He Doesn't Want to Marry You, or, He Doesn't Want to Marry. Big Difference.
Hi, I really enjoyed your article, and would love if you could help me with my situation.
I have been dating my partner for four years now, we have lived together for three of those years, and I believe we have an amazing life. We are both extremely creative, I am building a business from scratch and studying, and he is a musician and a teacher. The thing is we are arguing more and more because I am ready to get married, and he just can't give me a straight answer. He loves me, and he says we are committed already. He has told me he wants to have children very soon, but I would like to be married first. When I bring up marriage and ask what his issue is, the answer is always different. He says he wants to wait until we don't argue as much, then he says we don't have enough money for a honeymoon, then he tells me no-one he knows that is married are happy...He hasn't said no, but he clearly hasn't said yes. I don't want to commit to having children when I keep hearing from him that our relationship isn't 'perfect' enough yet for him to commit to marriage.
I'm not sure, am I wasting my time waiting for someone that won't ever commit, or am I trying to push him into something he doesn't want and I should just accept the commitment of kids and living together??
Marriage for me isn't about money, or a huge wedding, I am even happy to have a commitment ceremony with him, I just want to know that he is prepared to stand up in front of me and say, I love you for now, I love you forever, and this is my commitment to you. What should I do?
- Angela Maxwell
Dear Angela Maxwell,
Wow. You have a very big problem on your hands.
The big bad red flag that is flying high in your comment is that your boyfriend said he wants to have children very soon.
Every line he's giving you about why he doesn't want to get married is a reason not to have kids. Every excuse he's using is completely contradicted by his stating he wants to have children soon. There's definitely something wrong here. He's either clueless, or lying. It's one or the other.
Let's look at some of the reasons he's given you for not wanting to get married soon:
1 - Waiting until you aren't arguing so much? When you have kids you have a lot more stress, tension, inability to work on your relationship and less energy or attention to devote to each other. Not to mention, you'll both have a lot less money and a lot less sleep. These are two things very much conducive to fighting more frequently. There are tons more things to fight about. There is no way in hell having children very soon equates to a time of arguing less. This excuse is in completely contradiction to his having money soon. It doesn't make any sense that he wants to have a child with you soon, but doesn't want to marry you, because you fight too much.
2 - You don't have enough money for a honeymoon? Seriously? He doesn't want to get married because of money, but he wants to have kids soon? He can't be that clueless, can he? If the answer is no, he can't be that clueless, then he obviously think you aren't bright enough to figure this out. He has to know how completely ridiculously expensive it is to have a kid. Yet, he wants you to believe he can afford children, soon, but that he can't afford a honeymoon. Are you listening to this? What is he thinking when he says something that contradictory?
3 - No one he knows is happily married? But he wants to have kids. I can't figure this one out at all. Does he mean everyone he knows with kids are happy? What is he saying, he knows of no one that has children and a marriage at the same time? He wants to have kids soon, because the people he knows with kids are uber-ecstatic, but none of them are married? I mean, can you make this one into anything sensical?
Angela, that is one of the dumbest lists of contradictory excuses I've ever read. It's up there with the dog ate my homework, and the check is in the mail.
I wrote an article about how hard it is when you have children. How expensive, how everything changes, how your priorities completely change, how your life is no longer the life of freedom that it once was. I know some people have romanticized the idea of having children. They go into it blindly with no idea whatsoever what it takes realistically. Some people know, and really want children. But many people don't, and they are floored after they've had children how much their lives had to change. How much it cost. How much they gave up. How their relationship suffered, and/or failed.
One of two things is going on here. Either your boyfriend is that clueless about what it means to have kids. Or, he's not interested in marrying you. Clueless, or lying. These are the the only two options. He can't mean that list of excuses, and also mean that he wants to have kids. One side of that conjunction is wrong.
If he really is that unaware of how much money, time, energy, commitment and responsibility it's going to take to have children, then this isn't so bad. Perhaps you could share that hub about having kids with him. Or talk to him about what it logically rationally realistically takes to raise children. If this awakens a realization in him that he was talking through his ass and isn't ready to have kids, that's wonderful. Hey, anybody can get excited about something without knowing enough about it. Chalk it up to immaturity, or lack of research. Maybe even confusion over what it is that makes his unmarried friends so miserable.
With that part of his contradictions put to rest, I can understand his list of reasons not to marry. Really, if he thinks it through and realizes he is not at all ready to have children, then you have something to work with. The great thing about being clueless, is that you can eventually find a clue. We've all been clueless. We've all thought wrongs, assumed incorrectly, or just plain never knew the truth about something. But we all have the ability to wise-up, learn, read, do some research, talk to people in the know, and update our take on a given circumstance. It is completely possibly that this is the case with your boyfriend.
Feeling you argue too much, feeling you aren't financially ready, and feeling that he knows no one with a happy marriage are all very damn good reasons to put off marriage. They really are. They are sound speculations, they have merit in their design. He'd be normal and healthy to say, "Let's put off deciding if we even want to get married until we feel like we don't fight so much, and until our careers/art/endeavors make us feel financially secure enough to do things the way we agree together to do them. And, honestly I'm also afraid to marry because I don't find examples of good marriages out there. I don't want to be unhappy, I don't want to make a big mistake with our lives."
Completely rational. Completely understandable. Completely reflective of an introspective young person that knows they need time, growth, stability, maturity and experience before they can honestly consider making a commitment that should involve the entire rest of their life.
Angela, and every reader out there, please understand I am not arguing those points at all. He's got every reason to have them and he's right to wait.
The problem is, the contradiction. He can not possibly have those questions and concerns, at the same time as wanting to have children soon. It's not possible.
Angela, if you really go over what a huge commitment having children is with him and he maintains that he is ready to have kids soon, then Angela Maxwell, this guy does not want to marry you. Period.
Saying he can afford 18 years of child care, utilities, medical bills, diapers, soccer uniforms, braces, cell phones, food, rent, clothes, school, risks, toys, A.D.D. meds, computers, games, birthday parties, insurance and presents from Santa - for 2 decades - if he's saying he can afford the $240,000 projected cost to have a child in the world now, BUT that he can not afford a honeymoon, then he is lying. He's lying about his reasoning to not want to marry you.
It's as if he's saying, "I know what I want, I understand and accept it, and I can afford it and I'm willing to work for it and commit to it, but you and what you want are standing in my way."
You asked if you should accept having kids with him and the commitment you have. Absolutely do not have children with him. Either he has no clue how much it takes to raise kids, or he's lying to you, trying to find some plausible excuse not to marry you instead of just telling you the truth: that he does want to get married, but it isn't to you.
He wants to have children soon, but tells you he can't afford a trip and he doesn't like how much you fight. He says he knows no one that is happy married, but that he wants kids, which means he knows no one that has kids and is now unhappy? All the kids he knows are born out of wedlock? If the "unhappy" rule applies to the marriages he knows, then it most apply to the kids and parents he knows, right? It makes no sense. He wants to raise children with you, but doesn't think that you'll fight once you have kids? He can afford 2 decades of child support but not a one-time trip to Niagara Falls? This is his reasoning? Are you following this?
Look, if he isn't ready to get married, that's fine. If he doesn't know yet how he feels about marriage and is having trouble expressing that, that's fine too. Maybe he has already figured out that he doesn't want to get married. And that's fine as well. Not everyone wants to get married. Marriage is not for everyone, and he may be one of those people that has a wonderful and full life without ever having that one legal document. That is his right, and that's a valid choice to make in life. And if he does feel that way, that isn't to say you can't have a wonderful and committed life with him.
But if that's his decision, he's making up an excuse like he can't afford a honeymoon, or that you two fight too much, vacillating on reasons, and completely contradicting them by expressing other life choices that go against them.
To put it clearly, he can't possibly be telling you the truth with those reasons, if he's also telling you he wants to have children soon. Clueless about having kids, or, lying about his reasons for not wanting to marry yet (read: you.) It's one or the other. You can give him a clue about raising kids, or you can call him out on his lie. He can't afford kids but not a honeymoon.
Good luck to you, Angela Maxwell.