Advice

On going along for the ride

My parents fell in love at first sight, got married within a year of meeting, have never argued and after thirty years of marriage are still hot for each other.

I don’t believe that everyone finds the sort of love my parents have, and I have seen evidence of the many different types of love and life-long partnerships that can work just as well.

My father believes in making your own luck and calls bullshit on religion, and yet after discovering how cynical I am at only 23, he has unbelievably begun to lecture me incessantly about how I need to open myself up to the universe in order to find my ‘soulmate’.

I am obviously not asking your opinion about soulmates, but rather about the concept of ‘settling’.

A man has recently proposed to me, and with that proposal comes the expectation we will have children before his 40th birthday, which is much sooner than I ever anticipated. However, I now have an opportunity to travel to places I never could have without him. I’ll have a house in Sydney (no small feat), no university debt and the opportunity to work in the industry I want without having to worry about money.

I will be ‘settling’ for someone I didn’t love straight away, but I feel saying no to something solid on the off-chance the universe could, maybe, deliver something better is a ridiculous concept.

Should I listen to my father or go along for the ride?

Your father is the guy who thinks he can give financial advice because he won the lottery. He just wants you to be happy, which is sweet, but that doesn’t mean his expectations for you are tethered to any kind of reality. If he has a specific problem with your relationship, let him voice it, but feel free to dismiss anything he has to say about finding your soulmate. Sure, it’s a charming sentiment coming from your dad, but it’s utterly useless as practical advice and potentially harmful if incorporated into your world view.

Now, as for your suitor. If you want to marry him, go right ahead, but don’t do it for the passport stamps, and don’t let him treat you like a broodmare. (He doesn’t get to decide when you get pregnant.) Do it because you love him and you want to build a life with him as an equal partner. If there’s confusion about whether you love each other, whether you’re equal partners, or whether you have similar visions for the kind of life you want to build together, please take all the time you need to figure it out, but don’t make this decision about whether the universe might deliver something better. (That’s not how the universe works.)

You aren’t settling if you actively choose to marry him. You aren’t settling if you actively choose not to. The only way you would be settling is if you sit back and passively “go along for the ride.” You are the one who makes this decision for yourself — not your dad, not your boyfriend, and not fate. You.

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10 thoughts on “On going along for the ride

  1. Kirsch says:

    I agree with Coquette, as usual, but this sounds like a potential disaster. We’re not the same, of course, but we sound very similar in terms of age, parents, and outlook on life. She has a laundry list of practical reasons for marrying this guy, but apparently not an iota of real love for the idea of a life with him.

    Getting a jump start on a career, wiping out my student debt, and having a house is incredibly tempting, but what about ten, fifteen, or twenty years from now? I’m just picturing waking up in a house I didn’t buy myself, at age 35, with a bunch of kids I wasn’t ready for, next to some (presumably older) dude’s big dumb face, that I then have to look at every day until one of us dies. His request to have kids before 40 isn’t unreasonable, since that’s the kind of thing you should figure out before you get married, but I wonder if there are any other caveats involved here, since you’re signing over your career and finances to him. I also have to wonder why the dude proposed to her in the first place, since she seems to have such a lukewarm love for him. Is he in love and she’s kind of leading him on?

    I don’t know, there are worse reasons to get married, but this sounds like a recipe for a life of resentment to me. Or, at the very least, a messy divorce when you can stand on your own feet financially and don’t need him anymore. I know I shouldn’t compare us to my parents, just as she shouldn’t, but my parents are the most content people I know- and they’re far from rich. They’re just great partners on equal footing. Personally, I’d rather be single and struggling a than rely on a guy I’m not crazy about.

  2. Betsy says:

    I don’t know, her reasons for marriage rest so much on finance that it doesn’t seem to me like a relationship so much as a business arrangement. I vaguely recall your advice on being a “sugar baby” and how it’s actually just prostitution… this doesn’t seem too different. Just taking money or financial stability into account isn’t a problem per se, but this seems like a step further than that.

  3. Daffodil says:

    At the very least, don’t marry this guy until you’ve seen what he looks like when he’s unhappy with you. Does he have the attitude that he’s providing everything, therefore you should go along with whatever he wants? Or does he see you as an equal partner? Be really, really sure that he doesn’t see you as the next thing he needs to get now that he has the house and the car. You’re not going to be able to figure that out while he’s on his best behavior, so wait until you’ve seen him with his filters down.

  4. Margerita says:

    I agree with Daffodil and would also like to add – once he’s got his kids, once you’ve spent the next (realistically) 25 years of your life raising them, what then? Does he see you as a long term romantic partner, or will you just be the mother in this scenario? Life doesn’t end at 50. Maybe consider moving to the new place with this guy for a few months – before tying the knot – to see how well you fare in a new environment, away from your friends and your father’s relentless optimism. Even Charlottle Lucas waited until she was 27 to just roll the dice, you know? You’re 23! Best of luck with your decision!

    • Light37 says:

      And unlike the rest of us, Charlotte Lucas didn’t have any real choices other than being an unpaid servant to one of her married siblings or a governess.

  5. compagno says:

    George Bernard Shaw: Madam, would you sleep with me for a million pounds?
    Actress: My goodness, Well, I’d certainly think about it.
    George Bernard Shaw: Would you sleep with me for a pound?
    Actress: Certainly not! What kind of woman do you think I am?!
    George Bernard Shaw: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.
    (This dialogue is attributed not only to Shaw but also to Winston Churchill and others as well).

  6. kathyglo says:

    Don’t do it! Twenty-three is too young to give up on a chance at the va-va-voom! Like Carrie said, if you lose if when you’re older, at least you have the memory of it! Seriously, take more time, like the other posters advise. It’s hard to make a marriage work without love. Soon you will be asking yourself…what am I doing here?

  7. Light37 says:

    I get that this sounds tempting. But are you willing to sign on for what Coquette once called long-form prostitution? You don’t talk like someone who is really into the guy, you’re not ready for the life he wants. And not to be all “think of the children” but the potential kids don’t get a vote in who has them. Someone who resents having given up on her life for security is not someone who’s going to be a happy and fulfilled mother.

    Wanting a relationship with someone who’s financially stable is pretty normal. But this isn’t the 50s and you’re not Betty Draper.

  8. OG says:

    OK hello it’s me.
    Because of the way my parents met and the way they love each other, I’ve always been told that anything short of a fairytale love story is ‘settling’.
    I ADORE my man, but I didn’t know from the moment I laid eyes on him that he was my soulmate, it wasn’t love at first sight. On our first date he said “the worst thing that could happen tonight is we have a good time,” because he’s 15 years older than me and we couldn’t see how a relationship would work. But it did, I love him and I sure as hell haven’t settled.

    He is at an age where he wants to lock down a good thing, get married, have babies, and too soon in the relationship he was throwing out all these overwhelming promises to try and convince me why I should start thinking about the same things about 10 years earlier than I wanted to – which is why I wrote in. I got my answer and it was good.

    But HELLO to you fuckers in the comments! First and foremost you’re all fucking rude for comparing me to a prostitute go fuck yourselves. Besides that’s an outdated and offensive term get educated you fucks.

    Secondly, there is life after children! A woman doesn’t shrivel and fade into an incapable shell of her former self after creating LIFE. I am a highly educated and highly ambitious lady, after I CREATE A HUMAN there is literally nothing I can’t achieve so fuck you

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