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Your Turn: “Is He Ever Going to Propose??”

In a new feature I’m calling “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me (it’s a question I’ve tried many times to answer, so now it’s your turn!):

I’ve been in a relationship for over seven years and I’m afraid it isn’t “going anywhere.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my boyfriend. He makes me laugh, we enjoy many of the same things, he is attractive and really smart. We have similar values and we have fun together. All in all, it is the best relationship I have ever had or could hope for except: I want to spend the rest of my life with this man and grow old together, but I’m afraid he doesn’t want the same thing. He knows how I feel, but he keeps coming up with excuses for why we shouldn’t get married. He wanted to finish college first, or it is a “stupid” tradition, or he doesn’t have money to buy me the ring “I deserve,” or I have too much student loan debt, or “if it isn’t broke, why fix it?” Each time we talk about it, I come away feeling like I’ve got unrealistic expectations or that I’m just being silly.

Over the span of our relationship we did the “long distance” thing for nearly three years while he was going to grad school, and we have been living together for the last year and a half. Two months ago he landed a great-paying job and I moved with him to a new town, leaving behind family and friends. I feel like I have shown a great deal of commitment to the relationship, and I’d like for him to do the same. I just turned 30 and I’m worried that he is NEVER going to propose. I know that being married doesn’t necessarily guarantee that we will be together forever, but it feels like a natural next step and one that I always assumed we would take eventually. He says that he is committed, and that this is “obvious” because otherwise we wouldn’t be together. Neither of us is religious, and neither of us wants to have children. Does that make marriage pointless, as he seems to think? Am I wrong to want a ring or a wedding? Does it mean he doesn’t “really” love me as much as I love him if he still won’t take the plunge after all these years, or am I just insecure? — Not Getting Any Younger

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{ 137 comments… add one }

  • avatar ArtsyGirly March 9, 2011, 3:14 pm

    LW – this is a common theme found in many letters so take heart that you are not alone. It basically comes down to a simple point – can you be happy without marriage ever? Your boyfriend is not giving any mixed signals, he does not want to get married, and for some couples that is absolutely fine. For other people this is a breaking point. I think the best thing to do is to sit down with him and explain your feelings. Tell him that a marriage isn’t about the religious aspects or raising a family, but is a lasting symbol of your commitment. Only you can decide if you need to move on if it looks like marriage is never in the cards. Whatever happens best of luck!!

  • avatar cdobbs March 9, 2011, 3:14 pm

    I am a woman in my 30s and I have to side with your boyfriend on this one. I am also not interested in getting married. But that doesn’t mean that I am not capable of being in a committed, monogomous relationship for the rest of my life with someone. Why does it always seem like its the people who don’t want to get married that have to compromise? Why can’t you show a little faith in your boyfriend that he is committed to you and loves you? You are living together! That is a huge sign of committment! Just because he doesn’t want to marry you does NOT mean that he doesn’t love you as much as you love him. There are so many people who are together in committed relationships who love each other and are not married (Brad and Angelina!). I know this probably won’t be a popular opinion, but I am sorry, there are people out there who don’t believe in marriage and it has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to be in love!

    • avatar ReginaRey March 9, 2011, 3:42 pm

      Not so sure if Brad and Angelina are the best example that could be used…given that Angelina stole Brad from Jen Aniston. Just sayin.

      • avatar Red_Lady March 10, 2011, 9:26 pm

        But Brad and Jen were married. It obviously didn’t work. Brad & Angelina are doing good so far w/o marriage.

    • avatar Amy March 9, 2011, 3:45 pm

      You are right that people don’t have to be married to be in a committed monogamous relationship – but if that is what the LW wants and it is truly important to her – why should she have to compromise? This is a big issue and while neither one is wrong – if their goals aren’t the same and a compromise can’t be reached, it’s probably a deal breaker.

      • avatar MAC2011 March 9, 2011, 3:56 pm

        I completely agree.

        Listen to him and stop thinking you can change him & if it’s marriage that you want you’ve got to MOA.

      • avatar cdj0815 March 9, 2011, 4:18 pm

        Amy that is exactly what I was thinking as well. And that is the key, “you want to be married”, he doesn’t. You both do not want the same things. If this is a deal breaker with you, start preparing yourself to move on. We do not change people, people change because they feel it is necessary in order to get the desired results from what they want. I know this is a lot easier said than done. Good Luck.

        • avatar HM March 9, 2011, 8:07 pm

          We do not change people, people change because they feel it is necessary in order to get the desired results from what they want.

          I read this simple sentence, and it was as if the secret of relationships magically appeared. For whatever reason I never thought of it this way, but it is so true…

      • avatar Quakergirl March 9, 2011, 5:51 pm

        Completely agree. Neither of them is wrong on the issue, but it sounds like at this point in their relationship the fact that they have different values is coming to light. The LW values marriage as a meaningful part of life regardless of religious aspects or child-related issues (a valid viewpoint), and her boyfriend doesn’t want to be married (also a valid viewpoint). Only the LW can decide if this is a dealbreaker for her, because honestly, the boyfriend has made it beyond clear that he doesn’t want to get married. What he hasn’t made clear is why.

        My advice to the LW is to think through why marriage is important to you and what you hope it will bring to your relationship (security, bonding for the two of you, a social statement of your commitment, etc.). Think about if why really want to marry this particular man (other than it being the logical next step). Decide if marriage is something you need and can’t be happy without. Then sit down with your boyfriend and ask him if there is anything about marriage that makes him not want to get married. Make it very clear that this is an important conversation and you both need to be honest and upfront about your feelings and expectations for the future. If you can’t be happy without marriage (which is absolutely a fair view– I couldn’t be), and he still does not want to get married, then I think, as hard as it is, you have to walk away.

    • avatar Guest March 9, 2011, 3:47 pm

      Doesn’t it though? If you’re in a “committed and loving” relationship with someone who wants to get married, why refuse? If you’re 100% convinced you’ll stay with a person for the rest of your life and be in love regardless of marital status, isn’t a ring and a sheet of paper a relatively small concession? I’m guessing that, deep down, it has something to do with fears that it won’t work out and you’ll be ruined financially after a divorce, or not wanting to be tied down, which in turn relates to deep-rooted trust issues which obviously have a huge impact on a person’s readiness and, frankly, ability to love and be loved. There’s a big difference between not caring about marriage or thinking it’s silly and outright refusing to marry anyone ever, as convincing as your citation of a Hollywood relationship might be.

      Also I’m guessing you happen to be single.

      • avatar Beckaleigh March 9, 2011, 4:00 pm

        Some people don’t see marriage as a ring and a sheet of paper, nor do they see it as a small concession.

        • avatar Uyzie March 9, 2011, 4:32 pm

          No, you’re right. Some people don’t see it that way– but HE does. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be referring to it as a “stupid tradition”. It looks like marriage means something to the LW, but not to her guy. And if it’s really just a “stupid tradition” to him, then wouldn’t it be a “small concession” to make for the woman he loves?

          Bottom line is: it’s important to her, and it’s not to him. If they both feel strongly about it, then LW needs to MOA, regardless of how much time and commitment she’s invested in the relationship.

          PS- Not Getting Any Younger- you’re only 30, girlfriend! You have plenty of ‘young’ left in you! :)

    • avatar Amber March 9, 2011, 6:04 pm

      I don’t consider living together much of a long term commitment. You can always move out with very minimal fuss (compared to a divorce).

      • avatar MissDre March 9, 2011, 7:28 pm

        I agree totally. I personally would not move in with someone unless we were planning to get married (that’s just me, not knocking anyone who thinks differently).

      • avatar tinywormhole March 12, 2011, 12:44 pm

        Not true if you own a house together!!! Or if you’ve both really put a lot of thought into the decision. So I guess it’s true for some, not for others.

        I have found myself in a similar situation to the LW. It’s been 3 years of a wonderful relationship and I want to get married, he still has “issues” with the idea due to a previous traumatizing experience. After much stress and sadness and reflection I decided that 1) I can’t marry someone who is just doing it to appease me, so continually bringing it up will not help him to perhaps eventually decide it’s time on his own, 2) I can’t continue to expect that day will come, and 3) if my choice is staying in my current relationship unmarried vs. leaving him and finding someone else just so I can actually get married, I choose my current loving relationship – without hesitation.

        It’s been difficult and I’ve had to adjust my expectations, but it helps that my boyfriend says he is 100% committed to me, and swears up and down that the issues he has about marriage have nothing to do with me or our relationship. So we’ve gone forward unmarried, and recently bought a house together – certainly a long term commitment! But this certainly isn’t the path everyone would choose, and only the LW knows inside her heart whether she should stay or go.

        • avatar HmC March 12, 2011, 4:52 pm

          Thanks for sharing that… I think it demonstrates that there really is no perfect advice to any situation, and life and love can be extremely complicated sometimes.

    • avatar princesspetticoat March 9, 2011, 10:14 pm

      You’re right… there are some people who don’t belive in marriage… but they should be upfront and honest about it!!! The LW and boyfriend need to have a serious talk and the boyfriend needs to say honestly whether or not marriage could be in his future. Right now he’s just making excuses… so if he actually never wants to get married but doesn’t want to vocalize it… well then he’s just being a big old jerko!

  • avatar ReginaRey March 9, 2011, 3:19 pm

    LW – There’s a really great quote from “He’s Just Not That Into You” (the book, not the movie adaptation!) about this exact same topic. Basically, it goes something like “99% of the men who say ‘marriage isn’t for me’ or ‘I hate the institution of marriage’ end up married one day. Just not to you.” I tend to agree with this. While there definitely are some people who simply dislike the idea of it, but are ok with lifelong committment, I think that most men are using those lines as excuses to avoid the topic altogether.

    Ultimately, I’m more concerned with other things you’ve brought up. You’ve said that you’ve shown him a great deal of committment, and you’d like for him to do the same. If after 7 years you are STILL concerned that his committment to you is not as strong as your’s to him, you should think very long and hard about staying in this relationship, marriage or no marriage.

    • avatar Golden_Key March 9, 2011, 4:49 pm

      Exactly! It reminds me the part in “When Harry Met Sally” where Sally has just found out her ex-boyfriend is getting married to someone else after telling Sally repeatedly when they were together that he never wanted to get married. While I don’t normally look to rom-coms for realistic advice, I think it’s true that some (read: not all) men use the “I don’t want to get married” line as a way of stalling because they do not want to commit further to their partner, for whatever reason. I know there are some men and women who genuinely never want to get married ever, but based on the information given by the LW, my guess is that the boyfriend is just giving excuses. Like other people say below–seven years in, the boyfriend should know whether or not he wants the LW permanently in his life, whether as his wife or committed lifetime partner. If he’s unsure, I would advise the LW to MOA. She deserves some kind of commitment she can count on, whether that be marriage or something else she and her boyfriend agree upon. LW, I wish you the best of luck in a truly difficult decision, and I hope it all works out for you.

      • avatar elisabeth March 9, 2011, 5:48 pm

        Exactly. While he may mean it, it may just be “a line” because he doesn’t want to let down the LW. This smacks of the same discussion we had a few days ago, where the men addressed the “I don’t want to date” line that we sometimes here. It may mean “not now,” “not with you,” or even genuinely “this isn’t what I want.” It doesn’t preclude change, but it would be silly to wait around and hope if he’s pretty clear.

      • avatar thefierycrash March 9, 2011, 6:41 pm

        “and i’m going to be forty!”
        “when?”
        “someday.”
        “in eight years.”

    • Kristina Kristina March 9, 2011, 5:08 pm

      I definitely agree with that. I was engaged previously, but I always said I never really wanted to get married. It’s been about 2 years since I ended it, and I now can see that I do in fact want to get married someday, but to the right person for me.

    • avatar SpyGlassez March 10, 2011, 1:48 am

      Going along with what you said, ReginaRey, I’m concerned by the fact that the LW says that when she does broach the subject, she is left feeling silly for worrying about it. She is well within her rights to want to be married and her BF is well within his rights to not feel the same way about it. However, it is NOT right for him to belittle this issue or outright reject her feelings about the matter. If they differ on the issue, that’s fine, but if he simply uses it as an excuse to belittle her opinion instead of discussing frankly why he doesn’t want to get married, then I have trouble seeing how he could be such an awesome guy.

  • avatar Beckaleigh March 9, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Being in a loving, committed relationship doesn’t necessarily have to lead to marriage. But, if marriage is something you want, then you need to sit down with him and ask whether marriage will ever be in your future. If he says no, then you have to decide if you are ok with that.

    If you believe that you need to be married to buy a house, have children, etc., then this is probably a point that you can’t compromise on. If you guys do stay together after he tells you that you won’t get married, then make sure that you have a plan for yourself to make sure that if you split 10 years from now, you get what you deserve, i.e., half of the house, etc.

    Whatever you do, do not give him an ultimatum. If he marries you after an ultimatum, you don’t want him to think, or for you to think, that you forced him into marriage. That never bodes well. And if after an ultimatum he decides that he’s going to let you go, then you will just be hurt anyway.

    • avatar Rie March 10, 2011, 11:20 am

      Well… it depends what you mean by “ultimatum”. I agree you shouldn’t go into it with an attitude of “do what I want, or else!”. But when my now-husband was hemming and hawing and unsure about whether he wanted to be married, I told him this:
      “I want to be married. I want to be married to you, ideally. But if you don’t want to be married to me, you have to tell me so that I can move on.”

      It’s pretty much an ultimatum, in a way. But from my point of view, it’s the way to get the information I needed in order to make the right decision for me. You have to bring it to a point sometimes, or else you’ll never get that info. Luckily for me he realized how awful and horrible life would be without me, and he proposed a few months later. :) And by the way, after the proposal, he was so happy and excited, so involved in the wedding planning, and so glad we were getting married.

      • avatar HmC March 12, 2011, 4:57 pm

        It’s funny. From all the hemming and hawing and avoidance of commitment that men can seem to do, once they have decided to commit, they seem to really be all in. Just from my anecdotal experience with guy friends etc…

  • avatar MissDre March 9, 2011, 3:43 pm

    I’m trying to think what a compromise would be, based on his reasons for putting off marriage… What if, instead of a fancy ring, you opted to get matching wedding bands (much much cheaper)? What if, instead of a big wedding and following tradition, you opted to get married at the courthouse in the presence of just your witnesses, and then celebrated with a nice dinner out with your very closest friends/family?

    This way you’re not spending much money nor are you following tradition. I guess talk about it, and see if you can find a way to make this right of passage something that appeals to both of you.

    • avatar Beckaleigh March 9, 2011, 3:46 pm

      I don’t think that either the LW or her partner should compromise as far as marriage is concerned. Either he wants to get married, or he doesn’t. Compromising may make one or both of them bitter in the future. I can just hear the “I didn’t even want to get married, you made me marry you” argument now.

      • avatar elisabeth March 9, 2011, 3:50 pm

        Hearing that they *shouldn’t* compromise is difficult for me. They shouldn’t pressure each other into an uncomfortable place, of course, but compromise doesn’t necessitate discomfort. It can be a win/win, rather than a lose/lose.

        • avatar Beckaleigh March 9, 2011, 4:12 pm

          I see your point that it could be win/win, I just have a hard time trying to picture what that situation might look like. Maybe its the cynic in me, but all of the scenarios I play through my head are lose/lose.

          • avatar WatersEdge March 9, 2011, 4:41 pm

            Ugh, I’m sorry. I wish it were different, but I don’t think he is going to marry you. I get suspicious because of his lack of reason. Every time you ask him it’s something different. If he had a logical, well thought out reason for not marrying (i.e., “I don’t believe in marriage for X and Y reasons) that never changed when you repeated the question, then maybe, considering your life goals, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But his response seems more like a fear reaction than a logical one. Sometimes it’s your fault– you have too many student loans. Sometimes it’s his fault– he can’t buy you a ring. Sometimes it’s marriage itself, or the timing isn’t right. If marriage is one of your life goals, or even if you just don’t want to come home one day to find that he’s met someone he DOES want to marry and you are evicted, then I think you should leave.

            • avatar WatersEdge March 9, 2011, 4:42 pm

              Hmm- I didn’t intend to post a reply to you, Beckaleigh. On my screen it looked like I was writing a new post. Glitch maybe?

          • avatar MissDre March 9, 2011, 4:41 pm

            I do have to say that I know a couple who have been together for more than 10 years. She wanted to get married, he definitely did not. Marriage was very important to her… important enough that she considered leaving him even though she loves him very much. But thankfully they had a happy ending… after a lot of discussion they did decide to get married :)

  • avatar elisabeth March 9, 2011, 3:48 pm

    You definitely need to consider how important the institution of marriage is for you. I empathize with your desire for marriage – it’s an idea that I was brought up believing in, and it’s something that I want for myself. It’s a goal, not just a “wouldn’t it be nice” occurance. But is that desire a need, and is it enough for you to move on if your SO is genuinely disinterested?

    Something I’d consider, though – you guys are all ready living together, in a committed relationship, sharing each other, friends, familys, perhaps finances. Why get married if he all ready has what constitutes as a marriage? If the only thing that changes for him after a marriage is the fullness of his bank account, that may be why he’s tiptoeing around the issue.

    You should definitely sit down with him and explain how important marriage is to you. It’s not that the person who doesn’t believe in marriage is the only one who has to compromise, it’s that you two have to find a compromise that works for *you,* in *your* relationship.

  • avatar Tracey March 9, 2011, 3:55 pm

    I think the LW knows the truth – her partner doesn’t want to marry her, and she wants to get married. The question she needs to ask herself is this: Do I want to marry for the sake of marrying, or do I want to marry because I truly believe it’s the right thing for the two of us? Then, she has to commit to being completely honest with herself. If she wants to marry for the sake of marrying, then she should throw the two of them a big party on some significant anniversary in their lives together – one where she can dress up, have a big, fancy cake, and be the center of attention similar to a bride at a wedding. She should plan this party without pressuring her partner or going all bridezilla on her friends and family because the point of the party is to celebrate the couple’s love. If she wants to marry because she truly feels it’s right for them, then she needs to sit down and tell her partner – without drama, tears, guilt, or histrionics – that she wants to marry him and why, and ask him what he wants. Then she should listen to him – without drama, tears, guilt, histrionics, or interruptions to plead her case. When she hears what he has to say, she then must make up her mind if she can live with him and what he wants. I don’t think the guy in this case will ever come right out and say directly, “I don’t want to marry you,” for whatever reason, but LW needs to accept the fact that he will not marry her, so she needs to look at the situation for what it is, accept it, then do what’s best for her. If she decides to stay after the big talk, she needs to drop the wedding talk and accept their relationship – and him – as is. If she decides to go, she needs to make sure she never allows herself to get into another LTR where she’s not getting her life goals fulfilled ever again.

    • avatar ReginaRey March 9, 2011, 4:00 pm

      Maybe it’s just me, but the phrase “pleading her case” just doesn’t sit right. IMO, the decision to marry should never involve someone “pleading their case.” Isn’t it supposed to be the easiest, best decision you’ve ever made? I haven’t been married yet, so please correct me if it’s not quite as easy as I think it should be.

      • avatar Tracey March 9, 2011, 4:19 pm

        Clunky wording, I know, but it was the best way I could think of describing my thoughts. By “pleading her case,” I mean replying “yes, but….” before hearing everything he has to say, or responding emotionally to what he says without really listening to him (“Don’t you love me? If you did, you’d marry me….cue tears). She’s been waiting for this for seven years and altering her behavior towards him, even moving to another state with him, but (by from what I’m reading in her letter) the motivation seems to be, “Maybe now he’ll marry me….” instead of acting in her – and their – best interests. I think she needs to stop gearing her responses and actions with, towards, and regarding him under the hope of marrying, and instead, think about what’s best for her – and their – future. I hope she’ll listen and respond to him based on what exists, not try and push for a trip down the aisle when they have the talk they really need.

        If they have the talk they really need, that is. I also get the impression that LW’s partner is going to toss out another excuse (“You’re pressuring me…this is all you talk about….”) instead of doing the real work and saying what he really wants – for them, from her, and for himself.

        I feel for both of them. Seven years is a long time to go without something truly desired, but I can’t help but wonder if she’s not seeing the commitment he’s already pledged or his bolting from the dream chapel because the tulle from her dream wedding dress is clouding her view.

      • Skyblossom Skyblossom March 9, 2011, 4:36 pm

        I had absolutely no doubts about getting married. I think you really do just know when it’s right and if you have doubts then you have some reasons to really slow down or wait until it’s right.

        • avatar Tracey March 9, 2011, 4:45 pm

          True. Here’s hoping LW’s partner finally comes clean about his doubts instead of hiding behind excuses, and that LW has the strength do what’s best for her after hearing him out.

  • avatar sarolabelle March 9, 2011, 4:03 pm

    I don’t understand why you want to get married if you are not religious…..

    • avatar Laurel March 9, 2011, 4:11 pm

      To each their own, I would never want to deny two consenting adults marriage if that’s what they want…but when I read that they are both not religious AND don’t plan on having kids it seems like a lot less of an issue than it could be.

      LW, is your boyfriend dead-set against a civil union, so that you’d have hospital visitation, tax rights, etc?

    • avatar MissDre March 9, 2011, 4:34 pm

      It’s a right of passage to unite your lives, to confirm and celebrate your commitment together in the eyes of your loved ones, and the law. Not everyone was raised to see marriage as a religious ceremony/event. Before your comment here, I never even realized that anyone considered a wedding a religious thing… to me it’s just a celebration.

      But now that I think about it, certainly all religions have their traditions that are equally important.

    • Skyblossom Skyblossom March 9, 2011, 4:39 pm

      There are lots of legal protections for spouses. The moment you are married you go from being unrelated to being the closest relative of each other. That’s huge and is significant whether you’re religious or not.

      • avatar sarolabelle March 9, 2011, 4:51 pm

        interesting…I don’t know much about marriage laws!

      • avatar Quakergirl March 9, 2011, 6:15 pm

        That’s a very succinct way to put it. Honestly, this is the biggest reason I want to get married. It’s a social and legal statement that you make to the world. It says “we go together now” and the legal systems in our country respect that. You’re a set once you’re married, and that’s nice.

        I am still truly shocked that even though my boyfriend and I have been together for over five years, live together, share finances, have joint property, etc. we are still seen as essentially strangers by most institutions, and many people. I was actually told by the security guard in our old apartment that I couldn’t pick up a letter for him from *our* mailbox because “you’re not his wife.” No, but I do pay the bill in that envelope…good luck getting him to find the joint checkbook. The man would lose his head if it weren’t attached to his shoulders.

    • avatar emy March 9, 2011, 4:58 pm

      Wow really don’t need to b religious to get married. My fiance and I r not religious at all and we r still plannin our wedding. Because we want to be married. But to the LW the best thing you can do is sit down and talk to him. What r his reasons for not wanting to b married? R his ‘rents divorced? How did he grow up? Maybe it is just the fear of the word marriage. I think u need to try to figure out his tru side and feelings so u can understand where he is coming from, without the excuses. Some people r afraid that if they get married the dynamic of the relationship will change. It could b a list of things but listen patiently and make a rational decision based on his honest feelings about it.

      • avatar Mainer March 9, 2011, 7:08 pm

        Was this response sent via text?

        • avatar MissDre March 9, 2011, 7:27 pm

          @Mainer LoL

        • avatar sarolabelle March 10, 2011, 11:37 am

          It was very hard to read it.

    • avatar Jess March 10, 2011, 2:51 am

      Marriage is in every culture with all different religions… it’s a cultural thing. I know the christians totally have “claimed” marriage lately with the whole gay marriage debate, but marriage was around before Jesus, before Abraham, and before the bible was even written.

  • avatar lil March 9, 2011, 4:04 pm

    There are some amazing points & comments above. I just wanted to say I feel for her… she is in a tough situation and may end up being heart broken, I hope that’s not the case though!

  • avatar Painted_lady March 9, 2011, 4:06 pm

    What worries me about this guy is not his unwillingness to be married, but rather the myriad of excuses he’s giving. My instinct is to sit him down and ask him flat-out if he can ever see himself marrying you, but then given his track record, I’m not sure you can know if he’s being completely honest. And also, it makes me uneasy because it makes me think that after 7 years, he’s still on the fence about you.

    Still, this merits a conversation. Ask him what his qualms are, what he thinks will change in your relationship, and what he would need to be sure that you two should marry. If he can’t answer any of these satisfactorily, MOA. If he doesn’t know whether or not he wants you permanently in his life after seven years, he will never be sure. If he can answer them, then you need to decide whether or not you’re okay with being unmarried to him the rest of your lives. And tell him that you need some sort of assurance that you’re not going to find yourself evicted without warning someday. You *do* deserve that much security.

  • avatar SGAC March 9, 2011, 4:11 pm

    LW, I’m curious of the other ways your boyfriend has shown his commitment to you. You mentioned that he has a great-paying job – does that include health benefits and are you receiving those health benefits as well? Do you currently live in a common law marriage state that recognizes what your boyfriend sees as “the obvious” in the event that he dies? Are you currently sharing a bank account, owning property together, and doing any other legal obligations “normally” associated with a married couple?

    Your boyfriend may not like the traditions, pomp and circumstance that come with a wedding, but there are also legal ramifications that come with being a married couple. Should your boyfriend suddenly get sick, will you be able to make medical decisions for him in the event he cannot? If he suddenly dies, will your household be taken care of with the sudden loss of his income?

    I know these questions come off horribly pragmatic, but these are other things that a marriage offers along with the wedding declaration of love between you and your boyfriend before your friends and family. It’s not as you as an individual are not capable of doing these things or that you and your boyfriend can come to a mutual understanding about, but, as a married couple, these are the legal rights that are secured for you. If your boyfriend eskews the wedding traditions behind a marriage, you should be able to discuss these legal committments and how they would be addressed without a marriage license (e.g. can you contractually secure these legalities like so many same-sex marriages currently have to do?) If your boyfriend is not even willing to discuss these things, or he dismisses them as pointless, I would start to question how far a committment he’s really willing to provide.

    • avatar GingerLaine March 11, 2011, 9:19 am

      Thank you so much for this. I was about to blow my lid seeing all these comments about “I don’t understand the big deal,” “why get married if you’re not religious,” “why does he have to compromise”

      People CLEARLY don’t understand the legal ramifications of being married. Do you want to be able to visit him in an ICU? Do you want claim to his estate should he be hit by a bus tomorrow? Do you want to ensure that you have claim to items that are jointly owned by the two of you even though they’re in HIS house? Want rights to government (SSA, disability, retirement) payments on his behalf? How about insurance coverage through his job?

      Of course, you don’t HAVE to have a marriage to have these things, but you do have to have a lawyer. And his fee.

      Even in a common law state (Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, D.C.), you are not considered “married” unless you’ve presented yourself in that manner – living together DOES NOT grant you common-law marriage status.

      Requirements:
      - You must live together.
      - You must present yourselves to others as a married couple. Some ways of doing this are by using the same last name, referring to one another as husband or wife, and filing a joint tax return.
      - Although the time frame is not defined, you have to be together for a significant period of time.
      - You must intend to be married.

      So. Given the letter, the LW & her boyfriend wouldn’t qualify for common-law marriage ANYWHERE. Marriage grants a LOT of privileges. And I’m not necessarily campaigning on behalf of marriage here, but I am saying that marriage should not be taken as lightly as some of the comments I’ve seen here have. Seems to me that it’s a sad state of affairs when people won’t even secure their rights because “it’s just not important to [them].”

      I’m 100% with SGAC. Talk to him about the legalities of marriage (or not being married). If he refuses to discuss, be done with this.

  • avatar Sistine March 9, 2011, 4:23 pm

    If he hasn’t proposed after 7 years, he never will. It’s obvious that marriage means something to the LW. If it truly meant nothing to her boyfriend he wouldn’t have a problem compromising but his excuses show that he his outwardly against the idea. The line about her having too much debt suggests that he might be avoiding the financial legal responsibility that comes with marriage or that he doesn’t trust her in some way. Either way, if marriage is really important to her and she doesn’t want to continue the relationship without the commitment that comes with it, she should Move On. If she honestly feels that the relationship isn’t going anywhere, why waste anymore time or effort on someone who won’t commit to her? She’s only 30, she has plenty of time to find the commitment she’s looking for in a relationship, but she obviously isn’t going to get it with her current boyfriend. And yes, marriage is a commitment. That’s the bottom line true meaning/definition of it. Regardless of how people view marriage, it is a commitment. That is a fact. There’s nothing unrealistic or silly about wanting the man you love and want to spend the rest of your life with commit to you after 7 years. And I’m sorry but the line that it’s “obvious” he’s committed to her just because they’re in a relationship doesn’t sound right. That’s like saying it’s obvious your FWB likes you because he keeps sleeping with you. That doesn’t mean he wants to date you eventually or ever. What else has he done to show he’s committed?

  • Skyblossom Skyblossom March 9, 2011, 4:27 pm

    My gut reaction is that after seven years he probably won’t get married.

    I know that for myself commitment and marriage were two separate things. I firmly believed that we were commited for life long before we were engaged and I didn’t feel that we needed marriage to stay committed. I don’t think that I could be engaged or married without the commitment being there first.

    I think many people have seen so much divorce that they don’t see marriage as proving love or commitment. You have to ask yourself whether you think he is commited to you and whether that commitment is for life and whether you need marriage.

    Have you asked him questions about where he sees himself in the future? How does he imagine retirement? If he talks about the two of you then I think he’s commited if you’re no where in his distant future I think you also have your answer. If he is commited but will never marry then you have to decide whether that’s a dealbreaker.

  • avatar Pam March 9, 2011, 4:32 pm

    As everyone else has said, it doesn’t sound like your boyfriend will ever marry you… even if he is committed to you. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to live as a committed couple without the wedding AND the legal ramifications and protections that come with marriage in most places.
    Some people I know want to get married because they want to raise children as a married couple… although its not necessary, it is something to consider… if he doesn’t want to marry and you do, does he want a family someday/do you?

    • avatar HmC March 9, 2011, 4:58 pm

      She said that they both don’t want kids.

      However, as she seems somewhat uncomfortable with admitting to herself that she really wants marriage, I wonder if her desire not to have kids is at all affected by his wishes against having them. I don’t mean to sound condescending, and it’s perfectly normal to not want kids… I just wonder… based on personal experience.

      • avatar elisabeth March 9, 2011, 5:52 pm

        A very good point. It may be hard for the LW to consider life-choices that she considers to come after a marriage if a marriage isn’t even in the picture. We’re very capable of fooling ourselves into what seems right at the time, only to realize once it’s “too late” that we were wrong about ourselves.

      • avatar Elle March 9, 2011, 6:05 pm

        I had the same thought. It looks like she gave up quite a few things to be with him. I wonder how many other things that she didn’t include in the letter did she give up…

  • avatar Lainamo March 9, 2011, 4:34 pm

    As far as unmarried celeb couples go, can I get a Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn? Anyone? They are way cooler than Brangelina. Just sayin’.

    As for the actual issue, I think there is a big difference in simply not wanting to get married ever and in presenting various excuses for not getting married. I agree with previous posters who have said LW needs to find out if marriage is completely out of the question and if so, whether that is something she is okay with.

  • avatar WatersEdge March 9, 2011, 4:42 pm

    Ugh, I’m sorry. I wish it were different, but I don’t think he is going to marry you. I get suspicious because of his lack of reason. Every time you ask him it’s something different. If he had a logical, well thought out reason for not marrying (i.e., “I don’t believe in marriage for X and Y reasons) that never changed when you repeated the question, then maybe, considering your life goals, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But his response seems more like a fear reaction than a logical one. Sometimes it’s your fault– you have too many student loans. Sometimes it’s his fault– he can’t buy you a ring. Sometimes it’s marriage itself, or the timing isn’t right. If marriage is one of your life goals, or even if you just don’t want to come home one day to find that he’s met someone he DOES want to marry and you are evicted, then I think you should leave.

  • avatar Jess March 9, 2011, 4:54 pm

    I have no idea what to say to this LW :( There are so many of these letters, I hope this doesn’t happen to me one day :( I guess you just have to find a man who values marriage and being married. :( :(

    • avatar WatersEdge March 9, 2011, 5:11 pm

      Lots of guys value marriage. And all those people who talk about guys who “don’t want to marry YOU” who then get married a year later to someone else… get married to someone else in a year of knowing them. And not to criticize the LW, but you don’t just wake up and find yourself in a 7 year relationship. It’s not something that just happens to you. If you’re not talking marriage after a year or two, you are taking the risk by staying that it’s probably not happening.

      • avatar LSS86 March 9, 2011, 5:53 pm

        No doubt. My boyfriend and I started talking about the possibility of getting married someday after a month. We obviously both knew that it would be a long way off and there was no guarantee we’d actually get there, but you don’t get 7 years into a relationship without having these discussions.

  • avatar HmC March 9, 2011, 4:55 pm

    Oh, honey. I’m going to preface my comments by saying that I was in an eight year relationship. It started when we were very young (18), so I had no idea whether I wanted to get married eventually or not. It ended four years ago, and one of the main reasons was that I had come to the realization that I did indeed want to get married, and he didn’t. So, I won’t scold you for not finding out earlier what he really wanted from the relationship and moving on before things got this involved, because I understand that love can make things more complicated than that.

    You seem fixated on the fact that you may be being unreasonable to want marriage… the simple fact is though, that you DO seem to want to get married, and that is not a bad thing! There is nothing wrong with knowing what you want! And, I’m sorry, but he appears that he simply does not want to get married. Maybe he just doesn’t want to marry you, maybe he just doesn’t want to get married to anyone. But it doesn’t really matter. You want to get married and he does not. This is not something that either of you should have to give up for the other.

    Love and shared values and plans are all well and good. But you need to hear and accept what he is clearly telling you about what he wants in regards to marriage. He might change his mind down the line, but please do not base your future happiness on something so precarious. You’ve got to take what he says at face value and act accordingly. If you can truly see yourself being happy with him without marriage, without resentment down the line, then you may want to give it a chance. Otherwise, you’ve got to let him go. Who knows, maybe if he realizes how serious you are about wanting marriage and sees that he will lose you, he will change his mind. But, don’t count on that.

    Believe me, saying good-bye to a great love of so many years is not easy, I know. But if marriage is what you truly want, you have to do whatever is in your power to make that happen. You may feel like you’ll never find another connection again like the one you have with this man. But, there are so many wonderful people in the world if you keep an open heart.

    You don’t want to live the rest of your life feeling resentful, or wondering what could have happened if you had given yourself a genuine chance at finding a happy marriage. Personally, I’d rather fail trying than waste away in a relationship that would likely erode due to resentment.

    I really do wish you the best. I can tell you from my own experience, that knowing what you want and opening yourself up to finding it is a very important step towards true happiness in life.

  • avatar ltc309 March 9, 2011, 5:12 pm

    It’s simple. Have a serious talk with him. Sit him down and tell him everything you wrote here. Tell him that you have committed a lot of yourself to him and building a life with him and that you want to continue that by taking the next step. Tell him that marriage is very important to you and it’s not something you want to give up.
    If he agrees with you, then great! But if he doesn’t, it’s time to take a long hard look at your relationship. It may be great but it takes two people to make sacrifices for a relationship to work and from the sound of your letter, you are the only one that has made big sacrifices. (I could be wrong, but that’s what I got from your letter)
    It will be hard to end things, but in the long run I think you’ll be happier because if he never wants to marry you and you stay with him, you’ll always have an inner resentment towards him & you don’t want to go t/o life like that.
    At the end of the day, you’re the only one who can make the decision. But definitely have a serious talk with him and don’t allow him to use those excuses and then brush it off. Make him be honest.

    • avatar Jess March 10, 2011, 3:18 am

      it sounds like she already did this a bunch of times, and those are the conversations where she heard the excuses. It sounds like those conversations have recently devolved into a conversation where he convinced her her desires were crazy/unnecessary. “don’t allow him to use those excuses and then brush it off. Make him be honest.” That’s a lot easier said than done.

      • avatar ltc309 March 10, 2011, 12:35 pm

        Well I suggested it because clearly she’s still hasn’t been able to get that push to let go & move on. I figured if she had one final discussion with him & not allowed him to use those excuses & brush her off then that would be a make it or break it thing & she can let go knowing she tried her hardest.
        You’re absolutely right, it is easier said than done, but if she’s writing in to discuss it, it means she’s at a breaking point & is looking for some direction. So I offered my two cents. & I did state that at the end of the day, she’s going to do w/e she wants regardless of what people tell her. She can either take the advice, or leave it. But if she is looking for a solution there are many & that is one I thought would help.

  • jammy jessielou March 9, 2011, 5:13 pm

    Maybe brainstorm and write a list of what marriage means to you. Is it joint bank accounts, a ring or security? There are many things that could be on this list, but write out what marriage would entail for you and what would change if you got married.
    Then discuss these with your boyfriend. Some of the things on the list may not require a marriage to occur.
    If security is a big issue for you, then marriage won’t settle these worries.
    As long as you can establish you are on the same page about life goals, which is sounds like you are, and that you love each other. Shouldn’t that be enough?

  • avatar Green_Blessings_Goddess March 9, 2011, 5:15 pm

    I don’t think he will propose anytime soon. If you want to wait around, he may or may not. You are turning 30 and you have given him 7 years. You are not just after 3 dates, 3 months or even 7 months being some person pressuring him to get married. I think you need to decide once and for all if you really want to get married then yes, I think you will need to break up with him and move on to someone else.

    I do not think you are crazy to want to get married and you don’t need to be religious or want kids to get/be/want to get married. I do want to ask you though, do you want a wedding and a ring and the experience of planning a fabulous wedding? The wedding experience is lovely but you need to make sure the groom is right too.

    He doesn’t want to get married right now. I think you do and I think you should dump him after sitting him down and telling him time to either piss or get off the pot. It is time to get married or move on. You don’t want to waste years more with someone whom isn’t giving you what you want and then you two split up and you feel upset about that.

    It comes down to if you want to get married, he isn’t going to give it to you, not right now at least and you can’t make him. The situation sucks and it hurts, but it may be best to get away from him and develop your own life around your friends and your own career and interests and find someone that wants to get married to. There are people like him that want to just date someone and never get married and they are committed for now to that person and if he wants that, okay, but he has to date someone looking for that.

    I think dump him and focus on your life. In Sex and the City, in Season 6, Part 2, Carrie moved to Paris with Alexander whoever the Russian to be with him but she was following his life and his interests and Miranda was honest with Carrie about Carrie leaving her life to live Alexander’s life, it was about his life not hers and Miranda was right. So, live your life for you and if you can accept being with this man and not getting married perhaps ever, than by all means stay with him but you will need to not bring up marriage again and not be upset about it. If you want to get married and have a wedding though, then leave him and move on to someone else. It won’t happen right away, but the sooner you leave him, the sooner you get the wedding and guy. I think if you dump him and let him go, you will be married to someone else in the next 2 years.

    You are being offered a choice, someone else and the wedding and marriage, or stay with this guy and accept not getting married but that is no guarantee you two will be together 25 years from now either.

    There are no guarantees, look at Goldie Hawn and Russell I thought they would be together forever and Hally Berry and her ex, they seemed so in love. No guarantees, just whatever you do, don’t neglect your life and yourself and don’t do all the leaving and all to just have a wedding. A wedding is 5 hour party one day, life is what you live day to day and that is what matters most.

    • avatar Lainamo March 9, 2011, 5:21 pm

      I brought up Kurt and Goldie earlier thinking they were still together. I can’t find anything saying that they are splitsville, but if they did break up, I’m totally sad. Then again, they’re relationship outlasted many a marriage.

    • avatar Maracuya March 10, 2011, 12:43 am

      I can’t find anything saying they’re broken up–I’m sure there would be gossip stories if that were true, right? :)

    • avatar WatersEdge March 10, 2011, 8:51 am

      Are you thinking of Susan Sarandon and her long-term boyfriend whose name escapes me?

      • avatar MissDre March 10, 2011, 9:36 am

        Tim Robbins!

  • avatar _jsw_ March 9, 2011, 5:22 pm

    LW, if you could have a conversation with Future You from 20 years from now, I think it is far more likely than not that you’d be told to tell him you love him, that you realize what he wants out of life is different than what you want, and to walk away, because as much as it will hurt now, it’ll hurt that much more five, ten, or twenty years from now, and each year until then you’ll be more anxious about wanting at least a legal commitment and he’ll be even more anxious about coming up with a new excuse. As others have said, the legal benefits alone justify it… if you feel you’ll likely stay with someone. If he doesn’t know that after 7 years, he knows at some level that he won’t stay. Maybe leaving him will cause him to reevaluate his priorities, and maybe it won’t, but you should go. Don’t threaten to go. That won’t have a good outcome. Just tell him you’re going, and go. Future You will thank you, even if Present You is uncontrollably sad for a while.

  • avatar Kerrycontrary March 9, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Sorry, but if you want marriage and he doesn’t things aren’t going to work out. People usually don’t change their mind on big things, like wanting to get married to you. He’s just not into you enough to marry you. And if he truly didn’t want to get married then he would have ONE reason for not proposing yet, not 17. If you really want to know you need to ask if he’s ever going to marry you. You should either get a yes or silence. If you get silence then walk away and find a guy who is interested in marriage. From your letter though…no, he isn’t ever going to propose

  • avatar LSS86 March 9, 2011, 5:57 pm

    Just to go on a tangential rant here (and because someone else brought up He’s Just Not That Into You)… when they made HJNTIN into a movie, why did they put a hollywood ending on it and completely abandon all of the advice given in the book? Guys who are against marriage don’t just turn around and propose to you. Guys who tell you repeatedly that they’re not into don’t just wake up one day and realize they love you. Grrr.

    • avatar Golden_Key March 9, 2011, 6:08 pm

      That really bothered me too! The book wasn’t one of my favorites, but the movie completely changed the message and thus turned out even more far-fetched than most rom-coms.

    • avatar LSS86 March 9, 2011, 6:24 pm

      hah, just noticed I messed up the acronym for the movie. Oh well!

  • fast eddie fast eddie March 9, 2011, 5:58 pm

    My GF and I lived together for 8 years because my finances were in the basement. Being too old (50+) for kids and not religious there wasn’t any reason to hurry even with improved financial circumstances. Then on foggy New Years Day I said “Ya wanna get married this year?”, she said “Sure, why not”. Just romantic as all get out. We cemented to deal by calling my mother…now that’s commitment!

    • avatar _jsw_ March 9, 2011, 6:22 pm

      Yes, but that’s a very different situation than that of the LW. It seems like you were both comfortable not being married, then decided it would be fun, then got married.

      • fast eddie fast eddie March 10, 2011, 8:58 am

        Your right _jsw_ plus we’d both had bad marriages before and some extended live in’s prior. The tax penalty for being married was also an element but it came a time when we both needed it no matter why, we just did. Had my finances not been such a mess we’d likely have done it much sooner.

  • sobriquet sobriquet March 9, 2011, 5:58 pm

    My first answer was no, he is never going to propose to you, because he either:

    1. Doesn’t want to get married, ever. Or,
    2. Doesn’t want to get married specifically to you.

    BUT, then I read it again, and his multiple different reasons for not wanting to get married seem very reasonable, and most of them come down to money. He can’t afford a ring (so he probably can’t afford a wedding/honeymoon either) and he doesn’t want to consume your debt. (It is possible that the monetary aspect overwhelmed him to the point where he threw out things like “marriage is just a stupid tradition!” simply to end the conversation.)

    He just landed a “great paying job” 2 months ago! If he’s been in school the majority of your relationship, he’s probably used to being broke. Have you discussed finances with him and your future plans for getting out of debt? Have you told him you don’t need an expensive ring or wedding? Have you talked with him about your future plans? Like where you want to be in 5 years, career-wise and financially? Will you buy a house together? If not, I would start there.

    • avatar Jess March 10, 2011, 3:22 am

      Im 90% sure legally her student loan debt will never be his, after they divorce. Unless she is still in school and would still be taking out loans after they are married of course. Credit card debt is different I believe. Then again, he might think after they marry she’ll stop working, stop paying the loans herself and defer to their joint bank account. Which, sometimes, IS what married people do (happily)…

      • katie Katie March 10, 2011, 2:37 pm

        that is actually not true all the time. i read it, maybe on the frisky, about the dangers of being legally bound to someone. yes, he could very well be responsible for that debt.

        • avatar fallonthecity March 13, 2011, 1:48 pm

          Can’t you get a prenup that will make sure you won’t get stuck with your spouse’s debt?

  • avatar convexed March 9, 2011, 6:00 pm

    What seems most frustrating to me about this situation is that LW’s partner is evading the question, drawing from so many categories of excuse that the LW–though she may discern (as we all do) that the partner doesn’t want to marry her– has never had the satisfaction of having her concern addressed honestly and directly. As others have commented, if his reasons given are more dismissive or ambivalent than articulately, conscienciously opposed (‘stupid tradition’, etc), it seems unbelievable that he won’t consider even a serious conversation about marriage. There are great reasons to just not care about marriage, but a loving and committed partner is right to be hurt and disenchanted when something she feels strongly about (and he apparently hasn’t formed, can’t locate, or isn’t willing to discuss his resistance to) is met with indifference and dismissal. He can’t be bothered to illuminate his internal struggle, which says a lot about his commitment right there. He has more interest in avoiding the issue than he has investment in doing the hard work of thinking towards the future. I won’t make a joke about how he can’t even commit to one line of reasoning.
    Of course the LW could use to re-examine her values and goals. We all should from time to time. But the underlying problem is in an implicit lack of regard, response and reciprocity from the partner. If the LW redirects her critical lens to anything, it should perhaps be to the question of whether she can be happy with someone who pushes away difficult questions towards their future together in favor of a status quo he knows is causing her anxiety.

    • avatar Elle March 9, 2011, 6:16 pm

      “I won’t make a joke about how he can’t even commit to one line of reasoning.”
      ^This!!!

    • avatar tinywormhole March 12, 2011, 1:48 pm

      Very well said!

  • avatar convexed March 9, 2011, 6:07 pm

    My suggestion is to choose a peaceful time to sit down, and ask him directly whether he is adamantly, concretely opposed to the institution of marriage or if he just isn’t feeling it right now. If he answers the former, ask him to share with you his reasoning, his conviction, how he came to that conclusion, so that you can better understand him and the situation. Maybe you’ll be surprised by the depths of his views, maybe not. In any case, it gives you something clear to work with, and you can choose to reconsider your own views or MOA.
    If he answers the latter, evades or tosses you another vague excuse, consider you got your answer and the answer is it’s never gonna happen between him and you, and whether you wanna ride it out as long as it lasts, or get out while you’re still young and resilient (which you are!)

    • avatar WatersEdge March 10, 2011, 8:54 am

      But consider the possibility that most people who secretly think #2 will say #1 when pressed for an answer, even if it’s not true.

  • avatar Amber March 9, 2011, 6:10 pm

    The boyfriend doesn’t want to marry her, period. He says its because he’s against marriage because he doesn’t want her to break up with him, because he’s comfortable with the way things are. But he doesn’t see her as his wife. And considering that they’ve been together for 7 years, I doubt that will change.

    My prediction – she’ll reach her breaking point, give him an ultimateum or simply break up with him, and they’ll both end up getting married. To other people.

  • avatar nawilla March 9, 2011, 6:12 pm

    To the LW:

    You are not crazy for wanting to get married. Your sanity is questionable if you still think he’s ever going to propose. He’s not. He doesn’t want to get married and you don’t want to hear it.

    He has stated:

    ‘he wants to finish college first’. This one was reasonable. People change a lot in college. After 7 years though, the ‘I want to do X first’ excuse should not fly. There will always be another X.

    ‘it’s a stupid tradition’. This means he does not want to marry you. This is loud and clear. He is calling an social and religious institution that you obviously value stupid. Why? Because he wants you to keep in the relationship on his terms without even considering your terms, and he’s doing so by making you question your own values instead of questioning his worth as a partner.

    ‘he doesn’t have money to buy me the ring “I deserve.”‘ This also means he doesn’t want to marry you. He will never have the money to buy you the ring you deserve. If he wanted to buy you a ring, the two of you would go out together, find something you both liked and could afford and come up with a financial plan. An engagement doesn’t even require a ring. It only requires two people who actually agree on whether they should marry. He doesn’t agree with you and is not going to marry you.

    “if it isn’t broke, why fix it?” This means everything is honky-dory with him and he doesn’t care that it’s not okay with you, because he doesn’t want to marry you, only keep you around in uncomitted limbo. His desire to maintain the status quo for his own happiness outweighs his desire to make you happy and marry you. He has made his point clearly. He is not going to marry you.

    If he were coming up with legitimate adult reasons for why he wasn’t going to propose, you might have some hope here. Reasons such as ‘I am not comfortable marrying unless we have a thorough pre-nuptial agreement’ or ‘I have been burned by divorce before and am gun-shy’ or ‘I would lose my disability from the government if I married and then we would be homeless’. If he were a real man, he would actually just come out and say it, that he either has no intention of ever marrying you or anyone, or he simply does not want to marry you. He hasn’t. Instead he’s cited school (initially legit), money (pathetic) and marriage being stupid (disrespectful).

    He doesn’t want to marry you. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry it took seven years for you to see it, and I’m sorry your boyfriend is too much of a . . . (pick a good 4-letter word to go here) to be honest and forthright with you. But you’re a grown up too, and you need to decide if you are willing to stick around and never be his wife or if you want to try again with someone else. Considering the whole ‘stupid tradition’ thing, and how these conversations make you feel, I’d suggest the latter. Life is too short to spend with someone who makes you feel your perfectly normal wants and desires are unrealistic and silly, even if they don’t share them.

    • avatar ArtsyGirly March 9, 2011, 8:21 pm

      Yes Yes Yes Unfortunately there is no Love button but know that I am psychicly sending it to you!

  • avatar nawilla March 9, 2011, 6:23 pm

    After spewing a comment that was much too long, I realized that the answer to the LW’s question is really, really simple.

    The LW has in fact already proposed to the boyfriend. She has asked his thoughts on marriage, has stated that she would in fact like to marry him and he has given her multiple reasons why he will not marry her.

    LW, you asked. He said no. Your question has already been answered. You have to decide where to go from here, but there has already been a proposal. He turned it down.

    • avatar Jess March 10, 2011, 3:07 am

      SUCH a true way of looking at it.

    • avatar mf March 10, 2011, 2:08 pm

      Yup. You’ve got it in a nutshell.

  • avatar Quakergirl March 9, 2011, 6:50 pm

    Just to add another consideration to the mix, let’s assume, LW, that your boyfriend changes his mind about marrying you. I’d think long and hard about whether you’re comfortable marrying someone who perhaps doesn’t really want to be in that position. You deserve someone who wants to marry you 100%, who is happy to provide you with the legal security marriage offers, who wants to make you his closest legal relative, who is proud to introduce you as his wife.

    My boyfriend and I have friends from college who are now married, and the look on the husband’s face when he introduces someone to his wife– it’s like he’s about to explode and tell them all about how awesome she is. That’s what you’re going for. Someone who wants you and is so psyched to have you on his team forever. If your boyfriend isn’t that person for you– and you aren’t for him– perhaps marriage isn’t somewhere you want to be heading with him anyway.

    • avatar Jess March 10, 2011, 3:04 am

      “who wants to make you his closest legal relative, who is proud to introduce you as his wife.”

      I totally agree with this. Marriage isn’t about only commitment. As some of the other commentators have said on here, they were “committed” even before they were engaged. Marriage is about becoming a family (even if it will be a family of 2)

  • avatar Elle March 9, 2011, 6:52 pm

    I agree with everyone one else here – he doesn’t want to marry you. From your letter, it seems you made quite a few compromises to continue the relationship, while the relationship continued to be on his terms: ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’

    I recently read this book “Why men marry bitches“, and the book advocates women getting a backbone. And a bitch is a ‘Babe In Total Control of Herself’. (I’m not implying you don’t have a backbone – just trying to say that the book is not about the commonly defined ‘bitch’ :) )

    The book has a piece of advice for this exact type of situation (although it says you should do it after 2 years together, not 7) – completely cut off contact with him for 3 months. Probably 3 months is too much. Try one month – get away, backpack through Europe or South America, or go to your relative in the middle of nowhere, where you don’t have internet and phone, so that you won’t be tempted to contact him. I know it will be hard. But give him a chance to see what his life will be without you. And tell him that you’re going away to give him a chance to think things over. Don’t give him an ultimatum, don’t tell him it’s over (don’t be emotional either, if you can). You’ll discuss everything when you get back. If he still doesn’t want to get married to YOU, then you should have your answer. And as much pain that you’ll be in, at least it’ll be sooner rather than later.

    Before you do this – ask yourself what is more important for you? Him in your life? Or marriage (most likely with someone else, since he already told you it won’t be him)? If the balance tips one way or the other, then you know what to do.

    This advice comes from someone who’s been married for 8 years, divorced and single for the past 4 years. I don’t think I’ll ever want to marry again. But I don’t think it would be fair to hold someone hostage in a relationship that’s not fulfilling for them. Which is what he’s doing to you. (I would either get out before long, or give in. This limbo is not healthy for anyone.)

    • avatar ArtsyGirly March 9, 2011, 8:25 pm

      I love the statement “hold someone hostage in a relationship” great way to put it!

    • avatar elle March 9, 2011, 10:24 pm

      4 years after divorce, I just had a revelation!!! My ex always said that ‘It’s not time to have kids yet’. It was always- finish grad school, then get a better job, then me to finish grad school, get a house… he didn’t want to have kids with me! Damn, wish he didn’t wasted 10 years of my life!!! And we were married!!! We discussed kids before getting married! It obviously didn’t matter!

      Sorry LW, but people don’t change. And if you try to change them, they’ll end up resenting you. Learn from my mistakes, please :)

      Sorry for the rant. Going back to my cave now :)

    • avatar WatersEdge March 10, 2011, 9:35 am

      I have to say, I love that book and its precursor, “Why Men Love Bitches”. The writing is terrible but the sentiment behind it is absolutely perfect. I can say in all honesty that that book changed my life. I was such a giver, such a wimp. I stepped back and reminded myself to think about whether a person actually makes ME happy, instead of constantly thinking of how to make him happy. Revolutionary. I recommend it to everyone… even if I know i’ll get the side eye when they see that even literal phrases are put “into quotes”…

  • avatar Sue Jones March 9, 2011, 7:27 pm

    Do you live in a state that recognizes “common-law marriage?” Where I live, if you live with a partner for 6 months you are legally protected in case it doesn’t work out, (and I actually think 6 months is too short a time, but 7 years… another story. So legally if you live in the right state, you are entitled to 1/2 his assets if it does not work out. If you live in a non-common law state, then you need to get married for financial protection if it doesn’t work out and you have made all the career sacrifices, etc. Sometimes when one is older and has assets and children from previous relationships, it may not make financial sense to your chilren to re- marry, so your children can inherit your entire estate, not your husband’s children…. sounds like these are not issues here, but still, good to know what your rights are…. and if he is stalling for financial reasons and you already live in a common law state, then that reason no longer exists….

    If he is stalling for emotional reasons, better re-evaluate the relationship and MOA.

  • avatar LT March 9, 2011, 8:44 pm

    “I feel like I have shown a great deal of commitment to the relationship, and I’d like for him to do the same.” If you’ve been together for seven years and are question how committed he is, you need to get on the same page or get out. You can’t change someone, and if you’re not getting what you need out of this relationship, MOA.

    Communication. It’s pretty damn important. What you put up with while dating is what you’re willing to put up with in a long-term relationship.

  • avatar Fairhaired Child March 9, 2011, 10:01 pm

    There are so many responses and though I havent read them all I’d like to put my two cents in to the LW. I dont think she should cut and run, and like many of the responses she needs to find out if she can live with not being married and what she really wants when she thinks “marriage”. It is possible that the boyfriend doesnt want to go through the huge stress of everything throwing a huge wedding and having to invite a lot of family etc.. or because of finances or whatever.

    My brother is 6 years older than me and he is FINALLY getting married to his gf of 6 years. Granted, she decided enough was enough after 4 years and while he was overseas (they are both in the airforce) she filed to be transfered to another base closer to her parents and moved after putting all the stuff that was his into storage. But, when he got back he realized that he did want her in his life forever even if marriage wasnt for him, he promised that they would get married within a certain time limit.
    At first they were going to elope and do the court wedding without telling ANYONE because my Brother is really a “marriage-phobe” (he’s totally committed but after seeing our mother get divorced three times he’s a little gun-shy when it comes to marriage).But they felt that immediate family was important – so they are planning a court wedding for June now right before he does another tour.

    My Brother had plenty of legit reasons why he kept putting getting engaged off before – finances were a huge thing because he was really in debt for a while, then to stop doing “stupid stuff” (such as getting into car accidents now he’s much more careful and less of a lead foot driver), etc.

    So, in all I dont see this as a MOA situation, but def a situation where the LW needs to sit down and figure out what she NEEDS in life – and then discuss with her boyfriend the pros and cons of getting married (as mentioned above with having legal rights etc if either of them should be in the hospital or even the whole getting each others mail). I think if the LW shows that it could be really hard for them in the future (with getting on each others insurance, legal rights, and power of attorny) that he may be more willing to do a court wedding. (Though this could not happen as well and the other posters above who wrote about how he may not realize he wants to get married because she could actually not be “the one” for him at this time)

    • avatar Jess March 10, 2011, 3:00 am

      wow you get so many benefits from being married if you are in the military, it always seems like military guys jump to marry bc of the hefty pay increase and better housing / money for their spouse if something happens. Your brother must have been *really* gun shy of marriage to forgo all those benefits if he was totally committed to his girlfriend.

      My parents and 90% of their friends have all had very happy marriages so I am issue free, it’s hard to imagine what it must feel like to really not want to get married, even if you love someone and there are so many benefits.

      • avatar Fairhaired Child March 10, 2011, 7:43 pm

        Exactly. So that’s why I’m not totally against the boyfriend in this situation because there are some guys out there who are just marriage phobes. My Brother treated his girlfriend like gold,but never wanted to get married (even though my Mom has been breathing down his neck about it for the past 3 years) . It was only until she left that he had time to realize that he couldnt live without her, and then he was willing to put an end date on when they would get married by.

        I’m slightly less gun-shy when it comes to marriage, because I want to do it for all the benefits and because it just feels right to me, but any time I seriously think hard about it I get really anxious and I can see myself backing out because of fears of divorce etc. However my current boyfriend and I have already made an agreement that IF we get married that there will be a prenup, seperate bank accounts/finances, and if we buy a house then it will be only in my name. – This gives me a feeling of a safety net for if things do end up going sour.

  • avatar Courtney March 10, 2011, 12:07 am

    My cousin and his wife finally married 3 years ago after being together for TEN YEARS. Granted, I don’t think he ever said he didn’t want to get married, and I think this is the exception as opposed to the norm, I know I sure as heck wouldn’t stick around for ten years waiting for a guy to propose. But I guess it does happen? Good luck LW, and seriously just have a serious conversation with your guy- best case scenario is he realizes that marriage is important to you and makes the sacrifice because he thinks your worth it.

  • avatar Addie Pray March 10, 2011, 12:41 am

    This reminds me of He’s Just Not That Into You. I think someone referenced this movie above, so I’m sorry if I’m repetetive. But I’m talking about the story line with Jennfier Aniston and Ben Affleck…. They were together for X years; she wanted to get married; he did not see the point…. So she dumped him. (And then later got back together when she realized she liked him more in her life and not married then not, and he liked her more than his steadfast refusal to marry, so they both miraculously and simultaneously realized what they wanted and got back together… and I thnk they had a small destination wedding as a compromise…. and, yes, this was a movie….BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD DUMP HIM TO TEST THE WATERS. Goffer it! Nothing wrong with a little calling his bluff. Just be prepared to not get him back. In which case, if he”d rather lose you then sign his name to a marriage license, then forget him. But really, if it worked for Jennifer['s fictional character] then…it will work for everyone? Yes, that was the message.

  • avatar Jess March 10, 2011, 3:27 am

    “Does it mean he doesn’t “really” love me as much as I love him if he still won’t take the plunge after all these years, or am I just insecure? ”

    I think the fact that he’s calling a situation where he’s comfortable, and you’re anxious and unsatisfied “not broken” means that YES, he definitely does not really love you as much as you love him.

  • avatar Eliza March 10, 2011, 8:35 am

    LW, you say this is the best relationship you could ever hope to have … not so. Because clearly you do hope for more. Nothing wrong with that. The previous commenters here have covered the bases and there’s lots of good stuff there, but I disagree on one point that a lot of folks have advised. Do not sit your fella down for another talk. Been there, done that. For now, drop the topic with him and get busy.
    Do research on your own about the legal protections and rights you have in your state — insurance, inheritance, property split, financial, health benefits etc. Do you have medical powers of attorney for one another? Wills? Much of this is available on the Internet, your state government will have some info, and it might be worth it to pay a lawyer who deals with such things for an hour of his/her time to find out what you need.
    Once you have all this information, have a talk with him about what you need to put in place to secure things for BOTH of you but do not mention marriage. These things will be for his benefit as much as yours and that’s how you should approach it.
    If he agrees, great. Put all the measures into place and live with them awhile, again, not mentioning marriage. Live with it for a bit and see how it feels to you. Then, if getting married is still important to you, that’s the time to have the marriage talk with him again.
    If he refuses to put these legal protections into place, or talk about them, or belittles the fact that you want them, then MOA because he has no interest in committing further and is not concerned about your comfort level.

  • avatar Elle March 10, 2011, 9:28 am

    “Each time we talk about it, I come away feeling like I’ve got unrealistic expectations or that I’m just being silly.”

    This sentence worries me… You should not think that way. You know what you want. And you’re not silly for knowing what you want. You’re not silly for trying to accomplish your goals/dreams. If he makes you feel silly – sorry, I don’t think you should be that satisfied in your relationship as it is, marriage or not.

    I know that you are reading these comments, and each of them must feel like a punch in the stomach (or knife through a heart). But some people offered some advice.

    Hope that you’ll be happy, regardless of your decision.

  • avatar Tudor Princess March 10, 2011, 9:29 am

    “Am I wrong to want a ring or a wedding?”

    Is it the ring and the wedding you are looking for, or something else. Is this all about you having a day all for you, or something deeper? If you just want the day, then his reasons are legit. Sure, he didn’t say them all at once, but they are all honest and logical reasons for not getting married. Decide what it is you really want first. Then, if he doesn’t want the same things, move on…

    • Chicago-Dude WI Repubs Can Suck Deez March 10, 2011, 12:15 pm

      I couldn’t help but take issue with that as well, Tudor Princess.

      “…but I’m afraid he doesn’t want the same thing. He knows how I feel, but he keeps coming up with excuses for why we shouldn’t get married.”

      Listen, the wedding industry took in $40B in 2010. Fact. $20B of that is in vain and wasteful. Fact.
      There’re reasons why some people get sucked into the wedding hoopla. There are reasons why some people resist to venture close to anything wedding related because of the hoopla surrounding it.

      I found myself in the latter category for years. My fiancee and I slowly navigated the waters by recognizing that;
      1. a (fancy) wedding is NO indication of the commitment we share for each other.
      2. there are options than the cookie-cutter that’s shown in the silly rom-coms and adrenaline filled TV shows.
      3. we could make it “our own” and the focus would be far from the ring and the wedding (my biggest gripes)

      This came through painstaking conversations. Sometimes uncomfortable, but nevertheless cordial, open and respectful … oh and lengthy (hell it spanned months). 3 years in, she said yes when I asked her to spend the rest of her life with me. (Poor girl).

      Not sure if this is an option to consider but you’re going to have to continue that dialogue with him.
      - Assure him that his fears (legit or not), are heard as are yours.
      - Find out from him if he has any ideas on how to solidify the commitment you have for each other.
      - Finally, be willing to compromise on your “wedding dream” but ensure you are getting the core of what you want which from the letter seems to be a sign of commitment and of his love.

  • avatar For some values of March 10, 2011, 12:33 pm

    (guy here).

    1) His reasons seem to all be variants of “let’s not rock the boat” and/or “financial”.
    2) I’m not claiming it’s based in reality, but I think (anecdotal!) there’s a widespread perception (among men?) that women hold all the cards after marriage, should a dispute arise (e.g., family law, sexual frequency). This leads to a fear that women will change once they’re married. Such fears were common among women in the past (in books, anyway) when it was clear men held all the cards.
    3) When you don’t care about marriage yourself, it can seem suspicious that the other person does. If marriage is handing another person a gun that can only shoot you, you might think it’s irrelevant if they’re clearly not going to shoot you, but if they suddenly seem desperate for the gun, it’s worrying.

    How I’d do it:
    A) I love you.
    B) I want to spend the rest of my life with you. (as in the e-mail)
    C) Do you want to spend the rest of your life with me? (basically the question asked in the e-mail).
    Assuming yes:
    D) In our society, the way people say this to one another – and make it clear to the world – is marriage.
    E) I don’t need any sort of expensive wedding or ring.
    F) Take some time to think about it, but please tell me what you’re thinking.

    If he never brings it up again in the next few weeks, you have your answer. That may seem like a long time, but sometimes people really do wrestle with ideas. I’d bring it up once more after that to see if he’s thought about it, and then explicitly tell him you’re taking whatever he says as his final answer.

    If you can’t truthfully say E (the word was “need” not “want”), I don’t think you should marry the guy.

    This is what would work for me, but obviously it depends on the personalities of people involved.

  • avatar spaceboy761 March 10, 2011, 1:15 pm

    You have a decision to make. Which do you want more?: Marriage or this relationship.

    There is no wrong answer, but you can only pick one.

    • Chicago-Dude WI Repubs Can Suck Deez March 10, 2011, 1:50 pm

      See, I disagree.
      The choice is not black/white but rather where within the gray zone you want to fall with your partner?

      From what I’m hearing about the partner, he’s stuck on not jumping into the silly tradition of marriage. What we haven’t heard is how the conversation has progressed so that she even understands what his idea of a commitment looks like in the long run (granted, he’s using the “if it ain’t broke… argument). It could be a smokescreen.
      The biggest part of relationships (and hence, i assume marriage) is the art of conversation and communication. Two separate but intertwined events. What we need to urge the LW to do is to meander the two to assess his stance better and forge a compromise on what their marriage will look like.

      It’s too easy for us to dish the MOAs and paint the black & white picture when it’s such a complicated issue. Frankly, they are disingenuous to the conversation and the advice seeker.

      • avatar spaceboy761 March 10, 2011, 4:40 pm

        Either that or we can take the man at his word and say that he never wants to get married. Ever.

        This couple doesn’t have any communication problems at all since they both know what the other wants. They have a ‘wanting different things’ problem.

  • avatar Elle March 10, 2011, 1:39 pm

    Love the last two comments!!!

    LW, I can’t stop thinking about your letter. It seems to bring up memories and realizations of what I did wrong in my marriage.

    If your boyfriend has stalled you for so long, he will put up quite a fight… At some point in my marriage, I realized that things could not go on as they have until then (which is where you are now). I won’t go into specifics, but he chose to ignore my wishes. For months (does it sound familiar, LW?). I got past the breaking point, started to talk about divorce. Still no change. When I showed him that I was really really serious about divorce, he started to change, because he was scared shitless of losing me, and he saw that I’m dead set in my tracks. But it was way way too late.

    In hindsight – Did I do the wrong thing by divorcing? No, I don’t regret it for a second, even though I’m single 4 years later.

    Should have I done it sooner? Hell yeah. I would have spared myself a lot of pain. But I’m still not sorry. It helped me grow as a person, and realize some things I knew at an intellectual level, but not at an emotional level.

    I want to emphasize spaceboy761′s comment – THERE IS NO WRONG ANSWER.

    • Chicago-Dude WI Repubs Can Suck Deez March 10, 2011, 2:01 pm

      I’m doing my best to see the correlation between your situation and the letter writers. If anything, it further proves the more reason to not rush into marriage and to spend as much time navigating the waters with your partner. It’s not always about what I (or you) want. Often, it’s about what is best & wisest.

      No disrespect, but sounds like you and your ex husband walked into a mine field you didn’t have the tools to survive; hearing and listening to each other; communication to tackle your life together.

      While I agree there is no wrong answer (every optimistic nerve in me screams so) if we are to take this mentality to every thing we do, i’d be robbing a bank (to feed a million starving children), but i digress. The silver-lining is always there.

      However, there is a wrong answer when we don’t take our time to carve the right steps to take for ourselves. Consequences abound with every wrong choice we make, my dear.

      • avatar Elle March 10, 2011, 2:43 pm

        The only similarity between my and the LW’s case is that my ex-husband was stalling me, just like the LW’s boyfriend is doing to her (I fail to see a correlation too). And I got to the point where I couldn’t live without getting what I want anymore. So I got out. (The LW seems to be before the point where she can’t live without what she wants, but she’s pretty close…)

        As a divorced person who is very cynical about marriage (and relationships in general), it would be very natural to me to tell LW to drop it, since it’s not a big deal. But it’s not a big deal to ME. Not to her. She has the right to get what she wants out of her own relationship.

        If I were in boyfriend’s shoes – in a relationship with someone I was committed to, and I knew that marriage was important to them, I would get out since I knew I wouldn’t be able to give them what they wanted. It’s not fair to LW to stay in an unfulfilled relationship.

        About wrong choices – was it a wrong choice to get married for me? No. It was what I wanted, and it made me happy at the time. Was it a wrong choice to get divorced? No, It was what I wanted, and it made me happy at the time. If your choice made you happy, then that choice couldn’t have been be wrong.

        • Chicago-Dude Gov. Walker of Wisconsin Can Suck Deez Chocolate Nuts! March 10, 2011, 3:26 pm

          See, you’re likening your situation with this even though they don’t correlate.
          Explain to me how he’s stalling her? In her career progression? Growth as a humanitarian? To be a better ambassador? Happiness?

          Aha! Here we are, making the time old mistakes of equating marriage as this utopia of happiness. I dunno… I never have been there, but statistics and real life stories tell me it ain’t a piece of cake, lest “24-hours of sheer happiness”.

          We’ve jumped so quickly on this and telling this poor girl – “…oh everybody knows he won’t marry you…” And that’s BS. We don’t know that. We have a mere 350 word letter to decipher and now we know their world? Gimme a break.

  • avatar mf March 10, 2011, 1:44 pm

    You asked if your lack of religious beliefs and desire to have kids make marriage irrelevant. If marriage is important, meaningful, and desirable to you, then no, marriage is not irrelevant in your life. In fact, by the sound of your letter, it seems that marriage is very, very important to you. And if that’s case, you shouldn’t settle for a man who won’t marry you. There are LOTS of great men out there who do want to marry. Besides, if you do settle, you’ll just be unhappy in the long run.

    And it worries me that you feel silly when you talk about marriage with your BF. Your desires and hopes are not silly, nor should your boyfriend make you feel that way.

    Here’s the thing none of us can say whether he’ll every marry you. But I can say that his actions (as you’ve described them in your letter) do not indicate that he wants to marry you. That also seems to be the general consensus in the comments.

    I think spaceboy761 put it best: “There is no wrong answer” but you’ll probably have to choose between marriage and this relationship.

  • avatar SalMarie March 10, 2011, 2:14 pm

    There are a lot of comments here but I couldn’t resist adding another, as I have some experience with a similar situation. The advice I would give is first, as others have said, think long and hard about what you really want, and whether marriage is a necessity for you or not. It is NOT silly to want that, but just be sure you want it for your own reasons and not only because it is what is “expected” of committed couples in our society.

    If you decide marriage is a non-negotiable for you, you need to communicate that in no uncertain terms to your boyfriend. I say this because it is clear from your letter that you have broached the subject of engagement/marriage multiple times, but it is not so clear whether you have made sure your boyfriend understands that it is a “must” for you (assuming it is)… it sounds as if you come away from your conversations with a lessened resolve about what you want. Stand up firmly for what you want out of your relationship, rather than being put off the subject by his varied “reasons” for not wanting to get engaged. He may be continuing to put up these excuses in part simply because they are successful at getting you to drop the subject! If you avoid backing down and accept that your wants and needs are just as valid as his, he will be forced to set aside his excuses and really confront the situation – and then perhaps both of you can actually come to an honest and realistic decision about whether you have a future together.

    So sorry you’re going through this terrible situation – I know how hard it is. Best of luck to you.

  • katie Katie March 10, 2011, 3:01 pm

    alright, so this is my view of the situation. this is also my view of gay marriage rights, oddly enough. a relationship between two people who are not married that is solid, commited, and longstanding means a whole lot more then two people who randomly think that going down to a courthouse and getting married is a good idea, and then just get it annulled or divorced. marriage a just a word, its just a ceremony, it really means only what you think it means… so, it is easy for someone to think that marriage means nothing, because quite frankly, it does. now, i agree with you- i want to eventually get married as well. but i guess my point is that if you are happy in your relationship, why is married needed? why do you need a “next step”? what would marriage really change in the relationship that you have now? i would bet that nothing would change. i mean sure, you would have a nice ring, you would get to throw a cool party, ect, but in the nitty gritty of what a relationship is, nothing would change. a relationship is not validated by a marriage. it sounds to me like you have a very valid relationship.

  • avatar Fairhaired Child March 13, 2011, 1:36 pm

    I found an article that shows that it COULD happen, even if the guy is “marriage” gun-shy. This article is from yourtango and is from a guys perspective on the word marriage and how he got over it. :

    http://www.yourtango.com/201172801/marriage-loaded-word

    I think combined with the advice/personal stories of readers, and her own “gut feelings” that the link could be benificial to her figuring out where to go from here.

  • avatar anna728 March 14, 2011, 2:27 am

    Is it just that it’s not important to him to get married, or is it that it’s important to him not to get married? If it’s the former, then does he know that the ring and the wedding do matter to you? If it’s the latter, would you stay with him if you knew he would never propose?

  • avatar CJ May 28, 2011, 2:03 pm

    I’ve been with my guy 8 years we have a 6 year old daughter he has made 7 years of excuses, we lived together 5 years I had an engagement ring asked when we were setting the date he replied there’s no law to tell me when I should marry hence no ring and I moved out 2 years ago.
    Tbh it’s really tough living alone away from the person you love, I’m in the UK so laws are different here.
    We want to buy a guest house he’d be mainly financing it but I’d be running it he says will we get engaged then marry when we have it ? My reply why wait he’s says we’re be Guangzhou more stable ? See another excuse, so I will have a legal contract drawn up that I am entitled to a % if we split.
    It’s so easy to say you’d never stay with out marriage or LW should call his bluff it’s harder than you can imagine.
    I want marriage with my partner not a ring or a wedding to show our love & commitment but my guy has lost many loves with his lack of commitment I stayed buy find myself fighting a heart and head battle that can he truly love me if he doesn’t want to marry me?
    Maybe we’ll get the guesthouse and marry or maybe we’ll get the guesthouse and I say I can’t live with you without being your wife ?
    LW do what you feel you can live with as ending it is really heartbreaking xx

    • avatar _jsw_ May 28, 2011, 7:25 pm

      CJ, I’m really sorry to hear about your dilemma. I think that you are probably aware that it is very unlikely that, after a child and 7 years of promises and still no marriage… he’s very unlikely to ever marry you and even less likely to do so except under duress.

      If marriage is important to you, then I think you need to make the tough decision for you and your daughter – one of mine is about that age, so I very much sympathize – and move on without him. He will always have a reason to wait. Always. The guesthouse won’t change anything. It’s just the current excuse. Then it’ll need to be renovated or paid off or something else will come up.

      If marriage isn’t critical to you, then I hope things continue to – aside from the marriage issue – go well for you.

      However, I hope that, if you continue your path through life with him, you don’t truly believe he will marry you. He might… but he’s never had a good reason not to marry you, and yet he’s spent seven years finding excuse after excuse. You deserve a man who can commit to you. Not everyone needs marriage to have a commitment, but I get the idea that he’s not even all that committed. Just… that he sees the way things are as convenient. I’m truly sorry if that’s the case.

  • avatar CJ May 29, 2011, 9:51 am

    jsw thankyou for your kind reply.
    There’s alot gone on in our relationship too much to write here but I found out something today after getting him to open up.

    It’s something that’s made me realise why he didn’t want to marry me so now it’s decision time to try and make it work or make a break.
    I left my ex-husband after 16 years together as he’s an alcoholic and wouldn’t get help and so I fell out if love and went it alone with 2 young children, it’s incredibly hard lonely and heartbreaking.
    The thing is I love my guy and he knows it and have proved my love and done the relationship his way to show I just don’t want a wedding I’m happy to go to the register office grab 2 witnesses and that’s it.
    Today he’s said we can marry when contracts have exchanged on the guesthouse then go on honeymoon as when we come back we can complete and move in?
    Theres something wrong here it’s all the way he says it has to be and yeah sure if I want to be his wife and love him some would say just go for it? But it’s probably 8 weeks away I have no passport that takes 12 weeks here and maybe it feels a tad clinical on controlled.
    So maybe I’ll get a contract done stay Ms and say you got your own way .
    The thing is he’s said 2 things to me this week and last that have deflated my confidence and made me feel very sad that I feel lost, if he wanted to marry me I asked where’s the proposal a token engagement ring?(the last was returned it was 5 years ago) he said were go out and get one, but we haven’t and I’m not begging for a ‘ love ‘ token.

    I know who reads thus will say Run but if you’ve stated for 8 years have a child and love someone it’s real hard to Run :(
    Sorry LW highjacked your letter x

    • avatar _jsw_ May 29, 2011, 12:30 pm

      CJ, I feel so badly for you. I have some experience in feeling trapped in a bad situation, and I know it’s not the best place to be.

      I understand there’s a lot involved with your relationship that you can’t fully explain or express here. I think the best thing you can do is to, first and foremost, accept how things really are. Maybe he’s truly committed to you but just cannot marry you due to some issues he has. Maybe he’s not committed at all but just staying because it’s convenient. Maybe he’s using you. Maybe he’s truly in love with you. However the reality is, you need to find a way to see it, perhaps with the help of less biased people who know you both.

      Once you pull away the curtain and see how things truly are and truly internalize that truth, then you can decide what to do. I know you want to do what’s best for your daughter (and other children), but please also consider what is best for you. If you can be at peace with the reality, then stay. If it will forever torment you, work out how to go… even if it’s next year or even later. Even having a plan can make things better in terms of internal stress.

      Even if it’s not how you want it to be and yet you cannot leave, it’ll help to at least accept how it is as opposed to always hoping it’s actually someway else.

      I do wish you the very best.

  • avatar CJ May 29, 2011, 5:38 pm

    jsw thankyou for your thoughtful reply.

    You see he’s saying we will marry when the business has gone through as his jobs not secure he wants us to be in a better financial situation so this is his reason for waiting.
    If it comes to exchange of contracts I will suggest we get married and then plan our honeymoon after the business is established after a few months then see his reply Nd decide if it’s again excuses his own admittance today he has no excuses he wants to feel secure before we are married but the 2 things he’s said has given me huge doubts that do I have the energy for the amount of attention he admits he needs? I’ve 3 daughters and starting up a business will be tiring and he needs alot of attention that I know I may not have the energy.

    Thankyou for your kind words people do usually say leave find new but if it was that simple I’d probably be gone but loves at times a painful thing.

    I know people will say if it’s hurting you go but it’s the being told we will marry and at a precise time that’s making me doubt.

    People that know us can’t understand why he has a phobia of marriage his parents have been married 56 years his brother 18 years and my guy lost 2 or mire long term loves as he wouldn’t marry. I’m not the first he’s dragged his heels at I’m number 3-4 but he likes the being a family and living together?

    • avatar _jsw_ May 29, 2011, 7:19 pm

      It sounds – based on nothing but what you’ve written and so therefore based on very little – that he simply enjoys the comfort of being in a “family” without any of the “costs”.

      I suspect he’ll not leave you, at least not soon at all, but that he’ll never actually follow through with the marriage he keeps postponing… and sooner or later, you’ll be in your 50′s, he’ll leave, and you’ll have absolutely nothing to rely on unless you’ve done all sorts of legally binding contracts with him.

      As I said, what really matters is you being able to see how things truly are there – however that is – and then acting based on that knowledge. It’s OK (obviously) to stay regardless of his ability to marry you… as long as you understand what the likely path of the relationship will be. Otherwise… pretend the you of 20 years hence is advising the you of now… what would Future You say?

  • avatar TheLostOne August 29, 2011, 10:58 pm

    I was a month away from proposing and we split. She was kid of a selfish clingy nagging jealous girlfriend but I was willing to settle because I loved everything else about her. I almost broke it off half way through our relationship but decided to give her a second chance. I only wish she would give me a second chance but I don’t think it’s me that needs the second chance, it’s her who needs a second chance. I almost cheated on her but I didn’t and I didn’t pursue it after because I realized that she was the one. Too bad she stalked me after the relationship, ending up going out on dates before we broke up, lied to the police after breaking into my house, and then had some people fuck up my car for her. The police won’t even investigate and I’m the victim in this bullshit.

  • avatar Bellah June 1, 2012, 4:01 pm

    So really upset and hurt. Why? cause after 5 yrs of being together he has ever freaking excuse to not marry me. This time it is cause Mom is sick or we have no Money or he is not ready. he told me to turn off that biological fan. And to chill out to see the forrest threw the trees. I said we hit the freaking 5 yr curse and if we got married it would not last a year so what would be the point. Hey! I had to come back with something so he would not think how bad it really hurts me when he has and is just stringing me alone.
    So I told him when he asked for Sex if he can not put a ring on my ring and Marry me I see no point in Us having Sex. The Cow’s Milk has Dried UP!!!

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