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Life-Long Soulmates, But He Says No To Marriage. What Should She Do?

Updated on October 18, 2010

Dear Veronica

I have a situation I would love feedback on. I apologize, in advance, for this being so long, but there is a lot of history that needs to be told to understand the story.

Seventeen years ago, I dated a man that I absolutely loved. He was it! But, he was divorced with two small children and wasn't ready to commit to me. I remember the entire time he kept telling me please don't give up on me. Well, I did. We split up. We got back together on and off for 3 or 4 years. Never exclusively like we were at first. But, we always seemed to find our way into each other's lives. Well, I eventually met someone and married. He did too. We both married different people within six months of each.

Ten years passed with no contact at all. We both divorced within one year of each other. He had kids and I had kids. Well, via the internet, we reconnected. We have now been dating almost two years. He truly is the love of my life! It seems like our souls are connected.

He constantly talks about future, retiring together, etc. We take family vacations together with the kids. Really and truly, we are a family without the marriage certificate.

In December, he gave me an engagement ring. I was elated! I brought up marriage to him the other day, and my heart was crushed. He told me that he wasn't ready yet. I asked him why he gave me the ring and he said that he knew that I was the one but that he had been married twice, divorced twice, and he just had to be sure.

He said that he wanted to wake up one morning and just know. He said that he thinks about it from time to time but is always able to "shake it off". I don't understand that at all! Why would you want to shake it off?

I don't want to be the fool that hangs around thinking that this man is going to commit to me one day when he isn't, but I also don't want to give up on this man when it could be fear that is keeping him from this.

Our relationship is so wonderful. We are truly just missing the marriage certificate. He told me the other day that he knew without a doubt that he was going to marry me he just didn't know when.

Please be honest with me. Am I being that fool that I said I would never be? Why would he give me the ring? Is it like a hold tag? Will he ever really be ready? Why am I not good enough?


Dear Tanya,

Thanks for this question, sent through my Hub - When He Says He Isn't Ready for Marriage - Yet.

Your situation is very different. Life long soulmates, that have returned to each other after having had failed marriages are usually some of the best bonded and strongest loves. Normally they are not willing to ever risk being apart again, and rush into marriage too quickly.

I need some clarification on the ring-giving. Upon presenting it to you, did he get down on one knee and ask you to marry him? Are you engaged?

I almost have the feeling that no, he did not. I almost feel like had you been proposed to, you would have said so.

Giving you a ring, and telling you later that he wasn't ready when you brought up marriage, doesn't make alot of sense. I almost want to ask you if you're sure it's an engagement ring? Could it have been a promise ring? Or, a, "I'm An Idiot" ring?

Tanya let me say one thing that hopefully will feel good to hear: I don't think this ring/marriage wah-wah means that he isn't sure about you. After two marriages and having a family, two divorces, he refinds you, and you take family vacations together. That is very significant.

Honestly, I don't think it's you he's not ready about at all. I think it's him.

Men tend to be much less confrontational than women in relationships. Especially when we're still in the girlfriend stage, men want to avoid conflict and avoid arguing as much as possible. That's why you were the one that had to bring up marriage - he's not ready for the confrontation.

There's probably several reasons for this, and I'm basing this on his two prior marriages. In addition to feeling a failure, he is probably in that mid-life "too much reality" phase. You didn't tell me anything about his first two wives, but I'm going to guess that his first was someone he thought would be a good wife and mother. She was a logical and responsible choice. The second was probably someone he dated and then felt pressured, or obliged to marry.

I am in no way saying he wasn't in love with these women. I'm saying, when he told you he wants to just wake up one day and "know" for sure, that you're the one, what he's really telling you is that he's never felt that before. He didn't wake up one day and just feel overwhelmed with passion for his wife, and popped the question. He probably loved her, and decided the time was right to start a family. Don't forget, men tend to marry when the time is right. Women marry when the man is right. She was the person that was in the picture at the right time for him, and he made a reality based choice. Men do that. That's not a poor reflection on him, it's just insight.

I think what he was trying to say, is that with you, it's not about timing, and it's not about choices. It's not about reality, and the things you have to do to have a nice life. It's not about logic or anything else rational. With you, it's more. With you, it goes beyond time. I think what he's saying is, he wants the magic. He's learned alot in his two marriages, alot about love and about what truly matters.

He told you he gave you the ring because he knows you're the one.

But that he's not ready yet. He's waiting for that magic moment. And I don't know, Tanya, it sounds like after two marriages he's earned that.

A man's actions speak louder than words. Always. Always always always. So look at his actions. He gave you a ring. He goes on family vacations. He plans retirement with you. These are not just words, these are serious indicators of a life plan with intentions of being with you.

As to why he shakes it off, I think what he's saying is, he's waiting for that moment where he can't shake it off anymore. It's piss-poor wording and I see why you're all "ugh" about that. But I think in his own way he's saying, he wants to be more than in love with you. He wants to be head over heels can't resist any longer in love with you.

How long will that take, will he ever get there.... this I can't tell you.

But I will tell you this. A ring, family vacations, retirement plans, and a reconnection after years apart - adds up to my bottom line advice for you. Which is, give him some time. Relax. Enjoy him. Enjoy the relationship. Let him keep showing you how he plans his future with you. I think you have a good chance at getting everything you want.

Do you have a relationship question? Email me through the link in my profile. Thanks!


Submit a Comment

  • zenna53 profile image


    7 years ago from North Carolina

    This is a great hub. I was searching for: a ring given with no proposal and no engagement when I found this article. My situation sounds a lot like Tanya's except there are no small children involved. Like Tanya I cook, clean, pay the bills... and sometimes feel like I am a bank to my boyfriend. He tells me that " I am the love of his life," but I am feeling something else. I watch his actions, and then his words which sometimes do not match at all. I overheard him tell his daughter when he told her about the ring that "there is no way I am getting married, and that it was just a sweetheart ring." I have been married before for a very long time, and this is my first long-term relationship. I am starting to "do my own thing," and seriously thinking that I am in a go no-where relationship. We've been together almost two years, and I don't see any indication that this man will marry me.... but, know that he lived with his last girlfriend for over eight years before she ended it. And, yes she told me that he was running around on her. Once, I stated that I did want to get married again someday, and he just nodded. I do not want to invest eight years, and end up like his last girlfriend..... Am I on the right track with my thinking?


  • profile image


    8 years ago

    You are right about the complacency and at times, I feel taken advantage of. I am a very giving person and it is often hard for me to so no. He assumes that because we are together that I am supposed to do these things for him. I do things for him because I love him not because I should do them. If we were to get married today, nothing would change for him. I already cook for him, clean for him, do his laundry, pay his bills, handle his paperwork, pick up his medicine, etc. In the last two years, I am the only one that has taken his son to get his hair cut. Not his mom, not his dad, but me! This past summer when he didn't have anyone to keep his son (because he is supposed to get him each summer), I am the one that kept him. He wasn't even in town. But, I kept his child with me and took him back and forth to summer camp just like I did my own kids.

    When I try to pull back and stop doing these things, he gets upset with me because I have always done them. So, I don't really know how to stop without causing more problems. And, the thing is that he does the same thing, he handles all of my car repairs and all of the household repairs, etc. We are truly a family without the marriage certificate.

    This week he made the comment that his son would be spending Thanksgiving week with me. I replied that I wasn't taking off work. He said but you did last year. He just automatically assumed without asking that I would keep his child. The thing is that I don't mind at all doing it.

    But, if he wants to live the married life, shouldn't he want to be married? How is this fair to me? Do you see, at all, why my frustration comes through? When I mention to him that I don't want to play like we are family, his reply is that he isn't playing and that we are a family!

    I apologize for just rambling on and on, but this is really helping me sort out my feelings.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY


    I was hoping you'd comment again, and what you said is exactly what I was hoping for as well. "I didn't realize how desperate I sounded."

    This is an excellent observation. I'm glad to hear it.

    I really want you to think about this: the same is probably true for your interactions with your boyfriend. Sometimes you're not thinking about the mood, the comments, the actions and the digs that you give. Other times you are thinking about these things, but those comments or moods you set are not being received in the way you intend.

    It's really not OK that you're the assumed babysitter. That you take care of all the insurances. That you do all the things you're doing. By marrying you, he isn't stepping up the living situation as you've already given him everything he could want. There's nothing to look forward to. Basically he has no reason to rush, no reason to take that step.

    There's a fine line between showing the kind of partner you are, and being taken advantage of.

    I still think his planning the future and the things he's said indicates that you are the one. No "trick" or advice I can ever give will help you get a man that really doesn't want to marry you, to marry you. What I can do is help you to get a man that really does want to marry you, to focus. I believe he does want to marry you, and I also now think, as I'd hoped, that you're ready to get married as well. So again I'm shifting adice strategies.

    You have to undo the complacency.

    But the big thing here, Tanya, is you have to get the desperate sounds under control. You said it yourself - it was a few comments and a lot of thinking, but you saw it yourself. You sound desperate, and the truth is you aren't. You have to project a truthful image about yourself. Stop festering, resenting, and appearing clingy desperate. Start being Tanya: happy, confident, and in love. Take yourself back. Show your self worth. take control. Don't give him the control over your happiness - only YOU have control over that.

    You need to make plans for a night you know your boyfriend will assume you're babysitting. Tell him - with a smile - you have plans with so and so for the movies and you may spend the night with this friend or relative. You say it happily, confidently. And let him do some thinking. He may say he thought you'd babysit. And with a smile, your response is that he didn't ask.

    You have to hand him the insurances and tell him happily, "Hey you should take care of this." Same with dinner. And laundry. Make plans, have a life, go out. Do your thing. Let him ask, hey what's going on. Let him think about it. Showing your real full total honest self which is confident and happy, answer truthfully: you aren't married, these aren't assumed things. You're basically single and making plans.

    If he wants to enjoy all the benefits of playing house with you, then he has to be ready to make the full commitment. Reinforcing your happiness and confidence is so attractive, Tanya. You want him to look at you and see the real you, and you want him to feel like you're the greatest thing since sliced bread. A boggled down festering miserable desperate woman who can be taken advantage of, is not attractive.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Wow! I wasn't expecting this feedback, but I do appreciate your honesty. After reading your advise, I re-read my post. I didn't realize how desperate I sounded. I want to clarify something. I don't bring up marriage on a daily basis, and we don't fight daily. But, I am beginning to have some resentment towards him because I feel that he is acting married without making the committment. I also feel that at times he gives me mixed signals. Things like... He gives me an engagement ring yet says he isn't ready to be married. He tells me that I am the one but that he just has to be sure. He wants to open a retirement account with me but he isn't ready to commit. He wants to discuss money issues and be involved in all of my financial activities but he doesn't do the same. Right now, we are in a long distance relationship, one month he tells me that he is trying to get a job closer to home so that we can begin our life and the next month, he is looking at accepting a promotion five hours further away. He doesn't ask me to watch his children anymore, he just expects and assumes that it is my duty because we are together. I make doctor's appointments for him, I handle his insurance and his children's, I help him with mailing all of his bills, etc. etc. etc. I do these things because I love him, but aren't these things that a wife does? These are the things that frustrate me.

    Please know that when I wrote my post I had just had a weekend with him that was very strained. I heard him tell his daughter that if you love someone you should marry them, and to be quite honest, that through me for a loop because if he loves me, shouldn't he want to marry me? I get all these logical reasons of why not now, but then he makes it sound so easy and simple when giving advise to someone else.

    I fully realize that my post sounded desperate, needy and extremely insecure. And, if I am being completely honest, I am developing some insecurity from this. But, my entire self worth is not based on this relationship. I have a successful career that I love, I have two children that mean the world to me and I have very supportive family and friends. Do I love this man? You better believe it. I have never loved anyone like this. Would I be devestated if we didn't work out? Absolutely because I believe that he is the love of my life and that we are truly meant to be together. Do I feel that I am sabotaging things? Yes, which is why I posted asking for advise. But, in the end, if it doesn't work out, I will survive. I lived for many years without him and I can do it again. Do I want to? No, I don't!

    I just want to know where I stand. I want to understand what I feel is mixed signals from him. Do I understand his fear of committing again? Yes, but shouldn't I be worth the risk? I don't want him to marry me because I want him to. I want him to marry me because he can't go another day without me by his side. I want him to feel the depth of love that I feel for him. And, I don't know that he does.

    Am I being selfish for wanting this?

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Thanks Pam.

    You're right, he's not counting this time as her being patient, if she's fighting and upset and bringing this up.

    There are so many different nuances from one situation to the next. What I would advise one person may not be the advice I'd choose for another. There are so many factors. Choice of wording is a big one. Age, length of time together, if his actions are speaking louder than his words, if she's siting reasons like family pressure... and here we have a really big one: her stating she feels as if she isn't good enough.

    Tanya's bf is walking the walk: family vacations and retirement planning are very clear signs that she isn't wasting her time with him. I'd advise perhaps for someone younger,or who isn't seeing those signs to take some time off the talk.

    Another thing you have to consider is speaking a language where someone can hear you. Some advice I give is the same, but said differently. Some people need to be very gently coached. Some need to be hit over the head. Others, you can just level with. Tanya I'm just leveling with. Whether he's right or she's wrong, or whatever, if she feels he self worth is actually tied up in this, then she needs to free herself from it.

    I didn't give her advice in my last comment on how to get him to marry her. I already gave that in the hub. Now I'm just giving her advice on how to be healthy. If she really feels that whether or not this man proposes on a certain time table equals her being good enough, then she shouldn't be putting any more energy into getting married. She should be putting that energy into working on herself. Whether she can do that and not lose the relationship, I don't know. But her well being is what's important here.

    You're right btw, confidence is a huge source of attraction. Not just for you, but for many people. Of all the many comments and emails I've gotten from men over the years, I've never had a man write and say he is so attracted to a woman that has no self confidence. Most men are attracted to women that are their own person - independent, happy, the maker of their own lives and their own joy.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    I'm not sure if my comment will help or hurt. Of course I completely agree with everything Veronica says, be independent, be attractive by not being clingy. But, perhaps something tangible? I think I read another hub by Veronica where she was advising a woman who knew she was pushing too hard... I think it was

    She Can't Stop Pressuring Her BF Into Proposing

    or another similar hub where the woman (in an otherwise satisfactory relationship which seemed to be heading somewhere) was advised to take some time off, perhaps a whole year, of the constant marriage talk.

    And to take that time, as Veronica often advises, to show him how life with you can be happy... not naggy.

    I really don't think you "trying to be patient" counts for him, when you are still bringing up the subject.

    Tanya, you pressuring him now is showing him how you will behave in your marriage. And I imagine a lot of people would not want that heavy responsibility of the complete and sole source of their partner's happiness. The insecurity is a huge thing. I always feel that confidence is the hugest source of attraction where I myself am concerned.

    Good luck!

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY


    3 years, especially after 2 failed marriages, is not too long a time. I think you're right - you could be destroying your relationship. I don't see his "lack of commitment," I see his commitment, a reasonable amount of time, alot of effort and very clear actions. I also see that you aren't seeing it.

    I promise you that this is the truth: you can not be a good partner until you are a good You. You have to love yourself before anyone else can love you. You have to respect yourself or no one else will. You have to feel good about who you are before you can be part of a couple. You can't be a partner, unless you can be a strong individual.

    You said, you feel like you're not good enough to marry, and other insecurities. You're basing your self worth on someone else's actions, which aren't commentary on you, and aren't even bad.

    If you need to be married to feel "good enough" then you have some very serious work to do on yourself. You aren't ready to get married. You can't be a good partner if you are that dependent on another person for your self worth. It isn't healthy, and it will produce a very unhealthy union.

    I wrote a whole Hub explaining what he means, that's it's him, that he needs time and wants to feel very romantically overwhelmed with pure love this time, and that he knows that it's you. So I don't understand what you're saying you "don't understand at all."

    Your insecurity, dependence upon him to validate your worth, your anger, your resentment, - all completely reinforces for him what life with you will be like. If he wasn't questioning, he should be now.

    He was attracted to you because you were independent, and stable, and supportive, and a strong person that loved herself. He probably saw you as someone with dignity, and beauty. If this massive emergency-level pressure wasn't on him from you, he may have already found that moment he so romantically said he was waiting for. Being with you, and thinking to himself that he wants this feeling for the rest of his life. Instead, now when he's with you, it's pressure, fights, dependence, projection, and now somehow it has become his responsibility for you to find your self worth.

    Think about it - would you marry someone that insecure that they can't feel good about themselves unless you give the say-so? Someone that wants what they want, and doesn't act like a strong person or a partner?

    This is my advice - if you can't be your own person, you can't be a partner. If you can't feel your own self worth, then you need to get out of this relationship because you are destroying yourself in it. From what you've shared, he's done nothing wrong. But there's something very, very wrong if you feel the way you said you do about yourself because of someone else. Giving anyone that much power is extremely unhealthy.

  • profile image


    8 years ago


    Well, I am back for more advice. I am trying so hard to be patient and wait for him to be ready to get married. But, it doesn't seem that it is ever going to happen. We will soon be together three years! I am becoming resentful of him and insecure with myself. I feel like I am not good enough to marry. I feel like he doesn't love me enough because he doesn't want to commit to me. He tells me that he is completely committed to me, and I know that he is. But, I want to be married to him. I don't want to wake up in three years and be 40 years old and wonder what did I wait for. The only answer he ever gives me is that it isn't me that he isn't sure about, it is himself. I don't understand that at all.

    I feel like I am single handedly destroying our relationship because I can't enjoy it for worrying whether he really loves me, is he going to marry me, am I good enough, etc. etc. etc. Our relationship used to be wonderful. Now, we fight because I am so angry with him. Why doesn't he see what I see? Why doesn't he want this? What is wrong with me? How do I salvage our relationship from my own insecurities and his lack of committment?

    Please help me again!

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY


    Thank you so much for the awesome feedback on my advice.

    I hope you'll keep in touch so we can celebrate with you. Deep breath, girl. You're fine!

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Thank you responding to my questions.

    WOW! You are GOOD! You are dead on about the engagement ring. He did not formally "pop the question". However, he does call it an engagement ring, and he tells everyone (his work included) that we are engaged. When asked, he says we haven't set a date yet.

    You are also right about the ex-wives. His first ex-wife was a childhood sweetheart that didn't work out. It was a very bad marriage from what I understand.

    His second marriage occurred 6 months after I married. He actually called me ONE week after I got married to try to rekindle our relationship, but it was too late. He told me that had I not married someone else, he doesn't think that he would have married his 2nd wife. He says that he never truly loved her, but felt pressure to do so from her, his ex wife (because of the kids), and his family. I believe he was rebounding from me. And, truthfully, I was rebounding as well. I had just convinced myself otherwise.

    I know that he loves me. WITHOUT A DOUBT! He actually told me this weekend that he loves me in a way that he has never loved anyone before and that he wants to get it right with me!

    I truly believe that we are soulmates. I have always felt connected to him. Even the years we spent apart, I felt as though he was with me. I can't explain it any way other than I KNOW! I KNOW! I KNOW! he is the one for me! I KNOW that we are meant to be together! It almost seems like he was made just to be with me! I have never felt this way before. I just want him to know too!

    And, your advise, is exactly what he tells me. He tells me all the time to relax and let it happen. He says that he knows without a doubt that it will.


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