Info & Advice

I want to get married but he doesn’t – what should I do?

Living together is now so common that any couple rushing straight into marriage is likely to raise eyebrows or be suspected of conservative religious views.

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But as time passes, perspectives shift and the freewheeling, no commitment approach can begin to lose its appeal. You’ve been together for years and perhaps it’s beginning to feel as though you are effectively married, even if nothing legal has occurred. You may be thinking about the future, considering children or making other long-term plans. One day you realise you do actually want stability and the public validation of marriage. You’re finally ready to take that step.

But nothing happens. Time continues to pass and your partner doesn’t propose. Or worse, they actively resist the idea if and when you do broach the topic. It can be a painful and awkward conundrum: do they really love you if they don’t want to marry you even after all your time together?

Should I stay or should I go?

So, what is the best way to respond to this unwelcome discovery? Do you stick around and try to win your partner over or do you cut your losses and leave? Alternatively, do you just accept that marriage isn’t on the cards and continue living your life as before?

It’s not an easy decision to make but we would suggest that you start by insisting on heart-to-heart discussion. It’s important that you understand exactly what the problem is: why exactly does your partner not want to formalise your relationship? Such reluctance often begins in childhood. Some people grew up with argumentative parents forever at loggerheads, or had a mother and father who divorced acrimoniously. These experiences can certainly leave scars and when these children grow into adults, they may continue to associate the concept of marriage with those bad memories, even if only subconsciously.

It may take time with a couples’ counsellor to uncover such connections – but only if you partner agrees to take part, of course. Make sure they understand how important the matter is to you. If they do love you, they will respect your feelings and participate.

The real reason

Of course, the real reason for their reluctance to marry may be much simpler and much more disappointing. Your partner may simply not believe, in their heart of hearts, that your relationship is strong enough to go the distance or they just may not love you enough to take the next big step and tie the knot. It’s only by uncovering their true motives and feelings that you will be able to make the right decisions, however much of a wrench they may be.

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