Obviously, I can’t know the ins and outs of your relationship, and all I have to go on is the information you shared. While I don’t want to be that person encouraging you away from a relationship that is obviously important to you, my immediate reaction to what you’ve said is that the two of you aren’t quite as in sync as you should be. In fact, I’m getting the impression that you feel like the two of you are not on the same page; I would actually suggest that the two of you aren’t even reading the same book.
First and foremost, you say that you wonder whether you two are just good friends rather than on the path to husband and wife… Honestly, I don’t think that is a good start. While people experience “cold feet” and second guess themselves and the relationship when they get close to the wedding date, you are having these doubts before even being engaged. That is all kinds of red flags. You shouldn’t feel that way about the relationship in order to be considering marriage. For marriage to be a good idea between you two, you need to know what the two of you are and know he is the one for you.
Moreover, you say that he describes marriage as a prison sentence. That is red flag number two. While some guys can change that mindset, I truly think it is a rarity. There is a difference between a guy who doesn’t want to get married right now, and one who doesn’t want to get married at all. If marriage was something he wanted at any point in his life (or something he wants specifically with you), instead of describing it as a prison sentence, he would be saying different kinds of things such as specifically why right now is not a good time. I feel like marriage probably isn’t something you guys discussed early on in the relationship, or else you wouldn’t be so confused now about why he doesn’t want to get married. This is something that — and some people may disagree with me here — should have been discussed earlier on to ensure that you both want the same things in life. While you say that you guys did previously agree about not wanting children, I’m sure his aversion to marriage didn’t happen overnight. If marriage is something that is important to you, you need to focus on pursuing a relationship with someone who also wants marriage at some point in their life. Even if they aren’t ready for it right away, the person you are with should see it in their future at all if it is something you want in your future too. Not a dreaded prison sentence. Honestly, if a man like that does propose one day, I think it will be a result of pressure either from you or from family or whatever rather than genuinely wanting to be bound to you for life because he genuinely wants it… For a guy like this, marriage is a “next step” that he will one day have to give into. You deserve so much more than that.
I speak from experience here, love. I mean, the situation isn’t totally the same. In my case, my SO of almost 7 years was pushing for marriage and I was having doubts. While he did want to marry me, I honestly didn’t feel like it was for the right reasons. On top of that, I had major doubts. I also thought I was too young for marriage; I wasn’t ready. And I felt like there was so much we weren’t on the same page about. We couldn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. These were all things I knew of beforehand, but had chosen to ignore because I didn’t think they were a big deal. As he pushed for an immediate wedding in which he asked me to sacrifice basically everything I had dreamed that it would be, I realized that those things WERE a big deal (and they certainly weren’t topics as major as children). And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was settling with this man out of fear that it was the best I could do and the best possible relationship I could find myself in. It was hard, it hurt, and I cried a lot. I was afraid that I’d never find a relationship with someone who wanted me the way he desperately did. But I found the courage and I left. I almost went back more times than I can imagine — all out of fear — but eventually I moved on. I dated, met people, went out… And then I found myself with this incredible man, in the most incredible relationship I’ve ever had, with someone who is not only on the same page as I am, but on the very same word. Now the prospect of marriage does not scare me AT ALL. I want it; I’m excited for it. And its all because I’ve found the perfect man to share my life with. This sort of compatibility is worth waiting for.
You’re probably wondering why I detailed all that… And its to let you know that you deserve someone who wants the things that you want. I couldn’t stand the thought of a lifetime with someone who I didn’t see eye to eye with on little things… You should be terrified of a lifetime with someone who doesn’t want major things that you want. If marriage isn’t something he wants and you do want it, and now children as well is something you’re starting to change to want as well… Well, all I can say is that you shouldn’t belittle your wants and desires. You deserve to have those desires shared by your partner so that you can work towards these happy milestones together. If these are dealbreakers for you, you need to walk away from this relationship and seek out someone who completes you, gives you what you need in a relationship, and shares those desires so that you can both have happy, fulfilled lives together. As much as I’m sure you don’t want to hear this, I think it maybe time to accept that you guys aren’t working towards the same goals and move on.