I made it clear when we started dating that I wanted to get married and start a family eventually. His friends all told me Mark would never marry, but he assured me they were wrong. I have tried to just not care about the marriage thing, but I just can’t change the fact that I want to share someone’s name. I told him I would sign ANY prenuptial agreement that he wanted, no matter the terms, but he is still fearful of marriage because of his success, as well as because of deep issues regarding his parents and their marriage. I can’t imagine my life without him, and I really do not want to leave because I believe we are meant to be together, but I am just not happy with the current situation. I feel like I’m in a no-win situation: damned if I stay, and damned if I leave. OH, and he has officiated the weddings of two sets of our friends, so I had to sit and watch him through two ceremonies! Talk about torture! Any advice on how I can keep my relationship intact but still be able to get my needs met? — Needing Nuptials Now
Well, what ARE your needs exactly? And how will marriage meet them? What is it that you want that you think only marriage will give you? Simply a name change? Kids? A deeper commitment? Once you are very specific about your needs, you need to make an argument to your boyfriend about how marriage is the thing that will get these needs met and that, without marriage, your needs continue to remain unmet. And then you have to decide what you’re going to do should your needs continue to be unmet. You’re either going to accept that this is how it is — that you will likely never marry this man — or that you need to move on. And if you decide to move on, you need to have a plan for supporting yourself since you have been supported by someone else for the past six years.
The way your boyfriend probably sees it is this: he is meeting your needs. You are provided for. You have all the material things you could need or want and you don’t have to work. AND you get his companionship and love. AND you get to be on his insurance, too. In his mind, he’s probably wondering what else there is. You push for marriage, but he doesn’t understand why marriage is so important when you are already getting everything you could want. So it’s your job to articulate what you’re missing and why marriage is so important to you.
You say you made clear in the beginning that you wanted to start a family eventually. Have you discussed that again in recent years? Does your boyfriend want kids? Does he think marriage is essential in starting a family or does it not matter to him? If you aren’t on the same page regarding kids, then there’s no point in getting married. If you are on the same page, then what’s the general timeline? And now does marriage affect (or not affect) that plan?
Finally, are you prepared to leave your boyfriend if he continues to avoid marrying you? Are you prepared to get a job and start supporting yourself? When you let someone fully support you financially without being legally wed, you put yourself in a pretty precarious position. Sure, it sounds cushy to be provided for, but what happens if your boyfriend suddenly decides he wants to break up? Legally, you have zero protection. No alimony, no stake in any shared assets, nothing. You lose your financial support and your health insurance and you don’t even have a job in place (or recent job history to help get you a job). Don’t you worry about that? Do you have a plan in the event of a breakup? If you don’t, I highly recommend you formulate one. Not only will a plan give you a sense of security, it will elevate your position in the argument for marriage. It will show your boyfriend that you are actually prepared to leave him if your needs continue to go unmet. I can almost promise you that, as long as your boyfriend believes you wouldn’t really leave him (if for no other reason than you can’t afford to), he won’t take your push for marriage seriously (unless he has a sudden desire for it himself, and that doesn’t sound likely).
Make your needs clear, and make clear that you are prepared to leave if they continue to go unmet. And as you’re doing this, think very seriously about whether you really want to marry someone who is so averse to marrying you.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.