third cousin(once removed!) who hasn't been seen since the last decade.

Sound as though it could work .....?

GrumpyKat Tue 25-Jun-13 14:26:16

Why don't you go away together as a family for a fabulous holiday and tie the knot there? Not a big fancy do, more a registry office in Tuscany/beach in Bali/New York at Christmas with witnesses of the street type of thing? It will still be special but totally different.
It must be hard to muster the enthusiasm without your mum there, there will still be grief in the mix here. It also removes the large crowd obstacle for your dp.
And your dad would probably be thrilled if you put his money to such a good use, what a wonderful break for the three of you.
Have fun.

GrumpyKat Tue 25-Jun-13 14:27:11

*off the street, not of the street. Sounds like a wedding with tramps and ladies of the night!

TheDemonShedMaster Tue 25-Jun-13 14:46:09

Hello Everyone - thanks for replying.

I think many of you may be right about my Mum. DonutForMyself - your last paragraph struck a big chord with me. I think that is how I feel. Also, when she died, it made me see several family members in a different light and I really wouldn't want to have them there, so I suppose I am also avoiding the inevitable fallout when they realise they have not been invited. I do not get the politics of weddings.

stepmooster - thank you for sharing your story. Your wedding sounds like it had the vibe that is eluding me.

mistlethrush - I think what I'm struggling with is that going to a registry office on our own feels a bit too much like a legal transaction and I had hoped it might be a little more celebratory/romantic than that. Is that daft? Plus, I know a couple of family members/friends I care about would understand, but still be hurt that they weren't included. I know it's not about pleasing other people, but they have supported me through some tough times (lost previous DP to cancer) and it would be nice to be able to have them there to share the occasion.

Cherriesarelovely - thanks for your suggestion. You are right about the pressure. I am half-wondering if we shouldn't just go away together for a weekend and do it without telling anyone. The whole thing feels a bit rudderless without my Mum. I have a sister, but she doesn't live nearby and has a young baby, so it's not easy to try and do "wedding stuff" together.

mumngran - we have discussed that, but there's a small part of me that wonders if I would end up resenting DP for getting things exactly as he wanted them. I apologise if that makes me sound entitled, but I had hoped I would get to be a little bit "bridal".

HoneyandRum Tue 25-Jun-13 14:47:14

Due to losing your mum and the lack of support with organizing etc from DP and his mum is there a good friend who could help you organize a simple do and take some pressure off? I agree that I think a really good holiday is what you need - maybe have a very simple, lovely ceremony and splurge on a fab Honeymoon?

On the other hand, taking a completely different point of view, you seem ambiguous about your desire to be with your DP for the rest if your life. Are you really sure this is what you want or are you going through the motions because this has become something inevitable after all the years of faffing? It concerns me that he is so passive, in life and in bed when you don't seem to be. Are you sure you are well matched?

kalidasa Tue 25-Jun-13 15:30:40

I agree with honey that you sound a little bit uncertain about your relationship as a whole. But setting that aside, DH and I ended up having the smallest wedding imaginable - just him, me, our baby (three months old that day) and a witness each in the most basic room with the shortest ceremony at the registry office on the Euston road, no party afterwards, no rings. (Lots of reasons for this - for family reasons, DH was always very anti-marriage and we mostly did it for legal reasons; I was struggling with very severe PND at the time.) But the completely surprising thing is that actually it was really romantic, being just us and the baby, not at all about anyone else, or our families, or what they wanted. I think if you both want to be married but neither of you can stomach "a wedding" just now, it might be a good idea just to go and do it - you don't even need to tell people - and then maybe plan a bigger party/blessing ceremony/honeymoon/whatever in a few years' time when you are further on with the grieving and can enjoy it again.

I can really see how at the moment trying to plan a "proper" wedding - an activity you shared with your Mum and which naturally she would have been a huge part of - could seem sour and hollow and sad, just 'not right' after such a big loss. If you'd gone ahead with the original plan it might have ended up working out well but I can understand how you just can't stomach sorting everything out all over again, especially if your DP is not that keen.

For what it's worth, marriage is not that big a deal to me, but I am glad we did it. We got married in February and we're going to have a honeymoon (without the baby!) next Christmas.

TheDemonShedMaster Tue 25-Jun-13 15:49:49

GrumpyKat - MIL would expire if we had tramps and ladies of the night as witnesses...!

honeyandrum - I do tend to have wobbles about the relationship on occasions. But I have form as a bit of a bolter and would rather run first, ask questions later. But I love DP and I would say we are well-matched, in the sense that we make up what the other lacks IYSWIM. But sometimes he does things that make me wonder of he has ever actually met me? Having a bit of a flip-out about the latest wedding venue is one of them. But I suppose he feels the same way about me wanting more than five people at our wedding.

kalidasa - You're absolutely right about it being a mother-daughter thing. It does feel hollow. It's hard to think who we'd be doing it for, when neither he nor I seem that fussed. It sounds like you had the wedding that was "right" for you (I hope you have a lovely honeymoon, too!). I suppose I am uncertain about what would be right for us.

I wonder if I should just pass all the responsibility to him and let him plan it.

stepmooster Tue 25-Jun-13 16:35:02

Hi OP, don't discount the registry office unless you've seen it. Ours had a lovely room decked out with beautiful (fake but you'd never know) flowers. We got to personalise everything, vows, readings and music only thing we couldn't do was have any religious stuff. There was a pretty little rose garden outside for photographs. I think it cost us £500 to hire it.

When my mum died I re-evaluated everything having a big wedding didn't matter anymore and I didn't invite my uncles because they were pretty rubbish support when I needed them during my mothers alcoholism and death.

When you have a small ceremony I think its easier to get away with not inviting everyone as you would do for a big wedding.

Why not put the money you would save on a big wedding into a fantastic holiday/honeymoon instead?

Flyingtree Tue 25-Jun-13 16:47:28

It's so simple, this one.

Just don't get married, if neither of you really want to yet.

You can always re-assess your feelings a few years down the line, if as you say you are confident you want to spend the rest of your life with him anyway.

I'm all for Mickey & Mallory style marriage myself though, so don't take me too seriously, I realise most women want the whole £20grand church, dress, cake, disco in a stately home caboodle.

hilbobaggins Tue 25-Jun-13 17:49:54

I am not at all surprised you feel ambivalent. You are in transition after the death of your mother, and have been in transition as an engaged person. Transitions can make some people feel anxious and confused and lost. This is not really talked about very much and can make you feel very alone. I sometimes wonder how much of that "bridezilla" behaviour is a way of trying to cope with some of this anxiety by getting obsessed with wedding planning as a sort of unconscious distraction. You don't have to sit with your uncomfortable feelings or questions about the future if you are devoting all your time to buying the perfect dress.

OP I think you might be helped by this website I have found it really helpful. The woman who runs it is a counsellor who specialises in helping people through the engagement transition. She writes a lot of articles that address the sort of questions you're asking (eg shouldn't I be feeling something "?). What you are going through is not unusual and doesn't mean you shouldn't marry your DP - just that you might find want to work through some things first.

wordyBird Tue 25-Jun-13 20:03:39

I agree with Flyingtree. Do not spend time, energy and money on something you're not currently interested in.

You said: It does feel hollow. It's hard to think who we'd be doing it for, when neither he nor I seem that fussed.
I cannot really deal with any more obstacles and have completely lost my taste for the whole endeavour

Any project (such as a wedding day) requires some level of enthusiasm to carry it through, otherwise it is just hard work, which may ultimately disappoint.

So this seems like a good time to drop the project. Enjoy life, if you can, doing something else. Come back to it when the idea makes you both smile.

crazyhead Tue 25-Jun-13 20:16:32

There's a lot that is quite ironic about weddings, particularly when you are already living together with a child. I don't think it is surprising feeling the way you do.

We are engaged with a child and I think we both feel a bit ambivalent about organising a wedding, too.

Also, we've both got a parent who's got/have had a life-threatening illness, and anxiety around that/for me the fear that I could have lost my parent by the time the wedding came around has definitely made me stall. Because they have so much gubbins attached to them, weddings can end up being a reminder of what you don't have as much as what you do have, and that's hard when you've been bereaved. So I am really sorry about your Mum, and I do sort of get it in that I've been sailing close to it.

I think you need to remember that what a wedding would be about - an affirmation of your commitment - you've done already by living it and having a baby, a much greater commitment really. Anything else should be enjoyable, and if it isn't, do what suits you when it suits you xxx.

SlumberingDormouse Tue 25-Jun-13 20:36:05

It sounds like he doesn't want to marry you. I'm sorry if that's hard to hear. You need to work out how important marriage itself is to you, and whether it's more important than being with this man.

deliasmithy Tue 25-Jun-13 23:51:32

Weddings can be such a circus and all the issues detract imo from the key thing which is the marriage.

I also agree that from what you've written it would seem that weddings are tainted now with sadness, frustration and all the memories you are holding, including having to cancel before.

I think doing it differently is the answer. Here are suggestions:

Register office, close friends and family and meal out afterwards
Register office elopement, party later that day,or another time.
Wedding abroad just you two and dc.
Wedding abroad and invite a small group.

TheDemonShedMaster Wed 26-Jun-13 08:24:22

Hello to everyone who has posted in response. Apologies for not replying sooner, but DP came home from work and once we'd put DS to bed, we had a very long talk about this.

For those of you who suggested putting it on hold, that is what we've decided to do, for a while, to take the pressure off. What 've realised through talking to all you kind people is that I'm not coping as well as I thought with my mum's death; that I'm probably trying to organise a wedding as a displacement activity; that I'm not ambivalent about marrying DP, but about the wedding part of it.

Flyingtree - as you say, it seems crazy to spend the money on something we're unsure about and I can't deny that there has been a little voice in the back of my head telling me this very thing.

crazyhead and stepmooster - thank you both for sharing your similar experiences is with me. It is, in a strange way, reassuring to know that this is not a unique experience.

hilbobaggins - many thanks for the link. The references to limiting beliefs really spoke to me.

DP has apologised for throwing a spanner in the works and when I expressed my utter frustration at ever being able to plan something that suited us both, I suggested that perhaps he ought to have a crack at it and see how (not) easy it is. This he agreed to and so I am going to stop trying to please everyone else and please myself for once.

Many thanks to you all.


mistlethrush Wed 26-Jun-13 08:38:12

That sounds like a good thing to do - but it also sounds to me as though you (well, your DP) might need to plan a more intimate event with just the people that you really want to be there - the ones that have been there for you. That in itself will probably necessitate a proper rethink about the venue which won't be a bad thing. And of course, you don't need to be traditional about things if you don't want to.

I was told when I got married 15 years ago that we had to offer drinks for when people arrived at the reception - we disagreed and opted for tea (copious quantities) and wedding cake - that way everyone had as much to drink as they wanted (without getting tipsy) and also could appreciate the wedding cake (we did a later 'pose' for the cutting - but it was the same cake, just flat slabs that we ate when we arrived. It wasn't traditional, but it worked for us (and there are quite a few photos of me wandering around with flowers in one hand and a tea cup and saucer in the other!!!)

MadBusLady Wed 26-Jun-13 09:13:00

That sounds like a good idea. Totally agree with what everyone else says about bereavement, you poor thing. But I think it's probably not all about that.

I think don't let go of the instinct that you referred to above about wanting to "be a little bit bridal", because it sounds like it comes from the heart. Obviously, you don't want to go nuts, and a nuts OTT wedding wouldn't suit you any more than him, but you do want the world (and him) to appear at least a little bit excited that you are getting married. This is not unreasonable. And excitement can come in many forms, including the morning-at-the-registry-office form. But it may be difficult in a relationship that is perhaps not based on that kind of romantic excitement, and where his social anxiety takes a certain amount of precedence and makes you feel like you have to smooth his way with social occasions. So instead it was your mum providing the "romance" and excitement by being excited for her daughter. You need a partner in crime to get excited about these larger-than-life occasions with, and so far your DP hasn't stepped up.

I think he is damn right to apologise - he was fully signed up to a modest plan which had already been scaled to suit him, and then suddenly wasn't keen again. Well, that's a bit left-field. Was he not paying attention? Has he changed his mind? You might well feel, where is the bit where you get carried over the proverbial threshold without a care in the world? I DO think he wants to marry you, in much the same way you want to marry him, but he doesn't seem willing to actually get excited about it, which is a bit rubbish IMO. It's not Bridezilla-ish to want to know that your partner is looking forward to stepping up and marrying you, rather than thinking about all the ways in which it wouldn't suit them (and I say this as someone with social anxiety myself).

kalidasa Wed 26-Jun-13 09:20:50

Brilliant post from madbuslady, hope OP is still reading. I think she is spot on that if and when you come back to the wedding planning you need someone on board to get excited with you and for you. Sister? Close friend? And perhaps also try to find at least some aspect that your DP can get excited about too, even if it's just choosing great wine for the reception, or planning a really indulgent honeymoon.

Transitions link also really interesting. I certainly find them incredibly hard and I think it is particularly difficult to deal with those feelings of being lost and insecure at a time when you are "meant" be happy (like early in a relationship, during an engagement, or with a young baby).

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