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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.

SuperConfused Wed 26-Jun-13 09:39:43

Two of the loveliest weddings I've been at were small, registry office affairs followed by a nice gastropub after with in one case 16 people, in the other 30. In one of those examples, neither bride nor groom cared about getting married (they were committed, saw it as a piece of paper) but needed to for visa reasons and in spite of themselves it was incredibly meaningful.

I think the main thing is to stop thinking of 'a wedding' in terms of all the usual expectations, and think about a way to start your marriage with your DP and give your family with DC a stronger legal protection: who absolutely has to be in a room with you? 40 people is still quite small, have you and DP sat down and thought about it, not in terms of 'who should I invite' but more in terms of 'who do I really want to share this day with, who has loved and supported us as a couple?'

If he is genuinely anxious, not just shirking the arrangements, would you be happy to say ok, we'll spend two hours agreeing a guest list, and a budget, and some dealbreakers, and then go and arrange the venue hunt yourself? Its still not been that long since your mother died, friends who got married years after their mother's passed away still had huge grief mixed in with their happiness. I don't think its unusual you should feel this way, and you shouldn't feel bad about it.

springytats Wed 26-Jun-13 09:42:43

No-one seems to have picked up on your sexual incompatability. I married someone who rarely wanted sex (and was also extremely charming, as it happens...) and it was just so painful.

Sorry to trot out the counselling idea, but it would be good to find out what is going on for you both under the surface. You also mention your dad and your MIL, both of whom have put a major spanner in the works in their different ways. Chances are you would have gone on to have the wedding at the original venue and weathered the grief, but your dad was insistent that you didn't. That must have been very confusing. Your MIL's objections seem also to be indistinct, which could be having quite a profound effect on your partner. Counselling would help you both to work out the themes that are potentially holding you back, or at least to identify what is going on. You both seem to be held back, but for very different reasons.

Of course you are grieving, and will go on to grieve for the rest of your life in a way. Every significant event will bring with it the tinge of grief and loss that your mum isn't there to enjoy it with you. There can be a lot of fear and avoidance associated with grief, which doesn't help to move on with the rest of your life at the right time, can get you stuck? You also say a previous partner died of cancer, so you were already grieving, in a way. ime, grief doesn't go away entirely.

Some big things have happened that were unexpected - finding yourself pg, losing your mum. These things would have propelled you along a different path that you hadn't planned, which takes a bit of adjustment in itself. Perhaps DP taking the reins by looking at organising it will put things into perspective for him and kick-start him a bit? He does appear to hang back in life... I would want to get that explored before I committed to him for life, tbh.

HandbagCrazy Wed 26-Jun-13 11:50:51

Hi. I've read the op but not all the replies so apologies if im repeating things but I wanted to let you know my experience. My dh is like your partner - he said marriage didnt really mean anything to him and like you I told him it was a dealbreaker for me. And just like your p he then admitted that the thought of standing in front of loads of people and being stared at and listened to made him feel sick with nerves. But when he proposed I got caught up in the planning and before i knew it we were looking at 150 guests when he said he wanted to cancel everything because he couldnt do it.
I have to admit to getting upset. We had several friends getting married around the same time and in each case the bride was basically planning everything and the groom was just agreeing to everything and tbh i selfishly felt put out that I couldnt get everything i wanted.
After getting upset, I asked him to do some research by himself - put together a list of smaller venues that he liked, do a guest list that he would be happy with etc.
It took a little longer than if i was in charge of everything but we ended up having a beautiful wedding. We chose a venue that he found that only allows 25 guests. And although he did lose his nerve halfway through his speech (he read the rest just to me in the hotel room before we went to bed) he enjoyed the day. And then to make it fair, once all that had been done, we had a big party in a golf club in the evening where he basically sat with his family and i went around talking to everyone and dancing (im a lot more outgoing than him).
I understand that losing your mum has made the wedding seem like something maybe you shouldnt be celebrating, but as soon as you put an arrangement or two into place, the people around you will get excited on your behalf - let them sweep you up in it.
There are no rules to a wedding - mine was in a small castle, I've been to ones in hotels, on beaches, but a favourite was one where the ceremony was in a village church and the entire wedding party walked from there to the brides mothers house and had a party in her garden smile
Take the pressure away, think about exactly what you and dp want from the day and go from there xx

tumbletumble Wed 26-Jun-13 14:07:57

The great thing about weddings these days is that you have so much choice - large/small, traditional/modern, huge range of venues etc etc. I think the down side of this is that you can feel paralysed by having too much choice. I'm thinking about your comment to a previous poster

It sounds like you had the wedding that was "right" for you... I suppose I am uncertain about what would be right for us

In your case, it sounds like the venue is a particularly troublesome issue, for you because you can no longer have the one you originally chose and were excited about, and for your partner because visiting a venue is scary for him - he starts imagining it full of people and this brings his anxieties to the surface.

Would it help to try and visualise several different weddings, and see if one starts to emerge as making you and DP feel more excited? You could make the guest list the starting point - one for 40 people (you already have the list for that one), one for just the 3 of you, one for say 12 people (very close family and friends), one for maybe 25, one for 80. Which list do you feel most comfortable with, in terms of who is included? Try to picture some of the other details (your dress, the venue in vague terms rather than a specific building, the format of the day) to make them come alive for you.

I hope you can find an idea which makes you feel excited again, not empty.

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