With all of that being said, you should understand why I’d be devastated to lose her. She recently received a scholarship for a great graduate program in the city near where I live and plans to move here since she’s tired of commuting for school and work. The apartment hunting was getting frustrating for her and I thought it’d be great timing to ask her to move in with me. She said it’s a nice thought but immediately shot it down because I never want to get married and that’s probably a deal-breaker for her. She said she never brought it up because when I’d mentioned my feelings on marriage before, it was in passing and very early in the relationship when it didn’t matter. Since she’s only 22, marriage isn’t in her near future and she didn’t think it was something that needed to be talked about anytime soon and wanted to “play it by ear” and “do what she needs to do” if/when the time comes and we still don’t agree.
My parents didn’t have the greatest marriage and I haven’t seen a marriage that has made me want it for myself. Not to mention the divorce rates tend to be higher for those in law enforcement. I’m not totally opposed to the idea of marriage so I tried to compromise and said we can get married if we’re still together when I’m 40 but she laughed and said she refuses to be someone’s “why-the-hell-not wife.” I’ve never been with anyone whom I’d even consider spending the rest of my life with so saying that was a big deal for me. She never wants to talk about it and when we do she laughs it off and says nothing is ever guaranteed and we should focus on being happy now. Last night, we had a huge argument and she accused me of not being realistic enough and selfish for trying to pressure her to give up on something so important to her when she’s not pressuring me at all. I haven’t heard from her since (which isn’t like her) so, yes, I am in panic mode.
What do I do? She’s the love of my life and the thought of losing her scares me. We’re damn near perfect besides this issue but I don’t want to wait around to see if she will leave me. I would love to come home to her every day and start a family with her but I don’t think we need a piece of paper to do that. Am I pressuring her? Should I just go with the flow like she wants or is this relationship doomed? — In Love But Anti-Marriage
Short answer: yes, you are pressuring her and yes, you need to just “go with the flow” if you don’t want to scare off your girlfriend. You’ve asked her to move in with you and she shot you down (immediately, I might add). When you discuss marriage or your future together, she laughs it off. She has flat-out told you that you are pressuring her. What else do you need to hear? BACK OFF.
I get that she is the love of your life and you don’t want to lose her, but, dude, she’s 22. She was basically still a kid when you started dating two years ago. And now she’s about to move to the city and start a “great graduate program.” She’s on the cusp of real adulthood while you’ve already been there for at least a decade. Give her some space. If she wanted to move forward with you now, she’d already be addressing what could likely be a deal-breaker for her, but since she’s not ready to, essentially, make a deal, it doesn’t matter. The fact that she doesn’t seem ready to discuss your thoughts — or even her thoughts — on marriage in great detail and the fact that she immediately shot down your invitation to move in with her despite the frustrations of apartment-hunting means SHE IS NOT READY TO MOVE FORWARD. She wants to keep things as they are, which is great since it sounds like you’re both pretty happy.
In the meantime, you need to give some thoughts to marriage. If you aren’t opposed to life-long commitment and having a family with someone, what difference does a piece of paper make? What is it about “making it legal” that scares you? Do you believe you can be truly committed to someone without a marriage license? And if so, what is it that you believe a marriage license changes in a relationship? Do you think it’s possible that it could change a relationship for the better? Or only for the worse?
It’s not a bad thing to be anti-marriage, but it could eventually spell the end of your relationship with your girlfriend if she’s unwilling to move forward with someone who says he doesn’t want to be married. If that’s a deal-breaker for her, then you’re basically screwed. So, I say figure out why not getting married is such a big deal to you and decide whether it’s a bigger deal than your girlfriend is. You have time to think this over. Remember: she doesn’t want to be pressured. And, as she said, she isn’t pressuring you. But the day may come when she will start pressuring you — when she’ll want to know whether you ever plan to marry her (and not just in a vague, “Eh, maybe when I’m 40” kind of way, but in a, “Yes, let’s do this, I want you to be my wife now and forever!” kind of way). Trust me, things will go a lot more smoothly if you have a definitive answer for her by then.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.