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Dear Mary: My girlfriend wants us to get married, but I don't love her

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Illustration: Tom Halliday

Illustration: Tom Halliday

Illustration: Tom Halliday

I am a man in my late 30s from India and need your advice on a relationship that I have been in for more than 10 years now.

I met this girl through mutual friends and we started seeing each other.

Like with most relationships, eventually we got physical but I never felt in love with her. There were intense fights as well since love was missing, and she forced me to be with her and see her every weekend. She made me feel it was my obligation to see her. I did tell her a few times that I don't feel for her romantically but she kept asking why then did we get physical?

I have explained to her many times that love is important for a long-term relationship but I guess only she feels it for me.

Now she has forced me into getting married after too many fights and drunken brawls.

We have introduced each other to our families as well and the fights have lessened. She just wanted marriage out of it all the way along!

Please can you tell me if you think it is wise to get married to someone who wants it that badly.

I would be grateful for your advice.

Mary replies: Rather than answer if I think it wise to get married to someone who wants it very badly, my response is that I think it is very unwise to get married to someone for whom you do not feel love.

You have been in a relationship for 10 years, which I feel is far too long a time to string someone along.

You knew from the beginning that you were not in love with her so I have to ask why you kept on dating her.

You were actually depriving her of the opportunity of meeting somebody else by doing this. You were also keeping her hopes up.

I also cannot understand how she forced you to be with her and to see her every weekend. You always had the option to say no, no matter what she said, but for some reason you kept quiet and went along with her wishes, despite your own feelings.

In every relationship there is the lover and the loved, in that one person is usually more in love with their partner than the other way around.

But at the same time they both love each other, one just feels it more than the other.

In your case, your fiancee is the lover and you are the loved but there does not appear to be any reciprocity with the love from you.

In all my years as a relationship counsellor, I did not once encounter a person who, having had second thoughts before getting married, went ahead and then had a happy marriage.

In some cases they had been pregnant and decided to 'do the right thing', in other cases they genuinely felt that they had being forced into getting married because they had been together a long time, quite similar to your story, or because they were afraid of being on their own.

But these marriages inevitably ended badly and the couples ended up seeking counselling. This was not always successful as too much damage had already been done to the relationship and it was beyond repair.

I think it would be much wiser for you to end the engagement now rather than get married, possibly have children, and then for you to decide that it was all a mistake.

I realise that families are very important in your culture and it would be important for you to share what is going on with them.

I know there would therefore be a loss of face, particularly for your fiancee.

It would be a very good idea for you to talk it over with your parents and explain your predicament.

Marriage can be wonderfully fulfilling but it can also be difficult, especially when life throws things at you such as illnesses or money problems.

A couple needs to have a very firm base in order to deal with the trials that come along, and it doesn't sound like you have that.

I fear that the fighting and 'drunken brawling' will not go away if you feel that you got married under duress and if she then feels that you are resentful of her. If anything it could get worse.

I know that I am painting a pretty bleak picture of what lies ahead, but I feel very strongly about this.

I have seen so many examples of people who went ahead with a wedding - hoping that everything would work out well - only to end up totally miserable and regretting what they had done.

Sunday Independent