getting married in a hurry

Reader E. E. writes:

I have two friends who are eloping and it really bothers me. I just don’t think they’ve thought it through. She’s not pregnant (that I know of) and I just don’t think it’s wise to rush into a marriage, especially given the current divorce rate. How do I get them to think about it?

Dear E.E.:

By the time two people have announced they’re getting married, it’s far too late in the game to tell them they need to “think it over”. In fact, the more you tell them you don’t approve, the more likely they are to go through with it and just not invite you to the ceremony or the after party.

Telling someone you don’t think they should get married is just like telling a friend you don’t like their significant other — it’s going to drive a wedge between you. People who have decided to get married are every bit as headstrong as people who are dating, if not more so. If you are that certain that this elopement is going to completely ruin their lives and you’re willing to sacrifice your friendship over it, then by all means, tell them.

One ring to rule them all

Image: vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you were a parent or direct relation to the engaged parties, your say might have a little more weight. You could withhold inheritance money or something. And in fact, if it’s really that serious to you, saying you can’t be friends with them if they’re making this decision might sway them, although I doubt it.

I can understand your concern, of course. According to every statistic out there, our generation takes marriage about as seriously as we take reality TV (by which I mean, not at all). Britney Spears can do it in Vegas and get it annulled six hours later; gay people aren’t allowed to do it; half our friends and family members have gone through divorce, and it’s never easy or pretty, even if it’s mutual.

But don’t believe for a minute that eloping means they’re not taking marriage seriously or that they haven’t thought it through.

First of all, the fact that they’re not having a giant, stressful wedding could be a life saver for their relationship. We put a lot of pressure on people to make their wedding days the best days of their lives, and sometimes that’s a death knell.

Second, the length of an engagement is not a good gauge for a couple’s commitment level. We all know stories about people who met and got married within a week and are still together 50 years later. It’s not how long you’ve known each other that makes a marriage last; it’s how willing you are to work on staying together.

Third,  they’re adults, and you have to let them make their own decisions, whether it’s going to be a complete mistake or the best idea they’ve ever had.

Finally, try to take a step back and see if you feel like they shouldn’t married because you wouldn’t be ready in this situation, or because you really think they’re not ready. Your feelings on marriage are your own for your own reasons, and they’re perfectly valid, but remember: you’re not the one getting married. I think you will have a much better time with this if you ask your friends their reasons for getting married rather than telling them you think they’re too hasty, which comes across as judgmental. Talking with them about their reasons for such a quick wedding might actually put your mind at ease; just don’t plan on your input changing their minds at all.

My best advice: be happy for them. Whether they’re going to last together or not, they’re going to need your support and love, and that’s all there is to it.

3 Responses to “getting married in a hurry”

  1. 1 Lauren
    March 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Yup. I have to agree with you there. Although my first engagement didn’t go through because we dated for a month and I was an idiot, my friends and family were supportive and trusted my judgement. Ultimately, I saw for myself that it wasn’t going to work and now am engaged to someone I believe to truly be my better half.

  2. 2 Brian
    March 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Often I’ve found that the reason I don’t like how fast a marriage is proceeding is because I don’t want the two people to get married at all. In some cases, I have had crushes on the bride, and thought the groom was not as good a match as me. What I’m saying is, you should evaluate why you really feel this quick engagement is a mistake and be honest with yourself.

  3. 3 Sarah
    May 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    “…know of any reason this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

    For the sake of this topic, ignore the holy thing for now. Haven’t we been inviting people to speak up for a very very long time? Was there ever a time in history when someone would have spoken against the marriage and the rest of the wedding attendants would have stayed calm and reasonable and not filled the room with gasps? If someone were to say the couple shouldn’t marry at the wedding, could we handle it? Could the couple handle it? Maybe that person would do nothing other than estrange themselves from everyone else at the reception, instead of having fun. Why is there a taboo against speaking your mind?

    Example: “Uuh… what Laurie doesn’t know is that Guy has cheated on her three times since they started dating a couple years ago.” Are there any women out there who would like to know about these kinds of things?

    If we invite people to speak against a marriage on the wedding day, why is it so hard to speak — or to hear — the same thing six months to a year before the day?

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