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


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.


  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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  • 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.

  • Trisha November 3rd, 2014 at 2:41 AM #10

    I brought up the fact that I wanted to get married, and my boyfriend’s response? “I’m not in a hurry.” HOWEVER, there have been times, like our vacation to Vegas a few years ago, that he suggested getting married while we were there. He’s sending me mixed messages about whether he wants to get married or not, but he won’t give me a straight answer no matter how many times I try to talk to him. I’d hate to think I’ve wasted 8 years on someone who doesn’t want the same things I want.

  • liz November 8th, 2014 at 12:36 PM #11

    5yrs together going on 6. A 4yr old. We share finances, we have insurance together, our whole life we have everything together, but we aren’t married. We are even looking for a house! We have talked about marriage but the answer I get is “soon”. It’s been 5yrs! Apparently he wants our life to be ready financially and have the security of a house before we get married and have another child (which I respect apparently). But what if we never get the house? Will we never get married? Our whole relationship has always been backwards since we started living together almost immediately. But most couples live together, get married, get the house then have a child. I love my family and I would never leave because of this but how long do I need to wait for?

  • Athena November 11th, 2014 at 2:01 PM #12

    Why do you need to get married? Be your own person and live your own life. What do you think will be added to your life or the lives of your children by getting married? Do you think he’ll love you more? Do you think he’ll behave more responsibly towards you financially or otherwise? No. Being married adds nothing to your relationship and only means that he will now have a legal right to take your children away from you if he wins custody. And if you don’t have children and are more finacially successful than him he will have the right to sue you for support if he doesn’t feel like working. Marriage isn’t what it used to be. When I got married I thought it would protect my self and my children. Wrongo. He will have even more control over you if you marry him and trust me, that doesn’t add anything to your life. In the words of Billy Holiday: God bless the child that has her own; she don’t worry about nothing.

  • Jules j. November 18th, 2014 at 3:12 PM #13

    I’ve been with my partner nearly 2 years he proposed to me not long after we met planned our wedding but he called it off cuz of my insecurities he told me tonight that he will never marry me so don’t ask me. how do I deal with that?

  • Jade C. November 19th, 2014 at 3:39 AM #14

    My fiancé won’t marry me until I become tidy. I’m a bit messy. He blames me for his illness. Been together I’ve 12 years.

  • Jules j. November 24th, 2014 at 12:03 PM #15

    I’m going thru a similar experience my partner dosent want to marry me broke my heart when he told me I’m still hurting now :(

  • N Grace November 25th, 2014 at 5:58 AM #16

    I asked my boyfriend about marriage last night and he said he’s never getting married and if that’s what I want then I should find someone else. I had to lie to him and tell him its not what I want. I love this guy but when we first got together he wanted marriage. He’s changed completely in that length of time, he never even says I love you anymore. What should I do? I’m hurting but I have to lie to him and say I’m not, only because he said he doesn’t care anymore.

  • Cassie B November 27th, 2014 at 4:55 AM #17

    Hi everyone, its overwhelming to see all your comments, and im happy that im not alone. I have been with this guy for 7 years and we have 2 kids, he was so eager to marry me when we are in our early stages of the relationship, and now he just doesnt want to anymore, he keeps telling me its only a paper blah blah. change is constant and he’s probably not the same person ive loved and met 7 years ago, maybe we werent right for each other anymore? Honestly im starting to lose interest, i dont know,

  • neovalys g. December 16th, 2014 at 5:10 PM #18

    Iv been with My boyfriend forma almost a year i know its linda early to be asking him about marrage but next month Will be oír annaversary and i asked him if he want to get married when HeS older and he said no he dont he said that its stupid …. But i want to get married cause i really love him and im trying to talk him into it but i dont want to pressure himi want him to want to get married what should i do plz someone tell me why he dont really want to get married …..? HELP

  • WifeWithout'aHusband January 2nd, 2015 at 3:48 PM #19

    I have been in a relationship for nearly 2 decades with my first love, my only boyfriend and the father of our two children. Granted when we began this journey we were much too young, we had a lot of growing up and living to do, but after all this time he refuses to marry me, saying that he just doesn’t see the point. While I never really needed in the past, I can’t imagine not getting married. I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t want to call me his wife. I’m hurt and confused and I don’t know if I need help to learn to accept this or to move on. I’m lost.

  • Veronica January 5th, 2015 at 2:20 AM #20

    Hey I’m in the same situation my boyfriend doesn’t want to marry me or get married he doesn’t we have been together for 5 years i have a child from my previous marriage who is twelve and he wants to be stepdad to her I’m
    Not happy he had to been working for 3 years and hasn’t looked for a job due to mental health issues we have been staying with his patents I can’t stand his mum the old witch does not like me and made my life he’ll. I don’t know what to do my priority is to bring up my daughter as her dad us incapable of doing so what should I do about my partner

  • Veronica January 5th, 2015 at 2:23 AM #21

    Hey grace my best answer ditch this guy he is a player and he wants to sleep around he is a conquest man he has taken you and he wants to dump basically dump him and throw him out with the rubbish where he belongs

  • Tori January 17th, 2015 at 11:26 AM #22

    If you ever need someone to talk to or process feelings with, feel free to contact me. I am in a similar situation, and I am anxious to put this issue to rest for myself, hurt creeps in on a regular basis now. I am trying to do the right thing for myself and I’m not sure that being with someone who wouldn’t be honored to call me their wife, is the right thing for me. It’s really hard because the relationship (was) really special and this issue has tainted it. Perhaps we can be of support to one another.

  • Tori January 17th, 2015 at 11:39 AM #23

    Marriage is so much more then a piece of paper. I really believe that when people claim that’s all it is, they are either misinformed of the seriousness of building a life with someone without the relationship being legally recognized in the eyes of the law, OR, they do know the significance and they are minimizing marriage for other reasons.
    I would have preferred to never marry again, but the person I’m seeing wanted a serious relationship with me. Now that I know that never included marriage, I believe what they wanted was for me to move in, have me be tied down, full commitment from me, have all of me, all without the legal protections that those who truly love their significant other would INSIST being in place. The exception of course, is that some people really do not give much thought to what happens in an emergency, or if one gets sick, or wanting to protect their supposed loved one. Marriage is so much more then a piece of paper and I believe that even if two people think the relationship may not work out, get a prenup, (get one no matter what actually) prepare for the worst, but make sure that if building a life together, that protections are in place.

  • jlynn January 26th, 2015 at 8:48 AM #24

    I am 38 and my boyfriend is 52 and we have been together for 7 years..I want to get married and have told him that..he says he will never get married again and when I ask him why he says he doesn’t know .. I love him and I don’t want to leave him but marriage is important to me.. the problem is if I leave him I don’t know if I will ever love someone like that again to make me ever want to marry them ..I bring up marriage to him almost everyday because that’s all I want to do is marry him..I’m not obsessed with marriage but I do want to know that the man I’m with loves me the same way I love him and if he does you would think he would want to marry me ..I’m have told him that I will leave in 2 years if we are not married and he said if I do he would understand..how can someone that loves someone let someone leave instead of marrying them?

  • jlynn January 26th, 2015 at 8:57 AM #25

    I’m in the same boat..I don’t want to be with someone for the next 20 years and find out he didn’t really love me

  • upstate mom February 2nd, 2015 at 10:23 AM #26

    Same boat. I have two children from my previous marriage that my SO is raising. Im currently expecting our 2nd child together, 4 kids total. We have a house together, a life together, a family together. Seems logical to get married. He even proposed 6 months ago. Now he refuses to tie the knot. Says asking me was a huge mistake. We’ve both been divorced once, so I think he’s scared of it happening again.I feel like he’s telling me I’m not good enough to make a lifelong commitment to. Or protect our investments for me and the kids if he were to meet an early demise or vise versa.

  • Whispers February 6th, 2015 at 12:53 PM #27

    Starting to see I’m not the only one in this situation… don’t really know what to do, I can’t seem to just ‘get over it’ I feel resentful and hurt comes out in other ways… lost

  • Whispers February 6th, 2015 at 1:00 PM #28

    Valentines is hard, if any of you are like me your wonder if boyfriends have a secret plan to propose then get completely heart broken and empty when they don’t then feel stupid… do it every year now! Try to convince myself he’s just ‘throwing me of the scent’ Then end up feeling absolutely stupid and disappointed. )': could use a friend or just someone who understands.

  • jlynn February 6th, 2015 at 7:36 PM #29

    I know what you mean.. I keep wondering if he will ever care how much being married means to mean and surprise me on Valentine’s day.. I’m even like that when we go on vacation like Vegas or a cruise.. I’m always disappointed after that he doesn’t and he thinks I’m depressed because vacation is ending .. yes Valentine’s Day is really depressing for me as well

  • jlynn February 6th, 2015 at 7:37 PM #30

    *means to me…(sorry typo)

  • desi February 13th, 2015 at 4:06 AM #31

    I am in the exact same boat! We should be each others support system. I’m with a man who’s 20 yrs older than me with 3 kids and divorced 5 years ago…I’m a better mom to his kids than his ex because she’s crazy.
    We’ve been dating and living together for 3 years now and since 2 years ago he’s been talking about marriage, said where we’d have our wedding, bought a loose diamond for my ring but won’t ever put it in a setting. It’s just collecting dust. He will say small things like “I’m dreaming of you in a white wedding dress” and completely lead me onto thinking it’s happening but he always says “SOON.” Well how long is soon? We just had a fight 2 nights ago because he told me he’s in no rush and gas no need to get married. He doesn’t want me to have any “power” Long story short, our relationship the last few months has just been tense ever since he bought the loose diamond. Marriage is so important to me, my entire life. I’ve never been married and he told me he would never marry again until he met me…Now he’s just harsh and cold about it whereas he used to be sweet and excited. I can’t leave him I love him too much but I don’t know what to do. He should have never married his ex, she’s mean and disgusting and gave him red flags but he did! Now he won’t marry me when he tells me I’m the best he’s had in his entire life? We have intimacy every single day. What man wouldn’t marry along with how much I do for him and his kids? :'(

  • WifeWithour'aHusband February 14th, 2015 at 6:00 PM #32

    Hi Tori,

    I had never published anything on such a blog. I didn’t know what to expect. I almost forgot about it, but of course on a day like today I can’t help but feel sad. Even though I’m not alone I feel incomplete. Thanks for reading, listening and taking the time to respond.

  • jlynn February 15th, 2015 at 4:31 AM #33

    Well at least we made it through another depressing Valentine’s Day

  • Frustrated February 18th, 2015 at 3:43 PM #34

    Wow, in a way its helpful to see I’m not the only one struggling with this. My partner (beginning to despise that eorf as husband would be nicer) and I have both been married before. We are very much in love and have been living together now for over a year. We almost never argue and have a fantastic relationship except for the fact he doesn’t want to get married. He admits its because his last one failed and he doesn’t see the point. I on the other hand am old fashioned and believe if you really love someone and want to be together forever you make the commitment and leap of faith and marry. I feel like if it was good enough for him to marry before maybe I’m not worthy enough. It is making me sad and its becoming a problem. We have discussed it rationally but we can’t agree on this one. He said if it means so much to me he guesses he will have to, to make me happy. What he doesn’t understand is I DONT want him to “have to”, if he doesn’t “Want” too then its tainted. I love him so much and want to proudly call him my husband. I’m worried this may become a bigger issue the longer it continues. Funny thing is my last two long term relationships were the opposite. They wanted marriage but I didn’t. I knew it wasn’t “the right one”. I know my partner is ” the one” I just would love to seal the deal. I’ve offered eloping and a prenup but its still a no. 😢

  • jlynn February 20th, 2015 at 4:10 PM #35

    I offered the prenup too and he still said no..we have a great relationship as well but he says he just don’t want to and don’t know why..we have both been married before as well and I struggle with the same thing: what made her good enough to marry and not me” I was raised by a grandfather that always told me if a man don’t want to marry you than he don’t love you..I hope I don’t waste a lifetime with someone and find out he doesn’t love me..he honestly acts like he does but I just don’t get why he doesn’t want to get married.. I can’t imagine being in love this much with someone else but I can’t just can’t stop feeling pain everytime I hear about someone I know getting married..

  • not to old February 26th, 2015 at 3:12 PM #36

    Hi everyone..how are you! My heart goes out to all of you!If only you could determine..if you both want marriage…and its a goal for the relationship..from the very beginning.
    I have been in a relationship 6 years 5 months with my boyfriend…we have grown together..loved and helped each other..I have given him my heart..in a way I have never given it to anyone.I want marriage..now he doesn’t.He has been married before..and has a daughter..who I just adore too!My heart has been heavy over this…yet if I look deeper at our relationship…maybe I’d find..its run its course..it was for a time..a reason..a season…No matter what..if a man really loves you..he will want to please you in this way…he won’t want to lose you..or see you in the arms of another.Yes..some men have been hurt in divorce before..and are scared..then some want all the benefits of a loving..good relationship without the commitments..and yet again..everyone has to decide what they think on getting married or not!..in reality..we the ones who would lime marriage end up sacrificing what we want(marriage) for what the ones who don’t believw in marriage want!…yet I have loved my man very much..he is the best of men..a great man with a huge heart!….still..can you stay..feeling he won’t commit to you..the way you would commit to him…only time will tell..pray to God for strength and answers..Jesus says..Come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened..and I will give you rest.One day ..there will be a “marriage”.. known as ” the bridegroom and the bride”..that takes place when Christ returns to this earth..and through believing in him…and receiving salvation and forgiveness through his name…we are invited to the marriage supper if the lamb if God..who takes away..the sins of the world…that’s one day..I want to get ready for and not miss

  • jlynn February 27th, 2015 at 7:45 PM #37

    It’s really hard to accept that the man you love with all your heart acts like he loves you and would do anything for you except marry you…I’m so heartbroken but I don’t know if I can walk away and not have him in my life..even though I am heartbroken walking away would rip it to shreds… unfortunately I just found out a couple days ago my brother is getting married and I have been majorly depressed and even bitter(not toward him or my boyfriend) and it’s causing tension with our relationship..I honestly am afraid he’s going to get tired of my depression and my want for marriage that he is going to be the one that ends our relationship… I’m so lost..

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