If you thought your friend was about to make a mistake—say, buy a computer that gets a ton of viruses or stay in a really dodgy hostel in Rome—you’d try to convince them to do something different, right? Well, I feel a little guilty because I have a friend who might be making a mistake by getting married this summer and I tried to talk him out of it. Even though his fiancée has bought her wedding dress, it’s not a secret among his friends that he’s wishy-washy about makin’ it legal. You see, they have been engaged for two years, but for half that time, his feet have just gotten colder and colder. He even pushed the wedding date back once already to buy himself more time! Just yesterday, my friend told me he wished he could push the wedding date back again, but at this point, his options seem to be either: 1.) Just do it, or 2.) Cancel it entirely. Romantic, huh?
FACT: I know their relationship isn’t any of my business.
FACT: I don’t really want to be responsible for breaking up someone’s engagement.
ALSO FACT: I can see where this train is headed: on the express route straight to Divorceville. And if you see an accident just waiting happen, aren’t you obligated to try to stop it?
Generally, I think butting into other people’s relationships should be reserved for the truly extreme cases, like reminding someone, “Oh, that ex, the crazy one? Yeah, you’re sleeping with her again? Why is that?” But my friend’s fiancée is, by all accounts, a lovely human being. From everything he’s said about her, she’s a great girlfriend and she’d be an amazing wife.
But it’s not hard to see how the deck is stacking up against her. My friend is very weak-willed; he has always been hungry for approval, regardless of whether satiating that hunger hurt the people around him. He’s never been entirely confident in himself or in his decisions. How’d he get himself into this mess? His fiancée is from a religious, more conservative background and her family has expected her to get married fairly early in life. My friend feels obligated to do what’s expected of him and marry her now, despite the fact he has always said they are not really the right fit: he feels her conservatism and risk-aversion are making his life smaller. (For what it’s worth, his parents aren’t wholly supportive of their nuptials, either.)
Yesterday we chatted about this stuff over IM and he said one of his laments about getting married is that he has (as he put it) “other options” with women, which apparently he’s interested in exploring. That’s a worrisome thing to hear because I know for a fact he cheated on and lied to a long-term girlfriend whom he dated in high school and college. While high school/college behavior doesn’t necessarily predict the way someone will behave the rest of their life, I’ve watched this guy live his life for so long that I’m fairly certain insecurity and using women to make him feel better about himself are deep-seated parts of his personality. That’s not ideal husband material, even more so because he is in his mid-20s, still in school, and surrounded by nubile, sexy, young things.
My friend doesn’t simply have standard-issue cold feet—he is realizing, I think, that he’s about to marry a woman whom he loves now but probably won’t be faithful to for the rest of his life.
“Don’t marry her if you know you’re just going to get divorced in two or three years,” I told him.
“But I don’t want to hurt her! She spent $1,200 on a gown!” he replied. I rolled my eyes, despite the fact that we were talking over iChat and he couldn’t see me.
“You think you WON’T hurt her if the marriage inevitably disintegrates in a couple of years?” I asked.
I had to get back to work then, but I did so with heaviness in my chest, feeling more than a little evil for having this conversation with him, as if I’d been caught dishonoring the Code of Girl. (Mind you, I don’t know exactly what’s in the Code of Girl, but it’s likely there’s something in there that says “GIRLS SHALT NOT talk about other women’s boyfriends out of marrying them.”) Besides, he’s a big boy. He can make his own big life choices himself, can’t he?
Maybe so. But I can’t help but think if I talk him out of this —spending all that money (very likely), cheating on her (very likely), getting divorced!—I would be doing both of them a big favor.