They Want The Same Future Except For The Marriage License - Relationship Advice
My girl friend and myself have been together 7 years next month. Im 25 and she is 24. I own my own house and we have lived together for almost 3 years now. I love her to death and she loves me right back just as much. She has been talking about marriage for years now and always asking when we will get married, because she wants a couple kids before were 30, I agree with her on that, but I dont need marriage to have a children. We both have great careers and I enjoy life soooo much with her. Neither of us are religious in anyway and I feel as though marriage is an out-dated religious practice, with almost no bearing in society today. Even if you don't get married in a church (witch she is fine with)I still feel I'd be getting into somthing I don't really agree with. 30 plus % end in divorce anyways so what makes this act of marriage so special anymore? Both our parents have been happily married for over 25 years and she thinks we need to be the same way because thats what she was taught from a young age. I like to think for myself and Im a very practicle person, I can't see a reason for getting married...its not a further commitment, people can be great parents and not married, were not religious...so why? She wants to have kids in a couple years and says she needs to be married to have them, however I don't understand why. We are common-law already so there are really no more taxable benifits or anything that would come along with marriage. I love her with all my heart now and a wedding won't increase my commitment to her in anyway...100% commited is still 100%. We have had multiple fights about this subject, and she usually ends up saying she doesn't think she can stay with me if we don't want the same things. But in reality we want the exact same life together...but mine doesn't envolve a piece of paper. What's your take on the situation?
- Canadian Guy
Dear Canadian Guy,
You would not even believe the amount of emails and comments I get on this subject. She wants to get married, he doesn't. Every one of them has it's own nuances and twists. Therefore a unique and tailored response belongs to each one.
Yours has a very special twist to it: you two want the same future. I tell the ladies all the time, actions speak louder than words. Your actions speak volumes of your commitment. You do want the same future, you want kids, you want to be together, and you recognize that through common law you are already indeed very much legally tied.
The subject of marriage has become quite a difficult topic. So many gay people are fighting for the right to do it, while so many straight men are fighting not to. It's hard to explain why some people, your common law wife included, want that piece of paper so badly.
Somehow it represents forever in a way that all the other realistic and logical commitment facts don't. It doesn't make you love deeper and it doesn't prevent your eye from wandering. Like you said, it's a piece of paper. And I find myself in many situations warning the ladies not to ruin the relationship they have in order to start all over again out there in search of this relationship with a piece of paper, that they may never find.
Relationships are about compromise. You do need to assert yourself and remain an independent individual, but you also need to listen, bend, work together to accommodate each other and learn how to be a partner.
I see where you are asking her to bend, and surrender something she wants. I don't see where you are bending, surrendering something you want, and meeting her half way.
If you really do want the same future - legally tied together, kids, love, all of it - then where is the half way? Or, where is the effort on your part to compromise?
Believe me, I get it. It's the principle. Why should a piece of paper change anything? The point is, your love is telling you she doesn't think she can stay with you if you don't want to get married. So, you'll be without her, but you'll be right about that principle. How's that going to feel?
The thing is, Canadian Guy, sometimes it's just not about right and wrong. Sometimes it's not about logic. And it is definitely not about who makes the better argument. Sometimes what it comes down to is pain. Which way is going to cause the least amount of pain? If you get your way and there is no marriage, that's really going to cause her a lot of pain. If she gets her way and you sign the piece of paper that you swear means nothing, how are you hurt? How are you sacrificing?
If your choice is that she should be in pain so you can be right on principle, you have a lot of soul searching to do. It's easy to be a partner when you agree on things. It's easy to find the compromise when you both want the same things. It's easy to say you are a great life mate when you want all the same things.
But this is where the real work begins. This is the part that separates the men from the boys. Are you willing to do something that doesn't matter to you, because it matters to her. Or are you willing to let her suffer in this, and then watch the relationship fall apart, over this thing that doesn't matter to you.
And lets go a step further. What happens up the line when something actually does matter to you. What happens when there is a real disagreement and your side isn't just the principle of the thing, that doesn't hurt or affect you one way or the other. What happens when you two actually have a very real disagreement on something that you both feel very strongly about? Something huge like aborting a pregnancy with a bad amnio test showing the child is severely disabled?
If you can't even compromise on something that you state yourself "does not matter," how are you going to be a partner on something that does matter? How is she supposed to spend the next 50 or 60 years with someone, knowing he won't bend to keep her from pain, when it doesn't even matter to him?
The heart wants what it wants. We are human and make mistakes every day because the brain and the heart often go in different directions.
I think often times guys are just wired differently. They naturally have a more logical based mind. Add to that, that they grow up playing sports and games, competing and keeping score. I think for many guys everything in life comes down to winning and losing.
This is not something you win or lose. This is a completely different set of life skills. This is about listening, and compromising, and not wanting the one you love to leave because "you win, you're more logical, she loses because she's more emotional." You both lose if that's what you really want.
You said, "I like to think for myself and Im a very practicle person, I can't see a reason for getting married."
It's sad that you can't see her wants as a reason. It's sad that you can't see the forest for the piece of paper that doesn't matter to you. It's a little disturbing that a practical person would rather fight for years and let his girlfriend suffer, then see the much more practical solution. Either you're doing a hell of a lot of sidestepping and negotiating instead of manning up admitting you don't know if she's the one you want to spend forever with, or you really aren't ready to be a partner.
You asked me what my take is. My take is you're right. The paper doesn't matter. But your girlfriend should. My take is also that after years of fighting over this, and you're still not getting it, she is going to go. My take is you're "right," and you're about to be alone.