She Wants Marriage, He Doesn’t – Now What?

Name: Daddio3 | | Location: Detroit , MI |Question: Okay, I need some advice from the good ladies out there. The wonderful woman I’m in love with, lived with for six months, dated for 3 years and have known since I was 19 INSISTS that I must not love her enough if I don’t want to get married.  However, I’ve given her a HUGE diamond, professed my eternal love to her and everyone I know, BUT- I am divorced and have no desire to enter the legal system just to be with the woman I love.

How can I make her see that marriage is not the answer?  It’s becoming a deal-breaker.  |Age: 39

What do you mean it’s becoming a deal breaker? Wasn’t it always a deal breaker?? This is one of those conversations that a lot of couples in our age range have, along with whether or not we want kids, within the first year of the relationship. Probably sooner. Either you two never had this discussion OR you weren’t as clear about not wanting to get married as you think. Something (ahem..a diamond, perhaps?) kept this woman in the relationship.

If you’re going to go so far as to give her a diamond and profess your undying love to her….then what does a piece of paper matter? If you know that this woman is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you believe that, then what are you afraid of?

I’m not saying that I don’t understand your stance. I do. You don’t want to go through another divorce. I get that. But if you truly do feel as though this woman is who you are meant to be with and you see yourselves growing old together…then why not give her what she wants? Unless, of course, you aren’t looking to be locked in to anything. In which case, she would be right. You don’t love her enough. And that’s okay. Nobody is saying you have to be willing to get married. But to stay in this relationship when you know that, ultimately, you can not or will not give her what she needs is just selfish.

If marriage really was so important to her, then she should have bailed the first time you told her (that is, if you did tell her) that you had no intention of marrying again. She’s probably thinking that you’ll give in and change your mind. You already caved a bit and gave her a diamond. You’ve already backed down a bit. Of course she’s going to think she can wear you down.You already made a large financial investment in her. If you’re worried about being fleeced again, then why spend that kind of money? You’re leading her on a bit there, don’t you think?

It’s unlikely that she’s going to walk away. She’s invested 3 years in to this relationship. Now it’s a matter of pride. So you’re going to have to be the one to make a decision. If you truly don’t want to get married again and you know she does, you need to end the relationship. Or you need to suck it up and get over whatever fear you have surrounding marriage and take the leap. You’re not going to find a middle ground here. She’s set on getting married. She wants the deal signed and sealed. She’s looking for reassurance that you won’t leave her. Which, really, should be the biggest red flag of all that this situation isn’t right. When you’re afraid that your partner is going to leave you, then either you have major unresolved trust issues OR you’re sensing  that they’re not as committed as they should be. Neither of which should be present if you’re truly happy and in a healthy relationship.

People who don’t want to be married come with a huge disclaimer. It’s your responsibility to make potential partners aware of where you stand on marriage. Either she has no clue of your true feelings on marriage or she’s choosing not to acknowledge them.

It seems as though maybe you’re both being selfish. She wants what she wants, you want what you want. But neither of you seem to be really listening to each other and acknowledging that this relationship might not be right. I think this happens a lot. People get together and everything seems perfect. Then issues that lie beneath eventually spring up, but they get ignored because one or both parties has decided everything seems so “right.” They just want so badly for the relationship to work that they justify or ignore certain bumps. They’re not in the relationship for the partnership or support or even for love. They’re in it because they don’t want to be out of it.  Something about the relationship provides them with a comfort or confidence that they lacked.

You need to decide what it is you really want and factor in what is best for her. This issue is going to keep rearing it’s head until you’re forced to make a move forward or back. You never want to make a decision like this under duress. If there was ever a situation where the saying “shit or get off the pot” was more appropriate, it’s this one.

YOUR THOUGHTS?

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49 Responses to “She Wants Marriage, He Doesn’t – Now What?”

  1. beentheredonethat Says:

    Thank you for putting this question up, Moxie. This happened to me and it certainly left a trail of wreckage in the relationship. Same story: he didn’t want to get married, I did. In the end I don’t think either of us handled it well at the time. We ended up getting married because I gate an ultimatum (not a good idea!) and he caved. But later on it came out that his reasons for not wanting to get married was he had seen what had happened to his parent’s marriage and had some fear that marriage ruined relationships. Also, he’d been afraid that his divorced parents would cause a scene at the wedding (they didn’t). So in some sense this was his problem of dealing with his childhood issues. My parents were divorced as well, and had remarried happily, so I didn’t see why he would be afraid.

    But at the same time I also realize that I had been selfish too, like you said. I should have taken more into consideration his point of view about things. Or at least had a more honest conversation beforehand. However, I don’t think she’s wrong in wanting to get married. We’re brought up, girls especially, that marriage is the ultimate committment and an expression of love. If both partners don’t want to get married, then that’s fine. But it is definitely instilled in our society that if a man won’t marry us, then he doesn’t love us enough. Which like you said is partly true.

    But yes, if this guy can’t every see himself getting married again, and this is important to her, then he should end it. But before that they need to have a serious conversation about what would be acceptable to each other. You never know, she may just be caught up in the idea of the wedding and family expectations and be perfectly fine in not getting married if it’s so anathema to him. Tough one!

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    • breebree Says:

      ” If there was ever a situation where the saying “shit or get off the pot” was more appropriate, it’s this one”.
      I totally agree 100% with u on this one Moxie.

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  2. Alan Says:

    one word. ‘prenup”

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  3. Paula Says:

    Having been through a divorce myself, and knowing that the piece of paper does not really signify anything if one party wants to end it, plus being quite angry about the homophobia that prevents some people who love and are committed to each other from being able to marry, I can completely understand where you’re coming from.

    I believe in marriage only as a legal status, deliberately chosen for the benefits that it can confer, which generally means that it doesn’t make sense for most people to get married unless they are having children and/or owning property together, or to provide health insurance benefits if you live in a jurisdiction where domestic partnership benefits aren’t available. If there are significant wealth disparities between the two, then it may be in one partner’s interest to marry, in order to protect their non-monetary investment in the relationship and/or agreement to forgo certain career options…but that doesn’t mean it’s in the other partner’s interest to do so (which, apropo of yesterday’s post, is why everyone should have marketable job skills and/or sufficient wealth to be able to exist without being supported, in the event their other partner no longer recognizes the moral obligation to provide support in those circumstances).

    All that being said, however, I realize that if I meet a partner to whom marriage has much more meaning than what I might attach to it, I might end up changing my mind. I expect that he would know my strong reservations about marriage long before it might become an issue in our relationship, and would hopefully feel similarly, but unless I’m prepared to walk away over it, then I also have to be prepared to give in.

    OP, do you understand why it’s so important to your partner? Have you been up front with her from the beginning (if not your whole relationship, then certainly during the six months you’ve been living together) about your desire not to remarry? Why did you give her a diamond (which as you know, is a traditional engagement stone)? Your question is all about making her see…but are you open to having her make you see that you will most likely lose her over this? If that’s worth it to stand on principle, then maybe she’s right: you don’t love her enough.

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  4. chuckrock Says:

    The part I disagree with moxie on is this: If someone should end the relationship, it should be her. She is the one that wants a change to the status quo, and thus she is the one that is rocking the boat. As long as she isn’t willing to say marry me or end it then marriage is not more important to her then he is, and as long as that is true – he has no reason to end a good thing.

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    • Saj Says:

      meh this is no different then the discussion of a guy sleeping with a girl who is sticking around hoping for something more and he knows it. Why keep holding her hostage in a relationship when she isn’t happy. This isn’t a good thing and rocking the boat is necessary to make sure both people are happy rather then just one.

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      • chuckrock Says:

        No one is keeping her there, if he has been straight forward that he will not get married. It is her that wants to change the current arrangement, not him. If marriage is more important to her than love, then she should leave. For him, love is enough – and thus has no onus on him to leave.

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      • Crotch Rocket Says:

        “Why keep holding her hostage in a relationship when she isn’t happy.” Unlike a hostage, she can leave at any time if she’s not happy. She’s choosing to stay despite him telling her that he is not willing to give her what she wants, and that’s on her, not him. Granted, I think the OP is a dumbass for sending mixed messages with a ring, but it’s not like he’s stringing her along by telling her they’ll get married “someday” and then refusing to set a date–as many men would in this situation.

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    • breebree Says:

      so ChuckROck you think it’s cool that this man stay with this woman knowing he is not giving her what she wants and making her happy…..???
      Thats like if your boss said to you “I know u want a raise and u have worked hard and earned one and I should give u at least a bonus for taking on more work, staying late and working weekends…..but I don’t wanna give you more money because it this situation suits me just fine and I’m perfectly happy with u working more and me not having to pay you more money……so why should I pay you more or give you bonuses?????? see the point…?

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  5. Saj Says:

    Having been the woman in a relationship like this here is what I’ll advise.

    Break up break up break up break up break up break up break up break up break up break up

    My ex boyfriend would do a lovely tap dancing routine when I brought up marriage and even let me say hey how about a year for you to really give it some thought and then let me know so we can decide if we should keep on trucking along as this is important to me (perhaps that was a bit of an ultimatum sure) and at the end of the year MORE tap dancing. Ugh.

    Ending that relationship which wasn’t overly broken was the best thing I ever did. Who wants to keep dealing with that anxiety and dread that you are being lead on just so he wont lose his sex partner.

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    • Crotch Rocket Says:

      IMHO, this is an entirely different situation, as I said in my comment above. Dangling the carrot of a wedding in front of a woman a guy has no intention of actually marrying is flat-out dishonest. But that’s not what the OP is doing, so it’s not really relevant.

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      • Saj Says:

        You have no clue how honest he has been with her. Id have my going he’s not sure it doesn’t feel right one day to mock putting an invisible ring on my finger the next day. In this case instead of an invisible ring he used a real imaginary engagement ring.

        He could be telling us the truth but holding back with his gf just enough so she wont dump him.

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  6. charlie67 Says:

    This guy should not be playing the part of something he says is a “deal-breaker.”
    Who buys an expensive diamond ring for a girl without acknowledging that it’s an engagement ring?
    And professing “undying anything” usually means you want to marry that person.
    My advice? Go to couples counciling so that each of you actually hears what the other is saying.
    Divorces suck. I know that first hand.
    But I also know that I will marry my now-girlfriend at some point because I want to.
    But I am doing it on my terms, (this time.)
    Perhaps the OP needs to define to himself what it is he really wants.

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  7. Amy Says:

    Charlie said: My advice? Go to couples counseling so that each of you actually hears what the other is saying.

    I agree. You have years invested in this relationship and love one another. Wires are crossed somewhere. She’s convinced you don’t ‘love her enough’ – you have been through divorce and have scars from that, and perhaps from other history as well. Marriage means one thing to her, another to you. But clearly it is more than a piece of paper. (I hate that expression.)
    It is hard to find someone where everything is wonderful. Don’t throw it away over this. At least find a good couples’ counselor, commit to a number of sessions (like 5 or 10) so neither of you get tempted to bail if it gets hard (it’s like exercise – if it’s hard, it means it is working), and re-evaluate after that. You owe yourselves and one another at least that much.
    I wish you the best.

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    • Crotch Rocket Says:

      “Marriage means one thing to her, another to you. But clearly it is more than a piece of paper” Sorry, marriage is just a piece of paper. If you think it’s anything more than that, that is the baggage that you are attaching to it, which may be different from the baggage that someone else attaches to it.

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      • b Says:

        Sorry, Crotch Rocket, marriage IS more than a piece of paper. Think about it: there are only three ways for a person to become part of your famly: they can be born into it, they can be adopted into it, or they can marry into it. Marriage means that two people officially become family to each other, and to each others’ families. They are now part of the family tree, presumably forever and for all time. It’s a very special status to enter into with someone, (assuming that family means anything to you), and a very significant one to break. Because of this, it is definitely more than just a document, and it’s meaningful even if the people involved never intend to have children together or own property together. Family is important to most of us, and when you reach that level with someone, it feels natural to take that step and to want to celebrate it.

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        • Paula Says:

          When I got married, that’s what I thought too. My parents have been married for over 50 years, adopted two children, and raised several others from their extended family. They truly became family to each other and everyone from both sides of their biological families. My ex-husband came from a family with five marriages between his parents, was also adopted, and has an assortment of adopted siblings (who were bio siblings to each other); half-siblings, and an adopted half-sibling. He called my parents “Mom and Dad”, but his stepmom by her first name.

          I thought I became part of that family too, and worked very hard to strengthen my husband’s relationship with them (they’re all pretty much crazy) and cultivate my own. But as of the day he said he wanted a divorce, not a single one of them called, wrote, or emailed, even to say, “I’m sorry things didn’t work out,” or “I’ll miss you.” I had simply refused to exist. Several years later, my former mother-in-law (the craziest of the lot) wanted to be my Facebook friend, but considering that we weren’t friends when I was married to her son, and she advised him to leave me holding the bag financially, I declined. Another brother also sent me a friend request, and even though we had been on better terms during the marriage, I declined that one too. They did not consider me family, and I had to let go of the idea that they should have. My ex couldn’t face my mom and dad, and as my dad said to him at one point as we were disposing of our house, “it was family, and now it’s just business.”

          Quite simply, family is about the relationship that you have, not about the legal status. I see it in my good friends Fred and Barb, who have been together over 35 years without marrying, and now that Barb’s mother is dying, Fred is holding down the emotional fort. I see it with my former boss Dan and partner Annabelle, who have been together close to 20 years now. I see it with my gay best friend of over 25 years, who was willing to consider fathering a child with me until we decided against it. I see it in many married couples, but not as many as I still think you should. That bond, that relationship is not bestowed by a piece of paper. That piece of paper may coexist with it, but it may not, and too many people confuse the two.

          Marriage can and should be more than a piece of paper, but that doesn’t mean that it is.

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        • chuckrock Says:

          b – this is only your personal spin you put on that piece of paper. Getting married does not suddenly change your blood so that you are now family.

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  8. Joe Says:

    I agree with a lot of the comments so far. I would say, though, that marriage does signify a level of commitment that can be conferred in no other way. However, both parties need to really want it at the very core of their being. Even with a prenup an amicable divorce is going to be a giant pain in the ass. An unamicable one is going to be a nightmare.

    I totally agree with charlie67 that you are talking past each other, not to and with each other. You are sending clear signals that you want to marry your girlfriend, but then are confusing the hell out of her by denying that. I agree that counseling may help (it didn’t save my marriage, but helped my wife and I communicate and have an amicable divorce instead of a nasty one.) Above all, you need to understand your behavior–why are you unwilling to commit? It may be for very valid reasons or stupid reasons or probably a mix, but you need to understand yourself.

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  9. Navylady Says:

    OP, please do your girlfriend a favor and break up with her. If this is truly a dealbreaker and you are shotgun sure you don’t ever want to be married/or married to her, do the unselfish thing and end the relationship. Yes, you professed your love, bought a ring, etc and these are exactly the things (plus her love for you of course) keeping her “chained” to someone who doesn’t want the same thing.

    I recently had a relationship end with a man of 5 years because of the same thing. After year 3 I said I wanted out because although he kept giving me the dreams of our life together and telling me that I was what he wanted, no ring, or proposal ever came. When I spoke to him about it, I didn’t give an ultimatum, I want something now that you dont. To make a long story very short we did this song and dance THREE TIMES….each time I broke up and each time he begged me back saying he wanted to marry me, etc…Guess what? it never happend! In the end after the last break up/take back scenario, he finally realized that he would have to “piss or get off the pot”. However, he made it my fault because after 5 years he didnt feel “secure” enough in my love for him and just couldn’t “in good conscience” take the relationship to the next level “I” wanted!

    Anyway, yes it hurt even though in my heart I knew he would never committ. However, the biggest gift you can give yourself and your girlfriend is honest and truth. If you won’t/can’t marry her, be a better man, friend, lover, and truly love her enough to let her go to find someone who CAN committ to her in the way she needs. Good luck to you both!

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    • Saj Says:

      Lol I also got the blamed placed back on me and the unsure of MY commitment line too. These guys are a piece of work.

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  10. Trouble Says:

    I find this interesting, because being a divorced woman myself, I could care less if I ever get married again. I am looking at having to plan a ceremony and all that entails in the next year or so, and I’m dreading it. What does interest me is living with my partner, for the rest of my life. I’m perfectly happy to commit to that, in front of witnesses or not. It’s my guy who doesn’t want to live together without being married. So, in order to get what I want, I suppose that we will both get married. Having been married and then divorced, I understand fully that the wedding, piece of paper, none of that stuff means anything at all, if the relationship itself isn’t solid and committed. But other people care about this stuff.

    FWIW, if you’re living together, you already have common law status, and could be dragged through the financial ringer to some degree to separate assets. So, you’ve provided yourself with zero protection by being noncommittal on the subject. I’d suggest that you consider getting married, even if it is just a civil ceremony, with a prenup.

    The other thing is…if you really have this many doubts about the relationship, that makes me wonder if she really is the one you want, or if you’re sticking with her for the now, so as not to have to date or be single again. After all, it’s convenient. And, every woman wants to be a convenience, amirite? That’s what we’re all hoping for, that some guy will settle with us until he finds someone better, someone that he’s really willing to commit to. IF that’s what you’re doing, you’re an asshole. And, after 3 years, she deserves for you to take some time and figure out where you really stand with her. Either you’re sure that you want to grow old with her, or your have lingering doubts about whether things could actually last. If it’s the latter, let her go, so she can find someone who actually wants to commit his life to her.

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    • chuckrock Says:

      1, Common law marriage is NOT recognized in Michigan, so your second paragraph is incorrect.

      2. Your third paragraph is extremely condescending and insulting and write it for no reason. You are making assumptions about this man that you have no basis for. He says he loves her, and who are you to question it? He is NOT an asshole simply because he does not want or need a legal contract to profess his love or commitment level to this woman. He can be certainly sure that he wants to grow old with her and perfectly sure he will never be married again. The two concepts are NOT mutually exclusive from one another.

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      • Trouble Says:

        2. Your third paragraph is extremely condescending and insulting and write it for no reason. You are making assumptions about this man that you have no basis for. He says he loves her, and who are you to question it? He is NOT an asshole simply because he does not want or need a legal contract to profess his love or commitment level to this woman. He can be certainly sure that he wants to grow old with her and perfectly sure he will never be married again. The two concepts are NOT mutually exclusive from one another.

        If he loves her, and feels certain about the future of the relationship, marriage is a natural step in the progression of the relationship, and provides legal protection FOR HER, as well as for him. He clearly doesn’t feel certain enough about the relationship to legally commit to her. That is what it is.

        I was blunt and forceful in hopes of pushing him to make a decision, either way. it’s not fair to this woman to prolong the relationship under false pretenses.

        This guy is saying one thing, but doing another. He doesn’t plan to get married, but he gives her a ring. WTF?

        If she wants marriage, she wants marriage. If he has no intention of ever giving her that sort of commitment, he should 1) not have given her a ring, since that gesture is certain to be misinterpreted by 99% of women, and 2) he should sack up and tell her that he will never marry her.

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        • Paula Says:

          marriage is a natural step in the progression of the relationship

          Actually, it’s an unnatural step that society has imposed on us. People have lived together since time immemorial in committed relationships without going to a government or religious entity for validation. Until fairly recently, marriage was a way to ensure that a woman became a man’s property. And as you probably know from your own divorce, severing that tie is also anything but natural.

          I agree with you that he should not have given her a diamond ring without intending to marry her, which is why I questioned that. But I simply don’t know where you get that he has expressed doubts about the relationship: statements like “The wonderful woman I’m in love with” and “professed my eternal love to her and everyone I know” seem pretty unequivocal to me.

          Equating emotional commitment with a legal commitment is a complete fallacy…albeit one that millions of people still buy into, but a fallacy nonetheless.

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  11. Trouble Says:

    Here’s the thing about marriage…it gives the couple decision-making power over one another that is really crucial in a longterm relationship. And when I say longterm, I mean “for the rest of your life.”

    For instance, if you’re married (and not just cohabiting), and your partner is hospitalized, in intensive care, you have visitation rights. If you aren’t married, these rights legally belong to her next of kin. I have gay and lesbian friends who could tell you some pretty tragic stories about being deprived of the right to say a final goodbye to the person that they’ve loved for decades because of this issue.

    If decisions about care are being made, the cohabitor has zero rights or decision-making powers, the next of kin has all this power.

    If you’re married, you have the right–in the horrific circumstance in which your partner dies–to get possession of the body and determine funeral arrangements. Otherwise, that right is again conferred on any living parents or the next of kin.

    If you’re married, and your partner dies (god forbid), and you don’t have a will, their estate will go through probate, but you will be the primary beneficiary. If you’re cohabiting and your partner dies, you get nothing.

    So, for instance, say your cohabiting partner purchases a house and you spend hundreds of hours working on it. If you’re not married, that house belongs to his next of kin, you have zero rights to it. (I’m in this situation right now).

    You don’t get married purely to stand in front of people and commit to the person you love. You get married to legally protect the person that you love–more than anyone else on earth–in the event of the worst case scenario. That’s the ONLY reason to get married, in my opinion, because picking out dresses, flowers, rings, venues, songs, readings, officiants, and guests is a major pain in the ass.

    I want to spend the rest of my life with my guy, but I also want to marry him, because if something happens to me, I want HIM, and no one else, making decisions about how I should be treated medically. I want HIM–and no one else–making decisions about end of life care. I want HIM–and no one else–deciding who will visit me in intensive care. I want HIM to receive my social security benefits and distribute them to my dependents. I want HIM to be the trustee of my estate.

    So, even though I’m not thrilled by the idea of getting married again, we will get married, because of all of these things. Furthermore, I want to get married, to him, because if something happens to me, I want him to be the legal trustee of my assets so that my children will be protected from their financially voracious father.

    Now, i can do all of those things legally, through the court system. That’s what gay and lesbian couples around the U.S. are forced to do. It can all be handled, legally speaking, through an attorney, but it’s expensive, and the next of kin may decide to fight that decision, even if it was made by two grown adults. For hetero couples, the easiest way to legally, financially, and medically protect each other is through marriage.

    These intrinsic rights that are imbued by marriage are the reasons that gay couples are fighting so hard for the right to marry. It isn’t about the principle of the thing. It is about being able to visit your partner on their deathbed, when the worst possible thing has happened.

    If you aren’t sure, as a person in a romantic relationship, that you want to entrust these sorts of decisions to a partner, not only shouldn’t you marry her, but you should be VERY, VERY clear with her that you have no intention of marrying her.

    After 3 years, while she may not be entitled to joint assets, ,she is at the very least entitled to the truth about where she stands with you.

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    • Crotch Rocket Says:

      “i can do all of those things legally, through the court system. That’s what gay and lesbian couples around the U.S. are forced to do. It can all be handled, legally speaking, through an attorney, but it’s expensive, and the next of kin may decide to fight that decision, even if it was made by two grown adults. For hetero couples, the easiest way to legally, financially, and medically protect each other is through marriage.”

      I’ve gone through this process myself, and all it cost me was $500–far less than a divorce attorney would charge for the most amicable of cases. That covered a will, plus a POA and medical POA that automatically kick in if I’m incapacitated, plus a few other things I can’t recall at the moment. The only rights one can’t get without a “real” marriage are income tax status (which, in my bracket, would actually hurt us) and, in some backward states, health insurance status. OTOH, if I do get married, I’ll have to pay thousands more for a living trust and a pre-nup to better protect my assets, due to all the other legal baggage that comes with marriage, and most likely both divorce attorneys.

      I’m shocked that you, as someone who has been through a divorce already, could possibly see marriage as the cheaper and/or easier option. It’s not–and it’s not even close.

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      • Trouble Says:

        This may be true where you live, but it isn’t true where I live. I’ve watched two gay couples go through it, and it was a huge pain in the ass, made worse because children were involved.

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  12. Paula Says:

    The problem with marriage is that it’s a legal bundle of rights that may not work for everyone. As angry as I am about the homophobia that prevents same-sex couples from marrying (and yes, for many, it is indeed about the principle of the thing — institutionalized, legalized discrimination coming from our federal government), at least it forces people to think about what rights they need to have and take the appropriate steps to protect them. Trouble, it sounds like you’ve done that.

    But this is still very problematic:

    If you aren’t sure, as a person in a romantic relationship, that you want to entrust these sorts of decisions to a partner, not only shouldn’t you marry her…

    Even when I was married and at a time when my marriage was what I considered a decent one, my husband, no matter how much I loved him, was not always the best person to make certain decisions. He was willfully ignorant of our financial situation, and entrusted all financial decisions to me, so having him suddenly thrust into that role was not the best idea. As for medical decisions, my mother worked for a doctor for many years, and was very knowledgeable about doctors, hospitals, and medicine — my ex, not so much. His name was not on the deed to our house, because his credit rating sucked so much we couldn’t get a mortgage together, so my parents (who cosigned) should have control over that situation. He would have been best for the organ donation, funeral and disposal of my remains arrangements, since we talked about that and he knew my unequivocal wishes. As for all-around decision maker, probably the best person would be my best friend of 25 years, a gay man who is highly unlikely to marry me (although we did discuss him fathering children with me).

    The point is, just because you love somebody doesn’t make them the best person to make decisions on your behalf. It’s great if they are, it’s great if you want them to, but don’t let love blind you to the harsh reality of the legal system and the consequences of marriage.

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    • Saj Says:

      Probably a good tale for why love shouldn’t be the only reason you marry someone.

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      • Paula Says:

        Ding ding ding ding ding! Precisely.

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      • Paula Says:

        People keep forgetting that it’s been less than one hundred years since love became a primary or permissible reason to marry. People usually didn’t sleep together before marrying, so they had no idea whether the physical attraction and sexual compatibility would hold up. Marriages were often either arranged or a merger between families. Divorce was next to impossible, so the people who did marry for love were the ones who were the most miserable when the love faded. And there were very real consequences, up to and including malnutrition and death, if you were stuck with someone who was not a good provider.

        That’s why I keep coming back to it only making sense if you have children or own property together, or for the weaker party if there’s a financial and/or earning potential disparity, or someone without health care. Otherwise, fill out a durable power of attorney for health care (which pretty much every doctors’ office and hospital will give you); do a will (which a software program can help you prepare if you can’t afford an attorney), and make your funeral arrangements in advance. Develop a good relationship with the (not) in-laws and (not) stepkids. Keep your financial affairs completely separate.

        Then love your partner as completely or casually as you want, without worrying about the cost of a wedding, the cost of a divorce, or whether you’re adequately committed. Because if you are, no piece of paper can ever improve upon that, and if you’re not, no piece of paper will ever make it so.

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        • Trouble Says:

          So, basically, Paula, you married a guy who couldn’t be trusted with money or much else, and you’re applying that broadly and generally to marriage. The issue isn’t that marriage is outdated. The issue is that far too many people get married without really knowing the other person well enough to entrust their lives to that person. You did it. I did it, too. That doesn’t mean that marriage is flawed. It means that our decision-making was flawed.

          I would never marry someone that I couldn’t trust to make those sorts of decisions on my behalf. If the OP doesn’t trust his girlfriend that much, no, he shouldn’t marry her. But he should also be clear that he’s never going to, instead of giving her mixed messages and thinking that what he is willing to offer ought to be good enough, when what she wants is the whole package.

          You may not want marriage, but some of us do. Having gone through an incredibly crappy divorce really clarified a few things about marriage for me, but it actually made me value the institution of marriage more.

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          • b Says:

            That was beautifully stated, Trouble. I too am divorced, and I too never appreciated marriage for what it really means until after my divorce. I used to think that it was just a piece of paper, a fun party, and a vacation, so who cares? It felt meaningless. That should have been my first clue that I was making a mistake.

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          • Vox Says:

            Well said. I too am divorced, and can easily put together a list of all the things that were wrong with my husband. But at the end of the day, I picked him, and truth be told as a husband he was the exact same man he was as a boyfriend. He didn’t dupe me, I just didn’t take marriage seriously enough to evaluate whether he was right for me long term. And like b just said, I too had a “who cares” attitude when I accepted his proposal. Marriage was just a new adventure for me. I was the one who lost money in the divorce, and basically had to completely start over financially at the age of 36. Five years later, it still stings a bit when I think about it. But I realize that had I taken things seriously, I wouldn’t have married him in the first place. If I met the right person, I would certainly get married again. Truth be told I’d love the opportunity to do it over right. Of course, there is no guarantee that it will ever happen, but such is life. I accept responsibility for my bad marriage and don’t blame the institution as a whole.

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          • Paula Says:

            If I had been the only woman marrying someone who couldn’t be trusted with certain decisions, you might very well be right, Trouble, but I know that’s not the case, as more marriages break up over money than any other issue. It goes back to love not being the only reason to marry someone, as Saj pointed out. Marriage also has very significant legal and financial consequences, and everyone needs to go into it understanding exactly what they are. If they did, far fewer people would choose it as the way to validate their relationship.

            Having been married and divorced, you’ve thought about it a lot, and are going into it with eyes more wide open than at least 95% of the people who marry. For you, you’ve thought about it and it still makes sense, as you describe it. For most people, they haven’t thought about it, and if they did, it would not make sense.

            I said above that there is a possibility I would get married again, although I hope I’m never in a position where I have to choose marriage in order to keep the relationship intact. But if I do, it will come from having considered all of these things and still viewing marriage as the best all-around decision I could make for my life.

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    • Crotch Rocket Says:

      “my husband, no matter how much I loved him, was not always the best person to make certain decisions.” Ditto for my family, as someone who isn’t married. That’s why, although some of my family are beneficiaries and I love them, I chose not to name any of them as executor or give them power of attorney. The reasons vary by person, but at the end of the day, I don’t trust any one of them to make the decisions I would want made, so I named two friends that I do trust. Perhaps one day a Mrs. Rocket will move to the top of that list, but perhaps not, and I don’t need or want the legal system making that decision for me based on some silly religious ceremony (or a drunken night in Vegas).

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  13. trojandoll Says:

    My sister-in-law is in a similar situation now and I am not looking forward to the inevitable melt-down when the relationship ends. She and her bf did things all kinds of backwards by getting pregnant during their first week or so of dating. He then tried to get her to get an abortion and was kind of a jerk to her. Once he had gotten used to the idea that she wasn’t going to terminate the pregnancy, they stayed together and when the baby was born he gave her a diamond ring that she wears on her left hand ring finger, but said it was a baby gift. Around their son’s first birthday they moved to a different state together so now they both live far away from their families. They talked about marriage and even had a date set although about two months before the supposed date (now that I think about it, it was supposed to be this weekend) they still had not really planned the wedding and then he sprung it on her that he didn’t believe in marriage and never wanted to be married. She’s staying with him, and I’m sure the child is a big factor, but over the time they’ve been together he’s revealed himself to be a big jerk and she has a history of mental illness, so there will be a blow-up someday. Wouldn’t things be better if one person would just call things off when they realize this big of a difference.

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  14. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    I don’t have advice for the OP but the whole discussion is interesting to me. People are very prejudiced in favor of marriage but most people don’t ever really think it through. At least not in advance. Everyone wonders why a person doesn’t want to get married but people rarely question it when a person does. I think the latter question is relevant here. Why does the OP’s girlfriend want to be married?

    Trouble lists some of the more concrete benefits of marriage. And, I agree that there are in fact concrete benefits. As well as costs. But, those aren’t the REALl reasons people want to get married, is it? Reduce it down to it’s economic terms, weigh the costs against the financial benefits and decide yes or no? I don’t think so. At least not consciously. I don’t think two people critically weighing the costs and benefits of marriage and basing a decision on that basis would ever get married. There may be rational considerations but, I think, people generally get married for emotional and “irrational” reasons.

    So, maybe we need to look at this woman’s reasons for wanting to be married. Maybe they aren’t so reasonable. Maybe they deserve to be questioned. Let’s me try to jump into the OP’s girlfriend’s head for a moment and offer a view. Her boyfriend was married to ANOTHER WOMEN. That is critical, in my opinion. His current girlfriend views that past relationship as competition with HER current one. He was WILLING to marry HER, no? But, not me? Why? OK, so he got hurt in a divorce and supposedly learned some lessons. But, why should I be blamed because of transgressions of his ex-wife? Just because SHE wasn’t worthy of him, why should I be punished? Not fair, not fair!

    I think this woman has demonstrated that, despite her words purporting that she WANTS to be married, she is not to be taken seriously on that point? Why? Because her boyfriend has told her he doesn’t want to be married and she has CHOSEN to stay in spite of that. If she truly WANTED to be married, she would walk. So, I say she doesn’t REALLY want to be married. She just wants to know that her boyfriend loves her more than his ex-wife and, she thinks, if he agrees to marry her, that she will be the victor in that imaginary duel.

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  15. sarah Says:

    I say it is all about choices that this woman has. the question….should he do “what is right” and break it off with her? Perhaps. But if she feels that strongly pro marriage, and he can’t even see it as a remote abstract concept, then the relationship is doomed….regardless of who ends up ending it.. It is doubtful that he will be doing the breaking up, as his needs are getting met. It is up to her to have the strength to leave, and look for someone who has similar life goals. Him giving her a diamond ring…..that was toying with her emotions!

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  16. Bill Says:

    Realistically OP never has to marry her because she has already invested over three years and he has made it clear in the beginning he wasn’t looking to ever get married. It was her own delusions that have lead her to date a man for three years who do not want to marry her.

    Lesson for you ladies. If you want to get married find a guy who is marriage minded as in he is interested in marrying you. If you date a guy this long you are going to think you can’t give up because you have invested so much time.

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  17. LE Says:

    My first marriage ended because he cheated, something I was not going to allow. My second marriage ended because we were to caught up in the “moment” (we were both married before and thought we had all the answers). Problem was we didn’t know enough about each other.

    So twice divorced, will I ever marry again.. not for a long time. What I will do is be happy and and content to find someone to spend time with that I enjoy MOST things about. I encourage all to relax and not rush into marriage. Because marriage does not a RELATIONSHIP make!!

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  18. ciscokid Says:

    “If you’re going to go so far as to give her a diamond and profess your undying love to her….then what does a piece of paper matter?

    ^^^^^— Possibly the scariest sentence on this website!! OP run fast!

    ” If you know that this woman is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you believe that, then what are you afraid of?”

    ^^^——–Umm HELLLOO the “Legal System” that will RAPE him if something ever goes wrong & he has no control over…. OP -don’t be persuaded here… stick to your guns!!

    OP… If you love her the way you say you do … there is no reason why a piece of paper should justify that.

    “But if you truly do feel as though this woman is who you are meant to be with and you see yourselves growing old together…then why not give her what she wants? Unless, of course, you aren’t looking to be locked in to anything. In which case, she would be right. You don’t love her enough.”

    ^^^^—— Superbad advice right there Moxie… You can love this woman till death do you part… what does a piece of paper ( that has every form of litigation) have to do with a love? If you plan to have kids… that is another story..

    Moxie… ask men who got ass-raped in court after a divorce about love and trust. Its not there no more. HUGE, HUGE financial gamble nowadays. The OP is smart and that has nothing to do with being selfish or an a$$hole.

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    • Trouble Says:

      I was the one who got financially raped in my divorce. It’s the highest earner who pays, not the person with the penis.

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    • Saj Says:

      Uh she wants more and he doesn’t. They aren’t going to work in the long haul no matter what. He doesn’t get to have everything he wants while she doesn’t and expect her to be peachy keen with that. That is just plain delusion.

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  19. ciscokid Says:

    The diamond thing kinda messed things up for you though OP…

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  20. Steve From the City Next Door Says:

    Many people think a pre-nup is a real benefit. I agree you should have one and don’t think it is more protection than it is. In the few states i have researched, the divorce courts can and do regularly override them. Especially if kids are involved. Specific items will generally be allowed if the costs fit within the courts determined division of assets (e.g. She gets her figurine collection, he gets his antique car). If there is an unbalanced division of assets the court will usually throw out the agreement. Most of that comes from a relative’s attorney.

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