To marry or not to marry


#1

I have a quandary, a hole I have dug for myself without assistance. Three years ago I met a girl and we formed a relationship. Circumstances and finances (moving and her losing her job) encouraged us to move in together, and so we did. Neither of us were Catholic at the time.

I am now a convert. I will probably, unless this relationship interferes, be taking first communion this Easter. If not then, then I will get there when I get there. I’m not going anywhere, so there is no hurry. She also is joining the Church, following me.

However, it has become abundantly clear that I need to either complete this relationship in marriage or end it, one way or the other, but this fence has been straddled for too long, and I should never have let it begin in the first place.

But now the choice. I love her, but from my perspective there is no chemistry between us, zero, and there never has been. For her, the matter is 100% different. She’s very attracted to me. We have similar education levels. Neither of us finds the other’s character or ideals offensive. We are both joining the Church, happily. Same views on children. We have some of the typical nonsense level discrepancies between us, number of animals in the house, cleanliness, things like that, but nothing major. No, the only issue is that I’m not attracted to her to the point where sometimes her close presence repels me. She’s a good person.

So now I’m trying to decide. How important is physical attraction? For centuries upon centuries marriages have been set and maintained with no attraction between the parties. But, an equally old and well established tradition is adultery, and this is something that I simply will not do.

My parents and friends tell me that I need to choose what’s best for me, but that doesn’t ring true. Why should a decision as important as marriage be made for purely selfish reasons? Why can’t her needs be as important as mine? or moreso?

I have fears in all directions. If I marry her, and I cannot love her as a husband needs to love his wife, then am I actually condemning her? If I choose not to marry her, then I fear she will leave the Church along with my household, and I will be responsible for that decision for if she stays with me, she will stay with the Church. Because of her age, certain personality traits, and appearance quirks, there is a real chance that, if I let her go, I am condemning her to live her life alone. Before this three year relationship with me, she had never maintained a relationship for more than a few months.

She seems happy with me. She certainly says so and lives as if this were so. I’m not sure what to do or if I am even approaching the problem correctly. If I marry her, I will hurt her. If I don’t marry her, I will hurt her. I could make the decision from a purely selfish standpoint, but that just feels wrong.

I’ve prayed for guidance, but the only answer I seem to receive is “Keep an open mind and have faith.” I cannot ask my friends because it would be very inconsiderate to put her in a position where she might be the proverbial “last to know.” Time is running out though. I need to decide probably by the end of March to make sure she can get her job and life in order. She’s a teacher, that’s when she will need to be seeking and signing contracts for the next school year, a decision which she should make with full knowledge of where she will be living, one way or the other.

So I’m asking in a fairly anonymous place. If it were you, what would you do? Why would you make that choice?

In case you might wonder, my question is sincere, not hypothetical, and with no intention of being inflammatory. And yes, I already know I’m not very smart.


#2

I am left wondering why you first dated in the first place–is it because you thought she was attractive then or just thought maybe once you got to know her she would become more attractive to you? Also how you could make it through 3 years of no real “spark” is a wonder to me!
There should be passion in your marriage and in your life. If there is not–there will be temptation to stray (even if only in the mind)–a good married relationship is built on many things but one of those is a passion for the other (and I don’t just mean physically)…
I am a recent newlywed and think my husband is the ‘bees knees’ --I enjoy our company together, his touch, our passion–and I would like to think that’s rather normal…

I’m sure you’ll get many other responses on her–probably more “Catholic” than mine though…


#3

[quote=Stephen Butler]I have a quandary, a hole I have dug for myself without assistance. Three years ago I met a girl and we formed a relationship. Circumstances and finances (moving and her losing her job) encouraged us to move in together, and so we did. Neither of us were Catholic at the time.

I am now a convert. I will probably, unless this relationship interferes, be taking first communion this Easter. If not then, then I will get there when I get there. I’m not going anywhere, so there is no hurry. She also is joining the Church, following me.

However, it has become abundantly clear that I need to either complete this relationship in marriage or end it, one way or the other, but this fence has been straddled for too long, and I should never have let it begin in the first place.

But now the choice. I love her, but from my perspective there is no chemistry between us, zero, and there never has been. For her, the matter is 100% different. She’s very attracted to me. We have similar education levels. Neither of us finds the other’s character or ideals offensive. We are both joining the Church, happily. Same views on children. We have some of the typical nonsense level discrepancies between us, number of animals in the house, cleanliness, things like that, but nothing major. No, the only issue is that I’m not attracted to her to the point where sometimes her close presence repels me. She’s a good person.

So now I’m trying to decide. How important is physical attraction? For centuries upon centuries marriages have been set and maintained with no attraction between the parties. But, an equally old and well established tradition is adultery, and this is something that I simply will not do.

My parents and friends tell me that I need to choose what’s best for me, but that doesn’t ring true. Why should a decision as important as marriage be made for purely selfish reasons? Why can’t her needs be as important as mine? or moreso?

I have fears in all directions. If I marry her, and I cannot love her as a husband needs to love his wife, then am I actually condemning her? If I choose not to marry her, then I fear she will leave the Church along with my household, and I will be responsible for that decision for if she stays with me, she will stay with the Church. Because of her age, certain personality traits, and appearance quirks, there is a real chance that, if I let her go, I am condemning her to live her life alone. Before this three year relationship with me, she had never maintained a relationship for more than a few months.

She seems happy with me. She certainly says so and lives as if this were so. I’m not sure what to do or if I am even approaching the problem correctly. If I marry her, I will hurt her. If I don’t marry her, I will hurt her. I could make the decision from a purely selfish standpoint, but that just feels wrong.

I’ve prayed for guidance, but the only answer I seem to receive is “Keep an open mind and have faith.” I cannot ask my friends because it would be very inconsiderate to put her in a position where she might be the proverbial “last to know.” Time is running out though. I need to decide probably by the end of March to make sure she can get her job and life in order. She’s a teacher, that’s when she will need to be seeking and signing contracts for the next school year, a decision which she should make with full knowledge of where she will be living, one way or the other.

So I’m asking in a fairly anonymous place. If it were you, what would you do? Why would you make that choice?

In case you might wonder, my question is sincere, not hypothetical, and with no intention of being inflammatory. And yes, I already know I’m not very smart.
[/quote]

It sounds to me like you love her, but you are not “in love” with her; she however, is “in love” with you. Big problem! If you feel, you can never be “in love”, then you need to break it off, as painful as it may be. Both of you need to be “in love” when you get married. To do otherwise could lead to problems down the road.

If her emerging catholic faith is strong enough, it will survive the break-up.

Thats my 2 cents worth.


#4

[quote=Stephen Butler]I have a quandary, a hole I have dug for myself without assistance. Three years ago I met a girl and we formed a relationship. Circumstances and finances (moving and her losing her job) encouraged us to move in together, and so we did. Neither of us were Catholic at the time.

I am now a convert. I will probably, unless this relationship interferes, be taking first communion this Easter. If not then, then I will get there when I get there. I’m not going anywhere, so there is no hurry. She also is joining the Church, following me.

However, it has become abundantly clear that I need to either complete this relationship in marriage or end it, one way or the other, but this fence has been straddled for too long, and I should never have let it begin in the first place.

But now the choice. I love her, but from my perspective there is no chemistry between us, zero, and there never has been. For her, the matter is 100% different. She’s very attracted to me. We have similar education levels. Neither of us finds the other’s character or ideals offensive. We are both joining the Church, happily. Same views on children. We have some of the typical nonsense level discrepancies between us, number of animals in the house, cleanliness, things like that, but nothing major. No, the only issue is that I’m not attracted to her to the point where sometimes her close presence repels me. She’s a good person.

So now I’m trying to decide. How important is physical attraction? For centuries upon centuries marriages have been set and maintained with no attraction between the parties. But, an equally old and well established tradition is adultery, and this is something that I simply will not do.

My parents and friends tell me that I need to choose what’s best for me, but that doesn’t ring true. Why should a decision as important as marriage be made for purely selfish reasons? Why can’t her needs be as important as mine? or moreso?

I have fears in all directions. If I marry her, and I cannot love her as a husband needs to love his wife, then am I actually condemning her? If I choose not to marry her, then I fear she will leave the Church along with my household, and I will be responsible for that decision for if she stays with me, she will stay with the Church. Because of her age, certain personality traits, and appearance quirks, there is a real chance that, if I let her go, I am condemning her to live her life alone. Before this three year relationship with me, she had never maintained a relationship for more than a few months.

She seems happy with me. She certainly says so and lives as if this were so. I’m not sure what to do or if I am even approaching the problem correctly. If I marry her, I will hurt her. If I don’t marry her, I will hurt her. I could make the decision from a purely selfish standpoint, but that just feels wrong.

I’ve prayed for guidance, but the only answer I seem to receive is “Keep an open mind and have faith.” I cannot ask my friends because it would be very inconsiderate to put her in a position where she might be the proverbial “last to know.” Time is running out though. I need to decide probably by the end of March to make sure she can get her job and life in order. She’s a teacher, that’s when she will need to be seeking and signing contracts for the next school year, a decision which she should make with full knowledge of where she will be living, one way or the other.

So I’m asking in a fairly anonymous place. If it were you, what would you do? Why would you make that choice?

In case you might wonder, my question is sincere, not hypothetical, and with no intention of being inflammatory. And yes, I already know I’m not very smart.
[/quote]

Why aren’t you attracted to her? Can she do something to become more attractive to you?

I don’t think you should care too much about physical attraction. As people get older they become less attractive and chances are that even if you married the most attractive woman, after a few kids and twenty years she would no longer be attractive to you.


#5

Hmmm this is a strange one.

Falling in and out of love is the normal course for even good marriages.

But you’re not married.

To be honest, I’d be more concerned about her feeling “strongly attracted” to you than I would be about your own thoughts. If I were you, I would live chastely for several months. Ideally, live in separate homes. It may be that her love for you is all physical, and without that physical fuel it will fade.

Otherwise, if you think she makes a fine catch she probably is, and you may well be a fool for dumping her.

Finally, I’ll tell you something I’ve learned. How attractive you find your spouse can actually depend more on what you do for her than what she does for you. You’d be surprised how attractive she becomes when you get all gussied up for her.


#6

As people get older they become less attractive and chances are that even if you married the most attractive woman, after a few kids and twenty years she would no longer be attractive to you.

See I find this totally false! This would only be true if the husband’s standards of beauty did not mature. If the husband does not mature past visual standards of beauty.

The sagging lines and stretch marks should all have a very personal beauty to the husband.


#7

I’m in a very similar place as you, though I don’t live with my girlfriend, and I actually find her extremely attractive. For me, the “turn off” involves her relative immaturity. As a life-long homeschooler and having no college experience, there are few common reference points. However, she’s very smart, sensitive, etc., etc…

Anyway, I don’t know what you should do, but our priest recently told me something that seems to make a lot of sense, even if it’s not helping me right now: “Find a woman of virtue, and spend the rest of your life making her happy.”

Good luck.


#8

Break up with her now. She has already wasted 3 years on you. She will be brokenhearted but she will get over it. I would rather know now then after I was married, with kids and a miserable husband always thinking he missed something or someone.


#9

[quote=Black Jaque]See I find this totally false! This would only be true if the husband’s standards of beauty did not mature. If the husband does not mature past visual standards of beauty.

The sagging lines and stretch marks should all have a very personal beauty to the husband.
[/quote]

Whoops, thought you were original poster. blush


#10

Why what was your response?


#11

I think she ought to find a home/apartment of her own, so you can have a cooling off period to see if it is only familiarity that is making you feel she is unattractive or if she really isn’t the one for you.

Sometimes we can’t see what’s right under our noses and it is easy to think that something better will come along. But, don’t marry this woman in your present state of mind and heart. You’ll resent marrying for the wrong reasons, and marriage is hard enough without starting out with such a handicap.


#12

Jmj

Greetings Mr. Stephen Butler!

Truly, my brother, my heart goes out to you. I’ve been in a similar situation and the implication are not pleasant at all… when you take a look at it. Does it really come down to “just being shallow?” Perhaps. However, the truth is, physical attraction is an important part of the more intimate parts of the relationship between a husband and a wife. I will say though, that however overwhelming your situation with your girlfriend feels… that’s not your biggest problem (or hers) and I’ll elaborate in a minute.

My opinion and my opinion only… is that you might benefit from putting yourself in her shoes. You would probably be hurt to find out that someone you’ve cared for, for so long, isn’t even attracted to you. Maybe you’d try to convince yourself that you could change their mind. But, if you couldn’t, would you really want to spend the rest of your life with a woman who thought you were ugly? (Not to sound harsh.) I suggest that you ask yourself how strongly you feel about this and how you might feel if a beautiful woman you were in love with… felt the same about you.

Also, you should be up front about the fact that you are not ready to be married. Your coming home to the Church (CONGRATULATIONS!!!) should not make you feel forced to get married (that might even be a reasonable ‘bullet’ for a future annulment.) But, your coming home to the Church SHOULD make you feel motivated to repent and turn away from sin. The fact that you’re living together is (as you know) an objective problem. Tell her (immediately) that you both need to start making arrangements for doing the “right” thing, part of which will probably require you (or her, or both of you) to move (or at the VERY least, promise to live as “sister and brother” – though moving apart is far more practical.)

Seriously bro, you need to tell her… right away, that you both need to make plans. I mean, even if you were absolutely positive that you loved and wanted to marry her… you’d still need to do this. You guys should just not be living together. That’s (at least PART of) what caused your current dilemma. You shouldn’t worry about “whether or not to marry her” as much right now. Your biggest problem is correcting and turning away from the sin you are living in – the same goes for her. If she truly has come to realize that the Catholic Church is her home, she too should care about repenting and turning away from sin. Your potential marriage is a separate issue… it truly is – you’re just having difficulty seeing it because you’ve been mutilating your soul with mortal sin for a long time… and those fatal scars have seriously skewed your perspective on things (it happens to us all of course.) Luckily, you have the sacrament to help put you back on track and bring your soul back to life!

I recommend you read Scott Hahn’s “Lord, Have Mercy.” It’s a great book – it will speak directly to this problem because of its topic. And get a copy for your ‘novia’ as well. I think if you both read it, you will have a better understanding of what is more important right now – and what needs your IMMEDIATE attention is your relationship(s) with God… everything else should come second.

And pray, pray, pray! I will pray for you and your friend my brother.

May the Lord be with you!

Jason


#13

[quote=Stephen Butler] But now the choice. I love her, but from my perspective there is no chemistry between us, zero, and there never has been. If I marry her, and I cannot love her as a husband needs to love his wife, then am I actually condemning her?
[/quote]

Yes. She deserves someone who loves her fully. We go into Marriage as a Sacrament, a bond between man, woman, and God. We do this freely giving our whole self. You cannot give your whole self. Do not short-change her out of some distorted sense of chivalry. I would be not only horrified, but humiliated, to find out that my DH married me out of pity, throwing himself on his sword.

[quote=Stephen Butler] If I choose not to marry her, then I fear she will leave the Church along with my household, and I will be responsible for that decision for if she stays with me, she will stay with the Church.
[/quote]

You cannot be responsible for her soul. If she leaves the Church because you break up then her faith was not based on true belief but on pleasing you. She is the only one who can bring herself home to the Church-- with God’s grace.

[quote=Stephen Butler] Because of her age, certain personality traits, and appearance quirks, there is a real chance that, if I let her go, I am condemning her to live her life alone.
[/quote]

Um… now you are being insulting to her. You are saying, “I’ll fall on my sword and marry a girl I do not love because she is unlovable.” You short change her and yourself. She will find the person who is right for her, not just someone who can barely tolerate her but someone who truly loves her. OR, she may have a vocation that does not include marriage. Who are you to condemn her to a lifetime committment to marriage to you based on the false pretense that you love her?

[quote=Stephen Butler] She seems happy with me. She certainly says so and lives as if this were so.
[/quote]

Probably because she has no idea you pity her and view her as unable to attract anyone else, and that you do not really love her.

[quote=Stephen Butler] I’m not sure what to do or if I am even approaching the problem correctly.
[/quote]

You are approaching it from a somewhat noble, but misguided position that she is pathetic and worth of your generosity in marrying her. That is, yes, wrong. It is also short sighted.

[quote=Stephen Butler] If I marry her, I will hurt her. If I don’t marry her, I will hurt her. I could make the decision from a purely selfish standpoint, but that just feels wrong.
[/quote]

You will be hurting her (and yourself) in the long run if you marry a woman you do not love. Marriage is for a very long tim. If, after only three years, “her close presence repels me” then buddy you are going to be really sorry in 10 years, 15 years, etc, and so will she. Do you think she will never catch on? That she has no desires and dreams of her own?

You don’t love her, cut her loose so she can find the person God has in mind for her.


#14

[quote=Stephen Butler]I
But now the choice. I love her, but from my perspective there is no chemistry between us, zero, and there never has been. rt.
[/quote]

why on earth did you move in together? there is no economic justification in the world for that (if you mean what people usually mean my that statement). Why on earth would you contemplate marriage with someone you don’t love? Isn’t marriage fraught with enough difficulty and challenge without that? Move out immediately, go back home if you have to. You cannot possibly be contemplating becoming Catholic without full conversion, which is what that process is about, and that means abandoning anything sinful in your lifestyle, or anything that provides a constant temptation to sin. You should be preparing for your first confession soon, and you must have the moral teaching of God, the commandments and the laws of the Church in order to do that properly. If it hasn’t been covered yet in your class, please schedule an appointment with the priest immediately and get yourself straight. Marrying someone you don’t love is madness.


#15

[quote=puzzleannie]why on earth did you move in together? there is no economic justification in the world for that (if you mean what people usually mean my that statement). Why on earth would you contemplate marriage with someone you don’t love? Isn’t marriage fraught with enough difficulty and challenge without that? Move out immediately, go back home if you have to. You cannot possibly be contemplating becoming Catholic without full conversion, which is what that process is about, and that means abandoning anything sinful in your lifestyle, or anything that provides a constant temptation to sin. You should be preparing for your first confession soon, and you must have the moral teaching of God, the commandments and the laws of the Church in order to do that properly. If it hasn’t been covered yet in your class, please schedule an appointment with the priest immediately and get yourself straight. Marrying someone you don’t love is madness.
[/quote]

I wish I had gotten here in time to post this.

Pack up and give yourselves some space. Concentrate on your prayer life, and formation for First Confession and Communion. If it was meant to be, then you’ll get back together. But get out of there today, even if you have to move back home, even if you have to go spend the night (or two or ten) at the Y or a motel until you get another place.

It’s my opnion a gentleman would let her have the apartment, but then, I am an old foggie.


#16

Stephen Butler if you marry this girl you will be doing a horrible thing. End the relationship now while she’s still young enough to find somebody who really will love her like she deserves.


#17

What would life be without her? Imagine she’d disappear from your life forever, how would you cope? Would you miss her? Why? Ask yourself these questions and you’ll know if there is ‘enough to work with’…but in the meantime, I’d urge you both to spend time living apart, maybe even not seeing eachother at all for a few months…As they say, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and if it doesn’t…then you know she’s not the one!

Anna x


#18

[quote=OutinChgoburbs]I wish I had gotten here in time to post this.

Pack up and give yourselves some space. Concentrate on your prayer life, and formation for First Confession and Communion. If it was meant to be, then you’ll get back together. But get out of there today, even if you have to move back home, even if you have to go spend the night (or two or ten) at the Y or a motel until you get another place.

It’s my opnion a gentleman would let her have the apartment, but then, I am an old foggie.
[/quote]

May I join the foggie group? And may I add that living with someone before marriage is wrong, but you know that. Further, to take up her time and have her think she has a future with you is selfish and narcissistic. I also think it is cruel.

I agree with living apart for awhile and maybe not even seeing her during that time. It will hurt her now, but think what being in a loveless marriage will fell like. Marriage is hard work and to start it off like this is (I can’t think of a strong enough word).


#19

[quote=Tinkerbell]Break up with her now. She has already wasted 3 years on you. She will be brokenhearted but she will get over it. I would rather know now then after I was married, with kids and a miserable husband always thinking he missed something or someone.
[/quote]

I’m with you Tink. It sounds to me like the OP is a bit stuck on himself. Too bad we can’t forward this column to his GF and warn the poor thing what a complete you know what her BF is. What the OP is doing is stringing this girl along.He should stop behaving like the child he is and do HER a favor and get out of the relationship.
To the OP…get out of the batters box buddy, because you “done struck out”
~ Kathy~


#20

This reminds me a little of that movie, was it “Sleepless in Seatle” where the girl (Meg Ryan) is engaged to someone else, to whom she seems a perfect match, but the relationships lacks “spark.” Remember the scene where they’re talking about how many place settings of China they need to register for? A very funny scene. The engaged couple breaks up because they both know this to be true. And she finds her true love, who I believe is Tom Hanks’ character.

Don’t come down hard on the OP. He isn’t married to this woman (or even engaged?) and guess what? She’s a big girl who needs to be responsible for her own choices.


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