I am a 24-year-old student in my last year of university and have been dating the same woman for the past four years. We get along great and enjoy each other’s company. I know she wants to get married and start a family, but I don’t feel 100% sure that she is the woman I want to marry. Am I being unfair to her by continuing in the relationship even though I have my doubts about its longevity?
Doubting Derrick in St. Catherines
Good question, Derrick. Marriage is one of the most important, if not the most important decision you will make in your life. Even if it doesn’t work, its impact will be felt for many years, especially if children are involved. Therefore, you are right in realizing you have to be 100% sure before taking this huge step.
Since you have been dating this woman for four years and you are only 24, I would tend to think you have not had a lot of previous dating experience. Assuming your girlfriend is the same age, she probably hasn’t had a lot of experience either. Subsequently you may not know what qualities you are looking for in a life mate. Dating a variety of people will allow you to recognize what qualities you prefer in a marital partner. Perhaps you also need to ask yourself what may be missing in this relationship that is causing you to feel this may not be the person you want to marry.
Communication is very important in a relationship and is the foundation for building a strong marriage. Do you feel you have this type of communication in this relationship? As well, do you share similar religious and cultural backgrounds, or are the differences in these areas something you have discussed and will be able to work around in a marriage relationship? Moreover, have you discussed your future plans together — are you both going down the same road, or do you see a potential problem in this area? Do you both want children, or have you decided children will not be a part of your relationship? Will you both work outside the home? How about your families, do you get along with each other’s family? These are some questions that may help you decide if marriage is in the future for the two of you.
Moreover, if you have not shared your doubts with your girlfriend, perhaps this would be a good place to initiate good communication in your relationship. She is entitled to know your feelings. If you are not open with her now, it will be difficult to build the trust that is important in a marriage.
If you are able to work through all the above questions and you still have doubts, maybe the problem is with your ability to commit. I am sure you have heard of people who are afraid of commitment. It is a very common problem, mostly with men. If you feel this could be your situation, perhaps talking to a counselor may help you sort out the reasons for this fear of commitment.
In answer to your question Derrick, I believe you are being unfair to yourself and your girlfriend, as you both deserve to be with someone with whom you are able to share your hopes and dreams.
Thank you for bringing up a very important issue. I hope I have been able to steer you in a direction that will assist you in making this very important decision.
E-mail your questions to email@example.com. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.