My live-in boyfriend would make the ideal husband, except that he doesn't want to get married. He's kind, generous, thoughtful, gentle, handy around the house, gets along well with my children, and is fun to be with. Whenever strangers see us together, they just assume without asking that we are married. He's never been married before and he has had some commitment issues in our relationship. I could just accept the status quo, which is almost as good as being married, but I'm too traditional to let it go at that. Your thoughts?
Your boyfriend sounds pretty fabulous, perhaps a little too much so (your glowing description hints at a bit of tension – don’t worry, you don’t have to convince me). Have you always known he doesn’t want to get married or is this a recent development? In thinking about your problem, I find myself wondering about you and your position on marriage. Why is marriage important to you? These days, it’s not unusual to find all sorts of relationships that work perfectly well, but its undeniable that marriage holds special significance. I can understand why you might not be able to let it go, despite having a pretty ideal situation. The question is, will marriage be a deal breaker for you and your great guy?
I would challenge you to consider two things. First, what does marriage mean to you? Is it simply an ideal? Or does it represent a level of commitment that you feel is missing from the relationship? You mention that your boyfriend has had commitment issues in your relationship, so I imagine that you might equate his unwillingness to marry you to a faltering in his commitment to your relationship. Second, is your boyfriend’s desire not to be married about you at all? If he’s never been married before, is it possible that he’s afraid of marriage, not because of what it says about your relationship, but more because of what it says about him as a person? Maybe he’s never seen himself as the marrying kind and it’s a tough transition for him to make.
If this relationship is one that you hope will last forever, it would be wise to consider carefully your motivation in wanting to get married. And, of course, you need to talk to your boyfriend, at length. Unfortunately, this is not a small problem and it sounds like one or both of you will have to do some compromising to work through this hiccup in your otherwise stable life together. But that’s the nature of relationships, rolling up your sleeves and doing the work together.
All that being said, I want to remind you that your wants and needs are valid and important. You may simply have to think about how you can reconcile those needs within the scope of your relationship. If your boyfriend loves you as much as you love him, he’ll be willing to listen and to try to understand your feelings. A happy marriage (or relationship) is one in which you both feel that your needs are met and your wants are important to your partner.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.