My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 years. He’s 23, I’m 25. I’m the first girlfriend he’s ever had, he’s my fourth relationship. Everything with us is pretty much perfect. I’ve never had a relationship this comfortable before. It seems like he was lucky enough to get it right first time around. We’ve had some deep talks lately about our values in life, and they really line up well. Everything is so perfect I’m almost suspicious of it… Surely no relationship can actually be this good? It’s like I’m waiting for the huge flaw to reveal itself to ruin everything.
Yesterday he mentioned something about how 3 years feels like it’s been so long, so how crazy will 30 years feel? And somehow I just found that impossible to picture. The concept of being with someone that long is inconceivable to me. So many people get divorced, and they must all believe they’ll be together forever when they get married – otherwise they wouldn’t do it. I feel like I don’t want to be a chump who believes in a romantic “happily ever after” fairy tale that doesn’t come true… But this cynicism means I can’t truly believe in a long-term future either.We’ve talked about getting engaged in the next couple of years, but deep down I’m worried our marriage would be doomed just because so many are. I would feel a hypocrite saying “until death do us part”, because how do I know that will be true? What makes us so special? My mother’s marriage to my dad was her second marriage, and until she passed away they were the happiest couple I’ve ever known. So part of me feels like if we get married it won’t last 30 years, because we met so young, and we’ll both end up even happier with someone else later in life anyway.I’ve tried talking to him about these fears, and he reassured me that the divorce rate in Ireland is very low. But I wonder if that’s just because it’s still a very traditional country, and maybe couples are not actually happy. I feel like everyone would be upset and disappointed in us if we got married and then divorced, especially his mother who is very religious.How can I stop overthinking this? I know I love him and want to stay with him, so why can’t I let go of these fears that believing in marriage would make me foolish? I’ve always been terrified of looking stupid, above pretty much everything else…and I’m afraid of seeming stupid and being pitied if I marry him and it doesn’t work out.
View related questions: divorce, engaged
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A female reader, janniepeg + ♥, writes (4 December 2018):
Your mother had been on both sides of this. Her first marriage didn’t last long but her second one was “till death do us part.” She was neither foolish for her failed first marriage nor was she a chump for believing in a second marriage. If she cared about what other people had said she would not have divorced then married your dad and be happy for the rest of her life. It takes a lot of courage to believe in love, even more so a second time around. Your mother wants you to be happy, whether your marriage lasts forever or not. She is in your heart to guide you all your life. Listen to that voice.
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A female reader, Honeypie + ♥, writes (4 December 2018):
Amen to Code-Warrior.Happily ever after doesn’t exist. Not that you can’t HAVE a happy marriage for 45+ years, but it TAKES work, commitment, trust, and compromises.I never thought much about marriage, really. But I DID agree with my husband that we take the vows serious. That we BOTH put in the work. We have had ups and down over the past 20 years. I think the reason we have lasted 20 years is because 1. we are both stubborn 2. be took our vows seriously and 3. we know we can make it work.I know divorce is “ALWAYS” an option. I also know that if you throw in the towel EVERY TIME things aren’t “perfect” you will not make the marriage amount to much. Living with someone DAY in and DAY out for years, decades – it takes WORK, EFFORT, CARING and TRUST.You won’t know, going into a marriage if you will “love him forever” because there will be times where you might NOT feel so lovingly towards him and vice verse. But marriage IS more than just LOVE.If you feel a little unsure then give it another year and see. My Mom and dad met at age 15 & 16. They started dating at 18. Then married at 21. They were married for 47 years. (my mom then passed away). It wasn’t always a great marriage and as a teenager I often thought that my Mom would be better off divorced from my dad. She, however, didn’t. My grandparents both got divorced after a short marriage. My great grandparents were married for 55 years and had 10 kids. So you just never know for sure. But what you DO know is whether you take the commitment SERIOUS and is READY for putting in the work and not presume that a ring on your finger will make a marriage work.Many people DO get divorced. But many don’t. In my friend circle of 12 couples – 2 have gotten divorced – one of those have remarried and been married for 14 years. My brother were with my SIL for 25 years BEFORE they got married. So they have been together for 35 now. And they still make it work.As Yoda would say: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
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A male reader, N91 + ♥, writes (4 December 2018):
So instead of relaxing and seeing where the relationship goes you’re trying to self sabotage it? People break up, people get divorced, shit happens. No one gets married with the thought of when they will get divorced in your head, how could that possibly make you a hypocrite? Who knows what’s going to happen 10 years down the line, a week, tomorrow? No one does so why worry about it? You’re living in the here and now and if you keep this mentality up your BF will soon tire of it and end things. If things are so perfect then why are you risking messing things up thinking about pointless scenarios? If you break up, life goes on, you’ll get over it. Until that point just enjoy the relationship, or else you’re going to be kicking yourself for messing it up and constantly putting this burden of worry on your partner.
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A male reader, Code Warrior + ♥, writes (4 December 2018):
You need to drop your romantic notions about marriage. There is no such thing as happily ever after. Marriage is not about love, it’s about committment.My wife and I both agreed before we got married that divorce was not an option. Because of that, we stuck it out through a VERY tough 7 year period in our relationship where we really didn’t love each other but were determined to see it through for the kids sake. After 7 years of bad times, I came to a realization that the marriage was failing because we were focusing on our grievances and nothing else. I chose to just give up all of my grievances and devote myself to loving my wife without expecting ANYTHING in return from her. For a year straight I gave it my all without saying a word to her about what I was up to. She was very bitter but she eventually asked me what I was up to. I just told her that I chose to drop all my grievances against her and devoted myself to being a better husband. I told her that it was up to her if she wanted to do the same – drop her grievances and devote herself to being a better wife. I also told her that there would be no justice for either of our sets of grievances, because if we demanded justice, we’d just dig in all over again and things would continue to deteriorate. I just chose to drop my grievances because, in the end, they were small and not really worth stewing over anymore. She didn’t promise anything, but she did take it to heart, and, as her subsequent actions indicated, she chose to do the same. That was around 10 years ago and, since that time, our marriage has been better than ever. The thing is, it wasn’t love that got us through it, it was our commitment to “for better or for worse” and our belief that divorce was not an option that got us through it.The point is that too many people these days are selfish and demand justice for every little grievance. This is very corrosive to a relationship. At some point in your marriage, you may find that the love seems to be gone. It’s not really, it’s just buried under tons of little grievances that both parties selfishly demand that the other make amends for.Note that I’m not talking about major grievances like serious violations of wedding vows such as cheating or abuse, I’m talking about minor grievances like forgetting birthdays, or who does more work in the house, or other minor things that change from molehills into mountains as the list of grievances grows.So, to my way of thinking, if you’re the kind of person that always demands justice for every perceived slight, then you will fail at marriage. My advice to you is to stop thinking of marriage as “happily ever after”, but instead to think of it as a commitment that, as a person of your word, you intend to live up to, and that commitment is embodied in your vows. Vows aren’t just words that you say in a ceremony, they are basis of your marriage commitment. Take them seriously.
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