What If You Want Marriage and He Doesn’t?

groom

Name: Briar
:
Question: Dear Moxie,
I rejoined match.com a few months ago. I found a guy on there named [redacted]. The summary of his profile stated that he was looking for a serious relationship. We had our first date 2.5 months ago. We have gone out on about sixteen dates, and are not yet exclusive. I always enjoy my date nights with him. I feel like he checks all of my boxes. We both want to spend the rest of our lives here in the Bay Area, and we both want children some day. There are still two concerns I have. The first is, on our date last week he started talking about his friend was going through a divorce. He then said to me “I still felt uncertain if I ever want to get married. No one ever stays married. It is getting so antiquated. Over in some parts of Europe people raise their children together, but they never marry.” I stayed quiet when he said this. On the inside, I was thinking: so yeah the thought of co parenting without the marriage does not appeal to me. I am a romantic. I feel like people who are in
committed relationships, but refuse to marry just do so to keep each other on their best behavior. They assume once they marry the other spouse will start to slack off and not take care of their personal appearance. Or work on the relationship. They assume not marrying will keep the relationship fresh, fun, and easy. This does not appeal to me. Should I waste my time with [redacted]?

The second question is a money question. On one of our dates we started talking about siblings. I told him I have none. He was like “oh, I am so glad I had siblings. I would have been lonely. At least your parents are able to help pay for school since you are an only child.” This statement really bothered me. I always attended public schools, and I have been paying my way through university. I also pay my own rent and all of my own bills. I graduate next year. I am worried that the type of person who would make a comment like that is very money oriented. I don’t want to marry someone just to have them tell me something like “how come your parents didn’t give us more money for our wedding?” Or “how come your parents never give us free babysitting?” Am I overanalyzing this?
Am I overanalyzing this?

Yes and no. While I understand your desire to get married, more and more people do not see a need for that. The statistics support your guy’s attitude towards marriage.  Plenty of people stay together for decades if not forever without ever making it legal. While that piece of paper might make it harder for someone to end a marriage, it certainly doesn’t make it impossible.  I think you might want marriage to ensure the man won’t leave you. I’m sorry to say this but – marriage or no marriage – that guy could still walk out on you. That certificate guarantees nothing.

As for the money comments, I’m not sure what to think because I don’t have the full context of the conversation. Yes, his assumption that your parents helped you pay for school was presumptuous and inappropriate but he could have just been trying to make conversation. It’s possible he meant nothing by the statement.

I don’t want to marry someone just to have them tell me something like “how come your parents didn’t gibe us more money for our wedding?” Or “how come your parents never give us free babysitting?”

You are wildly naive if you think your marriage won’t involve discussions and disagreements about money. Regardless of your financial background, money matters are a constant source of debate among couples. I guarantee you that one or both of you will question the other’s parents or spending habits eventually. That’s just the nature of a committed relationship, especially once you merge households or finances.

They assume once they marry the other spouse will start to slack off and not take care of their personal appearance. Or work on the relationship. They assume not marrying will keep the relationship fresh, fun, and easy.

This happen with or without a gold band on your ring finger. Everybody at one time or another slacks off or turns their attention somewhere else. That’s just the normal ebb and flow of relationships. We get bored. It’s normal and not always  a bad sign. Marriage isn’t what makes people complacent and selfish. Those qualities where part of the equation all along. Marriage is not a miracle elixir. It doesn’t fix problems that already exist or ward off ones that don’t.

It sounds to me like maybe you’re more traditional than this guy is. That’s not necessarily a problem, but if you’re not willing to hear each other out, then it will be. Plenty of people have successful long-term relationships with people they don’t marry. You need to ask yourself why you feel marriage is the only option. Is it for security? Is it because you think that’s just the natural course of a relationship? I think you need to broaden your horizons a bit. This guy is not alone in his attitude towards marriage.

Now, does that mean you should compromise your values to be with him? I don’t know. It depends on how compatible you are. Somewhere along the way there is going to be a major compromise: city vs. suburb; one kids vs two; big wedding or small wedding. Relationships are a series of compromises. Relationships are all about sacrifice.  If you aren’t willing to even consider making a major sacrifice for a relationship, that’s a sign you’re not ready for a relationship or that you have very out dated ideas of how relationships should work.

Thoughts?

AndThatsWhyYoureSingle.com

Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)

@ATWYSingle

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25 Responses to “What If You Want Marriage and He Doesn’t?”

  1. fuzzilla Says:

    **If you aren’t willing to even consider making a major sacrifice for a relationship, that’s a sign you’re not ready for a relationship or that you have very out dated ideas of how relationships should work.**

    I dunno, I think the younger a woman is, the more likely she is to dig in her heels and “make it work” with a guy despite having huge objections to the situation (because she has far less experience and will likely take the burden of fixing everything on herself rather than just saying, “Meh, not the metaphorical pair of jeans for me. Next!”). This despite the fact that they have the world at their feet, opportunity-wise.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 3

  2. Zaire Says:

    What other people are or aren’t doing shouldn’t concern you if you know what you want and why. If you’re on the marriage track the best way to achieve that goal is to seek like minded individuals even if it’s harder.

    In the not too distant past I compromised on something that I wanted because the other person was ‘worth it’ and we were compatible in *every* other way. Blew up in my face BIG TIME and I’m still losing sleep over what went down. That may not be your story but it’s worth giving serious consideration that you might end up resenting him/the relationship/yourself for compromising on something you hold dear.

    I’m 26F too, I see people around my age getting engaged/married and it’s only increasing as the year goes on. There are guys who want that, they’re harder to find but not impossible.

    As for this guy you might want to have an earnest talk about his actual views on marriage. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s really close to this (possibly nasty) divorce and its coloring his perceptions. I wouldn’t toss him based on a one off comment. But if you ask and he reinforces a very negative view on marriage,I’d recommend you move on. But again that’s up to you.

    All the best!

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    • fuzzilla Says:

      Yeah, I’d maybe try and have a talk about how he feels about marriage in general, what he sees for his future, etc. as opposed to just bailing right this second. But OP should own and claim space for what she wants rather than just twisting it to some dude’s will and pretending that’s what she wanted all along. Isn’t the latter what a “cool girl”(TM) does?

      Maybe she’s reading too much into the money/only child comment, but if marriage is what she wants, that doesn’t make her unreasonable or wrong or overly demanding. He’s not wrong if he doesn’t want it, but maybe they’re not compatible. Learning to “next” out of dead-end situations ASAP is your most powerful tool as a dater.

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      • Bill Says:

        “I stayed quiet when he said this.”

        Communication, communication, communication.

        If the OP could not even muster a “I still believe in marriage”, then this relationship has a limited shelf life, already near its expiration. Ditto her silence on his misconception of the stereotypical only-child syndrome.

        Lack of communication and harboring resents leads to UGLY break-ups. Learn to communicate or end it now, before it gets ugly.

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  3. Nina Says:

    I think it’s important to also realize this relationship is only 2.5 months old. While it’s important to learn what the other person wants, for me the important thing is he sounds like he does ultimately want a commitment. What and how that commitment will look like can change a lot in a year or two…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  4. Myself Says:

    Hey up here in Canada, my province is known for the low number of marriages, because we simply don’t bother anymore… And it’s no easier to break up, if there’s children you still have to go through legalities anyway on custody issues, it’s exactly like a divorce.

    That said…. Different strokes for different folks, but perhaps the op isn’t ready for a serious relationship just yet.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  5. The D-man Says:

    The main thing I noticed is that when he says these allegedly objectionable things, her response is just to keep her mouth shut. That’s a recipe for resentment over the long term, which will destroy the relationship.

    She needs to speak up and say what she thinks. That doesn’t mean start an argument. Just say something like “it’s interesting you say that because I feel the opposite about marriage” or “I’m surprised you think my parents paid for my schooling.”

    It’s not a discussion if only one of you stating your opinion. She needs to have these discussions now before she gets too invested.

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    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      Hard to say but theyre not speaking the same language anyway. He is basically offering a rationale against marriage with anecdotal evidence (which in my opinion likely belies his actual inclination against marriage) and her response – to us, maybe to him – is “I’m romantic.” I think if people want to have an honest conversation about serious life goals and marriage, they should be prepared to provide substance to their positions other than “I want to get married because reasons.” Otherwise, it’s just naked entitlement.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 14

      • Parenting Says:

        You want what you want because its what you want. Why do you need to justify your likes and wants? Why does he need to justify his decision not to marry to her or vice versa?

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        • DrivingMeNutes Says:

          Not having a rationale for what you want is the definition of naked entitlement. I suppose being unable to express it coherently or intelligently is a more forgiveable flaw, especially for petulant five-year olds.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 15

          • Parenting Says:

            People make their marriage choices based on either positive or negative experiences with it and nothing more (i.e. mom and dad had a good/bad marriage, watching friends get married/divorced, etc…). That goes for everything from choosing a career (I’m excited by it) to choosing a car (its fun to drive). The cranial blah blah blah you dress your gut feelings in largely comes after the fact or when you need a tie breaker. In any event, I don’t think most people want to open their life goals up for debate with anyone much less some schmo they dated for a couple of months.

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            • fuzzilla Says:

              Yeah, there’s a difference between knowing what you want and demanding it of someone else. Someone who wants the same thing, and with you, isn’t gonna demand a dissertation in which you justify your choices. Maybe some discussions of particulars, where you’ll live, etc.

              Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  6. yb Says:

    wait! they are not even exclusive yet…and 2.5 months you are barely getting to know someone. keep getting to know him. eventually you will be moving the relationship forward or not….marriage will then be a topic you could discuss more openly.

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  7. Parenting Says:

    OP, I understand your feelings about marriage but I don’t think your assessment for why people choose to be in long term relationships without marriage is accurate. Listen to what your boyfriend said himself: “No one stays married.” He didn’t say anything about becoming complacent or letting yourself go. The benefit of not getting married is it makes it much easier to exit a long term relationship thus the level of commitment is lower. This is also the draw back of not getting married. I’m probably going to get hated on for saying this, but when someone says they don’t want to get married, I read that as them seeing an expiration date on your relationship somewhere off in the distance.

    I’m not clear on how marriage is too big of a commitment but the lifelong commitment of parenting a child together is no big deal.

    I agree about the money comment. Assuming that your spouses parents paid for her college and expecting your in-laws to fund your lifestyle are two completely different things…especially when the guy doesn’t even express any interest in wanting to marry you.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

    • Moxie Fan Says:

      Doesn’t OP notice the many married couples who let themselves go, don’t make things work, and stay in miserable marriages if they don’t get divorced? Too many girls mistake marriage for commitment, when the bigger evidence of commitment is making sacrifices every day, big and small.

      That said, I do think that if a guy says clearly early on that he doesn’t want to get married and you do, you’re not a match for each other. If a guy thought you were a good enough long-term prospect, he wouldn’t ruin his chances with you by spouting off his opinions the way he did without knowing yours (I assume).

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  8. Jake Says:

    Easy. They are not a match as they have different values. Op, find someone else that shares your values and views on things such as marriage.

    Btw, as a male I find marriage useless. The odds are not in your favor that you won’t be divorced and paying child support and alimony. Screw that.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

  9. Yvonne Says:

    If the man you’re dating is making comments that you don’t agree with, it’s time to speak up and state your own opinion. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing to strangers on the internet for advice. If you believe in marriage, then say so. If you worked your way through college, let the guy know that. You are getting to know him, but he also needs to get to know you as well. Saying you want to get married doesn’t mean that you are targeting him as your future husband right now. But he might not be someone you’d want to be exclusively dating if his values are too different from yours.

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    • Eliza Says:

      I agree…with Yvonne….be true to yourself, and now is the time to come forward and speak your piece and be heard…again, you don’t have to target him as your soon to be hubby–but you can state about how you feel about the institution of marriage in general…why is it important to you, and what it represents to you. And yep…you heard it from Jake…and you will hear it from many other men…their reasons for not wanting to ever walk down that aisle…basically, it’s not in “their favor” legally and financially. So marriage is viewed by many as either useless or a huge money pit. Just repeating what I keep hearing. Again, I am surrounded by an older demographic, mostly going through a divorce, separated and can’t get a divorce for financial reasons (according to them), or recovering emotionally and financially from a recent divorce. I would assume, through the eyes of a 20-something man or women–they may be less tainted and cynical about marriage and have a different view. It’s all about perspective. You can’t change someone’s perspective…you can only accept it and accept–as they are.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  10. KK Says:

    I think it’s interesting that the guy was talking about this nasty divorce. There are plenty of nasty divorces. There are also plenty of nasty breakups. When feelings are hurt and there is betrayal, the breakup is nasty, regardless of a piece of paper.

    The OP mentined that this guy ticked off all her boxes. Which…doesn’t really mean anything.l I mean, does she actually like this guy? Would SHE want to marry him, regardless of what he wants?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

    • Eliza Says:

      KK–true – a nasty ending is a nasty ending. However, a nasty break-up without any legal/financial ramifications leaves one with a broken heart, and one can get over that and move on…yet when people have assets, and moreso, children after a marriage…there is a lot at stake. Big difference and different level of commitment and an end there will impact those involved, in many more ways….and long term with kids.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

      • KK Says:

        Absolutely. But you can have assets, kids without a marriage. And you have to pay child support regardless of marital status. In NY, if you live with someone for, I believe, 5 years (maybe 10?), jointly held assets are treated as marital property. So financially it is exactly like being married. It is different if you never live together.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  11. Glazer Says:

    Not exclusive after 16 dates? I doubt the guy remembers the number. The guy is not definitely not pro-commitment, let alone altar material.

    I think it’s amusing how she is concerned he is pro-marriage, but later laments he is isn’t husband material either.

    **
    I don’t want to marry someone just to have them tell me something like “how come your parents didn’t give us more money for our wedding?”
    **

    So, yeah. That reality phase that where the rose colored glasses fall off between 6-10 weeks is here and guess what?

    They don’t view each other as spouse material.

    Next….

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  12. coffeestop Says:

    On the one hand being 2.5 months into a relationship, it is a little early to worry about marriage. Him saying he is uncertain is not necessarily a red flag. If OP invests more time in the relationship and he continues to express uncertainty then she has to decide if it is time to walk. There is nothing wrong with being uncertain about marriage or even definitely against it. But there is also nothing wrong with the OP wanting marriage and it felt like Moxie was kind of giving her shit for being traditional like she was basically giving the speech her uncertain BF would give. The OP wants what she wants. The problem in any relationship is when the two people want different things, maybe this guy is not for her.

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  13. Ben Iyyar Says:

    Briar, I think you are entirely within your rights and I feel it is laudable that you wish to to celebrate your marriage and family with a public license and a public ceremony affirming your relationship. I know that a marriage license and public vows guarantee nothing about the marriage, but then no voluntary promise can be guarantee anything.But sometimes a public commitment can help strengthen a relationship that is suffering.Also, I believe that single parent families, or “shacked up” couples rarely provide that stability that children need to thrive.the nuclear husband wife family still remains the most stable situation for children
    As regards marriage in general, Briar you again have every right and even the responsibility NOT to waste your limited time to be a loving wife and parent on a man who shows little or no interest in marriage and parenthood with you.I think can speak for many married men when I say that we also wanted the stability of a loving relationship resulting in a happy marriage and family. Briar you know what your heart desires and really you deserve to have the loving husband and happy family in a legal and publicly committed relationship.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  14. Sarah Says:

    This guy’s current view seems healthy enough, given that he’s not in a serious relationship. You might re-visit the marriage issue after you two actually know each other. I am curious how you responded, though. Did you just listen and nod? Did you speak up?

    A lot of people feel this way about marriage … and most of them do it anyway. If you’re right for each other, you guys will figure something out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

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