My Son Does Not Believe in Marriage. How Do I Change His Mind?

My Son Does Not Believe in Marriage. How Do I Change His Mind?

Hi Evan. I hope you can help. This is about my son. I love him dearly. First, I can say he is not gay. But he is already 29 and tells me he doesn’t believe in marriage. He believes in plurality in relationships. He refuses most arguments about the benefits of being married and insists that the best lifestyle for him is not to be faithful to one woman, but to have many women.

See, this breaks my heart. As a mother I want him to find a women that loves him, get married and have children and be faithful like a normal person would do.

How can I help him move his thinking towards favoring marriage and faithful relationships?

Any suggestions? Please help.

Dear Ileana,

I’m going to answer your question, but I can’t “help”.

Because your query presumes that you can “make him” do something that he doesn’t want to do. And you can’t. The second you accept that is the second that you’re going to come to peace with reality.

If he wants to be free, there’s absolutely nothing his MOM can say that’s going to change his mind

Reality is that your son wants to be free. And if he wants to be free, there’s absolutely nothing his MOM can say that’s going to change his mind — no matter how earnest, factual and logical.

So I’m going to attempt to do two things today. One, I’m going to explain to you HIS point of view. And I’m going to give you some ammunition for YOUR point of view for when you ignore my advice and continue to try to convince him that he’s wrong.

Your son believes in “plurality” in relationships. He wants to have many women.

Guess what? So do most men.

The question is whether it’s a short-term or a long-term proposition.

At 29, I was still looking for a girlfriend, but I was very much enjoying the opportunity to sleep around for awhile before I started building my future. It would be somewhat unusual if he DIDN’T want to sleep around. Especially since biologically, this is what men are programmed to do. Really. It’s not even debatable.

So, if I were you, I would put zero pressure on your son. Let him know to have safe sex and try to be an ethical person by not hurting women unnecessarily or for too long. That’s all that you can do.

If he’s going to undergo a change of heart, you can’t impose your beliefs and values on him. It will have to be on his own terms.

95% of people eventually get married.

However, none of them do so because their mothers tell them to.

Soon, he’s going to notice that all of his friends are getting married.

Soon, he’s going to be the only single guy at weddings.

Soon, he’s going to be the “old guy” at clubs and parties.

Soon, he’s going to discover that all of his single friends aren’t available to go out and pick up women.

Soon, he’s going to discover that it’s somewhat hollow to keep recycling women, week after week, month after month.

Soon, he’s going to think about his own loneliness.

Then again, I could be wrong.

Maybe your son is wired differently. Maybe he didn’t see your marriage as something he’d like to emulate. Maybe he doesn’t see the value in family. Maybe he’s just a shallow horndog, who truly values sex a lot more than he values intimacy and sharing. Maybe he genuinely prefers to be alone.

Only time will tell.

But, if it’s any consolation to you, 95% of people eventually get married.

However, none of them do so because their mothers tell them to. They do so because they determine that the value of love, commitment, and stability is greater than the value of a variety of partners.

As long as he thinks that variety is better than monogamy, he’s going to continue to make that decision.

I’ll bet that he changes his mind eventually. But it might not be until his early 40’s that he realizes that life is better when you’re not alone.

Just remember: it’s not about YOU and YOUR grandkids.

It’s about HIS happiness.

And if this makes him happy (and doesn’t hurt anybody else), all you can do as a mother is to support him.

And don’t get attached to any of his girlfriends.

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  1. 1
    Grace Pamer

    100% with you there Evan, you can’t back him into a corner. He needs to want to get married if it is to ever work for him. Being told you have to do something usually gets people’s backs up and marriage is not the kind of thing you should ever be pressured into, well not if you want it to work anyway.
    A friend of mine was dead set for years and years that he was never going to get married. He didn’t have any interest in the subject, was totally opposed to “the institution” as he called it and believed it enslaved people.   10 years on and he’s happily married with 2 kids. For him the turning point came, like it does for so many people, when he met someone he realized he could never be without. It was just that simple. Until that point I have every faith he was 100% true to his conviction. Then, when it dawned on him he could lose the only girl he had ever truly loved, he got down on one knee and has not looked back.
    So don’t pressue him, don’t back him into a corner, let him make the decision in his own time or, if he’s anything like my old friend, he’ll only take pleasure in winding his lovely mother up at every opportunity!
    Good luck and keep the faith. One day, somewhere he will meet someone who will change his mind and if not, well, we can’t all be the same.

  2. 2

    When he meets the right woman?   He’ll change his views on marriage.   And not one second before.   But I agree with Evan that YOU can’t change him, Mom.   If the subject upsets you, stop bringing it up.   You’ll only cause tension and alienate him.

  3. 3

    Also to consider is if the son were to propose and plan a wedding to a girl tomorrow because his mom wants him to.   Would he likely be happy?   Would that be at all fair to the girl?

    I know my mom cranks up the “When will you get married?” stuff after every birthday.   What if, just to please her, I went and married some douchebag?   She’d be upset.   She’d tell me I ought to know better.

    Fortunately, I do know better. Really, the complete question she’s asking is “When will you get married…to a fantastic person?”
    There’s no clock for that.   Sorry, mom!

  4. 4
    Jackie Holness

    Yes, no guy wants to be the old guy at the club…That will be a reality check…As you said Evan, only time will tell…

  5. 5

    Evan is right in a lot of respects. 29 is still pretty young and I have witnessed through my male friends that at that age they are still trying to define themselves as men and what they want out of life. I agree very much with Evan and other commentors that you cannot “make” someone choose to settle down and get married. I can understand the mom’s concern in regards to plurality and polyamory. Having watched folks I know personally go through that lifestyle, it really isn’t for everyone. To a guy it may sound exciting. But what they don’t find out until they try it is how complicated emotionally and mentally it can become and how much extra responsibility you have to be willing to take on. And that’s why a lot of people who do try that lifestyle do eventually leave. Most men I know have left the lifestyle for the reasons Evan cited.

    I want to back up mine, and Evan’s, point further with this blog post here.  I also agree with Evan that it may take some time  for this young man to decide in settling down with just one person. But I do think life  has a way of showing men that the grass isn’t always greener on the plurality side. I think also it may take him falling for one of his many girlfriends and getting burned. I notice that was a shift for a lot of my guy friends too. It was all fun and games until their emotions got invested and a girl  played their game right back to them.      

  6. 6

    Sorry mom, if he ever changes his mind, he will do it for himself…NOT YOU!!! GET A GRIP!!!

  7. 7

    I had to smile at this one as it’s another classic story of a woman trying to force a man into marriage, only this time being between a mom and her son : )
    Now I understand this mother’s hopes, dreams, and concerns. Sadly – I agree with Evan and previous commenters – there is not much she can do beside making sure he keeps himself and his partners as physically and emotionally safe as possible.
    Suspending judgement, making him feel accepted no matter what, and letting time do its thing is the best approach in this situation since any judgement might make him stick to his guns for even longer, and since she can’t break up with her son and get another one who will want to give her grandkids NOW : )

  8. 8

    I agree with your response to this post. The one sentence that was painful for me to read though, is the one that ends with “try to be an ethical person by not hurting women unnecessarily or for too long”. Try not to hurt a woman for too long? Wow. As a woman who has been hurt in the past by men who wanted variety more than they wanted me, that phrase makes it sound like it’s okay for a guy to hurt a woman for a little while, just not for too long. Why is that okay? How can any amount of hurting someone be ethical?

  9. 9

    @ Amy #8

    I interpreted Evan’s remark about not hurting women for “too long” to mean:   “even if a woman is trying to go along with a situation knowing it’s not in her best interest, don’t take advantage of it despite her her willingness if you know it’s hurting her.”    True, individuals should be responsible for protecting our own hearts, but sometimes we need someone to be kinder to us than we can be to ourselves.

  10. 10

    Agree with Evan 110%. All I’d like to add, as a mother of a grown, single son….don’t make the mistake of thinking there’s something you did wrong in raising your son that “caused” him to make his (current) choice to remain single, no strings attached. Even people who were raised within households where Mom and Dad were not a happy couple (there’s a lot of us), still wind up getting married, even if they swore earlier they never would. So, the upside of “It’s Not About You, Mom,” is that your son is his own person, so if he screws up, that’s not your fault, either.   

    @ Amy (#8) — Hurt and disappointment are unavoidable in life and relationships. I think the point Evan is making to both men and women is this: If you wind up hurting someone with your honesty (example: his girlfriend feels “he’s the one,” but the feeling is not mutual) do it with the gentlest integrity possible. And once the break has been made, don’t come sniffing around for sex with her/him just because it’s convenient and you don’t have anyone else lined up. I personally don’t know anyone who has NOT been hurt in love, but it is not the end of the world. People are resilient. Believe in your own resilience or you’ll always be fearful, and that never leads to a good relationship.  

  11. 11

    A mind convinced against it’s will is of the same opinion still.   

  12. 12

    Well being that I’m 52 and never married nor have I ever wanted to be I feel I can at least chime in  and give my perspective. I came from 2 loving parents happily married for 25 yrs before one passed on then the other did 10 yrs later. I was never taught I had to be married to be happy. I never had a desire for kids. I’ve had long relationships and short ones. I know I’ve hurt some woman and yes some women have hurt me. I always tell women I don’t want to married within the first few dates so that they know that’s not a future option if they continue to date or be in a relationship with me. Some leave, most don’t.  I do love variety and always have but these days that may mean about 1 new woman/relationship a year give or take and a few online meet & greets. I’m happy with my life the way it is. I know some married people ARE and some AREN’T. The same with single/never married people.
    I know for me, there’s never  been one  day when I wake up and say “man, I wish was married or wouldv’e married so and so.”

    As far as this “being the old guy at the club” bullshit?? I laugh when I read that statement because people think that “old people” hang out at the same places where “young people” hang out. WE DON’T. In my area (Chicago/suburbs) we hang out at places where there’s an abundance of single/divorced/widowed 40-60 yr. olds having fun meeting and mingling with each other for the most part and there’s many to choose from.

  13. 13

    JB- Just curious….
    do you feel lonely? Do you feel like you could ever settle down with one woman?  

    1. 13.1

      amy #13 –

      Here’s the thing about loneliness. There’s one catch that many people seem to miss. The key is that the person *hates* the feeling of being alone. But what if you *like* being alone? Are you lonely then? Loneliness is not a physical state, or at least not by itself.

      I’m turning 31 in a few months, and haven’t had a girlfriend since I was 20. And it’s not for lack of trying. If anything, it’s the other way around. Maybe I came across as desperate. I’ve matured since then, but I still don’t think marriage is for me. Largely because I have Asperger’s, and unfortunately, in this case, the empathy difficulties are true. Perhaps some people are just better off by themselves.

      I’m not saying I’m right, but I don’t think it should be about that. Let me just ask everybody a hypothetical question: are some people genuinely better by themselves?

  14. 14

    @Amy #13 Of course there have been times over the years I’ve been lonely when I’m “in between” relationships or not dating anyone  and I know for a fact married people can say they’re lonely sometimes even though they’re married. Marriage is certainly no guarantee of not being lonely and I’ve dated MANY divorced women who have told me so. I have good friends and family etc… Right now I’m dating someone nice and we’re seeing ech other 2 or 3 times a week. The answer for me is …, I don’t think I’ll ever settle down with one woman forever. But who knows, the one I might  want probably won’t want me and life will go on………………

    1. 14.1

      No man! Who says the woman you’ll want, won’t want you? Or do you crave the chase & get bored after the courting phase? Lol :).   Remember one thing JB: NOBODY can REJECT you, UNLESS you’ve ALREADY REJECTED yourself!

  15. 15

    Hey “Mom”

    Since this sounds like you want grandkids no matter how he feels about it, you might want to consider this:

    What happens if your son gets married just to get you off his back, and he and his wife do have kids. Then they go through an ugly divorce and the now ex-wife won’t let him see his kids (that’s happened). If the ex-wife won’t let him see his own kids, she sure as hell won’t let YOU see them, either.

    Sorry mom, you are seriously doing your 29 year old, GROWN MAN son more harm than good. Lighten up!

  16. 17

    JB 14,

    “But who knows, the one I might  want probably won’t want me and life will go on………………”

    So true…doesn’t it always work out like that…

  17. 18

    Thanks, JB! I’m with you, from the female side of it. Maybe 95% get married, but 50% of those  couples get divorced. Nowadays half  of the adult population is single, and that number is  growing. So, whatever. I hardly think that single people of a certain age are hanging out with married people and wishing they were one of them. Ha! Why would they do that. Too  funny. As JB says, if you don’t see them, maybe you aren’t looking in the right places. Adult singles  have their own spaces, their own things to do, things that married people can’t even imagine because they made a different choice.
    These days it’s clear that every person has to decide for him or herself what kind of relationships they’re going to have, since there are so many options. There just aren’t the social pressures to  do it one way or another anymore. For a lot of us, we don’t see marriage as a guarantee of  intimacy, sex, financial security, or  of anything really. So why bother if it suits you to do it another way?   
    And just for the record, women want to sleep around, too. Biology also dictates this, and as an inhabitant of a female body I can attest to the accuracy of that statement.  However, some of us (men and women alike) are able to manage our biology without turning into manipulative, insensitive, reckless animals. Some of us actually  recognize that we are responsible for our actions–not  just for our own selfish sake but for the sake of  other people as well.
    Times they are a’changin’. Mom needs to move on with her life.

  18. 19

    I read the Mum’s letter in a slightly different way, as a lament that her son was polyamorous, or wanted to be involved in open relationships. And of course, some people are poly, or are involved in “alternative” relationships such as open, swinging, that kind of thing. (It doesn’t mean they don’t have grandchildren, by the way! I know quite a few poly folk with children and if anything, they seem happier to have a more extended support network than your average nuclear family.)
    But if the letter is how Evan read it, I also agree largely with his response. 🙂

  19. 20

    Yah, no hard feelings Evan, but a man (or woman for that matter) who decides to get married just because all of their friends already are, is not mature enough for something as serious as having a family. There are tons of good reasons to get married, but peer pressure isn’t one of them. All I can say to the LW is, I think your life is pretty awesome if this is really your biggest problem. And yes I say this as a mother of two sons (ages 17 and 20). If my sons decide to marry, good for them. If they never marry, good for them too! Whatever makes them happy. I’ll probably start worrying if they drop out of school to get married, or decide to go quiverfull on me and give me 25 grandkids each, or keep getting divorced and remarried every other year. But as long as they’re not hurting themselves or others and are happy with their life choices, I’ll be happy too.

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