How Long Should You Stay With A Boyfriend Who Does Not Believe In Marriage?

How Long Should You Stay With A Boyfriend Who Does Not Believe In Marriage?

Dear Evan,

First of all, I love your advice. In fact, it’s because of your advice that I’m in my first serious, long-term relationship. (We’ve been together a year and a half and live together.) Now, however, I’m confused about the state of my relationship.

See, ever since we started dating – even before we started dating and knew each other through friends – I knew this guy didn’t believe in marriage.

I know you’re going to say: “Why didn’t you pay attention to the negatives?” I can honestly say I didn’t realize at that point that it mattered to me. I’m fairly young (late 20s) and it is just beginning to dawn on me that I’d like to get married. Now I realize how much I do want to get married to the person I love. He still doesn’t believe in it. He believes in long-term commitment and family, but not marriage (his family history is pretty rocky). I said to him that I don’t want to wait, and if I weren’t engaged after a couple years together I would think of moving on.

This really hurts him – to him, BECAUSE I want to marry him and wouldn’t just want a relationship, it means I love him less. He’s offered the following compromise: in a few years, when we decide to have kids, then we can get married. I’m scared, though. Is it stupid to wait that long? And is it a bad idea to marry someone who is basically like “fine, fine, we can get married.” I know he loves me and is committed to me, but I wonder how healthy that is.

Now I feel that this big difference in values is constantly hanging over me, and is making me feel negatively about things.

For a point of reference: our relationship is pretty good. We rarely argue (I would say we’ve had about 3 large arguments in our relationship, and maybe a smaller disagreement every couple of weeks.) We both want kids. We both have our irritating habits but we accept them. —Katie

Dear Katie,

Thanks for your kind words. I’m thrilled that you found a serious, long-term relationship using my advice, and I’m candidly delighted that you even quoted the advice you ignored about “ignoring the positives and believing the negatives”.

It would be easy for me to tell you to run from him. But I’m not so positive that you would be closer to achieving your goal that way.

Except now the chickens are coming home to roost. Or something like that.

Listen, I can’t tell you anything about your relationship that you don’t already know.

I think it’s unfortunate that he has such a distorted view of marriage that he’s given up on it as an institution.

I think it’s great that you’re trying to understand where he’s coming from — how it hurts him that he feels that HE’S not enough without a ring on your finger.

I think it’s telling that he attempted to come up with a mutually agreeable compromise, especially since it’s one where, apparently, you get exactly what you’ve always wanted: a husband, a ring, and a baby

So you’re faced with the timeless dilemma that all women face — should I stay or should I go? This very question was the topic of an hour long FOCUS Coaching call so believe me, I’ve got a lot more to say about it than I can compress into a single blog post.

It would be easy for me to tell you to run from him. I’m sure some of the other readers will say just that. But I’m not so positive that you would be closer to achieving your goal that way. And what we’re always trying to figure out here is effective vs. ineffective — what’s the best way for Katie to achieve her dream of marriage and kids with a man she loves?

So here’s the reason I think you might want to stay and make things work:

As Dale Carnegie pointed out many years ago, people don’t want to be sold; people want to choose.

You meet a pushy car salesman who wants to give you a great deal and won’t let you off the lot until you buy…and you’re not gonna buy from him.

That same car salesman takes the time to ask you what you’re looking for in a car: speed, price, mileage, safety…and you WILL buy from him, because you’re getting to choose on your terms, without any pressure.

The way you have the greatest leverage over your man is if he can’t imagine his life without you.

This is what women routinely forget when they’re angling for marriage. The more you pressure him to know that he wants to spend every day of the rest of his life with you and give you half of his income if he’s wrong, the less he’s going to want to do it.

So your arbitrary timelines: six months, nine months, one year, a year and a half… they don’t mean anything to your boyfriend. They’re arbitrary ticking clocks that you’ve created to justify your insecurity about investing time in one man. If you push for marriage too soon, before he’s ready, you will not get married to him. The woman who does get married to him will be the one who is patient enough to let him choose her.

The way you have the greatest leverage over your man is if he can’t imagine his life without you. One and a half years into knowing my wife, I could easily imagine life without her. Three years in, and I would be a hopeless, lonely, drooling idiot without her.

Your age, Katie, is a considerable factor. If you invest two or three more happy years in your boyfriend and decide to have kids at age 32, then you will likely get everything you want.

If, for some reason, your live-in boyfriend of 4  ½ years — a man who is virtually a common law husband — a man who says he loves you and wants to be a father someday — if, for some reason, he balks at marriage before kids, THEN you dump him.

However, unless your boyfriend is a liar, such behavior would be entirely illogical and inexplicable. And since he’s your boyfriend, I’m not counting on him being a liar.

I think he’s a good man who loves you, wants to be a dad, but wants to make sure he’s not making a huge mistake like so many others he knows.

Enjoy your relationship, become indispensable to him, and he will voluntarily want to lock you in for life when you’re both ready to have kids.

Remember, men act in their own self-interests and it’s in his self-interest to keep the woman he loves the most.

If I’m wrong, you would still be 32 and have your prime dating years ahead of you.

This woman and this woman gave their relationships 2-3 years to fully cement and ended up getting the marriage they always desired. It just took a little more patience.

If you think he’s “the one,” then I think it’s worth the risk. Good luck.

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  1. 1

    FWIW,   I don’t think much of marriage either.   Unless raising children is in involved marriage doesn’t do much for two adults beyond mundane things like health insurance.     It wouldn’t be a statement of my love for a woman.
    Your BF said he is willing to marry you after several years if you both want children.     That is everything you want and the way things should be.   A couple spends time together and they know if they can make it as a couple, long term,   before bringing a child in the world.
    I know that you WANT him to WANT to marry you.   I think you are missing the boat on that.     Marriage is nothing but a legal contract.   What you want is to be convinced of his love for you and his commitment to you.   Those things exist apart from the marriage and in a way he has demonstrated them by being willing to do something he doesn’t believe in to be WITH YOU.
    You haven’t mentioned how long you have dated him.   Why not date him for at least 3 years?   After that point you will know if he is willing to stick around or not and you will both know each other very well.

    1. 1.1

      I used to agree with the above, and was almost violently anti-marriage. My 7 year long relationship was awesome and we were moving forward in life like we were on fire. And then he developed obsessive compulsive disorder, and his life effectively ended as he quit his graduate program, job, and our relationship.

      And there I was, with no meaningful recourse for the loss of shared belongings, the money I’d invested in his future, the sacrifices made to support this person.

      And now, a legal contract called marriage sounds really damned great. My opinion is now, if a guys wants years of my time and emotional commitment, then “put a ring on it” because I am not going to get used and let devastated again in the name of”commitment is more than paper.” The paper IS the commitment, clear as day, and made public.

      1. 1.1.1

        Exactly, if it’s just a piece of paper, why not sign it? Also, we, as women don’t have that much time to waste, specially if we want to have children.

        1. Anonymous

          Spoken like a true chick. Women risk nothing and gain everything in marriage which is one of the main reasons women rush to it. Even prenups get thrown out of court at incredible rates these days leaving men to lose, in some cases, their entire lives just because she wanted out of the marriage. MEN SHOULD NOT BE FOOLED INTO THE SUICIDAL MALAISE MARRIAGE HAS BECOME. The wedding is nothing more then a party ABOUT HER, the ring and marriage certificate is nothing more then a gun pointed at a man’s head and that’s where it all ends because women simply do NOT want anything real to do with the “marriage”.  

        2. Julie

          Because unmarried women do not have the rights that married women do.   You’re basically giving him 100% and getting nothing in return.   I would get married asap or start opening up to other options and not waste any more of your precious years.  

        3. pat


          Women risk all kinds in marriage.   We risk our lives giving birth,   we sometimes age and lose our bodies prematurely from the assaults of pregnancy, we lose ourselves in raising a family, we lose our marketability in the work place if we devote ourselves too much to our family, all the extra work we do around the house is thankless and unappreciated (because despite modern times, women still do a disproportionately greater amount of work at home, even if they work full time).   So here’s the world’s tiniest violin playing for your contempt of women.

        4. Amanda


        5. NIKKI


      2. 1.1.2

        I have trouble with someone who says they believe in marriage to get back at their ex with a psychological disorder. I realize you can’t see a psych issue, but it’s the same as a medical issue–there’s something wrong with him, and it’s not really his fault. Even if you’d been married, he would probably have ended up on Medicaid, because he can’t work, and YOU would end up owing HIM, not the other way around.
        Also, independent women do not go for their ex’s jugular. It’s not necessary.
        Sorry Evan, I dislike when someone says things like this. I pity the person who marries someone who only gets married so if they break up they get paid.

      3. 1.1.3
        Right on

        I wish more people thinking like you. Don’t waste your time if you don’t get a ring, and wedding,that is commitment. Don’t be cheap people.

        1. John

          No, it’s not commitment.   It is buying into a 1930’s marketing campaign by the DeBeers diamond group.   “Engagement” rings didn’t exist until DeBeers decided it needed to exist.   I should work for Porsche and have them start a marketing campaign called the “Engagement” car for men.   THAT is a commitment, and it shows how strongly a women loves her man.   See how ridiculous that sounds?   Maybe a catchy slogan:   Show him that your love is just as strong as his.   Porsche.

        2. Arlene


          People have been using rings as a symbol of commitment since way before debeers. Debeers just made people buy diamonds but before that, any stone or style was sufficient.

      4. 1.1.4

        I agree with this 100%. Why put 5 years or 7 years of hard   work sacrifice in trying for him to see that he doesnt see his life with out you, when you could go out and find someone that wants the same things in life as you. Plus who would want to respond to someone by saying my bf is willing to marry me, that makes it seem like you are trying to control him and like you are making him.  

        1. kimi

          i agree with you! seriously, i mean i am in that situation and seriously it sucks!!!! my family is traditional so its annoying seeing your sisters all married and respected. but my relationship is not serious to them(quot: i’m still fooling around, still a baby). don’t get me wrong i want it for my self. the pretty white our family being reunited and having more self-confidence and being sur “he doesn’t leave me that easy with the bag” cause i lived a lot of shit with him and i was always there for him. when his mother bless her soul was in her final stage of cancer. who was there to care for her? when both him and his mother was sick, who took off running from school to take care of both of them? who went to take him every day to the hospital to see his mother in her car? who   held his hand when at the funeral he was almost crying but didn’t want to because he want to be strong for his older sister? who was there for him when he was in depression, all he wanted to do was sleep all day or play video games? ( i quot : i was his maid and his shoulder to cry on even tho i would cry with him) who contacted his friend to invite him to go out so he wouldn’t be around her things all the time?who helped him pick himself up and get a new job cause he lost his job because he’d go to the hospital every day for a month?now he wants to join the army cause he doesn’t have enough money to pay the bills. who drove him there? who takes him out when his sister who is now living with him brings her sex-friend over? hell you a girl like who did all this shit and more should not be a woman to marry or to at least be committed (married by paper) to then you gars suck ass!this guy should think of “tying me down ” before this bird flies away. guys please understand if she wants it really bad because it’s important to her then talk about it and tell why you don’t want to and make sure it’s a risk you are willing to take!

        2. kimi

          i forgot at first he wanted to but with all the shit i guess he changed his mind. he must think i will always stay with him. even though i told him that its what i want and that i’d leave him if he doesn’t shape up.

      5. 1.1.5
        Vive la vida

        I certainly agree w You CJ, i wasted 10 years of life! It was all about him and the demands he wanted.. I pleased him, spoiled him, loved him w al my heart.. He bounced in and out, until i finally gave him an ultimatum, we either get married or we split.. The only thing i saw beneficial here was the benefits at work.. So when he said he did not believe in marriage, I said perfect! I dont believe in investing without a return, so I walked! Its still hard to think back but moving forward is the best decision ever.. 🙂

        1. nikki

          do you realise that you described a one sided relationship before marriage, in which you jump when he says jump? is that someone that you really would have wanted to spend your life with any ways?   that isn’t a guy that you should have wanted to marry. You obviously were not okay with how you were being treated by him without the ring, why would you want to be tied to someone who treated you poorly in the first place? the problem was that he didn’t respect you or what you contributed to the relationship…. you didn’t need to give him an ultimatum, you were already dissatisfied with him. if   the relationship wasn’t working for you, a ring would not have changed that.

        2. saundra j. raynor

          That is what I am inclined to do: walk. I lived with late husband for ten years; then married him. He died fifteen years later. I lost a lot during those ten years (including a larger percentage of his pension). After almost two years, my partner says he needs more time. He’s afraid. His adult children don’t want him to marry one. (I think they are concerned that their inheritance might be a little less. Yet, they have plenty of money.) If he can’t trust me now or love me enough now, what is another year or two?

      6. 1.1.6

        My point exactly.



      7. 1.1.7

        Shouldn’t you be glad and relieved that you *weren’t* married to your ex? What a nasty divorce that would’ve been.

      8. 1.1.8

        this is exactly why I refuse marriage. Congratulations you’ve experienced what so many men have to go through. We bust our asses to make a wife happy just to hear one day “I feel like we’ve grown apart. I’m leaving you and taking he kids. You’ll hear from my lawyer”. Marriage favors women far too much and to put a ring on a woman’s finger is giving her a loaded gun pointed at my temple. She has full access to destroy my entire life if she sees fit and believe me she will. No thanks!!!

      9. 1.1.9
        Picking it up

        I was married to my ex-husband for 10 years. We had three kids together. We help put each other through school. When the marriage ended I walked away with our children and $150 a month in child support he got everything else. Marriage isn’t a contract that keeps things fair if you split. It’s a contract that ties two families together.

      10. 1.1.10

        So beautifully put….

      11. 1.1.11
        Mary Daniels

        I stopped reading the article when it came to the point he was trying to make about selling a car. Yes no one likes a pushy salesman but if your your boyfriend is not trying to buy a car, letting him test driving it a long time is meaningless. My sister said most guys let you know in the first 6 weeks what they want…most girls aren’t listening! If you want to get married you have to flick off the ones that don’t want it! I’ve been married 3 times. I just so happened to be the one around when they were ready! When they ain’t ready forget about it!

    2. 1.2

      Marriage serves no purpose to men. Its purely beneficial   to women only. And its easy to explain why, men stand to lose the most in any event of the divorce for the majority of the time. Note here i said majority not all apply but with 50% of all marriages ending in divorce and 70-75% of those divorces initiated by women its like jumping out of a plane where the pilot tells you your chute may open half the time and the when it doesn’t open a good chance they cute the string themselves. By marrying you there is nothing you really bring to the table that cant be had by just living together. If you were to divorce him you probably get the kids (if you had them at the time), you would probably get alimony and child support and most of the shit in the house and probably the house its self.   And the biggest kicker is if he did marry you and god forbid you cheated and got knocked up by another man law says its his kid until you tow divorce and he has a dna test done but still loses the child support money for that kid that wasnt his.   Now remember this isnt exactly you but this is shit that is common and happens alot.


      1. 1.2.1
        Veronica Haney

        Maybe having an equal partner emotionally, financially, and physically by your side; a mother of your children; and a best friend should be of benefit to you. If the woman you’re dating was not your friend before and while you were dating, then you should not have married her. This is YOUR fault. We should all know the character of who we’re going to marry at least well enough to know if they would f*ck us over that badly when divorcing! Why would someone screw you over that much unless you had a hearty hand to play in the deterioration of your relationship and f*cked her up pretty badly as well?


        1. Dude

          This is just naive. People CHANGE over the course of their lives. The very idea that you could marry someone when you’re both 20 and that you’ll still get along and be the same people all the way until you’re 80 is wishful thinking. It does happen, but it’s extremely rare. It makes no sense to legally bind a relationship that will almost certainly end. You just don’t think ahead when you’re in love, and that’s why so many people end up bitter miserable adults when their marriages inevitably end in divorce. Everything seems great in the beginning. OF COURSE it seems like a good idea at that time. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people, it just isn’t.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Except divorce rates for college educated couples who marry after 30 is only 20%. So much for “vast majority.”

      2. 1.2.2

        If you were NOT married…woman also get the kids. Either ways she gets the kids…so you can’t really throw that out there, huh.


      3. 1.2.3
        saundra j. raynor

        In successful careers and earning enough money to retire, women get the short end of the stick. If a man is so selfish he doesn’t want provide financial security to someone he professes to love, he shouldn’t be in an exclusive relationship. They should both move on after two years.

    3. 1.3
      nicole spence

      I just left a man who I am very much in love with because he refused to marry me after four years. You men need to stop playing games with women. We have better things to do with our time than to play the “ I hope he eventually wants me” game. FU

      1. 1.3.1

        Did he come back, did it work out?

      2. 1.3.2
        Veronica Haney



  2. 2

    I’d reccomend patience.
    If your relationship is solid, as you say in your writing,  and everything else works and you really want to be with him, waiting three more years should be a reasonable compromise.

    And given the fact that early you mentioned he did not believe in marriage and you knew before you started dating, it seems to show his character that he actually compromised to do so.

    Changing paradigms like that is not easy. And it seems he needs the three years to make absolutely sure that choosing marriage is the right path for him to take.

    1. 2.1
      nicole spence

      In the meantime allow him to use you and allow men like the above to tell you to be ‘paitient’ as if you haven’t already been patient. Keep doing what you are doing and recieve a fruitless future and waste more of your youth. Just saying!


      1. 2.1.1

        but we are missing a vital piece of info. from her and i think ppl. are interjecting their own personal experiences in this like if their experiences are apart of her situation.

        1. is she happy with him? is everything else working out well? … sounds like it is, so staying with someone she honestly is happy with WILL NOT hurt her that’s not called “being used”.

        2. is she ready to be married right at this very moment?! she said she’s in her late 20’s and she just realized she would like to be married. it had never occurred to her in 20 plus yrs. that she held that belief before…. she wasn’t dreaming of this ever since she was a child. so could it be that: she just realized that ONE DAY she would like to be married,   and she knows shes with a guy who doesn’t believe in marriage so now she’s wondering if their relationship has an expiration date.   OR is it that she wants to be married right now, in this moment and he isn’t giving that to her?

        If she’s not ready to be married right now then waiting it out a bit with someone who she has a great relationship with isn’t the worst idea in the world…. she’s still young.   However, if marriage has become her driving force over night then there’s no need to wait & see she should move on.   I suspect she is the ” omg i just realized one day i want to be married” type….    he said if they decided to have kids he’ll marry her, and i think that is fair enough coming from someone who isn’t sold on the idea of marriage. My advice would   agree on the kids then get married before having the kids.   she not being mistreated, she’s not upset why should she leave?….   problem solved case closed.

  3. 3

    A friend of mine believes in marriage but her boyfriend of 5yrs didnt. They’ve been living together, travelled the world together, go on lots of wild adventures together, they were basically perfect together. Yet, my friend was walking on eggshells everyday trying to figure out whether he’s ever going to propose to her or not. They have talked about it, but he never gave her a proper confirmation as to whether he wants to get married, he thinks that domestic partnership is enough.

    So what my friend did was that she would subtly make small remarks or fun little comments that hint towards marriage (e.g. “Hey, Melissa & Jake are getting married soon, isnt that great?” or something like “that wedding scene in the movie was so romantic!”) Ok well maybe more subtle than these, but you get the point. My friend did this almost every day but only when the topic comes up. And then finally, when they hit their 6-yr mark, the guy suddenly proposed to her! And now they’re married with a cute baby boy.

    So yes you should let men be free to make their own choices when it comes to marriage, it might take a while for him to be ready. But at the same time you shouldn’t suffer too much from this uncertainty, if you are then maybe you would be better off finding someone else. Otherwise, like Evan says, enjoy & focus on the Present, not the Future.

    1. 3.1

      Why do you live with a guy before marriage if you want him to marry you. I am not getting this at all.

      1. 3.1.2

        because   it might not work if you are not able to live together. hello divorce!

    2. 3.2

      At the start of the story it sounded like me and my boy friend.   In everyway until later on.
      We are now together 12 yrs+ and I have aged and changed in a way that is not attractive anymore and being 59 well I am lost with this subject.   I have given my all but tired and we have now also lived together past 2 yrs.   I have waited hinted, cried, talked but he never gave me a ring or planned to marry.   He is able to live comfortable for him.   But for me I cannot afford to live without his help.   With saying this I don’t want to wind up any older and alone with nothing.   So I AM STUPID!!!   But today I sent him away and not sure what to do with the situation I am in.   I am lost and sad.   I was thin, attractive, and young when we started out but now?   Just sad with no answer to what to do.   I feel so stupid.   To old to start again.  
      Just lost with what is right.  

      1. 3.2.1

        Don’t let your self worth be defined by your looks. It’s terrible that you wasted over a decade on someone and the only thing you’re left with is insecurity. In a society that tells women they are worthless without the adoration of a man, and that beauty is the main way to capture a man’s interest, it’s very easy to lose hope in love. My advice, and I know it sounds cliche, work on loving yourself. I’m only 29 and it took me about 15 years to figure this out so I guess I’m luckier in that sense, but I think there’s still hope for you to live a happy life. Your self worth has nothing to do with how you look or who you’re with. Work on making yourself a better person and contributing something positive to society. Help other young women see that they don’t have to go through what you’ve been through. It’s never too late to do something positive. I know it seems like it but it’s not. Even if just going to the gym and trying to live a healthier lifestyle is the only thing you think you can do, then do it. You’ll feel better once you start taking small steps to realizing you are deserving of Love and kindness, so be kind to yourself. Sometimes we have to be a little selfish in order to become healthy and in turn we learn what true love is.   Did you ever judge your former lover by the inevitable changes he was going through when he was aging, just as you were aging?   If your answer is “no” then you need to realize there are other non judgmental people such as yourself out there and you will find a man who appreciates you for you, not just your looks. That said, if you really feel like you need to make a change for health reasons, go work out, girlfriend! Exercise will make you happier and healthy, even if it’s just water aerobics or walking. People will notice a positive change in your demeanor, and that’s what makes you truly attractive: your attitude! Don’t get down on yourself. We’re all rooting for you. And frankly, we shouldn’t need romantic love in order to feel like whole people. just try to look at the bright side. You had 10+ years with someone you loved. things change, they always will. time to start a new chapter in your life and turn the page on this past chapter. not everything is about romantic love. maybe it’s time to start a new adventure.   what do you think you can do on this new journey? We live in modern society. let’s act like it. we have so many opportunities available to us that our mothers and grandmothers never had! don’t squander it while you’re alive! don’t be a victim.

        1. Pauline

          Sally – I love what you wrote and I’m on my right path reading this & doing it as well – sending love light wherever you are.

        2. Gallilee

          ‘…a society that tells women they are worthless without the adoration of a man.’
          Oh COME ON, what year are we living In? Read the messages on this site, or any similar site, and you will find a million voices saying that women don’t need a man, and zero saying a woman is worthless unless a man adores her. Do you pay any attention to the culture we live In? I’m going to assume you aren’t posting from Saudi Arabia. Women need to stop this woe is me shit. If there’s a real issue that is u kque to women, yes society should address it. This is just silliness and ammunition for alt right weirdos.

        3. Sally

          Galilee, stop projecting your apt right spin on to others. Women are relentlessly bombarded by million dollar ad campaigns in every form of media about how we need to look for men and how to get men to like us. But hey, I guess you’re a woman so you would know right? Everything is designed to cator to your gaze and you just take it for granted and don’t even realize it. Childish. My comment was about how she should love herself, but instead you turned it into being about you and YOUR insecurity as a male.

      2. 3.2.2

        This made me cry.   Just saying last night this might happen to me.     String me along years until any marketability I may have is gone.   I’m 51 and we going on year 3.   He is younger so no problem for him jump into dating pool. But I love him.   Wish you all best.

    3. 3.3

      Honestly he shouldn’t, why cant she be happy just living with him? there isnt nothing that cant be done that a little piece of business document couldn’t bring. Thats what marriage is it is a business document that brings nothing to men. If you love him then just live with him you two want a kid then have a kid, want to buy a house then buy a house. All marriage does is guarantee him a screw job in the event of a divorce and lots of money wasted.

      1. 3.3.1

        Ben said: “All marriage does is guarantee him a screw job in the event of a divorce and lots of money wasted.

        So does common-law or adult-interdependent-partners depending on where you live.   And that can come into effect as quick as 12 months of cohabitation depending on the law where you live.
        For example, the woman can claim unjust enrichment against the man, and he is again on the hook for a guaranteed “screw job”.   Also depending on the couple’s location, child support and custody for common-law is usually identical to married.
        A prenup or cohabitation agreement is basically the only way to have some guarantee of amicable and proper property division etc.

        1. Ben

          Pren ups are a joke they dont work and a judge can throw it out if they see fit. Has happens many times. Again marriage has no point why get married when you can jump ship if things dont work out.

        2. DeeGee

          Ben, well then I guess you had better stay single for the rest of your life.
          If divorce is bad, common-law is bad, and prenups are bad, then you apparently have no other choice, unless you plan on limiting all of your live-in relationships to less than a year.

      2. 3.3.2

        The whole point of marriage is to show commitment and spend the rest of your lives together no matter what. If you have the right intentions, there would be no need for a divorce.

        1. nikki

          Ben, why does it have to be a screw job for him. what if she’s the bread winner and the get divorced?

      3. 3.3.3

        Ben it sounds like you were burnt pretty bad. Sounds like the female you married didn’t have shit going into the relationship. Nothing to offer you period. A woman should bring more to the table than reproductive organs and taking care of the house, and a man should bring more to the table than a job.

        I’m the only person who got screwed in my marriage. I’m a female. My marriage literally only benefited my husband.

        He sees his kid when he wants and doesn’t pay child support.

        Now I get I’m 1 in a million when it comes to females, I do, but I keep Seeing soooo many men saying it doesn’t do anything for a man, it’s for the ladies, blah blah, but I can Safely say most men I’ve been with I’ve helped mold them into a more successful, better and maybe even smarter man than they were before me. I feel Ladies have way more to lose in a marriage period. Money is money and anyone can make it.

        1. Jada

          Why is it assumed that women bring nothing to the table financially? I own a small farm, have a car and a truck, a decent job, retirement accounts. In my 50’s and in a relationship w a good guy. If he doesn’t want to marry me after another year or two of dating, I’m not waiting around. I’m past the point of having children. When you’re older, there are other considerations as far as being married. I work on the medical field and have the difference in the way spouses are treated, the respect given, as opposed to the girlfriend or “significant other.” We both have children and grandchildren, also. It’s about respect and commitment. Yes, a ring and a paper isn’t a guarantee of ANYTHING. It’s a public declaration with some legal benefits, that’s the reality in our society.

  4. 4

    This is why I’m not a fan of living together before marriage, unless you’re engaged. The man has all the domesticity he wants without having to commit to marriage.  

    However, if you both want kids, and that wasn’t something either one of you were sure about prior to getting together, that changes things, doesn’t it? It’s a pretty good reason to marry. And I’ve read lots of research that has said that men are most motivated to commit in the first 2 years (maybe 3 if you are under 30) or so  of a relationship, so I don’t think these timelines are completely arbitrary.  

    How long should you wait? I’m not sure, but I think that when you really begin to feel strongly about having children, that would be a good time to revisit this. Remember, too, that an engagement can last for a year or two, so you may not want to wait too long before at least getting engaged.

    1. 4.1

      Yes, living together before being at least married puts women at a disadvantage. It’s giving men all they need without the effort of actually committing to anything.  

      1. 4.1.1

        I couldn’t agree more.   Men don’t see the reason to propose and get married while they are already living together in a domestic  long term relationship.   But if any other women are like me, they need to know if this is a serious relationship and not  just friends with benefits.   Sometimes I feel unwanted and undesirable when my bf says that marriage is stupid and that he doesn’t want to get married. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me that makes me unworthy of marriage.      Marriage means  something to me and I feel let down when he always says that marriage is stupid.   I think it shows dedication to me and our lives together and that I am not just some friend with benefits all the time.   hurts my feelings to hear that my dreams are pointless and meaningless to him. Guys should take that into consideration. Sometimes us ladies  just want to feel “claimed” and wanted, even if boys think it is dumb.   Sometimes its not about you.   Sometimes it is about making your lady happy.

        1. Erica

          I am so sick of this outdated dichotomy ‘women want the ring and men don’t want to commit’. I am a 25 year old woman and I don’t believe in marriage and I don’t think I ever want kids. I enjoy being in a long term cohabiting relationship with my boyfriend and although I make it clear I am committed to him, he wants to one day put a ring on it and maybe have kids. When I tell him I may never wake up one day and have kids, he gets sad but says he still wouldn’t leave me. I love him but I hate the idea of leading him on. I wonder whether love is enough. I cannot make myself want marriage and kids.  

          I know I am in serious relationship without the ring. It’s not that you’re unworthy of marriage. People who are adverse to marriage, such as myself, often thing marriage is unworthy of our love… I hate the idea of transforming something as beautiful and as spontaneous as love into something as boring as a contract. I want to wake up each day and make a conscious decision to be with my boyfriend (cohabiting for over 4 years now), not feel trapped because of a piece of paper…

        2. Paola

          Agree 100%

        3. Jada

          Exactly!! Esp when friends around you getting engaged and you feel like what is wrong with me that I’m not good enough to proposed to? I know immature but it’s hard to quell that voice sometimes.

      2. 4.1.2

        no it doesnt, and the reverse can be said about marriage. marraiage give the WOMEN all she needs in a pretty legal binding contract that the men is subjected to. As i beleave and many many other men   and even women marriage brings nothing to the table that cant be had by just living together.

  5. 5

    More and more people are choosing not to marry and are leading happy lives. A new book by a (presumably) happily married male sociologist with 2 little kids (putting that in so that you can leave aside any ad hominem attacks on his research) describes this trend in detail. He had an op-ed about it in the NY Times this past weekend. You can read it here:

    The point: There is nothing wrong with his lack of interest in marriage, and while you see it as a “negative” or the result of some kind of psychological damage, you might consider that your take on his lack of interest might be wrong. Choosing to remain single is  a positive intention  for many people, the research now tells us, and it might be so for him. His desire to stay unmarried may never change, no matter how great your relationship is.   So would you consider staying with him without the ring and the contract if all else is in place?

    I predict that we’re going to be seeing more  of this kind of friction between lovers as time goes on–I mean, this demographic  shift is huge–and there are no easy answers.  The conflict doesn’t fall out along traditional gender lines, either. Just as many women are saying no to marriage as are men. Maybe more, if you look at  divorced/widowed–the women are less likely than the men to say they want to remarry (acc to the sociologist above).  

    To the readers here: Please don’t  take what I’m saying  as an attack on marriage or on your desire to find “the one.” If that’s for you, go for it. Just respect that not everyone wants that, and, evidently, fewer people want that than was previously thought. It’s important to understand where the other person is coming from and to accept it, not try to change it, not hope that  he (or she) is going to “come around.” And if you believe that  there is something wrong with a man or woman who doesn’t want marriage, then you’re going to lose that relationship because no one  is going to stay  with you if you’re  always putting out that that other person a loser, or damaged, or not moral, or immature for not wanting the lifestyle that you want.

    1. 5.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Diane, thou dost protest too much. No one is attacking anyone. The OP said that her boyfriend “believes in long-term commitment and family, but not marriage (his family history is pretty rocky).”

      Thus, we can conclude two things: 1) That he doesn’t choose to remain single – he believes in long-term commitment and family. 2) That his lack of interest in marriage is specifically due to his rocky upbringing, thus suggesting some psychological damage.

      The article you posted was about people who choose to remain single and unencumbered by long-term romantic relationships, which means that they can go to art openings and take spontaneous weekends away whenever they want. Good for those people. It just has nothing to do with the original question, which is about a man who wants EVERYTHING that a marriage offers…without the ring on his finger. No one is judging those who don’t want marriage but if this guy wants everything associated with marriage and his girlfriend wants marriage, one of them is going to have to change their minds…and, in the long-term, it’s probably him.

      1. 5.1.1

        Evan, What about a couple one and a half years into  a relationship, living together, very in love who have been making plans  for their future together, she thinking it means marriage he recently stating he doesn’t believe in marriage?

        1. Deb

          I might add he did say she might be the one to talk him into it.  

      2. 5.1.2

        Makes sense.  

    2. 5.2

      great comment. I’m of the mindset that if you want marriage and your partner doesn’t, there’s no sense in pressuring the person or making compromises for them in terms of something so life altering. There is no shame in being honest that the relationship is under too much strain and is time for both people to move on.   If you never want to marry, don’t be ashamed, but you may want to ask yourself why. Is it because of legitimate hurt or distrust? If so you might want to work that out in therapy so that any future relationship doesn’t experience the same issues. If you just genuinely don’t find the institution of marriage appealing, then that’s fine. Just always be upfront and don’t be shocked or dismayed if the person moves on. We all have our goals and sometimes a relationship just won’t work if the goals are at odds with each other. Find someone who shares the same values so you can find happiness, no judgement.

  6. 6

    [email protected]; Actually, the article doesn’t go into any detail at all about whether those folks who are living single are romantically involved with anyone else or in what way they are (gay, abstinate, polyamorous, committed but living apart, into casual liaisons, with children, without children, etc.). Statistics on “singles” or “unmarrieds” would include all sorts of romantic attachments, just as statistics on “marrieds” would (gay, abstinate, polyamorous, committed but living apart, into casual liaisons, with children, without children, etc.).  So I would say that  the boyfriend can want long-term commitment and kids and still not want to get married. I’d say that because there are many, many people out there who are in just this kind of situation.     

    I made the comment about people perceiving what I’m saying as an   “attack on marriage” (not on a person or people, as you suggest I am saying) because I’ve read that kind of stuff on here on other posts.

    Also, just to point out one other not-so-small thing–people who come from rocky upbringings  are not necessarily psychologically damaged, and people who come from stable upbringings are not necessarily psychologically healthy. To attribute his lack of interest in marriage to some kind of trauma is a very simplistic understanding of mental health and relationship and is exactly the kind of misinformation that I was suggesting that people stop bandying about. We know better now.

    I would also say that until we speak with him we can’t conclude anything. I take people at their word. If  someone says to me that they don’t want to get married, I believe them, without judgment or psychoanalyzing them.  I figure that they probably know better than I do what they want and what is best for them. If I think they should get married, or that they should get married to me, or that they will get married to me even if they say they don’t want to, who sounds crazy?    

  7. 7

    The OP might want to ask herself why she wants to get married. What is it exactly about marriage that she feels is essential to their relationship? I say this because a lot of folks, especially those with less experience with long term relationships, tend to have Hollywood and fairy-tale like views of marriage. Furthermore, they’re more likely to be reacting to social pressure from friends and family, than those who have “been around the block” more.
    She also might want to, if she hasn’t already, really sit down and solicit what her boyfriend’s objections are – in detail. Without any pressure to talk about their relationship status. It’s hard to know if his “compromise” is unhealthy or not because we don’t know in more detail what his objections to marriage are, or if he’s just offering to get married later to keep the OP around.
    Evan assumes he has given up on marriage. Perhaps he has. Or perhaps he wants it to look differently than the models he has seen around himself. Or perhaps he questions the way in which it’s viewed by many as the only possible “good” outcome of a relationship. I have had a lot of conversations with friends who aren’t interested in marriage, or who are – like myself – on the fence about it. And there are countless reasons why they think as they do. Some maybe are stemming from a failure to deal with past family trauma, but a lot are simply viewing relationships in a different manner from what was given to us by society.

    1. 7.1

      Totally agree. Both people need to really analyze why they do or do not want this relationship to follow a certain path? Is it because they are jaded about marriage? Is it because society told them to think a certain way in order to be considered successful? Both should analyze their motives in order to figure out how to proceed.

  8. 8

    I think that the pressures that women used to exert on men to get married are working less and less these days. As others point out, nobody has to get married to anybody anymore to have what marriage offers. So little hints and waiting around and hoping he’ll take those hints and notice your foot tapping away  may not work in the long run.

    I say that if you’re sure that you want to be married and he’s said that he really doesn’t, cut your losses and go find someone else who does want to get married. It isn’t fair  to waste his time and put him through all of the trauma of thinking that he has a life partner on one set of terms but then giving him an  ultimatum because one day you’ve decided enough time has gone by for him to change–especially when he’s been clear about  not wanting to get married  all along, & you knew all along that you were going to bail if he didn’t propose.

    My sister is big into giving guys ultimatums. It works, she says. She should know–at 43 she’s on her third marriage. My brother was on the receiving end of pressure to marry his long-term girlfriend and gave in. That also ended in divorce. And many of the divorced guys I know complain about not having wanted to be married to begin with, but that the woman (or the family or whoever) pressured him into it. The guy may love a woman and not want to lose her but not want to be married. Women shouldn’t take advantage of his feelings or of the social pressure to make him do something that he doesn’t want to do. It may not backfire, but it also stands a really big chance of backfiring. Wouldn’t it be better not to have to deal with that and just find someone who’s on the same page as you? If lots of people want to get married then it’s just a matter of going out with guys from that pool and not going out with guys clearly not in that pool.

    It’s not just about getting the ring, it’s about what happens after.

  9. 9

    I have seen cases where one partner, who strongly wanted marriage, immediately wanted the relationship to change, to match more with his/her idea of marriage. The OP then feels trapped or deceived, having expected the relationship/person to be the same as before the ceremony.   Yes, it can also work out just fine, but people need to tread carefully.

  10. 10

    My darling, wonderful, amazing boyfriend of 4 years also doesn’t believe in marriage, but also wanted a life partner and long term commitment- but we don’t intend to have kids, so there is even less legal reason to get hitched.   However, similar to your boyfriend, he knows its important to me.   When we decided to move in together I made it very clear that I wanted to get married, but was willing to do it on a timeline he felt more comfortable with.   For him, that was after he and paid off a good chunk of his student loan debt.
    We’re planning to get engaged this year and married next – is he jumping for joy?   No. But is he willing to do this thing that means so much to me?   Yes.   There are times where I wish I had a guy who was so “head over heels in love with me” that he HAD to marry me, but I realized that my guy is so head over heels in love with me that he’s willing to do something he would rather not in order to keep me and make me happy.
    Sure, there’s always the chance that he’ll not be able to do it when the time comes, but I believe deep down that it won’t happen.   If I know nothing else, it is that he is a man of his word.   My point is that it’s not about the romance of a man desperately wanting to marry you – but knowing that this is a man you can compromise and build a life with.

  11. 11

    I see marriage as a great legal way to get your financial stuff in order as a family, if you’re going to depend on each other physically and financially. Being able to add each other to your medical insurance is pretty high on the list. Personally I don’t plan on remarrying, but that’s because I’m done raising a family and at this point I’m just out to enjoy life and have fun together as a couple. That, of course, may change, but at least it’s where I stand at the moment. If I were in a relationship where we planned on owning a house and having kids together, I’d sleep a lot better at night if we were legally married. That said, Katie’s BF seems to be of the same mindset, since he’s OK with getting married when they start having kids.

  12. 12

    I’m curious about why he doesn’t want to marry. I can honestly say that I have two friends who are in a satisfying longterm relationships without marriage. Both my friends and their significant others are declared atheists (one is American, one French), without a chip on their shoulders, generally happy, gainfully employed, good relationships with their families, etc. I think that unless the individual holds particular philosphophical views (like these people) about why they don’t want to have a legal marriage, I am not convinced that he/she will have a satisfying longterm relationship. I have a very close friend who tried to believe that she didn’t care, but she did and it turns out that her now ex-husband was too chicken to break things off. She got him to marry her, he had an affair with a coworker while she was pregnant.

  13. 13

    Ooh! This is fun. And nobody has said anything mean yet.
    Thanks for your great advice, Evan.
    I think I sent that email a month and a half ago… obviously, I knew that a busy dating guru would take some time getting to my dilemma so I had to sort of figure things out myself. I told my significant other that I would leave it alone for the time being, but that marriage is still important to me. I haven’t brought up the topic with him since then, which I think was a good choice on my part.
    I know it will come up again in the future, and I’m not looking forward to that day, but at least for now I have taken the pressure off him.
    Who knows why I care about marriage? I’ve never been the type of woman who has fantasized about the fairy-tale wedding or catching a husband. I’ve had a lot of positive single female role models in my family, so I’ve always thought that it could be possible for me to have a full happy life as a single person.
    But, I always sort of assumed that if/when I did meet a wonderful partner, it would lead to marriage. I guess it’s just the value I was raised with.  
    Does it change anything that we are planning to immigrate to another country in about six months’ time? I sort of thought it would be good to sort these things out before making such a big life change together.
    As it turns out, some other potential incompatibilities have surfaced over the last few months. In the interest of working at the relationship and not discarding a good man for the hope of an impossible ideal, I/we have been trying to sort through these snags. I think we are working them out. But it has made me realize that I should probably stress less about HIS problems with marriage, and spend the next while evaluating whether he would actually be the right husband for me.  
    Thanks for your kind words, again. I especially like the part where you say when I’ll be 32 I’ll still have so many good years ahead. That is refreshingly optimistic.

  14. 14

    @ Katie “Does it change anything that we are planning to immigrate to another country in about six months’ time?”
    This may change a lot! My family came from my home country to the US on a refugee status, our close friends came on the husband’s student visa, a number of people I know came on the husband’s or wife’s work visa… in all those cases, if the man and the woman hadn’t been legally married, I really cannot think of a way they could’ve both come here together as a couple. There wouldn’t be any legal ground for the other person to come here. I guess it depends on the country and the type of immigration.
    “As it turns out, some other potential incompatibilities have surfaced over the last few months”
    I was wondering when you said in your letter that you two never had arguments. To me, for a (relatively) new couple, arguments are a way of locating any possible issues and working them out together.   If the couple has never or hardly ever argued in the whole time they’re together, then in all likelihood something is being swept under the rug 🙁 Of course by arguing I mean having civil constructive discussions, not screaming matches.
    Thanks for the update and good luck with whatever you two decide!

  15. 15

    Let me start with this… everyone has the right to their feelings about marriage. If one doesn’t want marriage, fine. If one does, fine. I don’t think people need to necessarily go through a ton of mental gymnastics to explain what they want or don’t want.
    As for me, marriage was always a given. A man uninterested in marriage was an immediate dealbreaker for me. I made no apologies for that… in fact, almost four years ago, a decent six-month relationship ended because the guy said he didn’t know if he’d be ready to think about marriage for at least three years (note, I was 30, he was 38). Not marry in three years, but think about marriage. He knew how I felt from the beginning, so my answer wasn’t a surprise. I said no dice. Didn’t give him an ultimatum (I don’t believe in those either), but just said that our beliefs and desires on marriage were incompatible.
    So we broke up. I met my husband six months later, he proposed a year after our first date, and we married seven months after our engagement. I sometimes shudder to think that I could have missed out on the love of my life because I was giving that other guy space and a chance… instead of celebrating one year of marriage (and a pregnancy), I’d probably be in the throes of a breakup with that guy who clearly had desires that were incompatible with mine.
    Meanwhile, I have a girlfriend who met a guy around the same time I met the first guy. He told her from the beginning that he didn’t believe in marriage (because of what he saw in his family, etc.). She gave him a chance, knowing she wanted to be married. Two years later, she let him go, noticing that he had not only not changed his mind, she had not met one family member of his during that time. She considers it a waste of two years and says she should have paid attention from the beginning to what he said. She’s 37 and back out there trying to date.
    My point is simply that if you want marriage Katie, you have every right to desire that and you don’t have to twist yourself and your desires to fit your boyfriend’s.  

    1. 15.1

      This comment is very reasonable and and the same time makes me have more hope. There are very smart and open minded people here.

    2. 15.2

      I’m in a similar situation. I’ve been with a guy for about 4 months now and we met on a dating website. On the website I said that I was looking for a family of my own one day, so marriage and kids was a given at some point in the future. On his profile it said he was open to kids and as we got to know each other, come to find out he not only doesn’t want kids, but doesn’t want to get married either. Apparently he said he was open to kids because women didn’t respond as much when he had it listed that he didn’t want any kids. The reason I’m so torn about it is because he’s a great guy. We connect together in every aspect and I feel most comfortable with him. However, emotionally I feel myself keeping my guard up because I don’t know where our relationship stands in the future because of this. It sucks that I finally found a guy that I really connect with only to find out we aren’t on the same page with something as big as marriage and kids. He divorced a few years ago and has it set that women change after marriage. In my opinion, we are all changing with every new experience, whether we realize it or not. Our thoughts and feelings change often as we make mistakes, experience new things and take in new knowledge. I want to be able to grow with someone regardless of that. I also feel like I’m more emotional and he is logical. Not everything can be looked at from a logical perspective. To me, marriage and kids mean family, love, support, and it is priceless. To him it means a financial burden, stress and time consumption. He’s really knit picky about everything and is sort of ocd in my eyes. Anything can set him off. Something as simple as accidentally knocking over a dog’s water dish. He’s not violent at all, just super ocd about anything regarding his property, with his car and electronics on a pedestal. Despite his weird ocd ticks, he’s still very great. We laugh together and enjoy our time together. I’m just really on the fence with whether or not I’m wasting my time since in my eyes, he doesn’t want a future with me. I’ve never been married and it has always been a want for me. I’ve been on the fence with kids, but I don’t like the idea of having the option of bearing kids taken away from me simply because he doesn’t want them. Sigh. Seems I’m in a pickle. 😔

      1. 15.2.1
        Karmic Equation

        No you’re not.

        You just have to make a decision.

        Dump him or accept that he won’t ever marry you and you’ll never have kids.

        Don’t hang in there hoping he will change. That is how women string themselves along in a relationship and then blame the guy.

        Teach a guy to be honest by taking his words at face value and respond in kind.

        “Look, Jeff. I like you a lot, but I want to have kids someday. You don’t. I’m going to have to move on. I’m sorry.”

        Yeah you’re going to miss him. He’s going to miss you. Odds are there will be a few makeups/breakups before you finally realize that you wasted your time with him.

        Save yourself the time of the few makeups/breakups and just stay broken up the first time and resolve to find a man with the same  life goal as you: marriage and children.

        If he ever changes his mind and you’re still available you can always get back together then. Just don’t hold your breath. Move on. Live.

        You’ll find another man to connect with. He’s not the last man on earth that you’ll connect with.

      2. 15.2.2

        I really do feel you because I have been there, done that.   However, you need to just decide if you love him enough to forgo your goals of marriage and perhaps kids.   Trust me that there are men out there who you will connect with emotionally–and have the same life goals as you!   It’s not a black and white, either/or situation.   I’ve dated guys before who I felt a strong connection with, but who didn’t have the same goals as me (only in my case, it was the opposite where they were adamant about wanting 4 kids or more.   Holy cow, I don’t think I can have that many!   Not to mention, don’t think I want that many even if I could).   At the time, I felt the way you did, but made the difficult decision to leave. We were all better off that way.

        Lo and behold, then shortly thereafter, I met my boyfriend, who I actually feel even more of an emotional connection with–and also has the same goals as I do.   I would have really missed out if I stayed with those guys (with them either resenting me for not having tons of kids, or them trying to force me to have a ton of them against my will.   Since they were unwilling to budge on that issue, it wouldn’t have ended happily no matter how much they liked me otherwise).   You’ll have to do a lot of soul-searching and just trust that you know what’s best for you.

        1. Snow

          Thanks for the advice and for responding. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would, but it felt nice to say what has been bothering me for some time. I agree with both of you. I do feel that I need to sit down and let him know how I’m feeling. I don’t want to keep dragging the relationship on knowing that eventually it will end in disaster because we aren’t on the same page regarding marriage and children. It’s definitely not going to be easy to do and it really does suck because it is so hard to find a guy that I really connect with. Hopefully I’ll have the same luck as you and find my Mr. Right down the line.

      3. 15.2.3

        Hi Snow – I agree with KE 1000% that you either dump him or accept him on his terms.

        However, I must say, he is not a “great guy”.

        He lied about something that he knows damn well is extremely important to many women, you included.   So in order to get around that, he lied to get what HE wanted, without regard for what YOU or any other woman wanted. In your own words   “Apparently he said he was open to kids because women didn’t respond as much when he had it listed that he didn’t want any kids.”

        That is no white-lie.   That is no “Awwww, there’s no outfit in the world that could make you adorable, dainty butt look big” lie.   That is not an OLD dater padding his height by 2 inches to get past the height filters.   This isn’t a lie to protect someone from danger, to avoid hurting feelings, or an honest case of him being on the fence about kids.

        This is a lie to manipulate women to get what HE wants.

        If and when he tells you that he “loves” you, are you going to believe it ?   Most men these days won’t lie about being in love to get sex, or up the quantity and quality of sex, but a scant few will.   How do you know he’s not that scant few ?   After all, if he’d lie about kids to avoid being rejected on that basis, who’s to say he won’t fake being in love, knowing that saying “Hey, I don’t love you, I just want a casual fling” will get him rejected by many women ?

        How many other lies are you willing to tolerate from him, that he will tell you in order to get what HE wants, without regard for what YOU want ?

        And now he knows he can get you to give up the dream of a “family of your own” with a little bit of lying and a little bit of manipulation,   he will surely try to manipulate you into giving up another piece of yourself for his own selfish ends.

        “Great guys” don’t lie about important stuff to get what they want.   They tell the truth and accept that not everyone will be pleased with their truth.

        He reminds me of a former poster on this blog, who I am 95% sure said he had a vasectemy.   In any case, he did admit to not wanting any more children, but putting “unsure” in his profile, in order to avoid being rejected by women who want children, because as he put it “He should be enough for a woman”   Very callous attitude.

        Do you really want to risk your child bearing years on a liar and a manipulator ?

        I speak not only as a woman, but also as a mother.   My husband broke my heart when he divorced me, but I am so glad that I at least got to experience motherhood. I can’t imagine my life without my dear son.    If a family of your own is what you truly want, it is not a dream worth giving up, for the temporary high and that initial rush of “connection”.   You are drunk on oxytocin.   The oxytocin hangover isn’t pretty.

        And I don’t believe that you are “on the fence” about kids.   You are already starting to lie to yourself about what you want, in order to justify staying with this man. In your own words ” On the website I said that I was looking for a family of my own one day, so marriage and kids was a given at some point in the future.“, then later “I’ve been on the fence with kids, but I don’t like the idea of having the option of bearing kids taken away from me simply because he doesn’t want them.”   You are NOT on the fence, you are losing hope and thinking about settling for a non-marriage, non-family, relationship, that started with a lie.

        Believe me, the sting of his lie will wear off eventually, but if you waste your child bearing years on men such as himself, and end up childless, you will never get over the BIG LIE you told YOURSELF, about what you truly wanted.

        I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but the words of a stranger on a blog are NOTHING compared to the harshness of reaching menopause with no husband, no children, and realizing that YOU DID IT TO YOURSELF !

        As KE said, dump him or accept him.   I vote for dump him.   And I really hope you do.

        1. Snow

          SparklingEmerald, I didn’t find it harsh at all. If I’m being totally honest with myself I have begun to imagine myself without marriage or kids simply because it’s not what he wants. And yes, I was really upset at the fact that he lied on his profile in order to seem like a better catch to women. When I confronted him about not wanting kids when his profile clearly said he was open to them, he did what most people who are lying or ashamed do and averted his eyes elsewhere besides on me. I asked him why he expected anything to come out of lying about wanting kids when the woman that he meets will more than likely stop dating him due to him not actually wanting kids. The whole thing just comes back to bite him in the butt eventually unless that woman lied on hers as well. And after getting to know him he comes off as self absorbed at times and acts as if the world revolves around keeping himself happy. I’m pretty sure we’ll end up breaking up, but deep down I know that I deserve to be happy and there is somebody out there who wants the same things that I want. I can hear my Mom yelling at me to never settle for less than what I deserve; a man who will strive to make me happy just as I will him.

    3. 15.3

      Wow, you just opened my eyes, thank you.. I love my boyfriend still but I realise time is going by and we don’t want the same things. Thank you xx

  16. 16

    @Goldie #15 – Actually, in the country where we are going common-law relationships have the same legal status as marriage.  
    Yes, we almost NEVER argued at all in practically the first year of our relationship. I believe that some disagreements/arguments are healthy, but he really doesn’t like confrontation. I’ve adapted to that, more or less.

  17. 17

    As others have touched on, I think it is important to realise that “marriage” means very different things to different people. It is not a single,straightforward concept. For some people, marriage is a symbol of their love and commitment, made public to the world. For others, it is a religious concept, to do with being right before God and bound in a spiritual union. For others it is an important legal arrangement offering stability and financial protection.For some, it is a mark of social status, a sort of “belonging to a club”, the ticket to  certain social circles which function according to  traditional norms.     In some cultures, it is a political arrangement to strengthen business arrangements and improve your power base.

    Katie, you said “Who knows why I care about marriage?” Well, if you don’t really know the answer to that, I think it would really   benefit your relationship for you to work it out in some detail. What does marriage symbolise to you? What does it give you? Because the problem is that whatever it symbolises to you will fester in your mind as “What my partner is NOT offering me”…. when in fact, this may not be the case at all. After working out what marriage means to you, you then need to ask your partner what it symbolises to HIM. These two things may be the same, or they may be totally different. What I’m getting at here is that if marriage to you symbolises “economic protection” or “total commitment” and your boyfriend won’t marry you, then in your mind you are thinking “he doesn’t want to offer me economic protection.”or “he  doesn’t want to offer me total commitment”.   But if, to your boyfriend, marriage symbolises “a religious bond before God” and THIS is the concept he rejects, you may actually discover that he  has no problem offering you economic protectionor total commitment, which is actually what you are looking for. Him saying he doesn’t want to get married imples (in your mind) that  he is unwilling to give you those things, when in fact he may be perfectly happy to give you those things,  he just doesn’t use the terminology “marriage” to describe it.     If however, your concepts of marriage are the SAME, and he doesn’t want it, then in that situation, you DO have a problem. In that case yes, he IS withholding the thing that you want because he doesn’t want to give you that. But at the very least, you will have clarified the situation, which sounds rather ill defined at present.

    1. 17.1

      Helene’s is the most sound piece of advice on this entire board. You have to determine what marriage means to you and what it means to him, and try to see eye to eye. Just like you would with everything else you decide on together.  

      My fiancé and I met in somewhat unique circumstances. I had just moved away from my hometown to start my adult life on my own in NYC (I was only 25). He had been doing something similar for a few years, in Seattle–nobody in his family understood what kind of life he was trying to lead, because it was just so different. We found each other online, and I believe that that was destined. I think we were both searching for someone who thought the same way we did.

      Shortly after I moved to New York, he moved there as well, but a week before that move, my father died tragically. I tried breaking up with my fiancé many times while I was dealing with that situation, because I knew I could not give enough of myself to the relationship. I had to give it to my grief. My career plans were also put on hold. But he was incredibly patient, and knew how much he loved me, even then. He stayed with me because he had faith that someday I would be OK again (and this was after knowing me only three months), and he never stopped supporting me and my dream of making it in New York. And I never stopped supporting him.

      The trouble with women who start getting anxious about when a man is going to propose, I find, is that half the time what they’re worried about is how they look to other women. They start getting confused and they start comparing the man they are with to every other man. They wonder, what does it mean about me if my one friend’s husband is doing this, or my other friend’s boyfriend is doing that? It’s almost as though your man is a commodity, the Ken to your Barbie. It’s a rather consumerist way of looking at love.

      Because my relationship with my fiancé developed somewhat in a vacuum (i.e., online, away from our families, while dealing with a tragedy, in a city filled with tons of people), we had the luxury to really get to know each other separate from too much outside influence. He is very much an individual and not the type of person who does something unless he truly believes in it. And he has helped me to learn how to be more true to myself, too, even if that self is different from other people. I am more in touch with my inner strength because of holding true to this philosophy and could not survive some of the things I have in my life without it.

      It wasn’t until we’d had several years of relative security in our careers, home life and family’s lives, that the pressure started. As I said above, about consumerism, I think people reach a point where they want to stop striving for things and instead sit back and start acquiring things. It’s as if they’ve figured out who they are, so now they are ready to start building their empire. They become attached to things, homes, cars, places–their identity is no longer just their own. And they place that attachment on the person they’re with, too.

      Too many women fall into this trap, and then they put pressure on themselves to be a perfect wife or perfect mother and lose themselves in the process. Trying to become a perfect bride is only the beginning.

      I’m saying this as someone who bought into the pressure for a few years there. I let people convince me that despite all the odds I had overcome in my life, despite the amazing person I had become, something was just plain missing if my long-term boyfriend, the one who had been there longer than anyone else’s significant other, wasn’t into proposing to me. So I extended that pressure onto him, and it almost ruined our relationship.

      To this day, he still doesn’t believe marriage and a wedding are necessary. But you know what else he doesn’t believe is necessary in order to love someone? Lots of things. Tons of things, things without which every single other guy I dated before him would have left me. I’ve been sick, out of work, scared, grieving, 40 pounds overweight, 20 pounds underweight, the list goes on. Not one thing I’ve ever taken away from our relationship or given to it monetarily has changed his unwavering commitment to me.

      He is marrying me simply because he knows it will be a nice ceremony, it will make me happy, and he will likely enjoy it as well. But he doesn’t require that ring, and eventually I came to realize that neither do I.

      The month he proposed to me was the same in which I’d had a breast cancer scare. Your priorities really shift when your whole life flashes before your eyes. It was in those few weeks that I realized what really mattered, and a ring was not one of those things. And he was happy to see that my love for him was so truly unconditional that I’d decided I’d be happy to just spend my life with him, wedding or no wedding.   

      1. 17.1.1

        this is beautiful

  18. 18

    @18 Very interesting thoughts, I hadn’t thought about that. I guess my definition would be the first one your wrote, “marriage is a symbol of their love and commitment, made public to the world.”

  19. 19

    I tend to agree with Ruby @4. Based on what I’ve read and seen among friends, if a woman is serious about wanting to get married, she loses her leverage if she lives with her boyfriend. For a guy, living with a girlfriend makes it seem like he’s “sort of” married. He will likely put off the bigger decision (to make it official) for as long as he can. Some couples who live together end up having children, and then the guy may decide he wants to be with someone else, leaving the mother of his children stranded, financially compromised, and likely heart broken.

    1. 19.1

      @Jane Throughout my experience in counselling, all the done researches proved that 2/3 of cohabitating partners split up before the child is 12. A counselor will try to help you getting together and not everyone accepts that counselling is not for them, specially if there is lack of compatibility in. If your do not see a future with your partner, then do not waste your time and youth. This is for both males and females. It will end up sooner or later. Save time and energy and find someone who wants the same things you want. And specially those with kids involved, if you are not getting really want and you feel that you are being let down, then leave as you will resent later in life. You are protecting your kids leaving earlier will have less consequences on them once they are conscious enough to experience the transitional period. Do not let anyone change your concepts, specially for women. Men have their own ways to normalize the abnormal.

  20. 20

    Katie can be patient and wait as long as she wishes but if I were her, I wouldn’t live with him prior to marriage (if it ever happens).
    The facts are she has a man who doesn’t believe in marriage. Imagine moving in, setting up house, mixing finances, and doing every other conceivable ‘married’ behavior sans the   marriage. He’ll likely find even LESS reason to marry then.
    He can say, “everything is wonderful the way that it is. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
    She can still hope that if they decide to have kids, he’ll honor his promise to marry then. But he may not. AND, what if the pregnancy isn’t planned. What if it’s a surprise? He may say, “I don’t want to rush and get married just because you got pregnant. Let’s wait until you have the baby.”
    There can always be a reason to wait, and wait, and wait.
    The point is: How easy will it be to leave at any of these stages? After years of living together, investing time, home, money and possibly a child too? I’ve seen women find themselves in this situation.
    If you want marriage and you’re with a man who isn’t on board, don’t live with him now or even after the ring is on the finger. Wait until you’re actually married.

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