So, let’s say that you have been in a reasonably long-term relationship, and are living like an established couple; you are doing all of the things that married people do – but without the license and the ring. You really want to take that walk down the aisle – but he consistently side-steps the issue, or resists it with every ounce of his being. The question is, WHY? Well, we’ll consider some of the possible reasons, but before we do, let’s start by taking a look at what relationship commitment is all about:
Commitment develops over time and cannot be forced
Commitment means being consistently present, throughout the ups and downs
Commitment requires the ability to share
Commitment is being willing to go back to the drawing board whenever necessary
Commitment means that we are willing to learn how to communicate with each other – becoming familiar with each other’s emotional language and using it
Commitment pulls us back from quitting, even when our partner has driven us to the point of temporary insanity.
Commitment is a two-way process.
This list makes it clear just how difficult genuine commitment can be and how much it demands of us. If we are approaching it from an idealistic point of view, we’re probably going to struggle when the going gets tough!
Now, let’s look at 7 reasons why he (or she) is avoiding setting that date and taking that step:
1) He is afraid of the cost! It is the wedding he fears, not the marriage. His worries may be valid, in which case you could present a case for an intimate gathering – small, but meaningful, something beautiful to be remembered for its joyful simplicity, attended by the most important people in your lives.
2) He is afraid of what organising a wedding will demand of him and he feels overwhelmed when he thinks about it. He has seen just how highly charged and crazy the process can become (and how demanding women can potentially be when it comes to ‘their‘ special day!). If he could get married without all of that fuss, he reasons, he might be more open to the idea. Again, as above, if ideas are presented in a calm, suggestive way, he might be reassured that it doesn’t have to turn into a galloping roadshow!
3) He has negative associations attached to marriage, based on past experience. They could be linked to his parent’s relationship or his own personal past. He might even worry that it will change things between the pair of you, a risk he is unwilling to take. This is a tricky issue to resolve, which wouldn’t be helped by applying pressure or a guilt trip. You can try patiently and lovingly chipping away at his resolve, in subtle ways – whilst being prepared to accept that he may never change his mind about marriage.
4) He has a distorted (possibly unconscious) belief (that he probably wouldn’t admit to!) that more would be expected of him if he was actually a husband, rather than just a partner. This is another tricky one to overcome, as it has its roots in the need for self-protection. It might be that he doesn’t actually feel good enough, deep down inside, or grown-up enough, to become a husband, which could be tied up with low self-worth. Let’s face it, we humans are complex creatures, and men particularly struggle to process and express the workings of their inner world! At some point, this man will need to acknowledge your desire and your reasonable need to confirm his commitment to the relationship. However, although it isn’t ideal, if he is clearly not planning on running off into the sunset without you, he might be grudgingly open to a bit of nudging and pushing! He is probably one who doesn’t like to have to make snap decisions or take the responsibility for decisions; again, it suggests a lack of belief in himself. However, if he ends up giving in just to keep the peace, he might – strangely enough – be more comfortable with the idea… because he can always blame you if it all ends in tears!
5) He doesn’t like to be told what to do or feel that he is being organised – and will only agree to get married if and when he decides that it is a good idea! He has a fear of being controlled or pushed into things, even if he wants them! And it probably isn’t anything to do with you, as such; this, again, will have its roots in the past and in his personal programming. Maybe, with this one, you can calmly and firmly state your desire to marry him, and then leave it at that for a while. Play the long game whilst not burying the subject altogether. Periodically, make positive comments about marriage, before changing the subject completely. Sow a few seeds. If he believes that getting married is his idea, he might be more open to it. It’s certainly worth a try, anyway!
6) He just doesn’t want to get married. He doesn’t see the point, and it means nothing to him. You mean something to him, but he sees marriage as a meaningless construct and can’t understand people’s obsession with it. He might even quote divorce statistics whenever the subject is raised, backing his argument up with facts and figures. It is going to be very difficult to persuade this man to change his mind. Having said that, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that suddenly, out of the blue, he could announce that he is willing to give it a go, “for you”. It has been known to happen!
7) He is genuinely worried by the fact that you and he have experienced a number of painful ups and downs during your relationship, and he fears that the destructive pattern will continue. If he is still there, hanging on, then he is showing that he is committed to at least trying to make the relationship work, whilst viewing marriage as another ball game altogether – one he wouldn’t even consider without obvious and consistent improvement. And he would be right and sensible to think this way, I am afraid to say. Many couples have tied the knot in the hope that it will heal their struggling relationship – only to sadly realise that it has, in fact, made things worse.
It is easy for a wedding to become more important than the marriage itself. Some people are happy to get married whilst being totally put off by the idea of a wedding. Others become so excited by the planning of a wedding that they appear to completely forget about the important bit that comes after… the actual purpose of the event! There are good reasons to get married, such as when a couple have children together, and there are practical reasons, too, such as financial. However, when all is said and done, it is supposed to be about love and a mutual decision to commit to creating and developing a life together. It’s a decision that can either be made flippantly or as the result of soul-searching and honest discussion. Marriage is a major commitment, and it can be a meaningful, satisfying experience… or it can become a hotbed of misery and resentment – which is why it is advisable to think long and hard before setting it in motion! The good news is, despite the global divorce rate being at its highest since records began, people are still tying the knot… and succeeding!