By Elizabeth Paige, GalTime.com
Ever been to a wedding where people sit around and actually bet on how long it will last? It's cruel, but come on...we all know people who get married for the wrong reasons.
Here's a doozie. We actually know someone who was engaged but was NOT IN LOVE with her fiance. She actually said it out loud. Her closest friends begged her not to get married. She went ahead with the ceremony anyway, saying that they'd been together for years, they were good friends, that she'd 'grow to love him.' She wanted to have kids and was already in her thirties. WHAT??!!!
It astounds us that people enter marriage knowing from the get-go that things aren't right. It's tough enough when things are right. We wanted to figure out why people accept proposals when they're not head-over-heels and offer help to brides willing to give up their one-and-only shot for a not-so-happily-ever-after. We asked GalTime's renowned love and sex expert Jane Greer, Ph.D., for her thoughts on the topic.
GT:Dr Greer, Why would someone accept a proposal if they're not in love? Safety/security/opposite of failed relationship before/rebound/everyone else getting married, biological clock ticking, etc?
Dr. Greer: All the reasons you listed apply as circumstantial ones but what underlies each one: the fear of being alone and never finding or having a partner and companionship.
GT: If someone keeps thinking, "He/she is a great person, maybe it'll get better with the engagement...maybe I'll grow to love him/her"...what is your advice?
Dr. Greer: People sometimes believe that they are supposed to "know" that this is the right person and feel heads-over-heels in love from the start. Often love is a slow burn that can get stronger and deeper over time as you develop a sense of "we", a partnership built on trust. With that, loving feelings can and do deepen. HOWEVER, if there is an absence of passion that doesn't kick in before you get engaged, you may be moving into a pressure cooker and I'd suggest delaying the engagement to give yourself the time to see if your feelings do begin to deepen. Getting engaged WON't make that happen!
GT: How do you separate the excitement of the wedding planning from the excitement of planning a future with your partner for life?
Dr. Greer: You don't have to separate them. The fun is to know you are planning a joint life and starting it by looking forward to the first stop along the way, which is the thrill of your wedding. You can balance your shared vision by talking about mutual goals you have -- starting a family, where you want to live, vacations you want to take. Consider those things to put on your "together" list without overwhelming yourselves by getting into them. The wedding is a big enough task to take on at this time.
Related: Is A Woman Proposing to a Man the Modern Thing to Do?
GT: It's not that unusual to feel a pang of 'doubt.' How do you know when you should run for the hills?
Dr. Greer: Everyone feels a pang of doubt... that's the natural ambivalence that is a part of every relationship. Usually though, like a bad mood, the doubt disappears and the loving feelings eclipse it when you are sharing and connecting with your partner. If however, there are problems, differences that are not getting dealt with and your doubt is stemming from your uncertaintly about your partner being willing to work with you jointly to get to a resolution or compromise that is balanced... then it's time to pay attention to your doubt. If he won't compromise now he surely won't compromise later.
GT: If you can flat out say, "I'm engaged but not in love"... is there even a possibility that a marriage like that could work?
Dr. Greer: Yes, many marriages work because they are about companionship and mutual support. However, the absence or lack of passion ... the 'I'm not in love' feeling... can and often does take a toll on one or both people and ultimately the marriage. (GT-By the way: That friend we told you about earlier who got married even though she wasn't in love? She IS still married. She seems 'content', except when they talk about money or children.)
GT:Do you ever hear of these stories? Is this a common issue?
Dr. Greer: This is a widely common issue! So many people, though, have the idea of purely "romantic " love as the blueprint for marriage. In truth, that happens most in the movies and oftentimes doesn't last.
GT: If you could say three things to someone in this situation, what would it be?
• First: Love takes time to grow. Attraction is usually there from the start, however, this too can get stronger as you come to know and care about the other person. This is why so many friends can and do become lovers. So, give yourself some time to get to really know the other person.
• Second: Take your doubts and concerns seriously and address them with your partner rather than dismissing them and telling yourself you're being silly or trying to talk yourself out of them. Sort them out up front so you know how willing he/she is to work with you toward a joint goal.
• Third: Bottom Line: Trust your gut. If, despite everything, there is no "thrill" and joy for you, you feel uncertain more often than certain, your partner continues to be selfish and not responsive to your feelings and needs, and won't communicate with you-- then it's time to get out before you make a bigger and more difficult mistake.
Give yourself a gutcheck.We want to know what you think. Are people crazy who tie the knot when they're not completely head-over-heels or is it not always that simple?
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