Friday, November 17, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Long engagement not for others, but to make sure for yourself

RECOMMENDED READING


Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Q: Is there something to a long engagement? I've been with a guy for about eight months now and we're starting to talk marriage. I'd like to get married as soon as possible — partly because I'm getting older, don't want a big brouhaha, and want to be with this guy like now!

I know getting married inside a year will seem sudden to most people, but I've been through the relationship cycle many times and at this point in my life (mid 30s) feel I have a good grasp on what I want in someone I'm going to spend the rest of my life with.

But I know issues come up during wedding planning that can bring out differences that will damage a marriage. And I guess I'm just not looking forward to all the questions about my rushing into things. Thoughts?

Anonymous

A: Thoughts: Your letter toggles between sounding as if you know who you are and what you want, and sounding like you're 17. I mean, who considers using wedding plans as a compatibility test, what does getting older have to do with the soundness of a decision to marry, and who cares what other people think?

The concern I have about your let's-get-on-with-it marriage impulse is not that you don't know what you want; no doubt you do. It's that it can still take time to see whether someone is all the things you believe him to be. Time is also useful for seeing how each of you responds to each other's influence; you both want to bring out versions of each other that are close to your natural states.

At least give yourself time to outlast any wishful thinking — and, if applicable, the peak of in-love shmoopiness, which can make annoying traits seem cute, important differences seem trivial and a besotted state seem like a sustainable one.

Add that to the aforementioned concern that you're letting yourself get distracted by superficial things, and I think it makes sense to have a moderate-length engagement. Not so you can plan a complicated event you don't even want*, but so you can tame any sense of urgency and parse your own mixed message.

The pesky questions of people who want (or presume to know) what's best for you are so inconsequential in the scheme of things that your concern for them is a flag. Are you concerned you're rushing, and ascribing that view to others? Are there doubts you can't get your mind around, motivating you to focus on issues that are easier to brush off? Is your sense of urgency to get married at all rooted in mindfulness of how you appear to others? It's not a rarity at the mid-30s mark, and it can cloud one's judgment about someone as surely as pheromones can.

In other words, what is that flag marking? That's the question I suggest you put off your wedding long enough to tackle, even if it's just a matter of months.

* Trust your inclination to keep it simple, so you're able to focus on the quality of the man and the quality of your relationship.

Comments
With Harry Potter’s Christmas, Universal Orlando proves holidays are big business

With Harry Potter’s Christmas, Universal Orlando proves holidays are big business

ORLANDO — Christmas has finally come to Hogwarts at Universal Orlando in a new holiday attraction opening Saturday. In addition, Universal Studios has completely upsized its holiday parade with more Macy’s balloons, stunning floats and snowy effects ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

Christmas has finally come to Hogwarts at Universal Orlando, with the promise of warm butterbeer, a Frog Choir singing carols and a magical light show projected onto Hogwarts Castle nightly followed by fireworks. It opens to the public on Saturday. C...
Published: 11/17/17

Tell Me About It: Mom’s stroke threatens plans for children

Mom’s stroke threatens plans for childrenQ: Recently you gave advice about how it’s "never the perfect time to have a baby," and that’s true, but does the calculation change any if you’re planning to be a single mom?I’m 36 and a year ago I broke up w...
Published: 11/17/17

Tell Me About It: Wife uses silent treatment to be cruel

Wife uses silent treatment to be cruelQ: My wife is a wonderfully sensible person and appropriately sensitive. She is the oldest of three sisters and often feels left out. The age and geographical distance make it understandable that her two sisters ...
Published: 11/16/17

Tell Me About It: Woman takes mom’s advice the wrong way

Woman takes mom’s advice the wrong wayQ: I was laid off recently from a job of 15 years. My confidence took a blow.When I told my mom, she said, "Hurry up and update your resume. And don’t forget to add your Employee of the Year award." I had of cour...
Published: 11/15/17
5 under $5: Sand sculptors, free ice skating, Pinellas Trail performances

5 under $5: Sand sculptors, free ice skating, Pinellas Trail performances

1Sanding Ovations: This annual Treasure Island sand sculpting competition brings master sculptors working in 150 tons of sand. This year artists come from Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore, Russia, Lithuania, Canada and the United States. An adjac...
Published: 11/15/17
Weekend fun: St. Pete Beach BikeFest, Chillounge Night, Christmas at Universal, Busch Gardens

Weekend fun: St. Pete Beach BikeFest, Chillounge Night, Christmas at Universal, Busch Gardens

BIG WHEELS: St. Pete Beach BikeFestThe new St. Pete Beach BikeFest at the TradeWinds resort and runs through Sunday with daily poker runs, an expo, a bike show and competitions. But the real draw will be free concerts on the beach, including former M...
Published: 11/15/17
Five cool things to see in ‘Star Wars and the Power of Costume’ in St. Petersburg

Five cool things to see in ‘Star Wars and the Power of Costume’ in St. Petersburg

Do you sense a disturbance in the Force?That would probably be the landing of "Star Wars and the Power of Costume" at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, earlier this week. I got a preview of the blockbuster Smithsonian exhibit (docked in our co...
Published: 11/15/17

Tell Me About It: Grandson could use advice, not judgement

Grandson could use advice, not judgementQ: My 17-year-old grandson bought his 17-year-old girlfriend of barely two months lingerie from Victoria’s Secret. I think this is very inappropriate. He thinks I’m a dinosaur. Guidance, please?DinosaurA: I thi...
Published: 11/15/17

Tell Me About It: Parents think she can get sister to move out

Parents think she can get sister to move outQ: My sister, "Sarah," is turning 30 soon. Except during college, she has lived with my parents rent-free her entire life. I have always taken the stance of, "It’s my parents’ and sister’s business what the...
Published: 11/14/17