Dear Wendy: “How Do We Tell Our Families And Friends That We Eloped?”
After dating for a year and a half, my boyfriend and I had a sorta “spur of the moment” elopement at the end of January. We’d both recently graduated college and I have a significantly better paying job that has good health benefits, so the decision to get married so quickly was about getting him covered by my insurance. I had known for a while that I wanted to marry him, and we had discussed it very briefly earlier, so it was a given that we would eventually get married anyway. The weird part is that he never officially proposed, and so now we have a sticky situation to deal with when it comes to telling friends and family. We haven’t told any family yet, and the only people who know about it are my three college friends, who don’t know any of our relatives or other friends. We were planning on him buying me an “engagement” ring sometime soon and planning a wedding in the spring of 2011, and not telling anyone in the meantime. I would just like to know what you would do in this situation, since we obviously can’t undo getting married. We don’t feel any different than we did before we got legally married, so it doesn’t feel like we have much to hide, and we both feel that the true beginning of our marriage would be when we get to celebrate it in front of friends and family. Neither of us is really religious (he’s Buddhist, I’m atheist) and our families aren’t the most religious or traditional to begin with. What’s the best way to handle our situation? — Out of Order
It’s no one’s business but your own that you legally married in January so your boyfriend/husband could enjoy the good health coverage you’re lucky enough to get at your job. Seriously, no one besides the people you’ve already told need to know. Pick out an engagement ring together and make an announcement to your friends and family when you feel ready. If they want an engagement “story,” simply tell them it was a mutual decision based on many months of discussion and you picked out the ring together. Not every couple has to have some big story — it doesn’t make the relationship any less meaningful or the commitment any less serious if there wasn’t some fancy proposal. Plan a wedding just as you would if you weren’t already legally married and consider the start of your “real” marriage the day you make it official in front on all your loved ones. You can always have your own private/secret celebration on the anniversary of your quickie marriage, too. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in the decision you made and there’s no reason at all you should feel ashamed, nervous, or like you don’t deserve to have the wedding of your dreams. And if, one day, you decide to tell your friends and family the truth, that’s fine, too.
Not too long ago, my husband and I attended the wedding of one of his old college buddies. We’d kind of suspected the two of them had been secretly married for a little while (she’s foreign and there were a few clues that they married to keep her in the country). Our suspicions were confirmed at the wedding when another friend, after having a few too many to drink, let it slip that the happy couple had actually been married two years already. It didn’t change anything in our eyes, and I’m sure the wedding was as special to them as it would have been if they weren’t already “husband and wife.” A legal marriage may be a few signatures on a piece of paper, but a “spiritual” marriage is whatever you want it to be, sealed however you choose. If declaring your love and commitment to each other in front of friends and family is when your marriage becomes “real” to you, then so be it. You might want to keep the booze away from your friends in-the-know at the reception, though. Just saying.
I have been dating my boyfriend for four years now — since high school — and our relationship itself is … perfect. We hardly ever fight, and when we do, it’s resolved quickly and efficiently, and let’s just say that I could not be happier in general. However, over the course of the past year, he has neglected to hide the fact that he masturbates to pictures of one of our old best friends in her prom dress (YES, her prom dress!). The first time it happened I was speechless, the second time, hurt and distrusting, and the third, complete anger. And him? Ashamed, ashamed, and ashamed. This problem in and of itself not only hurts me, but makes me feel like it should cause a giant disruption in how much I trust him and how little respect he has for me. At the same time, I realize the whole thing is probably one big fantasy, and I am practically indifferent to the fact that he looks at other girls because I know how much he loves me. Is this as disturbing as my mind is telling me it is, what do I say to make him understand, and if you were in this relationship, would this be a make it or break it deal? — Disturbed
Yes, this is as disturbing as your mind is telling you it is. And yes, if I were in your relationship, this would definitely be a deal-breaker. But, wait, what color is the prom dress? If it’s shimmery blue, I might let it slide because that’s a really pretty color. Just kidding. Ick, ick, ick, all the way around. There are some things a girlfriend just never ever ever needs to know about her boyfriend and this, my friend, falls smack-dab in the middle of that category. As for what you can say to make him understand your plight, I’d have to say you’re probably beyond words at this point. I mean, is there anything that can be said or done to erase the image of your boyfriend jerking off to one of your old high school friends in her prom dress? … Yeah, that’s what I thought. Hey, at least you’re still really young and have plenty of time to find a guy who isn’t such a weirdo (or at least is better at hiding the fact!).
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.