Sunday, May 20, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Don't abandon caution or let fate determine relationship

Don't abandon caution or let fate determine relationship

Q: My last relationship was several years ago. We'd been together for four years and engaged for one. Right before we were supposed to do the deed, he informed me that he never wanted to marry me, never wanted to be in a relationship, and he'd been lying a lot. This was the exact opposite of how he had been behaving. Quite the shock.

I'm in a new relationship now, of only a few months. We're already talking marriage. A lot of my friends think this is too soon, but I've resigned myself to the fact that if something bad is going to happen, it will, regardless of how long we're together. I did the standard waiting periods last time, but it didn't shield me from anything. I'm trying to find a good reason to wait this time, but as you've already said, bad things just happen, which is out of our control, right? Can you think of another reason to wait?

Seattle

A: About 20, but I'll try to keep my arm-flapping to a minimum.

Here's what you're essentially saying: "Since a car can run a stop sign and kill me at any time, there's no point in looking both ways before I cross a street."

If you really think there's no point in taking basic care of yourself, then please consider good counseling or even grief support. A refresher on what you can and can't control can have a surprising, calming effect.

You can't prevent all harm, and, you're right, waiting till you've known someone a couple of years before getting married won't inoculate you.

But you can take basic precautions against completely foreseeable problems. Waiting a couple of years to marry can tell you a million things you can learn no other way — including whether you even like the person after the initial attraction wears off. It can also tell you, if you're paying attention, whether he handles his job, family, friends, money and bills, his health/sickness, your health/sickness, other challenges, bad weather, good fortune, unintended consequences, being under others' control and other typical variables well.

You can also weigh how you behave when you're with him. Some people bring out our best selves and others our worst, and time is the wisest judge. Maybe it betrayed you last time — but maybe, instead, you missed its signs, and now you'll recognize them.

By rushing, you could miss why he's in a rush, too. It might not be the case here, but moving fast — misguidedly embraced as being swept off one's feet — is a known tactic of abusers, to lock you in before you notice something's wrong.

If this relationship is good for you, it'll still be good for you two or three years from now. It won't cost you a thing, emotionally, to wait.

What your ex did was awful, and I get the temptation to cross your arms over your chest and fall back into the hands of fate. You did everything you were "supposed to" do, and look where that got you, right?

But if all of us said "(naughty word) it" at our encounters with spectacular failure, none of us would walk, and we'd all still poop in our pants. Failure tends to teach very specific lessons — lessons squandered whenever we quit.

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