Is It Stupid to Break Up Because He Doesn't Want Marriage
From what I have read you have great advice & I am in need of some. My boyfriend is 27 and I am a few months from 25. We own a home (his name is on it, not mine) and he has a 6 year old and we have a 3 year old together. We have been together for 5 years. Marriage come up frequently, from family and co-workers, however I feel as if he doesn't want to EVER get married. I want to, it's a step in life that I want to take & I think it will be good for our kids (I don't want a wedding I want a marriage, so to say). I am going back to school so I told him that when I am finished I want to get married or I'm leaving, that will give him 3 to 4 more years. However, lately in our talks he makes it sound like he doesn't know if he wants to get married, ever. I do & he has known this for years. I've told him that if he doesn't want to get married he needs to tell me so I can move on. He thinks it's stupid to leave someone you love for that reason but I don't. I need to know what to do, is it stupid. Thanks for any advice you can give me.
Let's go back to the beginning and look at the whole progression.
In the five years you've been together, you've had a child with him, and he bought a house that your name isn't on. You said "we own a home" but you don't.
So right off the bat we have two very significant pieces of insight into what he's said with his actions, and what you've said with your actions. He had a child before you, and had a child with you, and didn't marry you. That's significant. It's also significant that you stayed.
He bought a house in his name but you refer to it as both of yours even though it's not. He had the opportunity to let his actions speak louder than words and make a real lifetime commitment to you, the mother of one of his children, with inclusion on the property title even if not 50/50. But he didn't. And again, you stayed.
With these two major life changes, often hallmarked with marriage, his actions have clearly said that he isn't going to marry you.
And with both of these occurrences you have said with your actions, that he can still have you. You've reinforced that he can think the way he thinks, and have everything he wants without consequence.
From your side I imagine there's excuses, like that the child wasn't planned and you had only been together a year, it was just too soon. And the house he's mostly paying for, so that's only fair. And these excuses might make sense, but that logic would be lost on a man that is planning to spend his life with you.
Now, you're being more aggressive about your communications, and trying to be clear about what you want and what you don't. (By the way I hope if you get a chance you'll read my Hub regarding ultimatums in The Difference Between Being Clear and Being a Nag.)
Your recent communication is being met with dismissal. You're speculating he's never going to marry you and he's even called your willingness to end this relationship because it's not what you want, stupid.
My first speculation here has to be that he isn't taking you seriously. He knows that his experience with you says otherwise, so he's poo-poo'ing on the idea that you'd leave.
At 27, he's at the age of the Rites of Passage, or the Saturn Return. This is a time when people often re-evaluate what they're doing, and become who they are meant to become. At 25 you're young, but you have a clear and mature outlook. You've already had a child, you are committed to education and growing yourself (not only mature, but smart as well) and you've grasped the difference between having a wedding and being in a marriage. I think you know what you want and I think you're ready to get it.
On the other hand, I'm not convinced he knows what he wants.
I am however convinced that he knows what he can get away with.
Over the next couple of years he is going to come in touch with a more centered self. He will evaluate and re-evaluate what's important to him and what he wants. By 30 he will be clearer on the path he needs to follow.
It sounds like that time frame actually works fine for you. You will be going to school and raising your kid in his house. In 4 years when you are finished with your education he will be proposing, or not. There will be no more speculating, hoping, and guesswork. He'll be clearer.
The thing is, the pieces of his life that he's going to be thinking about and evaluating, include the fact that he believes he's got you no matter what. He doesn't think you'll leave. He's thinking: why should he seriously consider marriage when you're not going anywhere anyway.
Teej, what you need to do for the next couple of years is to give him different facts with which he can re-evaluate his life. There are two things he needs to have reinforced, over and over.
The first is that being with you is awesome. It's what he wants. You have to remind him of that all that time. You're smart, funny, easy going. You listen. You're a whole person. You make a great partner. Girl, it's time for best foot forward. You have to undo the damage that was done in perception by your allowing things to get to this point.
This includes no ultimatums. No nagging. You said you gave him an "If-Then" statement. If he doesn't marry you then you are leaving him. It's the truth, but the wording and the feeling conveyed don't reinforce your awesomeness. Please read that Hub I mentioned and be very conscious of what he must be feeling about coming home to you every night. This isn't easy. This will take some concentration and effort.
The second thing you have to work on is the misperception that you won't leave. This is critical, and it must be done with a smile, not a threat. Subtle things like circling houses or apartments in the newspaper. Direct things, like mentioning a job situation that could be available to you after you finish your education, that's in another state. With a smile, you can be clear that you're thinking about yourself and your future. You don't ever have to threaten, nag or give an ultimatum. I can guarantee you an ultimatum to a guy who has gotten everything he wants so far is only going to backfire on you.
He may have a first marriage that didn't work out. He may have an ex that ended badly, or a frame of reference that's fucked up like seeing his parent's marriage while it was unhealthy or failing. He may have a lot of reasons why he went into his relationship with you with that anti-marriage attitude. It may not be a reflection of his feelings. But now while he's going through this perfect age for life insight, you need to re-teach him how to think about things.
If you think my advice translates to putting on an act, then balance that by looking at your having a kid and moving in, and everything else that wasn't exactly what you wanted as an act as well. You were acting on your way to getting what you really wanted. Well then this is no different. It's just that you have to refine your dance.
Replace the marriage talk with "me" talk. Instead of pressuring or threatening him, just speak with a smile about yourself. About your plans and dreams. Tell him what you're studying. Tell him what you're interested in. Tell him about job opportunities. Be excited and interesting. Be happy. It will help him focus on how good life will be if you are in it forever. This makes the next step easier: when he realizes you really are planning your life, and he's invited but he can't assume you'll just be around and take whatever he dishes out. When he actually realizes that 1 - you're the one and 2 - he can only have you if he marries you.... well, you can do the math.
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