My Boyfriend Doesn’t Want to Get Married. How Can I Convince Him Otherwise?
I am new to this blog. I found it by searching my question. Here’s the thing, I have found the man I love, and I deeply know he loves me too. We have been together a little over a year. Since we started dating, we have talked about how we didn’t want to fool around and that we were both looking for something serious.
He had a past and so did I. He was in a serious relationship for 10+ years (on and off really, they broke up more times than I can count) I had been in a serious relationship for 4 years. So yeah, we were past the whole fooling around thing.
Maybe, 6 months into my relationship, we started talking about marriage and kids. I am telling you, we knew from very early on that we had found each other. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we had a conversation with his brother and “wife” (not legally married) about the legality of marriage and how they didn’t do it because of government payouts and stuff that makes no sense to me. But then HE decided to adopt this thought as if it were an option for us. NO IT IS NOT.
I want to be legally married and I want a religious marriage. We are both Catholics, so what do I do? How do I explain to him that being legally married has benefits? I am afraid he does not want to commit.
Yes, we have talked about religious marriage. Catholic law states that marriage must be both legal and religious. He now says that there are other ways. But not for me.
Ah, the logic vs. emotion argument!
I’ve been losing this one on the internet for 10 years now, so I may not be the best person to ask, but I’m going to give it a valiant effort. And I’m going to do it by pointing out that logic will not win this argument.
Sure, you have logic on your side.
Check out the National Marriage Project and read to your heart’s content about the virtues of holy matrimony.
Or you can comb through all my pieces on marriage to find statistics that make your case for you — married people are twice as likely to call themselves VERY happy, for instance.
But this isn’t going to move your current partner, any more than watching CNN will change the mind of a die-hard Trump supporter. Feelings are almost always stronger than facts.
Feelings are almost always stronger than facts.
Which is why you need to get to the bottom of your boyfriend’s feelings, explain your feelings, and have — pardon the expression — a “Come to Jesus” meeting about the consequences of this difference of opinion.
First, let’s establish something: your boyfriend is not “wrong” for not wanting to get married. He may or may not be the right person for you, but he’s not a bad person, he’s not foolish…he just has a different opinion. Which is fine if the opinion is that he doesn’t like tomatoes; it’s not fine if you want to get married and he doesn’t.
Your boyfriend is not “wrong” for not wanting to get married.
So, when you talk to him, your goal isn’t to “convince” him that he should want to get married. Your goal is twofold: to have a deeper understanding of why he doesn’t want to get married (and potentially counter his emotional arguments with rational points) AND to explain to him that you do want to get married and how it feels when you hear he doesn’t.
The key here is to actively listen because his feelings are probably deep-seated. Without knowing all the facts, a guy who dated a woman for TEN years without getting married is in no rush to get married. He likes serial monogamy with an out, and he expects that to continue. So pay attention to his fears, validate his feelings, and show empathy for his beliefs, whether you agree with them or not.
Pay attention to his fears, validate his feelings, and show empathy for his beliefs, whether you agree with them or not.
Ready for Lasting Love? Ready for Lasting Love?
And then, stiffen your spine, and lay out your side.
It doesn’t feel good when he says he does not want to get married.
It doesn’t make you feel safe, heard or understood.
It doesn’t make you feel secure about your future.
It doesn’t illustrate much of a commitment to you.
It doesn’t lay out a path for you to start a Catholic family together.
Again, you are not attacking him; you are merely having an honest conversation about the consequences of his new anti-marriage stance. Still, none of this has any teeth if you are not willing to walk away from this relationship if you don’t get married. That’s the kicker.
If both of you feel stronger about your principles than you do about your partner, your relationship was not meant to be.
At the end of this conversation, your boyfriend will have to know: either he relents on his desire to remain single, or, in order to preserve his relationship with you, marriage is in his future.
This is really about who wants it more. And if both of you feel stronger about your principles than you do about your partner, your relationship was not meant to be.
Ultimately, you’re not going to win him over with a logical case for marriage; you MAY win him over with the emotional case that he will LOSE you if he doesn’t want to get married.
Now, for all our readers who are experiencing the same thing, you first have to know the reason why your boyfriend doesn’t want to get married.
Why Does Your Boyfriend Not Want to Get Married?
Here are the five most common reasons why your partner doesn’t believe in getting married and things you can do to understand and address them.
He Has a Fear of Commitment
Some men are afraid of heights. Some fear commitment. You can determine this by watching out for these signs:
- He’s less invested in your relationship than you are.
- He finds it hard to share his thoughts or open up.
- He does not want to talk about the future, specifically getting married.
- When he does talk about his future, it does not include you.
- It takes days for him to reply to your messages, calls, or emails.
While it’s easy to blame the person, his fear of commitment could have resulted from the people around him. He might have developed this due to his family upbringing or prior dating experiences.
What You Can Do
While this is a big deal, the good news is that this is more about him than it is about you. As such, you should take this as an opportunity to understand what happened before you met your boyfriend.
If he is willing, you can help him approach a therapist. With professional help, he will better understand that his apprehension for marriage stems from his past life experiences.
While the goal here is for your current partner to open up and talk, know that it’s not that easy. Like most people, he has probably put up a wall specifically to avoid addressing his deep-seated fears.
Don’t push him too hard, as he might close up even more, and maybe even break up with you.
He’s got an “avoidant” type personality and while my general recommendation is to avoid dating avoidants (for this very reason), if you have one on your hands, remember to tread with caution.
The goal here is to help your guy recognize that he actually DOES want to be with you forever but he’s afraid of what that means for his future. Will he lose his freedom? Will your sex life go down the drain? Will you fight like his mom and dad and become another divorce statistic?
The point is, he has to ultimately want to solve his commitment issues by himself. You mustn’t push him beyond his threshold, as doing so will make him distrust and resent you.
He Wants Independence More Than Interdependence
Your man may not want to get married because he says he has a demanding career that requires a lot of travel. He may have a free-spirited nature and doesn’t like to be tied down…
While these characteristics may make you love him more, they may be the reasons why he’s high-risk as a future husband. In his mind, being in a long-term relationship with someone will bar him from pursuing the things he loves.
What You Can Do
If you really want to be together, you need to know how much you truly value marriage.
I am a big advocate of marriage – not because people who choose not to get married are “wrong” but rather because if your goal is to build a life and experience unconditional love, nothing says “I’m committed to you forever,” quite like marriage. That said, it’s possible that two people who have negative associations with marriage CAN make things work.
And if that’s the case, there may be no need for an actual wedding. As long as both of you remain monogamous and committed to one another, it could be enough.
However, if you are looking for the security that only marriage can give, you should get on the same page or get out of your relationship.
If your partner says that his desire for independence will not change no matter what you do – and you really want a traditional marriage – it’s a sign for you to either accept it or leave.
His Views and Values are Not Aligned with Marriage
Your boyfriend may believe in marriage, but his core values may be against the institution itself. He may feel that getting state or government approval for his relationships is oppressive, if not unnecessary.
Even if he doesn’t want to sign a paper and have a ceremony, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t value your relationship. In most cases, your guy takes the commitment seriously and may even see a future with you.
Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn as well as Oprah and Stedman Graham are notable couples who didn’t get married but have been together for decades.
The point here is he thinks that getting papers is not that important, as long as he’s the partner he ought to be. It’s up to you to determine if you can accept him on his unwavering terms.
What You Can Do
It’s good to talk to your guy from a non-judgmental place so that you can have a deeper understanding of his point of view.
Validate his fears instead of making him feel wrong.
But also pay attention to your emotions inside. It’s easy to take his refusal to not marry personally but as I said earlier, it’s not personal. At the same time, you don’t want to spend years resenting him for not wanting marriage and silently hoping it will change.
Most Love U clients who come to me try to talk themselves into being okay with it, when, in fact, this distance and refusal to commit makes them miserable.
There is no one right answer.
You and your boyfriend can agree to disagree – but that may mean you’re incompatible in the future.
And that’s okay.
He is Not Financially Ready
Getting married is no cheap hurdle. After all, getting married in the United States will cost you about $34,000.
Even if you agree to split the bill, your partner may be hesitant because of his finances. He may be deep in student or credit card debt. Or he may not have a job where he feels content, financially stable and ready to build something with you. Because of these, he feels like he needs to earn more – or save more – before he can tie the knot.
It’s also possible that he is not at ease with your financial status. (My wife was $40K in debt in the first year we were dating and I didn’t want to buy a house together until she fixed her credit rating)
If you and your boyfriend have never made an effort to manage money together, or if the attempt was futile, this is another reason for avoiding marriage.
It may be unfortunate – and he may be using it as an excuse but thinking this through can also be seen as a sign of maturity. After all, who wants to embark on married life knowing that they’ll be strapped for cash most of the time?
All the love in the world can’t fix a relationship where you can’t find a mutual worldview on money.
What You Can Do
You must take your partner’s money concerns seriously.
While it is a sensitive issue, you should not be afraid to have an honest conversation about it – in the spirit of discovery, not in the spirit of attacking him to make him realize his money fears are no big deal.
It’s entirely possible that your partner may want to get married, but not now. Maybe he’s still trying to save for a down payment on a house, or perhaps he plans on switching careers to get a better job.
You may not see it, but this could be beneficial for both of you before you take the next step.
He Doesn’t Think You’re the ‘One’
This is perhaps the most soul-crushing reason why your love doesn’t want to marry you.
It’s not that he never wants to settle down; he just might believe you’re not the one for him.
Sadly, he may not be able to articulate why, which makes the situation even more frustrating.
What You Can Do
Sometimes you have to recognize that things are beyond your control. If you’ve ever broken up with a guy – a good guy – it’s not a personal attack on him; it’s merely a recognition that you love him but don’t see yourself spending the rest of your life with him.
Sure, it will sting but it’s not like you’re being intentionally hurtful.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment that requires two people to be equally invested. As such, it should not be something that you impose on someone out of guilt. The right guy WANTS to marry you; the wrong guy comes up with a million excuses as to why he can’t – all of which may be real, all of which change nothing.
If you’ve been together for over 3 years, your guy hasn’t proposed, and you really want to get married, it’s in your best interest to get out now…not to sink two more years waiting for the proposal that never comes.
Last update: 2020-02-04