I’m ready to get married… but my life situation isn’t

Guest post by Vermilion

My partner and I are crazy about each other, and have known since about six weeks after becoming an item that we should be life-partners (we've been close friends for a long time, so this is less dramatically ill-judged and imprudent than it sounds). We're both in our late twenties/early thirties, with more than a decade of relationship experience — both short and long-term — behind each of us. And neither of us was ever really looking for what we have found in each other, but then… there it was, to our mutual astonishment and delight.

He's been proposing to me, almost as a game, on the semi-regular since we both realised that we were “it” for each other. I want to say yes with every fiber of my being. The problem is, I'm sick — the sort where you don't get completely better. And it's unclear when I'll be able to re-enter the workforce.

I had this whole timeline of me finding work, then us living together, and then getting engaged after a publicly “respectable” period of time has elapsed… but as time goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that there is no way to know when I will be able to work again.

He is patient, but recently he's started gently questioning where the sense of legitimacy that timeline would give me stems from. And I have to confess, it's other people's opinions.

After the loss of physical and financial independence, and subsequent self-esteem, that came with my deteriorating physical condition, some part of me now desperately wants to be legitimized as an “adequate adult,” doing things in the appropriate order. But, insofar as “the appropriate order” mandates my return to full employment before I can do anything else, it's uncertain whether it's a practical standard for me to set my plans by.

So he keeps proposing (playfully, and joyously, and without any pressure), and I desperately want to say, “Yes,” so much that it aches. I feel like my attachment to, what I am increasingly suspecting to actually be some arbitrary and impractical ideal, is the only thing standing in the way. There is no doubt in my soul that he is the person for me; if I were whole and employed, I'd already have married him months ago in some tiny courthouse ceremony — not even waiting to save up for anything bigger — with my head held high and a gigantic smile on my face.

But I worry that, as I am, my peer group would not respect me for getting engaged and starting to plan a wedding, before getting the rest of my life in order.

I have a dream partner who deeply and immediately wants to marry me, and it's very much what I want, too… How do I make it okay in my own mind to let myself move forward when my life circumstances are “wrong”? And how do I steel myself against the possible judgements of my peer group?

Anyone is the same “I'm ready, but my lifestyle isn't” boat? How are you dealing?

Comments on I’m ready to get married… but my life situation isn’t

  1. There is no such thing as an ideal time to get married. Even if you got well enough to work, something else would come up. People get married while paying off student loans, while in the middle of an expensive reno to their house, while sick, while pregnant, while unemployed, while their parents freak out, you name it. There is no such thing as an ideal time to get married.

  2. I feel you! I’m in a similar situation right now (change wedding with baby, but the fear of judgement is something I worry about). It is so easy to say “don’t worry about the judgement”, but it’s a real fear and it really sucks worrying that the people you care about most in the world aren’t going to be happy for you, something that is suppose to be one of the happiest things ever. The thing is the people who care about you, will be happy, and will want to help in any way possible.

    Besides, you can always get engaged. Being engaged does not mean you need to rush into wedding planning. And you could just have a small wedding with your partner, and plan a bigger ‘do’/vow renewal when you feel like you have your ducks in a row. Life is too short!

  3. I’ve been through some friend group turmoil due to my relationship choices – I had an affair with my (now) fiance while I was still in an unhealthy marriage with my ex. When it came into the open, everyone expected him to slink away and disappear, but we knew we’d stumbled on something pretty incredible and weren’t willing to give it up. We waited to start “officially” dating for 8 months after my ex and I split because I was worried what our friends would think, but honestly it didn’t matter. We lost a few friends, a few warily hung on and have now come around to be huge fans our relationship, we made some new friends who know the story and couldn’t care less, and most other new friends have no idea.

    Friends will always come and go, that’s just a part of life. I honestly don’t think anyone will judge you for getting engaged, but if they do, then you find out who your true friends are and who you can let go to make room for awesome new friends.

  4. I was exactly where you are, and my heart truly goes out to you. I had been bedridden with severe illness for years when my fiance proposed, and he asked knowing I may never recover. But, being one to lead with the heart, I eagerly said yes…we set a date…the date came and went. And here I am, bedridden still. At first, my limitations felt like a crushing defeat. I felt useless and inadequate. He “deserved” a healthy, active woman. My family and friends “deserved” to attend a real ceremony. Hell, I “deserved” the excitement of planning one. But my perspective drastically changed as I continued, day by day, to behold the undeniable alchemical nature of our relationship, irrespective of health, location, finances…or any other obstacle that tends to get in the way.

    On our planned “wedding” date we had a private ceremony with just the two of us and exchanged rings/vows in a very meaningful way. We told those closest to us afterwards, and every single person not only accepted this unorthodox plan, but was ecstatic for us. To us, marriage is about the intention and commitment we consciously make to each other. Even as an independent, highly unique, generally counterculture woman who never gave a damn about what other people thought…I STILL felt emotionally affected by societal/gender pressures when it came to matrimony. Letting it all go was the single best decision I’ve ever made. For all intents and purposes, we ARE married. And as far as we’re concerned, anyone who prioritizes a *wedding* over the totality of a devoted, synergistic, inspiring, perfect life partnership…something many people are never lucky enough to find…is not someone we NEED on our side anyway.

    It takes a courageous, compassionate, sincerely loving man to propose to a chronically ill woman. Your partner sounds like he’s among the rare and precious few who will always see and value you for being exactly YOU. Don’t let fear rob you of your dreams (and please don’t deny yourself love, or your partner the chance to love you!). Even with my physical limitations, my husband and I bring endless magic to each other’s lives, and not a day goes by that we don’t revel in gratitude for the opportunity to be life partners. Best of luck with both your health and plans. <3

  5. I mean this with absolute respect: what will being married change about your relationship?

    I can’t wait to marry my partner, but it’s not happening for at least a few years. During a burst of insecurity and anxiety, I once asked my partner, “Do you want a life with me?” He looked at me very calmly and said, “I already have a life with you.” And I realised he was right.

    As much as I can’t wait to get married to him, I realised that us getting married would not be “beginning our life together”. Our life together has already begun. We have short-, mid- and long-term goals together. We have many boxes to tick off before we get married (moving in together, for one thing), and I am looking forward to enjoying every step of the way.

    I absolutely do not wish to invalidate your desire to be married. But I want you to think about WHY it’s so important to you, and why it can’t be done now. Do you want to be legally recognised as husband and wife? There’s no reason why you can’t do that now and maybe keep it private to your friends. Do you want to publicly declare how much you love this guy? Go right ahead, and have an epic wedding later down the track!

    But know that life is now, and that your partner is a part of your life right now. Even if you are not legally married, you have already chosen each other as your life partners, and have chosen to entwine your lives together.

  6. The way I see it getting married will not keep you from doing anything that you would were you unwed. No persons situation is ever going to be just right for getting married. We could all use more money or a better car or a better job. Being married will not keep you from any of those thigs.

  7. First, you’re not alone. I quit dating around the time I was diagnosed with lupus and through a bad flare-up because the last thing I wanted was to be around other people. Four years later I finally went into remission, found my sex drive, and met someone who played to all my kinks. Little did I know how well we’d connect. Most of my relationships ended when I went through what I now realize were flare-ups but he’s still here. At my last appointment, my doctor wanted to know how I felt about having children because the next options could sterilize me. I lost a fiance to this prospect once before so you can imagine the anxiety in breaking the news to my partner. His response was, “There’s this thing called adoption.”

    We’ve batted around marriage frequently. There are a number of things working against it. Our career choices involve a lot of travel and uncertainty, our backgrounds are radically different, I’m 12 years older, and I’m sick. We knew going in it wasn’t going to be easy and neither of us were going to change. We can’t plan but what we can do is commit and communicate. We know marriage is going to happen, but we don’t sweat the timeline. If I get him now and forever, who cares when we let everyone else in on it? The traditional milestones aren’t happening. But again, who cares? We’re hitting the ones we want to hit for ourselves. We’ve spent far more time discussing the details of the marriage (finances, child-raising philosophies, power of attorney, medical preferences, etc.) than the wedding. It’ll probably come down to one of us PCSing and marriage making it easier for the other to get closer.

    tl;dr less worry about other people and more talking it out with your partner

  8. I’m in a really similar place right now. We didn’t expect to end up dating, had been friends for years beforehand, have been dating for a few years now. We’ve talked marriage, and currently are trying to buy a house, so we’re in it for the long-haul. But right now, life has us living two hours apart and (because of trying to buy the house, actually) we’re not quite in the position to do it. But my grandfather’s cancer has come back and they’re giving him two months, and its hit me how badly I want him to be there for the wedding. I really want to just go do it, so he can be there, but we just can’t right now and I just… feel for you.

  9. Thanks, everyone, for your advice, and to those who offered compassion and support, thank you especially from the bottom of my heart.
    To those asking why we want to get engaged right now; it is important to him. He says he wants to shout to the world how much he loves me, and wants to do it in an officially-recognised way.
    To the person who suggested I hold off, for reasons of maintaining government financial support that might be severed should my assets increase, it is my hope and expectation that I will be able to return to work within the next year – and if I can’t, my sweetheart has the means and the will to support me until I can.
    To those expressing sympathy from similar situations, for whatever circumstances, my heart goes out to you, and I wish you strength on your journeys. I believe in happiness for you, and I hope you find it soon.
    To those suggesting we get engaged but not rush into marriage; to me – and this is only my personal values, which I do not project on anyone else’s situation – a long engagement that seems to be “just another stage of the relationship” has never been what would be right for me. For me, the engagement is the period in which you plan your wedding; that’s all it is. I have never wanted, in my life plan, to get married as a general aim; it is him, specifically whom I wish to marry, and who has woken that desire in me – and the wedding is just the social rite that marks the beginning of that marriage. I have especially never particularly wanted to “get engaged” for its own sake, but that with him, engagement is a necessary stage before marriage, which is what we both dearly want. So to get engaged, for me, necessarily means that the wedding becomes an imminent prospect, or what’s the point (again, just to me)?

    A little while after submitting this request for advice to Offbeat Bride, I went to holiday with him for a few days in another City, two days before Christmas. Only upon the evening of the day of my arrival did I discover that, of my most vital (and tightly-controlled) medication, I had accidentally packed a nearly empty box. With no way of getting home until after Christmad, and no hope of getting any doctor to release me more medication when I already had another two weeks collected on the record, I panicked. I sat on his bed, with my head in my hands, and I wept, while he rubbed my back and petted my hair. Then he disappeared to his computer for five minutes, but I was too distressed – in the heart of my anxiety attack – to really notice, until he came back, kissed me, and quietly informed me that he had booked himself flights to and from my home City the next morning, and so that I mustn’t fret; he’d have my medication back in my hands before lunchtime. I protested, but he just smiled and told me the fares were booked, the deed was done, and that it was nothing to him to make the trip.
    Sure enough, the next morning, on Christmas Eve, he got up at 6:30, took his pre-booked cab to the airport, flew for a couple of hours, took a cab to my house and asked it to wait, let himself in with my keys, found my meds, locked up, took the cab back to the airport, and flew back to me. And, as promised, he delivered a full box of my medication into my hands before 11:30am.
    Overwhelmed with joy, and love, and gratitude, and nearly weeping from the combination, I threw my arms about him and kissed him, and then tearfully asked, as you do, “How can I *ever* repay you?”
    He simply squeezed me gently, smiled down at me, and said, “…Marry me?”
    Well, there was only really one answer to that question, then, wasn’t there? You’ll be pleased to know that I said yes.

    Already, I know it was the best thing I have ever agreed to. We are hoping to marry in March – April 2017, and not a day goes past when I don’t look at him and think, “This incredible person is going to be my husband,” with joy and wonder.
    And you know what? All those people I was worried about judging us? Every one of them has been like, “Oh, how wonderful, thank Heavens you grabbed onto it with both hands – you really deserve some happiness.” And every single person I was worried about judging me, because I wasn’t back to work yet, when I came out and just asked them, has actually said, “Oh, wow, no. No-one’s saying that! We all just talk about how impressive it is, how much you’ve achieved so far with everything that’s happened to you, and how well you’re doing to bear up under it. Everyone’s really proud of you!”
    So there you go, fellow OBBs; sometimes, the nasty voices you’re hearing really *are* just all in your head. Anxiety is an insidious beast, but it’s not to be trusted. Sometimes it’s worth taking the leap, despite insecurities and worries that seem perfectly sensible. Sometimes that’s what you need to do to learn what the world *actually* looks like.

    So that’s my happy ending. For now, anyway. Life will throw crap at us, and even after I get back to work (which I am determined to do), I know there’s no way to predict what will come our way. Maybe *he* will get sick, and it will be my turn to be the carer. But I know that whatever happens, I’ll have a teammate at my side and my back, to help me make sense of it all. And that’s the best feeling I could ever have imagined. 🙂

    • YAY!!!! I squealed with Joy!
      He sounds like a really great guy. I’m so glad things worked out.
      Best of Luck and well wishes 🙂

      • He is legitimately the sort of partner I honestly had always thought only existed in fairytales and especially far-fetched rom-coms/Nicholas Sparks novels. My very own Tristan Thorn. ^_^
        If ever I had had nurtured any doubt, I know for sure, now, that he would do anything for me, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have found someone so wonderful, and am deeply humbled to be the object of such devotion. I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to be just as wonderful a partner as his own wonderfulness deserves.
        Thank you so much for your kind wishes. <3

      • Thank you so much for celebrating with us, gentle stranger – we’re so happy! *hugs*

    • So happy to hear that – congrats! Maaaaaaaan – he flew RT to get meds for you. Whoa. He. Is. A. Keeper.

      • He is my hero, and I intend to work my arse off for the rest of my life to be equal to that devotion.
        Thank you. 🙂

  10. Stop focusing on how your marriage could be negatively affected by your current limitations. You’ve done plenty of that.

    Instead, consider how it could be positively affected by having this awareness of your health concerns going in – you’ll both be much more prepared for the ways that your illness will affect your relationship than you would be if you’d become sick when you were already married. You can start your marriage with the confidence that comes from knowing that with all this uncertainty around your health, your partner would rather marry you sooner, not later.

    Health shit happens. Married couples adjust to new diagnoses, serious injuries, and disabilities (and all of their consequences) all the time. You have a head start. In some respects, you are less prepared for marriage than other people, but in other respects you are more prepared. This is true of all people and all relationships.

    Just because you can see reasons to wait doesn’t mean you actually have to wait. It means that you’ve put serious thought into your decision, have weighed your options, and have done your best to prepare yourself for whatever you do end up choosing.

    • And if I’d just refreshed the page, I’d have known this was already solved.

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