Is Forever the F Word to You?
By Claire Aldrich
When you're in a relationship that's going well, friends and family often assume that marriage is the next step. Your sweetheart might be thinking along those lines as well. How do you set them straight when you have no intention of walking down the aisle?
First, you need to be honest with yourself about why marriage bonds make you think of shackles and chains. Your aversion to entering a legal union could stem from several factors.
Think about whether your desire to avoid marriage comes from any previous bad relationship exposure. Did your parents have a good marriage? If not, you might be afraid of repeating their mistakes. If you've already had a long-term relationship or marriage that didn't work out, you'll naturally be afraid of getting hurt or failing again. Remember, though--no risk, no reward.
Suspecting a Mismatch
Another possibility is that you're really not that into your partner. Are you staying together because it's easier than breaking up? Do you feel strongly that your sweetheart is your best match? Or are you noticing a lot of differences that are making you rethink your compatibility? Being together should be an energy boost, not an emotional drain.
Hiding Behind Independence
Sometimes a revulsion to marriage stems from feelings that you don't have what it takes to be a reliable long-term lover. Do you feel like someone your sweetheart can count on? Perhaps you're actually avoiding closeness because you're deeply afraid of getting hurt. And you're deeply afraid of giving all of yourself and being rejected. Let's face it--most of us know we're not perfect. But are we willing to face our deep flaws and fears?
Figuring It Out
If your avoidance stems from a negative view of marriage in general, look around and talk to family members or friends who've gone the distance and still seem relatively happy. Read some articles or books on what it takes to sustain a blissful marriage.
If your previous failed relationships are casting a shadow, you should analyze what went wrong. Could it be that you two just weren't right for each other? Have you matured and learned to be a better part of a couple since then? See if you can have a more open mindset about your potential for long-term partnerships.
If you feel that you have personality traits that just don't suit a long-term union, then you might want to seek some counseling. If you're not happy with yourself, then you're not likely to magically become part of a happy couple. You know that, or you wouldn't be dragging your feet, right? So take some action to change!
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