“Help: My boyfriend wants to get married, but I’m not sure I’m ready!”

Dear Sarah,

I’m eighteen and I’ve been with my boyfriend for three and a half years. He’s in the process of getting a new job and will have to move to Oklahoma in about a year (we live in Colorado). He wants us to get married and go to Oklahoma together. We’ve always talked about getting engaged, but I never thought it would come so soon. I also really want a wedding but he doesn’t want to have one and just wants to go to the local court house. What should I do about the whole wedding issue? Also how can I bring this up to my parents without them freaking out or not taking me seriously?

—Baffled in Boulder, CO

Dear Baffled,

Let’s rewind. Before you think about your parents’ reaction, before you decide about the big wedding vs. court house, get really really really real about whether or not you are ready to get married. “I never thought it would come so soon” doesn’t sound to me like you are super psyched and fully committed to tying the knot right away. Don’t get all swoony because it feels like a romantic idea—the reality of marriage is that it’s full of love and also full of work. Moving to another state, leaving your family, getting hitched—all of this is huge stuff and you shouldn’t leap in without a lot of serious thought. Make sure it’s what YOU want to do, not what HE wants you to do.

Is it possible your boyfriend wants to put your relationship on lockdown because he’s anxious about starting his new life? What’s the rush about? You have a whole year to decide. Be supportive of him and try to determine if there is something going on deep down emotionally aside from simply wanting to whisk you to the courthouse. And talk through your own feelings with a trusted (and mature) friend—someone who won’t get swept up in the romance and drama of the situation. By the way, holding off on marriage does not mean you have to break up!

About that wedding? If and when you decide to get married, don’t do it somewhere that feels sad or uneventful to you. Remember, it’s your day too.

Love, Sarah

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