When we are young we are rarely asked to be decisive about anything that matters. Suddenly, when marriage is proposed, everything becomes more serious and final. Is it any surprise that sometimes doubts creep into the heads of the happy couple to be? And there are also so many things to worry about!
My man is convinced there are UFOs and that alien technology is about to be revealed but everyone else thinks he is soft in the head!
When we first met I used to rather like the strange obsession my bloke had with Unidentified Flying Objects. All I had to do was nod and he would talk on for hours about the three times he had seen UFOs and about all of the American military evidence showing UFOs being tracked by military aircraft. Now that we are getting married though I just wish he would keep a lid on it. He has become so confident that he is right that he brings it up in conversation whoever we are talking to. My family are mostly quite polite and just tease him gently but in my wider friendship group he is becoming a bit of a joke. How can I get him to stop embarrassing himself?
Wo says: Ever since the USA government released some videos a couple of years ago this subject has become more mainstream. To anybody who is not caught up in the subject it seems bizarre. Why would aliens be buzzing around the planet but not bother making contact in a rather more conventional way? You probably need to put it onto a ‘banned conversation’ list (much as many couples did with Brexit a few years ago). That is, you agree with him that he won’t introduce it in conversation with new people. How you persuade him to stick with this rule is up to you. Most rules between couples are reinforced by a combination of stick and carrot!
My girlfriend is terrified by climate change and wants me to promise that we will never have children!
We have just become engaged and so we have started talking about the long term for the first time. I knew that she was really concerned about environmental things but I didn’t appreciate how much it dominates her thinking. For example, she is convinced that the planet is doomed and that it will not be a fit place to live in in fifty years. That means that she wants me to promise that we will never have children but I do want kids. How can I convince her that things aren’t going to be as bad as she imagines?
Wo says: Her way of thinking (and she is not alone in thinking this way) seems strange to the older generation who cheerfully got on and raised children through world wars, pandemics without vaccines and other perilous times. You can try to discuss the latest evidence with her which shows that the extreme scenarios she fears are now thought to be very unlikely. Unfortunately, she is probably getting her news from social media or from news organisations who profit by keeping the population fearful. That being the case you will have a job persuading her that your children will be growing up in a more prosperous world with a better life expectancy than any previous generation. Luckily, the urge to have children is a strong one, so her thinking now and in a few years may be different anyway.
Latest climate change official information https://www.ipcc.ch/reports/
The best man is really crude and I am dreading his speech at the wedding!
My man used to be a soldier and his best friend was in the same unit. He has a heart of gold but he is completely coarse in the way he expresses himself. As you can imagine, when they were serving overseas they got up to all sorts and when he has had a few drinks he likes to tell stories. Some of them are really explicit about sex, which I can cope with when we are in a small group of friends. At the wedding though there will be my parents and grandparents and lots of other old people. I just know he will have had a couple of drinks (or more) before he does his speech. How can I ensure that he doesn’t shock everybody and tell them things about my husband I’d rather they don’t know.
Wo says: Most men find the idea of doing a best man’s speech quite a challenge and so they are open to help with writing the words. If that is the case here then you can at least ensure that the prepared speech is suitable. He may not want you to be the one to help write it but perhaps a girlfriend or relative could talk to him and offer help. Of course, he may also like the idea of keeping you nervously waiting on what he is going to say in which case there is little you can do. In truth many best men start their speech well and then become overconfident, which means they are tempted to add random stories to keep the listeners applauding. The only thing you can do is to ask your husband-to-be to have a word in advance to agree on the stories that are 100% not to be used.
My man says that he will never wear a wedding ring and I worry it means he’s not committed!
All of the husbands of my married girlfriends wear a wedding ring and they exchanged them at their weddings, so I asked my man to go shopping for his one before our wedding. He just said that he had never worn any jewellery and didn’t plan to do so in the future. He says that it is just a way for the stores to make more money out of you and anyway he does a lot of DIY and it wouldn’t be safe. Personally I think that he just doesn’t like the idea of other women seeing that he is taken. He was always a bit of a womaniser before we went steady and I think he still wants to be able to flirt. How do I get him to accept that those days are over!
Wo says: We did a little research on this and it turns out that the tradition of men wearing rings is relatively new, dating mostly from the postwar period in the 1940s. There were two major reasons. Your man is right that the main push came from jewellery retailers trying to find new markets. At the same time there were less manual jobs and more office jobs so the ‘danger when working’ factor became less of an issue. In short, there is no absolute reason why he has to wear a ring. It really is just something to negotiate between you. You may find anyway that he relents as he settles into married life so he may be happy to wear a ring later on, just not at the wedding itself.
My bloke is never serious about anything, so will marriage mature him?
I am terrified that I am going to end up married to a man who will act like a teenager forever. He never takes anything seriously. Even when he seems about to give me a straight answer to anything, he then turns it into a joke. For example, if I ask him how many children we should have he might say “Two”, but a moment later he’ll add “One by each of my wives!” If he doesn’t have a smart-ass answer he’ll tend to just say that he doesn’t know and he doesn’t want to think about boring stuff. Will getting married change him or am I stuck with this forever?
Wo says: What will probably change him is going out to work and having a boss and workmates and needing to earn enough to raise one or more children. Most work environments force people to grow up quickly because busy people do not have time for nonsense like that. The other obvious point is that, if he won’t make clear decisions, then you have to start making them for him. He’ll soon get the idea if you increasingly take the lead in making decisions.
As an atheist, will my Christian girlfriend’s values prove an impossible problem?
For most of the time we have been together my girlfriend’s religious beliefs have not been a problem. She rarely went to church unless she was back home with her family and she didn’t preach. Now we are getting married though it seems to have changed her. For example, she has made me promise we will raise our children in her church and give them strict moral values. Then she has started talking about a period of celibacy before our marriage in order to make things feel special. She is also hinting that I drink too much and shouldn’t take any drugs. She also wants me to come along to the church to meet the vicar (or is it a priest?) and to attend several services. I can see where this is heading. She wants me to become a full blown convert too, and that is not happening!
Wo says: It is clear that you are about to engage in a battle of wills about the shape of your married life. In many ways it is better to get these discussions out in the open before you are actually married. That way, nobody can claim later that they didn’t know what the deal was. It sounds as if there are some things you are happy to concede (your children being brought up in the ways of her church) and some things you are nervous about (limits to sex, drugs and alcohol). Clear yourselves some quality time together away from distractions and talk all of this through. I am sure that, if you love each other, a middle way can be found.
My husband-to-be keeps his first wife’s ashes in the house he wants me to live in!
We are both in our fifties and about to embark on our second marriages. I was divorced but his wife died of an illness. He says that they were very much in love, and so he still wants to keep her ashes close by, which means that he wants to keep them on a hall stand in his house with a picture of her. I feel it is unreasonable to have to live in a house where she would always be present. I also suggested moving to a new house as I also have a smaller property of my own I could sell, but he says that he wants to keep this house for his sister who lives in Canada to inherit. I worry that I will never have a marriage that is about just the two of us!
Wo says: I agree that there are warning signals here. He sounds as if he is mentally unwilling to move on. For example, presumably if he dies before you then he is expecting you to move out and leave the house free for his sister. That is not how marriages should work. You are only in your fifties, so your new marriage would hopefully last for decades and it has to be on reasonable terms. Only you can decide this, but I think you either convince him to move to a new property in joint names or you break off the engagement.
We have radically different ambitions for what we want out of life. Will it split us up?
It may seem strange, but my partner and I never discussed what we wanted out of life while we were at Uni. I realise now that everything we talked about was to do with immediate things, our courses, the concerts we were going to, what we were going to eat that evening. Now we are making plans for the future and it is obvious we have different ideas. I want to return to my home town and work and live near to my parents, while my partner wants to get a high powered job in London and build a career there. My home town is a long way away from London. How do we resolve this? Until all of this came up our relationship seemed strong and unbreakable yet I don’t see a way through.
Wo says: I don’t think that you are unusual as a couple, particularly a couple who met and got together at University and away from your homes. The way I see your situation is like this. If you follow your partner’s preference and go to London then you may hate it, but you also might like it. If you like it then the problem is solved. If you hate it, having given it a reasonable time, then you have to have a hard conversation with your partner. On the other hand, if you convince your partner to abandon their ambition immediately they are likely to harbour some resentment which could surface later in your relationship. Try London, it isn’t a bad place to live for a few years at least.
My future wife has just gone Vegan but there is no way that I am giving up bacon!
I have known for ages that my girlfriend preferred vegetarian food and supported an animal cruelty charity. She never seemed to take it all too seriously though, probably because we don’t yet live together so we get most of our food either at a parent’s house or as takeaways. Now we are contemplating setting up house and she would be the one to cook. She tells me that she really doesn’t want to handle meat and that it would be best if I became vegan too, not vegetarian mind you, she wants me to go full vegan. I see trouble ahead! Is she being unreasonable?
Wo says: Living together and being married are all about accepting each other’s differences and negotiating ways to support each other. You have to support her and she has to support you. That said, if she feels strongly then it is not reasonable to ask her to handle meat, so you are going to have to involve yourself in some cooking at least. A roast chicken can last you several days and it is easy for you to learn how to cook one. Similarly, a joint of beef is easy for you to do. All you would be asking her to do is to prepare a tasty set of vegetable dishes to go alongside your meat. See what she says. I am sure she wants to find a solution too.
I worry that my Gamer wife will forget to feed our baby while she is immersed online!
When I met my wife-to-be, one of the common topics of conversation we had was online games. Since then I have managed to keep it under control but she has become more and more obsessed, particularly since she got into virtual reality (VR) headsets. Sometimes she will refuse to take the headset off even when we are making love. I can handle that, but I want children and I will be the one going out to work. Will I be able to trust her to not neglect our babies when she is mentally elsewhere?
Wo says: You are not the only one concerned about the practical implications of the addictiveness of the online world. As an aside, if you search for some writing on ‘The Experience Machine by Robert Nozick’ it talks about a future where you may choose to be immersed in a sensory deprivation tank and have pleasurable experiences wired into your brain. An increasing number of people say they would be fine with that for the rest of their lives. As for your wife, I am sure that having a baby will change her enormously, and she will be just fine. Meanwhile technology will allow you to check in regularly from work to see that things are in order.
My boyfriend never proposed marriage properly and it is starting to eat away at me!
When my boyfriend proposed it was along the lines of ‘Will you be my permanent ****”. I told him to say it properly, preferably on bended knee, but he refused. When he asked me if I accepted, eventually I said yes but I can’t forget that he never asked me properly. I had dreamed of being proposed to ever since I was a child and now I feel that I have been robbed of that memory. Is it too late to insist that he does it?
Wo says: No, it is never too late. Being a man he was probably really embarrassed about proposing, so he made a crude joke of it. He was then stubborn about doing it the way that you wanted. If he loves you, and he probably does, then he will be happy to make it right if he doesn’t also feel that he is losing an argument. Ideally you will find a mutual friend or other third party to have a word in his ear to explain how much it would mean to you.
My husband has been married before and doesn’t seem interested in a proper wedding!
We are in our thirties and have been together some years so thought it was right to get married. The trouble is, as he has been married before and I have not, we have different expectations of the ceremony. I want a proper white wedding in a church with lots of relatives and friends. He says that he thinks we should just go a Registry Office with a couple of friends and then get straight back to our normal life. I don’t think he plans on getting a new suit, or even his suit cleaned, and our honeymoon would just be our normal holiday. How do we bridge the gap?
Wo says: If you have been together for a few years then none of this probably comes as a surprise to you. You must be used to bargaining with him about lots of things, and his generally unromantic approach cannot come as a total shock. The answer has to lie somewhere in the middle. There are lots of venues nowadays to hold the ceremony which are more romantic than a Register Office, for example you could have a romantic barn wedding with the service outside in a beautiful garden. If you keep the numbers down then he could save money (which no doubt is one of his reasons) and also minimise fuss. Do your research and present him with an option that he might go for. As for the honeymoon, that should be non-negotiable. Go somewhere nice and celebrate your new life together.
I am determined to lose weight for my wedding but dare I buy a dress that is too small?
The lead times that my local shops give me for a wedding dress seem ridiculous to me but there is nothing I can do about it. That means that I have to decide on the dress I am having many months in advance when there is no way of knowing if I’m going to be successful losing the weight I need to. I am tempted to gamble everything and go for a dress which is two sizes smaller than I am now, but what happens if my diet goes wrong? On the other hand, if I get a dress that is my current size and then decide to lose weight it could look silly on me. What do I do?
Wo says: It is really common to have a target weight in mind for your wedding and go for it, but you need to make preparations in advance for how you can handle it if your plans go wrong. If you don’t feel that your wedding dress shop is being very helpful, then see if there is a local seamstress who specialises in wedding dress alterations so that you can see what they advise on their timescales. Most seem to prefer to have at least three to four weeks between them seeing you and the dress together, then making any necessary changes, but they also have express services at a premium price. They can also tell you the implications of having to let out the particular designer dress you have in mind. I hope your diet goes well, but remember that your partner loves you the way that you are now, so it really does not matter to them.
Everything is happening too quickly and I’ll soon be married before I have got used to the idea!
I know that some people meet one week and then run away to get married the next, but I am not like that. It has always taken me a while to get used to new things. I am the kind of person who prefers to go to the same local restaurant and order the same dish every time. I hate it when I am on holiday and people want to try out a new place to eat every night. It is like that with getting married. He is much older than me and I accepted his proposal when he made it, though I was not expecting it. I was happy at first but I am still processing my new situation. Now his family says that we have to get married soon as that makes it easier for relatives to visit. I am just not ready for this but I don’t know how to slow things down.
Wo says: It does sound as if you have got yourself into a bit of a nightmare for someone of your temperament. I wonder if you have any family of your own who might be able to help you by asking for a delay for their own reasons as I can see that you are not very assertive yourself. You should also talk to your future husband and suggest an alternative timescale and see what he says. Ultimately you can delay things if you really, really want to. Nobody wants a bride who has to be carried kicking and screaming down the aisle.
Everything has changed in the two long years of our engagement but it is too late to call it off!
We were both just turned nineteen when we got engaged and my parents were very unhappy about it saying that we were too young. I don’t think nineteen is young but my parents said that they wouldn’t pay anything towards the wedding unless we waited until I was turned twenty-one, but would be generous if we did wait, so we agreed. They said I would know my mind better then. Sadly they were right, and I can see now that my life and that of my partner are going in different directions. I am quite academic and it looks as if I am going to become a lawyer of some type. He has failed most of his exams and is currently working in a call centre. We increasingly have different friends and talk about completely different subjects. He doesn’t see a problem and things are rapidly moving to a head as he wants to get on booking a wedding venue and suppliers. What do I do?
Wo says: Parents sometimes have an instinct about these things. The may have liked your partner but seen that you were not enough alike to fit together in the long term. As to what you should do, you know that yourself. You have to bite the bullet and tell your partner that you do not want to get married to him. That may or may not mean splitting up immediately. I am sure that some people would choose to do it in two steps, first to say that you are still nowhere near ready to get married, and then later, to make the split. It might be better for your partner if you were braver and do it in one go, of course. Only you can decide that, but do make sure that the end result is that you are not getting married.
I told my friends that everything changes once we are married but one of them told my boyfriend!
My boyfriend tends to act like my lord and master when we are out with people. He decides exactly where we are going and when we are leaving and he evens selects my drinks and the outfits I wear. I am quite in awe of him so I let him do it but my girlfriends tease me about it. I told them one day that ‘everything changes once we are married’ and I do believe that I will feel more confident to assert myself once I am wearing his ring. The trouble is, one of them told him what I said and now he throws it back in my face whenever I disagree with him about anything. How do I mend this, or is he the wrong man for me?
Wo says: Sometimes the people we consider as being our friends don’t act like it! The trouble is, there is some truth in what you said. Often women do feel a lot more confident of their position once they are married, and possibly even more so once they have one or more children. Some men also fear that they may suddenly find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having to deal with their partner as an equal. You certainly don’t want to promise now that you’ll always obey his every word. He might try to hold you to that. All you can do is apologise for now for talking about your relationship to others, and gently try to assert yourself so that he gets used to the idea. That means firming up your ideas on things like clothes and drinks so that you are ready with your opinion when he gives his.
My boyfriend was a star but now he has lost his job and his mojo so should I still marry him?
When I first met my man he was actually just a teenager who was good at football and who had an apprenticeship (or something like that) at our local football club. All of the girls fancied him as he was very athletic and confident. I was one of the lucky ones to date him and then we ended up going out together quite steadily. He got a contract and sometimes they played him in the first team, which made him a bit of a local hero in our area of the town. We got engaged and everything was looking good – until he had a patch of poor form and they dropped him. It has transformed him entirely and now I am less sure about getting married. What do you think?
Wo says: Stand by your man, as they say. I assume that you shared a bit more than football and that you love him for some of his other characteristics as well! In some ways you might be quite lucky. Young football players who do have success are not well known for staying faithful and true to their first loves. You have a good, hard working and attractive man who now needs your support in finding his new path in life. If that does not appeal to you then maybe you would be doing him a favour by breaking of the engagement as he could probably do better for himself.
Was I short-changed by getting married during the COVID crisis?
It probably seems selfish but I was married right in the middle of the epidemic and I was only allowed to have a tiny number of people at the ceremony and the reception was more like a small tea-party. At the time, I was delighted to be married yet now I wonder if we should have waited. My older friends have so many memories of their wedding day, and pictures and video. I now feel quite left out of the conversations. Should we maybe arrange a larger family and friend get together on the anniversary? I think it might look as if we are hoping to get all of the presents that we missed out on earlier. on the other hand, most of the family and friends like a good party, so it might be OK.
Wo says: Yes, you were short-changed, as were many others whose lives and careers and education were put on hold by the pandemic. We were living in such a golden age that we had forgotten that life changing events on this scale could happen. Previous generations had World Wars and epidemics plus uncertain healthcare and a myriad of different problems, so by comparison we can count our blessings. Anyway, by all means plan a big celebration but do it for your 5th or even your 10th anniversary. That gives you time to save and you can join in all of those conversations by talking about the huge plans you have for the anniversary event.
Should I go through with an arranged marriage with a boy I like but hardly know?
I am quite lucky that I quite like the boy/man than my parents have found for me, and everything is happening in this country. On the other hand, we hardly know each other. He seems nice and he is quite attractive. Nevertheless, I watch my friends who have been allowed to have boyfriends without any parental involvement. They seem to do fine and get to experience lots of relationships before they have to choose somebody. Surely they have a better chance of finding the ideal partner than I do. In particular I worry that I may end up in a loveless marriage, just being together to raise a family. If I did rebel then my family would be very disappointed in me, which would be very hard to bear.
Wo says: I’m sorry that you find yourself in this situation. It may be that your marriage works out very well as many arranged marriages do, but you will probably always wonder what might have been. I think that the main reason for not going through with it is might be because you would like some years of independence from your parents in order to determine your own mind about things. That is a decision only you can make. As you suggest, it will probably lead to difficulties within your family.
Is two years to far ahead to book a wedding day?
When we got engaged I was expecting to get married within the year, but his family wants us to delay it until the extended family can visit from India. Apparently one of the uncles is ill at the moment and there are other things that make it difficult for them to come over within the next twelve months. His mother is also very keen to have a spring wedding and so it means that it will be nearly two years after our engagement that we will be getting married. It feels as if my life has been put on hold. Although my boyfriend and I have a very close relationship, we aren’t allowed to live openly together until we are married. I do wonder sometimes if this is his mother’s way of delaying things in the hope of us splitting up. Whatever I say, she always has a good reason for avoiding a quicker timetable. How do I make things happen sooner?
Wo says: If you are right, then the way you handle this now will determine who is in charge for the next twenty years or so. Will it be your mother-in-law to be, or will it be you? The battleground is your husband. Will he bend to your will or give in to her? There are a number of tactics you might use. For example, you say your boyfriend and you have a close relationship. I take it to mean that you are having sex. You might say that you are thinking of withdrawing all (or even just some aspects of) such benefits until you are married. That should concentrate his mind. Let’s see his mother compete with that!
Is it too late to stop my best friend from getting married?
Her wedding is arranged and all of the invites have gone out. I helped her buy the wedding dress and to arrange the venue and catering, and the honeymoon is all booked as well. The trouble is, I just found out that her husband-to-be is being unfaithful, and not just a one-night stand. He is having a full-on affair with a married woman at his work. She is a secretary there and I found out because I know one of his workmates. Apparently he boasts about it quite openly. Says that he is making the most of his freedom as he won’t be able to get out as much once he is married with kids, because he wants lots of those.
Obviously I should tell her, but the implications are massive. She thinks he is perfect and you can’t suggest even a minor flaw. I once said that I didn’t like his accent and she didn’t talk to me for a week. Also, her family has spent so much money on the wedding already. It would be a massive drama if everything had to be cancelled. I reckon, even if she knew, she would find a way to excuse him. They’d have a row then still get married. I’d be the troublemaker and our friendship would be over. I did think of sending an anonymous letter but I’m no good at things like that. What should I do?
Wo says: You are in an impossible situation. Female friendships are strange things, easily derailed and hard to repair once they have a serious dent in them. Certainly if you don’t say anything now and it all comes out after the wedding and your friend finds out that you knew then you’ll still be in trouble. On the other hand, unless you have really good evidence of the affair, and you probably only have a secondhand account, then whatever you say he will probably mostly deny it. You have two options, both of them hard. The first is to say nothing and NEVER admit to knowing or even suspecting there was a problem. The second is to gather as much evidence as you can, then say something and accept that you may never be good friends again. Good luck.