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What to Do If Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Get Married

man-and-woman-holding-hands

The pages of women’s magazines are filled with articles offering methods for encouraging men to propose marriage, and entire websites are dedicated to increasing a person’s marry-ability. Both men and women can be hesitant about marriage, and when romantic partners have different opinions of marriage, the conflict can be challenging to resolve.

It is possible, however, to have a committed and loving relationship without marriage, and some people who are uncomfortable with marriage ultimately change their minds. A disagreement about marriage doesn’t have to end your relationship, particularly if you both are committed to the relationship.

Avoiding Marriage

If you’re itching to get married and your partner resists, it’s easy to assume there’s a problem with the relationship or that your partner isn’t fully committed to you. These issues could indicate that it’s time to consider moving on. But there are myriad other reasons people are uncomfortable with marriage that have nothing to do with the relationship. Cohabitation is an increasingly popular option; one 2013 study found that 32% of couples chose long-term cohabitation over marriage. Some reasons your partner might be uninterested in marriage include:

  • Discomfort with the events that surround a wedding, the costs associated with getting married, or family conflicts that can arise when a couple exchanges vows.
  • Fear of divorce.
  • Fear of losing one’s individual identity.
  • Wanting to “test” the relationship a little longer before taking the plunge.
  • Disliking the historical implications of marriage, which include viewing women as property and men as little more than providers.
  • A desire to avoid an institution in which some same-sex couples can’t participate.

The Role of Communication

As with so many other relationship issues, open and honest communication is the key to resolving disputes about marriage. You might assume you know your partner’s reason for avoiding marriage, but you don’t really know until you ask. Hearing that your partner is concerned that marriage might change the relationship will likely feel a lot better than simply assuming your partner doesn’t want to get married because he or she doesn’t love you.

And for partners who want to get married, explaining clearly and logically why you want to get married can make a big difference. The benefits of marriage include automatic paternal legitimation for children, significant tax benefits, and shared insurance. Pointing these out to your partner could help, but addressing his or her concerns is equally important. You might be able to come to an agreement about when you’ll reevaluate the marriage question and how you’ll address insecurities and relationship logistics in the meantime.

While you might feel hurt if your partner doesn’t want to marry you, it’s important to consider that marriage might mean something completely different to your partner. Consequently, it’s wise to focus on other ways to get your needs met rather than making marriage a deal-breaker. If, however, you can’t stay in a relationship that doesn’t end in marriage, trying to push the relationship toward marriage can cause it to fall apart. It might be better to end things now.

Addressing Potential Concerns

If you and your partner agree to live together without getting married, you’ll have the freedom to pick and choose which marriage benefits you want to take advantage of and which you want to avoid altogether. A simple contract, for example, can outline who owns what property and how it will be divided if you split up. And if you have a child together, you’ll need to ensure that both parents are listed on the birth certificate or that the nonbiological parent adopts the child. You won’t be able to get tax benefits, but you can still combine your lives in a way that works for both of you.

References:

  1. Aleccia, J. (2013, April 4). “The new normal”: Cohabitation on the rise, study finds. NBC News. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/health/new-normal-cohabitation-rise-study-finds-1C9208429?franchiseSlug=healthmain
  2. Roberts, S. (2013, April 9). Against marriage: A ring does not define a relationship. The XX Factor. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/04/09/the_case_against_marriage_a_ring_doesn_t_define_a_relationship.html
  3. Schwyzer, H. (2011, February 16). Why some men don’t want to get married. Alternet. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/story/149941/why_some_men_don’t_want_to_get_married

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Comments
  • W.Grace June 29th, 2013 at 12:17 AM #1

    This may be a sticky subject to some people but for others cohabitation is perfectly fine.it doesn’t mean there is no love or the relationship has lost it’s fizz.problem begins if one partner wants to be married and the other doesn’t.so it’s essential to discuss this at an early stage of the relationship.

  • laura July 1st, 2013 at 4:35 AM #2

    If I have been with someone for a long time and I feel like marriage is the next logical step for us but I feel like he is holding back then I think that I would have to reconsider if the two of us are going to be a good match for one another. It’s one thing to want to hold off for a while if financially you are still getting things together or there are some relationship issues that the two of you are working through. But why not get married if you have done it all and the relationship is healthy and strong? getting married will only make it that much stronger so when there is that hesitation on the part of one of the people, then that to me sends up big warning signals. This might not be the right person to be with after all if you are convinced that marriage is the way to go and he istrying to avoid that commitment like the plague.

  • patti July 7th, 2013 at 3:58 AM #3

    I am a woman,and have known women, who’ve strung along for years,(although a man might find himself in the same situation,) Chicks grow a backbone. Do not spread your knees to a man you don’t love.And he should also be in love with you.Once this is a mutually established fact,you need,for your own protection, to give your love object, a goal, if not ultimatum, time-wise,’til you are engaged,with a date,and arrangements should start being made within a couple of weeks of that date for your wedding day. You don’t need some wedding marketer to sell you a $20,000 package, to live in future contented bliss either. DO NOT MOVE IN WITH THIS PERSON,if it can be at all avoided.One person’s trial marriage is, for another, a reason not to buy the cow, cause the cream is free. free,Thus inviting string-along.A lot of happy marriages srarted at the Courthouse or a minister’s office ceremony. Agood rule of thumb time wise for women is,if you are under 21,wait.After 22-25,18 mos-2yr.s,25-28,1yr,-18mos., over 28, 1yr, After 30,1yr. Men often consider women to have a youth,”shelf life,”(even though we might out live them by many years).Men don’t usaully have to worry about this,even though a man’s age may be important to a women).Keep that backbone,here’s the hard part,you must be prepared to tell your sweetie,that your dating is over,if the time is up.the relationship is over if they don’t commit by the appointed time. This will keep you,(and maybe the other person), from wasting years of your life. This seems old fashioned but it works, I told my boyfriend, once he let me know he was in love with me,and I with him,he had 18 mos. to marry me, or that’s it, bye-bye,and he proposed in 6 mos.! We married 1 yr.later,May 27, 2000.We’re still contently married,in love, and have 2 beautiful daughters.

  • Stephanie February 14th, 2014 at 1:35 PM #4

    It comes down to people not being compatible. I fail to see the logic behind staying with someone who doesn’t want to marry you if you want to marry. Some people can just settle for living together without marriage and children because they are not traditional. Perhaps some men want to wait for the right person.

    Everybody seems to need a point or an outcome to a relationship. Relations do not have to lead to marriage or children to be relationships. They can pass like chapters in a book, and onto the next in the story of life.

    I myself never wanted children, and do not appreciate the manipulative, self-serving, and controlling aspects of men who convince themselves, independent of me, that I must want to be a housewife with five kids bound and chained to the home. I didn’t want to marry someone who asked me one or two months after meeting out of the blue. I like to participate in the plans of my own life, not have someone else decide for me. There is a reason why I walked out of those relationships, and those men have only themselves to blame.

    It is not that I would not marry, but a relationship with someone is not the same as marriage, and these men are perfectly justified in refusing women who are wrong for them. The timing may not be right, the person, the demands, etc. Pushiness and calculations have ways of coming back to haunt people. I am not surprised that female manipulators are not taken down the altar. If the relationship has problems, the act of signing and sealing the deal is counterproductive and the death knell for a lot of relationships.

  • Brandy L September 1st, 2014 at 10:34 PM #5

    I am 20 years old and have been with this guy for three Yeats and we have to kids. Well I’m ready to be married. He asked me to marry him before we had our first child and now he don’t wanna get married. When I try to talk about it he laughs at me and said we are to young?? Three years and two kids come on… I don’t know what to do!!!!Advice please…

  • Ambra September 23rd, 2014 at 3:36 AM #6

    Same situation Brandy.
    I have two kids with my 5 years boyfriend. He proposed two years ago but I think I pushed him into it. I’m not wearing anymore his engagement ring ’cause, as I told him, I feel he has been joking me. Anytime, ANYTIME I ask him to set a date or tell him I can’t wait for it he makes out new excuses: It’s because he doesn’t have enough money, it’s because the kids are small, it’s because he’s afraid he’ll upset the people he won’t invite, it’s because he doesn’t have time to make a guest list..and so on.
    Last night I could see him writhing when I suggested him to get married in three months,me organizing everything, very small ceremony, a handful of guests,500 bucks worthy. He was as scared as shit. I think he has no balls to tell me he doesn’t want to.
    I told him he’s encouraging me to start looking around me.
    He’s so hopeless when it comes to this. Maybe we’re bound to split up soon. Maybe it’s not happening ’cause it would be a mistake. A Tibetan proverb says : “Sometimes your biggest fortune is not to get what you want”.

  • charlene September 28th, 2014 at 10:10 PM #7

    I don’t know what to do if my boyfriend don’t want to get married. I love him so much. We been living together for two years and 2 months. I want to leave but I can’t I love him.It’s driving me crazy

  • kerri October 1st, 2014 at 2:40 PM #8

    I have been with my partner for nearly 6 yrs and we have two boys and my daughter from a previous relationship who has now got his last name before we even got together i told him i wanted marriage and more kids he said he wanted the same after we had our first son he then told me he dont want marrige i thought it would change but now all our kids have his name i brought it up saying i want to have the same name as my kids he then tells me hes not in love with me anymore and now he wants to try work on our relationship even if he would fall back in love with me i dont think he will ever marry me what should i do

  • yolanda October 17th, 2014 at 12:27 AM #9

    Charlene, hi I had to let my boyfriend go after 2 years. We agreed to marriage after 2 years of dating. Things were good then we went through a rocky time in our relationship. This is when he went from I want to marry to I not ready to I will be like my dad and never get married again. It was hard for me because I love him I let him go because I love myself and i deserve to be loved and respected I’am a virtuous woman.

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