To Marry or Not Marry

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Female
My boyfriend and I met our junior year of high school; we were both 17. We made it a year through a long-distance relationship. Towards the end of our senior year we broke up. A year later, after one full year of college, we started talking again. His friend told me that he talked about me all through the summer, and that he truly wanted to get back together but was scared to call me. I moved to his town, not just to be with him, but also to start my own life.

We dated for a couple of years, moving in together and sharing a house with his older brother. His brother got married, and we moved out…him back to his parents’ and me to my own apartment again. We started drifting apart, and finally broke up. He started partying a lot, didn’t have a job, didn’t have any responsibilities.

He met some “friends” on the internet, and they started to visit him here. He finally moved to L.A. to be with people he felt more comfortable with. About six months later his grandfather passed away. His parents didn’t even call him, and, maybe wanting to hear his voice again, I called and broke the news to him. He flew home as a layover to Ohio, and we spent the night together. It felt so wonderful to be with him again.

We started dating each other again, because we both had changed so much in the last few months. I wasn’t sure I could really love him like I did. We became exclusive once again. We dated like this for about 1 ˝ years. I had a horrible car accident this past February. I didn’t have a car, and I was scheduled to move into my new apartment the day after my accident. So he stayed with me and helped take care of things. Eventually this staying over every couple of nights turned into him living with me again.

We’re both different people than we were before he went to L.A…in a good way. So it’s been almost seven years that we’ve been dating off and on, and there still isn’t any mention (on his part) about setting a wedding date. All of our families ask me (they never mention it to him) when we’re getting married and/or why we don’t just do it now since we’re already like a married couple. He tells me that he wants to be able to support me financially if I decided to quit my job and finish my school, or he wants to finish school. He’s been stagnant on both issues, and finally a month ago I broke down and told him that I can’t see myself being in this same situation a year from now. I told him that I needed for him to find a job that would turn into a career or to finish school.

He’s working on the career thing now, and he’s so excited about the new opportunities he has. He says he wants to marry me, but he doesn’t know when he’ll be ready. I told him that I can’t wait much longer, and he asks me to wait just a little longer. So I do.

But now it seems more that we’re switching roles. He’s “getting ready.” At the same time, I’m starting to question, almost on a weekly or monthly basis, if I really want this to turn into a marriage. I keep thinking that one day soon he’s going to propose and I don’t know what to say. I’m wondering if I just have jitters about finally getting what I’ve wanted for so long, or are my concerns serious and I should reconsider everything I’ve felt in the past? When I get real down about it, I think about all the good things, things we’ve done together, how he makes me laugh, and how he’s been there for me when my own family hasn’t been. Advice
You really have to ask yourself, why were you so obsessed with getting married? I know TONS of people who have been together for 20 or 30 years or more and who aren't married. They are happy together and see no need to get a government stamp of approval on the deal. There are of course millions of people who have kids without being married so that's not a big deal either. A lot of people push to get married because it is "expected" and then once they're married they realize that actually marriage made things worse because now they assumed "things would be different" and of course they weren't.

If your aim was for KIDS then you need to talk with him about THAT. But if it was NOT for kids and it was just the "ring on your finger" you really have to evaluate how you are thinking of things. He's not a trophy to bag and stick on a wall. He's not the Provider of Shiny Things. He's your partner in life, you're his partner in life. The decisions you make shouldn't be based on you being "Girl that needs Ring to feel like a Real Woman" nor should he feel like "Caveman Dude who must have Big Job to support Wife". You both are simply human beings who care about each other and who will take care of each other. You do NOT have to change to get married, nor do you even have to get married to be together!

So maybe now that he finally is approaching marriage you are asking yourself just why you made a big deal out of it. Were you trying to "force him to stay with you"? Marriage as you know is no more or less permanent than any other situation. Were you "proving to the world you were an adult"? You should NEVER use marriage as a status symbol. Talk with him SERIOUSLY about just what your aim is here and what his is. The very fact that he AND you think you have to "do something" before it's OK to marry means that you both DO have some set ideas about "what is OK for a husband" and "what is OK for a wife" and those sorts of things are the things that cause very happy unmarried couples to turn into very UNhappy husband and wife partners.

And as a final note marriage should NEVER EVER be something one person pressures the other into. It should ALWAYS be something both people want honestly and naturally. So the fact you were pushing him into it is not a good sign. If you run into any sorts of problems once you're married, that will always be in his brain, that it is YOUR fault that you pushed him into this thing and he wanted to wait.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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