@adams82: You are going to hurt her no matter what. It’s just a matter of when and how much. The longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be and the more it’s going to hurt.
My Darling Husband was just like you. He didnt want to rock the boat and as long as it wasnt horrible, he would stay with whoever he was dating at the time and go along with what they wanted. Well that eventually led to a marriage. (He also thought she was the best he could do, even though he wasnt very happy) Well a year into it, some conversations about having kids kinda freaked him out. Then a really, really hot girl started paying attention to him. (He didnt cheat, just liked the attention) He realized he didnt have to settle and it became very clear just how not happy he was. Dont get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with his wife. From what he says, she was the nicest woman around. But they just werent right for each other.
So a year after getting married, he has to break her heart and tell her he wants a divorce. She was devestated. He felt guilty (and still does). It killed him to have to hurt such a good person. But he had to do it. 1) for his own mind, heart and soul. Being in a not right marriage was slowly killing him and 2) for her. She deserves to be with someone that just adores and loves her with all his soul.
The lesson he learned was to speak his mind. Be honest with himself. And sometimes you have to rock the boat (and the world wont end if you do).
We have a very good couple friends who are going through this right now. They never married, but promises of forever were made, they bought a house, he was raising her kid from a previous marriage and they eventually had a child together. Seven years later, he realized that at the very beginning when they first started talking about moving in together, he should have said no. That’s seven years where their lives have intertwined. Seven years of memeories that are tainted because she will always know that while she thought it was a happy memory, in his heart he didnt want to be there. She is devestated and not sure how she is going to handle 2 kids (and day care). Her quality of life is going to plumet because she cant afford to live in the house any more. He has ruined her life.
I’m sure he thought that a lot of the issues were outside things (there is an evil ex-husband to deal with). But guess what, there are always outside things that effect your relationship. Dating is the easy time. Life and outside forces never go away–kids or infertility, aging parents, job loss, etc. If you are having troubles now, you will have troubles later too.
Please, please, please find the strength to be true to yourself. If you love her at all, then you must want only the best for her. You arent the best. She needs to be with someone that absolutely loves and adores her and is so excited to marry her. It wont feel like you are doing her a favor, but you are.