I’m 42 years old and my boyfriend is almost 48. He was married once before and has two young adult children. We’ve been together for five years. Three years in, I asked about marriage and he told me he wasn’t ready. I was ready to break up with him until he gave me a sweet promise ring and swore that he really does want to marry me, but he just wasn’t ready and needed more time. He convinced me to wait because he swears he wants to build a life with me.
I’ve read your advice about allowing him to choose me, so I didn’t bring it up again for almost two years. I finally started to wonder and asked him about it again, only for him to tell me the exact same thing: that he’s not ready, but he wants to marry me someday and he sees a future with me. Problem is: he won’t give me a timeline, he won’t say why he’s not ready, and he wants us to live together first.
We own our own homes and the housing market is highly overinflated where we live – so much that we can’t afford to buy a house together. So, there’s no chance of us living together anytime soon. Plus, I’m not sure that living together as a “trial run” is the best way to approach marriage. If he’s not interested in marrying me now, I’m not sure that living together will change that.
He swears that he really does want to build a life with me, but I’m not sure I can wait another few years for a man who continues to kick the marriage can down the road — and the “living together trial run” seems like an excuse to prolong the marriage issue. I wish I could just break up with him, but I stay around because he keeps saying he really does want to marry me, but he’s just not ready and wants to live together first.
He is really good to me and we get along outside of this issue. We have fun together, laugh, and he’s always doing nice, thoughtful things for me, like fixing things in my house and buying me little presents. But, I’m starting to become disenchanted with the relationship because I don’t want to be his girlfriend forever. I don’t know if I should stay or go.
Thank you for taking the time to read this question, because I know you receive thousands of them.
Thanks for the kind words and the all-too-familiar story.
Sadly, I don’t think there’s much I can add to it.
I could throw around stats that say that people who wait over five years to get married are more likely to break up (because one party never wanted to get married in the first place).
The fact that he hasn’t married you means that he doesn’t want to marry you.
I could throw around an EMK aphorism that “men do want they want.” In other words, if he wanted to marry you, he already would have married you. The fact that he hasn’t married you means that he doesn’t want to marry you.
I could point out that you shouldn’t have to put a gun to a man’s head to get him to propose. If he has to do it under duress, it’s not the ideal start for your marriage.
I could implore you to ask him, point-blank, why he’s so afraid of marriage and what’s holding him up. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something and maybe he’ll have a revelation that his fear is irrational and that, for all intents and purposes, you ARE married.
But, since you sound like smart woman who has had plenty of time to think about this, I’m going to assume you know all of that, my friend.
So let me give you validation of your worst suspicions: your boyfriend has played you.
Not because he’s an evil guy, but because, like most of us, he’s operating out of his own self-interest.
His self-interest is to keep you as a girlfriend and not to get married. And he’s done a brilliant job of that, what with the promise ring and the two years(!) of silence and the living together excuse and the lack of a timeline to head to the altar.
It’s all bullshit, Jessica.
And since I’m not emotionally invested in this the way you are, I’m going to give you the ultimatum that you should have given to him two years ago.
Either decide that you’re content being his permanent girlfriend (but not his wife) or break up with him and find a guy who wants to marry you.
The only thing you CAN’T do is keep on waiting for a guy who doesn’t want to marry you to step up and marry you.
I wish you the best of luck.