He Said Marriage Isn't For Him, & She Can't Change Him

Dear Veronica,

I just read the entirety of your hub on men who say they aren't ready for marriage. Read a few others too.

Ready for my saga? Ok, here I go, trying to keep it short.

The stats: I am 27 and he turns 40 this year. We've been together 4 years and lived together for 3.5 of them.

I'm ready for engagement/marriage and he is not (I've been ready for more than a bit). The last time we had a sit down serious talk about it his reasons were two-fold. (1) He grew up in a small town where everyone got married at 19 and had babies and stayed in that tiny small town forever. He considers himself the antithesis of this small town and never considered marriage something he needed. He also grew up around a lot of bad marriages. I basically su m up this reason as "he has a bad opinion of marriage." (2) His family situation is messy. Are they invited to the wedding? Which ones? What will the repercussions be if none/some are invited?

This conversation was about a year ago. Some amazing things have happened on the family front where relations have been patched and overall I think it would be fine at this point if they all were invited. No scenes would happen and people would be happy. I have no idea what is going on with the other issue though. His attitudes on marriage I can't change, I can only tell him that marriage is important to me, very important.

We have animals together and a joint lease. I have the money to get married at any time, and would be willing to pay for the whole thing, although I don't think he'd let me. (I wasn't specifically saving for a wedding, we could just as easily use that money for a house, but we live in an expensive area so we may never own a house!) He tells me verbally all the time that he wants to be with me forever. He treats me very well and we hardly ever argue. Our relationship is great, it's easy, and it makes us both happy. Even though I'd really like to be engaged now and married in the next 1-2 years, I'm still happy most of the time.

I thought it was interesting one of his reasons was basically,"marriage isn't for me" but his second reason was "what's going to happen at the reception?!" To me it indicates that he has at least contemplated us getting married and what our wedding would be like, enough that he mentioned it to me as a reason for not getting married. Sorta doesn't go with the first reason.

It's probably about the time to have another serious talk, I suppose. I try to limit them to once or twice a year so as not to be a nag, and it's been a year.

Interested in your thoughts!!

 

Waiting

Dear Waiting,

Thinking about what he’d do at a wedding he doesn’t want to be in, shouldn’t  be the focus. Let’s focus on the real issue. We don’t have to guess at his feelings on getting married at all. He could not have been clearer.

He says, “Marriage isn’t for me.”

You said marriage is important to you, yet you got involved with a man pushing 40 who knows what he wants, who doesn’t want to get married. Three and a half years of living together, you’ve become the eternal girlfriend of a man who has clearly said he doesn’t want to get married.

Your letter is written in such a way that asks, now what should you do to continue on your path of denying what he wants and trying to change him.

He’s 40. His age matters because at his age, a man is pretty clearly developed. He knows what he wants. It’s not like a 21 year old making a statement about something he can’t actually know yet. A young man in his early 20’s may develop, live, learn, establish his life, and discover that in 5 or 10 years he feels differently about relationships. It’s not out of the question.

A man in his late 30’s on the other hand, pretty much knows who he is, what he wants, what he can do, and what his life is going to be.

Confusing his aversion to having a wedding with his not wanting to get married isn’t helping.

Here’s an example. 

If I watched the movie Open Water with you, and I said I would never ever want to be abandoned like that by a ship in the ocean. And then I said, “And, omg why didn’t she poke at the shark’s eyes? They say the eye is so vulnerable.”

Would you say, well if she’s thinking about the shark’s eyes in the water then surely that’s a contradiction, and she DOES possibly want to be abandoned by a ship in the ocean.

He’s been clear about not wanting to get married from the beginning. But you chose to be involved with him. You even moved in after only 6 months, and stayed for 3 ½ years.

The relationship sounds good: having a joint lease, responsibilities together, a nice life where he reassures you of his feelings and his desire to be with you in the future. Many women would be jealous. The only issue is that “once or twice a year” you bring up this major complete life change that he let you know early on he was not going to pursue. Notice he isn’t asking you once or twice a year, have you changed your mind and given up on this marriage thing and come to his way of thinking yet.

Talk to him. That doesn’t mean try again to change him on what he’s clearly told you. It means, see if the two of you can find an acceptable compromise.

A Commitment Ceremony with some or all of your friends might let you plan the big day without the legal document. Having legalities addressed with Wills, Power of Attorney, joint accounts and other arrangements can be made fairly easily if that’s a good compromise for both of you.

If you can’t compromise on what you want, it should be a major indicator for you about why he doesn’t want to completely change on what he wants.

You’re going to have to accept the fact that just as he stated clearly in the beginning, marriage isn’t for him. He is not going to marry you. Since you’ve spent 3 1/2 years being the eternal girlfriend and proving to him that you’ll be there even though he isn’t marrying you, you are going to have to make some drastic changes.

Without ultimatums, just the way he has been clear with his desires without giving you ultimatums, you have to be clear with him. Tell him this isn’t the relationship you want. Tell him you need to begin separating belongings, and money, and leases, and pets. You need to go. Set a calendar of events for this departure. It shouldn’t involve any anger, since he’s done nothing wrong. Tell him you’ll being looking for a new place, or that he has to. Tell him one of you needs to be out by the first of March. Begin the packing, and the separating. Be nice. Be sad. Be communicative. But be focused. And don’t be mad.

If there is a chance in hell that he is going to change his mind, it will only be when you’ve followed through. Follow your clear path on the way to what you want. Seeing you smiling but sad, leaving to pursue what you want out of life will show him he can’t have his cake and eat it too. He has to shit or get off the pot. He has to re-evaluate what he wants right away. Does he still want not to get married. Or does he want you.

Keep focused on two facts:

1 - He only has two options. He can have his life married with you, or, he can have his life unmarried without you. There is no third choice. The one you’re living right now is that third choice. You have to take that off the table completely. If you back slide and let him have you unmarried, you’ve blown it. You have to follow through.

2 – If he really is debating changing his mind on marriage because he doesn’t want to lose you, the way you behave through this is going to make or break it. You can reinforce that you are someone he should want to be around. Remind him of how funny you are, how easy to live with, how much he enjoys himself when he’s around you.

Or you could be mad at him for something that isn’t his fault, fight scream throw tantrums and be a bitch. It shouldn’t be hard to guess that if you behave like a bitch, he will say to himself, “See? I don’t want to get married!” It will be hard not to take your feelings out on him. But he really didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t mislead you. You can’t be mad at him because you couldn’t change him. You made a bad choice. Suck it up. Be on your best behavior. It might make all the difference.

But don’t hold your breath. Separate from him for you, not because you think it will make him do something he doesn’t want to do. If you want to be married, you deserve to be married. Next time, listen. Don’t get involved with someone that is telling you they aren’t going to marry you.

This Hub

was written by Veronica for Hubpages. If you are reading it elsewhere, it has been stolen.

All text is original content by Veronica. All photos are used with permission. All videos are courtesy of Youtube.com

If you have a relationship question, email it to me, maybe I can help.

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2 comments

Waiting 6 years ago

Hi Veronica,

Thanks for your lengthy response. I probably left something out of my story. He used to talk about marrying me. A lot. The first year we were together, when we were both in that deeply in love irrational place. He said I was the first person that ever made him want to get married, etc. He said we should run off to Reno, etc.

Of course this information doesn't necessarily change anything if he's now come out of the clouds and gotten back to how he really feels about marriage. Just, I suppose, defending my 22-year old self that didn't know he was anti-marriage. And my 23-year old self. My 24 year old self found out though...

I never wanted to be the kind of person that tries to change someone else. We've always been a compromise type of couple. I'm open to the idea of a commitment ceremony, some legal paperwork giving each of us rights, just getting rings, some combination of these, etc, but so far he isn't so I've let it go.

Hopefully what I'm about to say isn't a terrible idea, and I'm not filtering what you've said the way I want to hear it the way I've seen others. I think it might be good for us to talk about marriage one more time. I lay it all out. Why it's important to me, why I want it, why it would make me happy. I'll acknowledge that he may never want to marry me (he makes a point of saying "I never say never") and after this conversation I'm going to push marriage out of my mind. I will not bring it up as a serious topic again. The ball is in his court and I know it's a very small ball and I won't be expecting or waiting for anything. Being with him is more important than being married. Of those choices you gave? I'd rather be unmarried with him than without him. And I'm going to tell him that. (Some might say that's dumb, then he for sure would never marry me, but it's the truth, so why withhold it? I like removing all the pressure.) It's time for me to let go. If he changes, he changes, but it may never happen and it's not worth clouding my brain with any negativity. He's a really amazing person and we're lucky just to have found each other.

I'm going to save this conversation for a few months from now I think. We have too much going on right now and I want him to be relaxed. He doesn't even have to say anything, just listen. =)

Thanks again for making a hub for my question. I enjoy reading them!


Gwen 6 years ago

I believe better for you to leave him if he still not wants to get marry.

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