Love, Life, Commitment & Children, But He Won't Marry Her - Relationship Advice
I received this comment from Zoe, and was so moved that I moved it to here to give her a Hub of her own:
Hi first of all great hub. I would really appreciate your advice on my situation.
My partner and I have been together 3 and a half years. We have two children together and I have children from a previous relationship.He has taken these children on as his own and is very good with them ,one of them being an autistic child who is very challenging. He works away during the week however and although im very greatful he is providing for us I do wish he would find a job closer to home. He says he wants this too but he never really makes a great effort to find one. When we first met he talked about how much marriage meant to him, that it was really a big deal and once he knew someone was the one for him he would ask, he would like to be engaged for a year to eighteen months then get married and try for a baby straight away.Im not sure he was talking about me in this conversation or just in general.After a little while I found out I was pregnant with an IUD in place. He was upset but supported me and as the pregnancy progressed our relationship blossomed. He became my best friend.
When our son was was 6 months old we took a holiday to rome. On our last night there we had a really romantic meal walked up and down the spanish steps and sat beside the trevi fountain together. I had been thinking for a while that he was the one for me and I wanted to spend my life with him. I PROPOSED. I was shaking so nervous he just stared at me blankly and said nothing. We went back to our hotel in silence, I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I felt hurt and rejected and I Guess I pushed him away a little it wasnt that he turned me down he wasnt even willing to discuss his reasons. Bit by bit I pulled myself together and our relationship was going well.
On christmas eve which was a couple of months after my proposal once the kids was in bed. I lit a fire filled the room with some candles put a rug on the floor and we ate a picnic I had prepared. We was cuddled up and I was falling asleep when he said he was sorry for not saying yes in rome that he had made a mistake and that he would love to marry me. I made a joke if it was a proposal and he said yes it is so will you ? I was so happy we kissed and cuddled and then went to bed. He went to bathroom and was in there a good 40 minutes or so. I asked if he was ok and he said yes he just needed some time to himself. which I gave him. obviously day after was christmas day however he seemed distant and cold towards me. We made the most of the day and didnt really talk much about it as we was busy cooking building toys etc for kids.The day after we was travelling down south to visit his parents to have second christmas ( our son is their first grandchild and it was his first christmas so they wanted to do something special)I thought he would tell them our good news however he didnt.The day after the shops were back open and with his mum watching the children we went out for some time together he took me looking at rings. At the point I looked at him and could see he wanted to be anywhere else but were we where. So I made an excuse said I was thristy and could we go get a coffee. Sat him down and asked him straight out if he regretted asking me and he said yes. I was heart broken but I respected his decision and said we would work it out somehow. He said he loved me and that he just needed a little more time.
thats now 2 years ago. Every time I try to discuss it he changes the subject. On a couple of occassions I have felt so frustrated I have cried. In this time we have had another child ( yes unplanned again ) and we have worked our way through some very difficult problems and enjoyed some wonderful times together.
I try to keep my thoughts to myself. Im now on anti depressants and seeing a therapist. I keep thinking I am not good enough for him, that he cant love me if he isnt willing to give me the same name I gave our children - I didnt have to I did it to make him happy and so that we wouldnt have to change them once we got married his words not mine. Im self destructing. I feel angry with myself. When im down I Think it has to be me as he always thought so much of marriage.
Since we have been together I havent stopped him having his own life. He has been abroad with his friends several times and enjoys nights out with them, I support him 100 percent. I pretty much looked after our son single handed until he was one whilst my partner finished his degree (from home) He says he cant imagine his life without me, nor can I. He has made some financial commitments. Its tearing me up inside. I should mention I had a very unstable up bringing being placed in care because my mother decided after a few months she no longer wanted me. Previous relationship was very abusive, but I was strong and got out of it and created a better life for me and my children. I have my own money and the house is mine so Im not finiancially dependant on my partner however of course he contributes.After all I have been through I would like some commitment and stability. Is this wrong as I feel selfish sometimes.
I know im making myself ill chasing something he does clearly not want. I do try to understand his view on things but I cant help but feel hurt. Its not about the wedding id marry him anywhere , I just want that special bond so much - Id like to always be there for each other, I want to share his good times and shoulder the bad.
Im sure you will have realised that I keep using "I" a lot but thats because Im not sure how he truly feels despite trying to talk to him. That part of him confuses me.
I have even tried to comprimise - long engagment or a blessing/commitment ceremony which is no legally binding yet he does not want to do either. He makes me smile and my life is better for having him in it but I cant seem to be able to let it go.It means so much to me.
Does he need more time, or am I just miss right now and no miss right? please help x
Well you've left me a little speechless. All of the things I would normally look for or suggest have already been tried. The compromise with the commitment ceremony, the patience, the looking at his actions, the proposing yourself, the romantic discussions... it looks like you've really been smart about this. Smart, patient, loving, supportive. You've listened, you've been a partner and a person, you've considered his needs and his words, you've embraced the relationship you're having, you've been exemplary.
I've been thinking about your situation for a couple of days. There's one classic point I will make, and I know it's not going to be news to you.
People have no reason to change their behavior if you continue to grant them permission to behave in a certain way. I don't mean to make this sound like a punishment, and I also do not mean this as a trick. But the truth is, people will continue doing something until you actually show them that they can't. Your partner knows how you feel, and what you want, and he even seems to be on the same future page. However, he has no reason to step up and make the change. He's not missing out on anything he wants in life by not marrying you. He has you, and his home, and his children and his family, he has his freedom to be with his mates, and to travel. Nothing will change for him if he finally clarifies his feelings about marrying you and does it.
By being there, and being patient, and waiting all this time, you've silently given him permission not to deal with his marriage issue. You've reinforced that he doesn't have to think it through and make decisions and implement them. You've reinforced that you will be there, and he will have the life he wants, no matter what he does or doesn't do.
I'm not saying the patience you demonstrated was a mistake. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. Every situation with that involved has it's own nuances. In yours, you said you two specifically spoke about marrying and the future. You entered into the life you're having with him with a certain amount of commitment and an honest belief that you are in agreement with him about the future. I have the feeling all your patience have most likely been very vital for him in his trust and commitment issues. However, I think you need to see that it's a different time now. Enough is enough.
Your boyfriend either doesn't communicate very well, or he doesn't know what he's feeling regarding his commitment issues. In any case, you've exhausted all the ways to push through, except for one.
Since your boyfriend has had a long experience of having his cake and eating it too with you, it's going to take some serious un-doing on your part to break that mindspace. Being financially bound makes it very difficult. It's not like you can just move out with all the children. I'm sure you know better than to give an ultimatum: nothing good ever comes from them. But you may need to decide to assert yourself and your life plan. Since you can't move out quickly you'll have to make sure he sees that your serious by the ways you plan and the steps you take. Don't wait for permission. You have to do it.
Now here's the very hard part about that. When you tell someone that you want something different out of life, you run the risk of them agreeing with you and seeing to it that you get something different instead of what you have now.
Zoe, the fact that you're right and that what you want in life is reasonable, and that you did everything correctly and that you're an awesome girlfriend - doesn't mean that the world will suddenly become just and you will get everything your heart desires. Being right just doesn't make it so. If you're going to implement change, you have to first really be sure that you're willing to take the chance that you will wind up with change, and not the one you're hoping for.
If you really are feeling you're making yourself ill, then there may be no way for you to go on the way things are. Change is hard, and often ugly, but sometimes there is no alternative. Sometimes you have to chose yourself.
If you think the relationship you're having isn't enough for you anymore, or that you really aren't his Ms. Right, then you need to start taking those steps toward separating.
There doesn't need to be harsh words or uncomfortableness. This can be very calm and dignified. You can begin to make changes right away. You can let him now gracefully that you've spent a lot of time waiting and doing things his way, and you wouldn't trade a moment of it because you love him and you've loved your life together so much. But that going forward, you want something different for yourself. That's it, that's really all that you have to say directly. It's not up to him anymore. It is not his decision. Just start showing him. Show him that he can't keep having the life he's having. Show him that you're bringing that chapter of your lives to an end.
If he wants to be in the next chapter with you, then he has to clarify his feelings and take action.
This isn't a trick to make him want to do something he doesn't want to do. This won't make anyone do anything they are not wiling to do. But this will shine a light on what he's thinking. This will inspire him to step up and figure out what he's feeling. This won't create false feelings or force anything. But it will put the motion of this thing into gear. It ends the procrastination, for good or for bad. That's all.
As he's clarifying his feelings because now you're showing him that he needs to, it could go either way. He could help you to make this change. That would be a shame, but if he didn't do it now, he'd be doing it later when his real Ms Right shows up. I promise.
And if the light you're about to shine shows him the clarity he needed, and he sees what he wants you and the life you share, then he'll know that he has to act now.
Start making physical tangible separations that he can see. Classified advertisements or articles that show you are seeking a new place to live. Bank statements where you separate out expenses. Go ahead and begin to take the steps needed for you to relocate. Move into a spare bedroom or start sleeping in one of the kid's rooms. You need to show with your actions that this part of your life is coming to a close. This part where you're giving everything you have but where you don't get to be his wife, is now over. He has to see the changes you're planning and making.
Nothing fails harder or faster than an idle threat. You have to mean it. You have to do it.
There doesn't need to be anger or confrontation. Just do it. I think you've had enough history with him that he knows who you are, he knows what life with you will be like. There's a real sadness that comes through your words.
He says he wants marriage but can't seem to bring himself to marry you no matter how you put it. I don't know what's going on with him. But I do know that by everything staying as it is, you're giving him permission not to figure it out. If he has figured it out, then you're giving him permission not to tell you.
If you begin implementing the future that you want for yourself, he will have to see in a tangible way that he has to figure out what he wants, or lose you. Or, he'll have to be honest with you about something he already knows. I'll be very sad for you if he chooses losing you. But if that is his choice, then you didn't have anything to lose in the first place. Do you understand what I mean? If that is his decision then he hasn't been yours for a long time, and all you're doing now is encouraging him to admit it. Finally.
Namaste Zoe. I hope you'll keep us posted. Good luck.
More by this Author
I've read many of your hubs and greatly appreciate your advice and insight. I'm particularly impressed with your insight regarding relationships. Although I realize that many of your hubs focus on romantic...
- 227For Unhappily Married Men - Having Children Changes Everything, Kids Change Your Relationship with Your Husband
I posted a HUB not long ago called Affairs with Married Men, where I addressed an email I received from a married man's mistress who called herself "Lonely". I was pretty firm, pointing out all the reasons why...
Some things are clear. Opening his mail is a felony. Going through his dirty laundry if you’re the one doing the laundry, well then that has to be acceptable. But what about everything that falls in between? If...