[Two Pronged] Am I selfish if I want to postpone my wedding?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 5 years. Generally, I must say we are happy and contented. We both have high paying jobs and supportive families. Recently, we got engaged and agreed to have our wedding this year.
I love him and I am sure of that. However, I am starting to realize that I haven't done much in my life. I am 24 and he is a decade older than me. After I graduated from college, I already set in my mind that I will pursue my dreams – # 1 priority. And thank God, I am making things happen. I already have a house and a good job overseas. But it feels like I am skipping the fun part of life because I struggled so much to get my goals done first and then suddenly now I am getting married.
I want to explore the world. Travel, meet friends and do silly things. But for him its always 'been there, done that'. He is now looking forward to start a family, have kids and settle. But what about me?
So far, we have already reserved everything for the wedding, just a few more details then it’s almost complete. But lately I am thinking maybe I can ask him we move it next year? He is one of the very few good and most reasonable people I have met in this life. He will understand, though I am also sure it will sadden him a lot. That is the only thing that worries me.
Am I selfish? What I am feeling right now, is this normal? Is it reasonable? Will it be fair for him? I don't know what to do.
Thank you for your email.
It seems that the levelheadedness that has enabled you to succeed materially in life so far is what is also enabling you to appreciate that there is more to life than just your job and your house. While your career may be on the right path, you don't want to ignore other aspects of your life, which understandably have had to take a back seat thus far.
Sensibly enough, you want to deal with this before you get married, have children and suddenly find that middle age has crept up unnoticed!
Mindful that your fiancé (let's call him Luis), being a decade older, already thinks he has put that stage of his life behind him, you also want to ensure that your married life together is not clouded by regrets that you didn't have 'fun', regrets that could possibly turn into resentment or worse.
Your plan to delay the wedding sounds eminently sensible if you are to explore the underdeveloped 'fun' side of life. You say that this will sadden Luis, reasonable enough if he wants to settle down and multiply, but it should also be something he supports if he truly wants you to be happy and ready to settle down yourself.
However, you should be prepared for the law of unexpected consequences to operate if you carry out this plan of yours. Firstly, you seem to believe that it will be something finite, akin to setting aside a couple of hours to see a movie, albeit a little more prolonged.
Of course it could be, at least in theory, because all you have to do at the end is get on a plane home on the appointed day. However, it is entirely possible that far from having exhausted your desire to make up for the 'fun' you have missed out on till now, you may have actually opened Pandora's box and find that you have acquired a taste for more of this new life.
Secondly, by your own admission, you have led a strictly controlled and focused life to date and presumably Luis has fallen in love inter alia with this aspect of your persona. There exists the possibility therefore that when you finally release the inner 'fun' element of your character, he may not be totally appreciative of the change – and of course you may not be as tolerant of his stick-in-the-mud 'been there, done that' approach to life either.
You ask if your thoughts and plans are normal, reasonable, fair, selfish. It is totally normal and reasonable to want some fun in your life but whether it is fair or selfish will depend on how you go about it. You and Luis have diametrically opposed views and an honest, open conversation about how you deal with this will be vital. He should be supportive if he truly has your best interests at heart and if he isn't, it will tell you a lot about the limitations of his love for you.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. Thank you too for having the courage to pursue the possible reasons you may have felt unhappy/anxious about your imminent wedding. I am sure, if you disclosed your misgivings to others, most would tell you (as you first probably tried to tell yourself): “Are you nuts?!!? This is the man of your dreams! The life you’ve always dreamed about. Sinusubo na nga sa iyo, lulurain mo pa?!!? (It’s being given to you on a silver platter and you want to think about it?!!?) Don’t overthink. Just do what you’ve dreamed about these last 5 years!!”
However, despite the pain you might cause the people you love, and instead of merely trying to convince yourself that your disquiet was normal and thus best ignored by focusing on your wedding, you trusted in yourself enough to say: “Hold on. Take a deeper look at this.”
In answer to your questions:
1. Am I selfish? NO.
2. What I am feeling right now, is this normal? Yes, if you mean wedding jitters. No, if you mean angsting a lot over it. BUT – “normal, schnormal,“ who really cares if you’re normal? What matters is if you are honest, and forthright, fair to others…and to yourself.
3. Is it reasonable? VERY.
4. Will it be fair for him? Absolutely. Though he may not see it quite that way in the beginning, or, frankly, ever…(in which case, if he is the type that “doesn’t forget,” perhaps it’s best to be the type that doesn’t say yes to the proposal – more on that later).
On the one hand, I agree with Mr Baer that it is “eminently sensible” to delay your wedding.
On the other, I don’t think saying this is enough because, in my opinion, being sensible only means it would be good if you did this, but not necessarily necessary.
But it is necessary, Joanna, because not to do so would be shortchanging yourself and thus your marriage.
Mr Baer warns you to be ready, however, for two possibilities:
1. The law of “unexpected consequences” to operate in that you are not merely getting things out of your system before settling down, but find you have acquired a taste for more of this new life. But even if that were the case, that would be a good thing, not bad…
2. Because “you have led a controlled and focused life and presumably Luis has fallen in love with this aspect of your persona…he may not be totally appreciative of the change.” But then again, he could be. But whether his reaction is positive or negative towards this new you, it is important that you listen to your authentic self rather than pretend to be who you’re not.
Change is not only inevitable in a vibrant relationship, but absolutely vital. That he will understand, even if he becomes sad at your request to postpone your wedding, is a good sign…presuming the sadness is not an attempt at emotional blackmail. I am hoping that not only your requests but also his will be respected. If your prediction of his behavior is accurate, it seems like you are off to a good start.
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED.Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.