Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: I'm ecstatic to be newly engaged after three happy years of dating. We're planning to move in together at the end of the year.
Recently, while talking moving logistics, he confessed that he's not looking forward to having to "check in" with someone every day. I responded that I don't need daily check-ins - instead, why not reserve them for when we actually have agreed-upon plans? He said OK, but that he still feels nervous about losing other aspects of his autonomy in marriage.
This conversation escalated until eventually I asked him why he wants to get married at all, if he's so scared to share his daily life with me. He answered that he knows "it's what comes next," meaning that it's the natural next step in our relationship. I am afraid and aware that this isn't a good answer. I know he loves me a lot - the strength of our relationship so far proves that in my book - but now I feel like I've unwittingly forced him into marriage. My excitement over getting married is deflated. What now?
Let him know, kindly, that "It's what comes next" is no reason to get married, and that, while you love him and were excited to be engaged, you're not going to marry unless you're with someone who wants to spend the rest of his life with you. As in, day in, day out wants to, not because he thinks he's supposed to.
He could go either way - feeling relief to be released from what felt like an obligation, or feeling like the idiot who allowed an adolescent-style freakout to sink a good thing.
About those "check-ins": When you want to be with someone, and to share your days with someone, they are a moot point. Most of the time you already know where the other person will be. When something comes up, sure, you have a choice: Take into account the feelings of the person who thinks you're somewhere else/coming home soon/going to be at the restaurant by 7, or don't. And really, if it's such a burden to care how someone feels, then why not just stay unattached?
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