- Gender and Relationships
Investing Too Much in Your Relationship? Moving On When It's Unhealthy - Relationship Advice
I received this comment from chrissy on my hub When Your Girl Wants to Get Married and You Don't.
I have been with my bf for 16 years. I am 34, he is 35, and we own a house together for 10 years. 3 years ago, after the death of his mother, I found out that he was cheating on me with a co-worker. We tried to work things out, and he eventually moved out. After 3 months, we reconciled and he moved back in. Marriage was never a big deal to me before he cheated, but after we got back together, it became a pressing issue for me. I guess that before I didn't "need" to get married bc I was confident in our relationship the way it was, but since he cheated on me, I do feel that I need that commitment. I know that marriage is not a guarantee of fidelity, but this is how I feel. I have spoken with him about my feelings, but he still has not asked me to marry him. He will make comments about "someday when we are married and have kids", but that is all. I have invested so much time in this relationship, we own our home(which he does not want to sell), and he is the love of my life. I don't want to be with anyone else, but I don't think that I can be happy with him if he won't make that commitment to me, esp since he knows how important it is to me. It makes me feel sad that I am good enough to be with for all these years and build a life with, but that I am not good enough to make his wife. Our relationship is good otherwise-at least I think so, I thought that before and I was apparently wrong. I just don't know what to do anymore, I will not be happy without him in my life, but I am not happy just being his girlfriend either.
I realize you are looking for a specific type of advice. And I've written many Hubs explaining why he has no reason to marry you, when you've given him everything he could get from marriage: living with him, buying a home with him, being there night after night even though you aren't getting what you've asked for. You're proving to him all the time that he doesn't have to honor your requests. You're reinforcing every day with all these choices that he never has to marry you, and you aren't going anywhere.
I could reiterate these things, and break it down for you. But your words are haunting, and they concern me. "I will not be happy without him in my life," shows such a loss of self, and self respect. To actually believe that you can not have a happy life without this man is a major red flag of a serious problem. And my advice is to get out.
On your behalf, I can see the pattern here that emerged. I can understand moving in together without having the whole 'what will the futures bring' conversation because you weren't really concerned about marriage. I can see being trusting enough to buy a home with a boyfriend when you don't know better to protect yourself financially. I can see all the steps that lead you rather blissfully into the place you were in.
And then you found out he cheated.
His cheating changed everything. And if you really think about it honestly, I bet it is also what changed your investment, view and perception of this relationship. This is where it all went wrong. This is where you changed.
His betrayal of you has made you different. While many people wouldn't have gotten past it, you chose to forgive him, but wanted to step up the relationship into a marriage as a way for him to prove to you that he was truly sorry, and totally committed to you.
I hope you'll read that paragraph a couple of times and realize what you've done there. While with tight blinders on, staring straight forward and not taking in all of the very major significant things that are going on all around you, this may seem like a logical approach. It just isn't very realistic. It makes perfect sense in my heart, too. But my brain is saying, no fucking way.
There is something that you need to look at with open eyes. If he was even half as into this relationship as you are, he would have leapt on the chance to redeem himself, atone for his mistake, and marry you to solidify your future together forever. He did not do that. I have no idea how to make it clearer than he already has.
You're at an age where you should be very sure about what you want in life. In your mid 30's you truly come to full fruition. You should have your career fairly well focused, you should have a good grasp of what you want out of relationships and life. Your judgment with this relationship doesn't sound at all grounded. I think that's because you've been with him for so long.
Almost half your life you've been with this one person. I believe this is feeding into your dependent thinking, that all your happiness must be gained through him, that you can't be happy on your own. If you've really only been with this guy since you were 18 years old and he since he's 19, that to me is the basis of a lot of things, from why you can't even see that you need to make your own happiness in life, or why he cheated.
You've never been single as a woman. You've never as a grown up lived life on your own, made your own happiness and future, built your self esteem and empowered yourself. Neither of you has ever sewn any wild oats, played the field, looked around and experienced different things, people, and opportunities. Without your giving me a ton of details on his affair (the one you know about), I can still say I think I completely understand why he did it. And I completely understand why he isn't leaping to get married. The death of his mother surely kicked his reality in. He is seeing life clearer.
Chrissy, even if you two really do love each other, and that you've worked through all the very many issues and complexities of having never grown as single maturing adults, he's demonstrating clearly that you aren't going to get what you want. "...he is the love of my life. I don't want to be with anyone else, but I don't think that I can be happy with him if he won't make that commitment to me," Even if I step away from the unhealthiness I'm feeling from you, I'm seeing that he isn't making that commitment that you are focused on having.
I absolutely do not think you should try to be happy just being his girlfriend. Clearly that ship has sailed. In this very unique and troubled situation, I believe you need to focus on what you said right there - you can't be happy if he won't make that commitment. He's not making the commitment. Therefore, you aren't going to find happiness there. Let it go.
You need to believe in yourself, in your right to be happy, and in your ability to create your own happiness independent of others. I wish you the best on your journey.