Dear Mary: I've longed to get married, but now I've got cold feet
Published 03/02/2013 | 17:52
Q I spent the best part of my 20s working over in England. I returned home and moved in to a granny flat off my parents' home until I got myself sorted.
Not long after returning home, I bumped into my childhood sweetheart and we hit it off instantly. Within a few months we both admitted that we felt this was it for the long haul. I was mad about him and he felt the same way, everything was falling into place.
About two years into our relationship, I suggested we take the next step and move in together. I was a little taken aback with the instant refusal I received. He said we needed to take our time and not get carried away. Time passed by, and before we knew it, another year had passed. This time I was a little bit more insistent and we got a lovely house.
We settled into domestic bliss quite easily but at this stage, in my early 30s and three years into our relationship, I wanted to get married. Friends were meeting and marrying around us while we worked away in the slow lane. He often said, 'when we're married...' or 'our children ...' so I presumed it was on the cards soon enough. We often joked about it. I even pretended to get down on one knee on the 29th of February last!
Then last summer he booked a special holiday for us. I had a feeling he was going to propose and admittedly let myself get very excited. On the final night of out trip, reality hit – he wasn't going to propose. He realised I was upset and eventually I confessed what was bugging me. Once again, I was told to calm down, stop putting him under pressure. When asked if he had even considered it, he said the thought of proposing had never even entered his head. He said he wanted to marry when the time was right and that he loved me dearly.
Home we came and we continued as before. But deep down, I couldn't shift the pain in my heart. The buzz was coming and going as fast for me. Then a few weeks ago, out of the blue, he announced he wanted us to get married on my birthday next month! I was shocked – and this is where my dilemma lies. It hasn't been mentioned since. One minute I think I want to marry, the next I don't. I just don't feel the sheer excitement any more. I love him, we get on like a house on fire, we would be very happy together. But the spark has been lost for me. Six months ago, I'd have thought I won the Lotto.
Is this shift a common problem? Will I get excited if we get engaged? I'm now in my mid-30s, all my friends are married. I have invested heavily in this relationship. I don't want to leave him, but I feel we are more companions than lovers. Is it wrong to marry someone for companionship? I feel so hurt that he didn't want to commit sooner. I don't know what to do...
You headed your email to me 'Second Thoughts' and I feel the reason you are having these doubts is because you have been tremendously hurt by all the rejections and are now afraid to get your hopes up in case they are dashed again.
Your boyfriend certainly seems to have a commitment problem, while at the same time wanting to be with you and talking about having children. This is borne out by the fact that he hasn't spoken of marriage again despite having said that he wants it to happen next month. That scarcely gives you time to get engaged!
You may get some idea as to why he is so reluctant to commit by looking at his own parents' history or some previous experience he has had with a relationship.
I think it is important for you to realise that his unwillingness to propose had more than likely got nothing to do with you – he would have this same problem no matter who he was to fall in love with. So don't be too hard on yourself.
It is very understandable that you wanted to progress to the next level in the relationship, particularly given your age and the fact that you would like to start a family. You have been in this relationship for almost five years and I wouldn't expect you to have the same level of excitement that you had in the early years.
I don't think that you should end the relationship – you would both lose a lot and amid all the indecisiveness you seem to have a very sound relationship.
However as a wedding is now 'the elephant in the room'. you need to have a serious talk with him, settle on the date finally and then set about enjoying the day.