Should I Get Married Based Simply on the Desire to Be Married?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year and a half. We are 33 and 35 and live in separate cities. We have never been a fireworks love story, but we love each other and enjoy each other’s company.

The time has come to take the next step as we both want kids, a house and a future. It’s just that we have been single for this long for a reason. I am overly critical and impatient, and he’s overly sensitive and lacks emotional intelligence. We have fallen into the habit of this tit for tat bickering, and I’m starting to find him unattractive.

He recently stayed at my house for 3 days, and we didn’t have sex once. I could barely bring myself to cuddle him. We got better as time went on and had a really enjoyable last day together, but I think we are kidding ourselves that this is a match made in heaven.

What I’m asking, though, is can a couple who acknowledge they are not head over heels in love with each other build a life together and make each other happy? My parents divorced, and I am very scared of repeating my parents’ mistakes and getting married for the wrong reasons.

I guess in this situation we both acknowledge we are not madly in love with each other and have a lot of personality flaws that we need to work on but still want to build a life together. I just don’t know if committing to this relationship will make either of us happy in the long run, but I also don’t want to miss out on an opportunity that could makes us blissfully happy. -Nikala

I’d like to think that I’m pretty predictable as a writer. And, by predictable, I don’t mean “boring”, but rather “consistent”. Even when some readers think I’m contradicting myself (because they think in black and white rather than grey), I can usually find a thread that connects all of my advice logically.

You should not get married based simply on the desire to be married with children.

Which brings me to your question, Nikala. I have spent many years pounding the drum of kindness, commitment and values over mind-boggling chemistry. I have spent many years defending my point of view from people who misinterpret it.

And that’s why I’m SO glad I can answer your question for you today.

No.

You should not get married based simply on the desire to be married with children.

This is completely consistent with everything I’ve ever written and is why it’s so important to see the nuance in each individual situation. Allow me to elaborate.

We have never been a fireworks love story, but we love each other and enjoy each other’s company.

This is okay. You don’t need fireworks to have a great marriage, especially since those initial fireworks generally simmer down after 2-3 years. I would say you were on the right track, except for, well, the rest of your letter:

The time has come to take the next step as we both want kids, a house and a future. It’s just that we have been single for this long for a reason. I am overly critical and impatient, and he’s overly sensitive and lacks emotional intelligence. We have fallen into the habit of this tit for tat bickering, and I’m starting to find him unattractive.

He recently stayed at my house for 3 days, and we didn’t have sex once. I could barely bring myself to cuddle him.

Marriage and kids does not FIX your relationship issues; it MAGNIFIES them.

While I want to give you kudos for your self-awareness, it’s kind of obvious that you’re not that self-aware at all. You’re actually thinking of marrying a guy that you don’t find attractive, don’t feel affection for, and don’t want to have sex with.

I just don’t know if committing to this relationship will make either of us happy in the long run, but I also don’t want to miss out on an opportunity that could makes us blissfully happy.

Do you really think that this opportunity will make you blissfully happy, Nikala? It seems painfully obvious that, if anything, marriage will make you miserable.

And that’s our teaching moment for today:

Marriage and kids does not FIX your relationship issues; it MAGNIFIES them.

I have a few friends who married due to some combination of timing (we’re in our mid-30s!), fear (what if I let this go? I have to start over…), and inertia (we’ve already spent three years together). NONE of these friends have happy marriages.

In fact, their marriages are just like their relationships – but worse. My friend’s wife who is insecure and sensitive is still really insecure and sensitive, except she now lives with my friend 24/7 and is bound to him by a contract. Another friend married a decent looking stable man with no discernable personality. You could tell on her wedding day that she wasn’t enthusiastic and 7 years and two kids later, she’s no happier with him (although she’s glad she has kids).

So for all the talk from us relationship experts about what’s important in a relationship, it’s essential that we make a distinction here.

When I say that you need to have a man who is consistent, kind, and commitment-oriented, a man who is a giver, a man who shares your same long-term goals and values – that is true. But that’s not ALL there is to a relationship.

You need to have some measure of a sexual connection because if you don’t, your sex life will come to a grinding halt the second you have kids.

You need to really LIKE each other. You need to really GET ALONG with each other. You need to fight RARELY and when you do, get over it FAST. And you do need to have some measure of a sexual connection because if you don’t, your sex life will come to a grinding halt the second you have kids.

The reason I give the advice I give is because millions of women choose men who are NOT consistent, kind, selfless and relationship-oriented. So I have to remind them about what’s really important.

You can have what’s really important – a nice, marriageable man – but if you don’t enjoy his company more than anyone in the world, he’s not your husband.

For all the people who’ve ever told me that I “settled” on my wife because we don’t have a fireworks love story, you don’t really get it. She’s my favorite person in the world, we never fight, we laugh a lot, I trust her with my life, AND we have a good sex life. I know no happier couples.

Anyone can have this – as long as you don’t waste your time on selfish jerks, or, as in your case, Nikala, trying hard to fit a square peg in a round hole just because “the time has come to take the next step.”

The time has come, my friend. Dump your guy and find one you WANT to marry.