Below is an email I received from a reader considering second marriage:
I got married 9 years ago. My husband was a controlling, manipulative, narcissist. About 18 months into the marriage my parents pointed out to me that I was being bullied. After some soul searching, I realized I was the victim of domestic violence (emotionally and psychologically – physically was probably just around the corner). It took a lot of thought and courage, but I left him. It took almost 4 years for me to be able to date again.
I’m now living with an amazing man who is wonderful. Our parents are putting a lot of pressure on us to get married and start a family. I flip flop so much. At times I think about marriage and I’m looking forward to it, totally comfortable with the thought. Other times, it freaks me out. Before I got married the first time I started getting panic attacks about 3 weeks before the wedding… everyone told me it was normal, that it was just a touch of cold feet etc. I think I knew the marriage was wrong, but I was trapped, I didn’t think I had the option to not go through with it. So, how do I get past this anxiety I get sometimes when I think about getting married again? I know my current partner is nothing like my husband was, but that fear is still there…
I have a few things to say about your situation, the first one being that when it comes to second marriage, 70% of them end up in divorce. Why? In my opinion, there are many reasons, but one of them is that one of the people was unsure, ignored his or her gut, and went ahead and did it anyhow. In other words, they flip-flopped.
My advice to you is DO NOT GET MARRIED YET. Do not get married to this guy until it feels right. It doesn’t mean things have to end. He sounds like he treats you well and that you are happy. But, I would not blame your ex-husband for your fear of marriage and for your flip-flopping. Maybe you need to see a therapist to sort out these fears and determine whether the flip-flopping has to do with your issues or…
You might not want to hear this, but your guy—as wonderful and amazing as he might be, might not be “the one.” It’s not his fault, it’s not anything he has done. It’s just something in your gut telling you it’s not right. Not yet, anyhow. Things might change. You might end up happily married to him with 3 kids. I hope so! (if that’s what you ultimately want.) Or, he might break up with you because he wants to be married, you might be alone for a little while and then meet a man that makes you feel like marriage is a no-brainer, and where flip-flopping is not present.
If your boyfriend is OK with it, what is so wrong with keeping things the way they are? Nothing. However, if your boyfriend wants to get married, that’s a relationship issue. As far as your parents pressuring you, shame on them. No one should have to deal with that.
You sound like you went through a lot of unhappiness with your ex-husband, and that you are still healing. So, take your time. Let yourself enjoy this relationship, and while you are doing that, dig deep into your sole. Ask yourself honestly what is holding you back. Try to envision your life with this man. Would you be happy? Would it work? Do you really really trust him? Do you LIKE him? Do you enjoy being around him? Do the two of you have a lot in common?
No one wants to get into a second marriage and then be divorced again. But I think people chase happiness, and are willing to overlook a lot of things because they want to be married. NOW.
The best thing you can do is talk to your boyfriend. Tell him you are unsure of marriage, and don’t know if it’s because of your bad experience or because you’re just not ready to commit to that yet. You will learn a lot about him by the way he reacts.
One more thing. There is nothing wrong with being alone. Please tell your parents I said that. Wink. Wink. Not that I want you to be alone. But I do want you to be happy. You deserve that. And if this relationship ends because he wants to be married and you don’t, that’s OK. The best way to achieve happiness is to be honest with yourself and make the right choice, even if it’s the more difficult one. I truly believe you will know when it’s time to walk down the aisle again. That time is not now.