This is my first post on the forums proper. I've browsed this site many a time before, and loved it. The final push to get me to come on however, came with this question that I'd thought I would ask my fellow men in the Art of Manliness community, which I could identify with, even though not having a presence on this site earlier.
This is my quandary. I'm 23, and I've been lucky enough, blessed really, to find the woman that I know that I want to spend the rest of my life with. We've known each other for four years, and we've been dating for three, and it's been some of the best years of my life so far. We don't fight - ever. When we do have disagreements, we talk them out. We don't feel the need to impress each other and put on a 'false-front', nor do feel that one owes the other anything. We have a beautiful relationship, where we can just be ourselves and grow together. In short, I couldn't be happier. We couldn't be happier.
We've been engaged since the last 4th of July when I asked if she would marry me with 'literal' fireworks overhead. She was overjoyed and readily said yes. We set the date for November of 2014, and were quite excited. When I told my parents that I was engaged, their reaction was somewhere between disbelief and stark upset. Part of this was my fault, because I didn't tell them right away. I waited about a month until I told them, because I wanted to get her engagement band before I mentioned anything. While they were initially supportive, even happy that I was seeing her and remarked positively on her while we were dating, they changed their outlook completely when I had made a commitment.
I'll spare you fellows all the details, because it would take quite a bit of time for me type them all out, but suffice to say they've gone from being semi-interested and vaguely supportive to saying that this will ruin my life and my career. My mother in particular has told me over and over that 'You will fail, this relationship will destroy you', ectra ectra. Very mean, callous things have been said about a person that they've only met a few times, that don't take into account my feelings for her or how she makes me feel and every time I bring our relationship up to them, they reject the idea of us as a couple, and I don't even know why. Not once have they said that they are happy for me.
So finally it has come down to this. I'm going away to finish my Bachelors at UT. It would take me two semesters to graduate. Initially I was apprehensive about leaving her behind for a year, not because we couldn't do it, but because not having her with me would prove a sore and painful distraction from everything I do when I wake, and vice versa with her. I'm leaning towards just cutting my parents feelings out of the picture (especially after my mother said that she wouldn't be there on my wedding day) entirely and doing what I think is right. I want to live with her as a couple. Her own parents are quite religious however, and would want us to get married beforehand, otherwise her parents and relations would disown her.
I would want to tell my parents that I was getting a common law marriage (and then just having a reception in November of next year), but I feel that if I did, they'd want nothing to do to me, and it would sorely test our relationship with each other if they wouldn't flat out disown me. And I have a feeling that they'd never really accept me currently anyway as I am as a couple with this person. I don't want to not have a relationship with them, because they don't approve of the person I've chosen to be with. I love my parents deeply, and they've done a great deal for me. On the other hand, it feels very underhanded to do something like that. So you see, I've got something of an issue on my hands.
Thank you for reading gentlemen, any thoughts?
Why do your parents think she'll destroy your life and/or career? Do they see a problem with this specific girl ... or just any girl? Do they think you're too young? Do they think she's the wrong girl? Is your chosen career unusual?
Leave and cleave. I don't know that you're making the right call -- I don't know you, your girl, or your parents -- but I do know that a man's gotta make his own decisions, and stand his ground. I'd need more information to tell you whether the ground you're standing on is worth dying on, though. The girl sounds fine to me ... but I'm only getting one side here. Even if your parents have a point, it isn't their decision to make.
On the other hand, don't discount the objective opinions of those who love you ... unless you've got good reason. You may have good reason. From your description they sound irrational and controlling. But, again ... one side.
I appreciate your evenhanded evaluation of the situation. I feel that they've personally been wary whenever I thought I had a future with someone but that may just be me. My ideal career is unusual yes. Ideally I'd like to work in a museum. I'm already interning in a museum right now underneath the Director, and I know I'd need likely need more than a B.A. in History to continue that route, but that's something I'm going to take my time with.
I'm really hoping to use my analytical skills and experience in management positions to work in business while continuing my education so I can work in my ideal field. But if push comes to shove, then I don't mind doing something completely different or enlisting, as long as I can help provide.
That career isn't unusual. I was talking something unusual enough that being married is going to hamstring you. There's no reason a married man can't get a grad degree and work at a museum.
If I asked your parents, what do you think they'd say about why they object to you marrying this girl? Is there something wrong with the girl? With the idea of marriage? With your age? With how well they know her? What is their base complaint here?
You know, when I see a post this long I'm tempted to skip it, but -- being in love is such a delight, even to read about!
As Jack said: why do your parents think that? Is she a drug dealer or something? Are you planning to go to Catholic seminary? Seriously, what's the issue?
If it's just "23 is too young to get married" ... Lordy. It is not.
If you're going to marry her, and are certain of it, marry her. I see no reason for a common-law marriage. Do you mean a civil marriage? That's a different thing.
I think it stems in large part because they don't think I'm responsible enough or ready yet financially and I have no real idea of what marriage is like (well, never being married before I suppose it is fair to say that, I only have my parents marriage as a frame of reference).
The reasons seem to change, at first I was 'too young', but when I brought them a study showing that people in the mid-20's enjoy happier marriages and more fulfilling ones, then the reasoning changed to being 'not responsible enough, not making enough money'.
Two random points:
Based on what you're saying, their problem isn't with her, but with you getting married.
I don't think whether they'll cut you out of their lives should be a factor. After adulthood and a shifting of the financial relationship, parents need the adult children more than vice versa (not financially, but emotionally: getting to see the grandkids, e.g.). But should they be mad enough to do it, it's their call and their problem.
Where are you leaving her when you go back to school? (Figure you are talking about UT Austin?)
If she is also 23, what does she do? Occupation/School?
What is the significance of Nov 2014? Esp after getting engaged in 2012?
If you have been dating for 3 years, why have they only met her a few times?
That last question is a damn good one.
She'd be in Mathis, and working/going to school in Corpus Christi.
She's 21, and works as a sleep technician and in medical billing, she's trying out for her certification in July. She's currently working on getting an associates in medical billing.
No special significance I suppose, we just agreed that it would be nice to get married in the fall and November seemed to work well as a date for us.
I've never been very comfortable talking about my relationships with my parents. It's just something that was never explained to me when I asked them about it when I was younger (i.e. how did you meet mom, dad and know she was the one?) and they sort of would brush my questions aside. When I would bring up people I was dating before, they didn't seem to care all that much except for a few things (what does she do, what are her grades like, what does she want to get a degree in) and other than that, they didn't really seem to care.
So seeing each other on weekends is very doable, thats cool. Try to get in as much time with her and your parents as possible. Instead of fighting or letting them have reasons to give you excuses, try to get their input, increase how much time you spend with them, talk with them on all of this.
Sounds like they just aren't comfortable with you being ready, so show them you are while also letting them still be a parent and to be able to teach you. They might not have done much before, but you have made a bigger step now and it is time for them to make one. Give constant updates on how both of your careers are developing as she kicks ass on the cert and continues with her school while you rock out your last year of school. I love how you have already been interning where you want to go.
You do know the issues of having a wedding in Texas in November don't you? Esp for more rednecky family members or those who are way into their schools?
I'm not unfamiliar with the situation you are in.
My advice to you is simple: Are you doing what is right?
You see if you love this girl, and she really loves you, then great. Your parents are no longer the boss of you and at some point we all have to stand up and step out with or without their blessing. That said would it be a kindness to your parents or to hers starting out the way you describe? If no are you sure it is the right thing? Would she be truly happy without a big wedding? Did she tell you she would because she thinks that is what you want to hear? Are you sure? Not that women lie, they just sometimes change their minds for the express purpose of pleasing us men folk and forget that it is more important to us that they are happy and safe.
This is something you have one chance at doing right. So do it right. Why are they so set against this? Is their reasoning valid? Can you honestly look your love in the eye and tell her you are certain you are doing it right? Are you taking the easy way out?
There was "tension" lets say when my wife and I decided to get married. However we still had a wedding, still invited those who did not approve, and you bet your shiny tookus that they came and put on a good front. We did everything in our power to do the right thing, and as a result now have a decent relationship with those who did not approve, and are proving to them and ourselves every day that we were right.
If you do something that could be termed as sneaky, or get a quick marriage so that they can't argue, then you will regret it. Take control, step up and determine what is right and good and that will set your course. If your parents have a valid argument against the marriage consider it carefully, because they could be right. If you feel you are right, then act like it and hold your head high with pride. Do not leave your objectors any room to doubt you or say you were false, EVER. Do things right and even if it all falls apart and the "stuff" hits the fan you can stand tall amid the storm and know you did the right thing.
Shifting explanations are usually a sign of bad explanations.
If you want more opinions, sometimes better expressed, than AoM can give you, track down the articles on the Princeton Mom's letter, and the earlier piece in HuffPo or the Atlantic or the NYT advocating for young marriages, and the reaction pieces in other publications, including 2 on Slate. [You're at a major research university, and these are publications from the last month or so. Just ask a research librarian. You can also get help looking up the scholarly studies cited in the opinion pieces.]