Post # 1
Hello! I have been a long-time lurker but my SO and I are in an unusual situation and I haven’t found anyone in the same boat, so I was inspired to post. Long story short: we started dating when we were 18 years old and at university, therefore we did not do the whole ‘where is this relationship going’ thing as marriage was for old people and hello, I wanted a career! Fast forward 11 years and we are still together in an amazing relationship but our views on marriage have evolved…in opposite directions.
After our 1st degrees both of us did PhDs and after this, I thought the time was right to seriously discuss marriage. We had talked about marriage and kids in a ‘yeah we will, IN THE FUTURE’ kind of way. In this discussion I told him that it was something I had grown to want over the last 8 years and that I was ready. Bombshell time: he replied that he had gradually realised that he ‘didn’t like the idea of getting married’. I know he is a very private person and as I understood it at the time, it was the wedding part that he was dreading. I thought give him time, have further discussions and he’ll come to see how important it is to me.
3 years have passed and our relationship is everything I could hope for. Except… I have watched many of our friends get married and with each one, I am getting increasingly more upset that it is not me. Instead of coming around, my boyfriend’s position has hardened. He has decided he has become seriously morally opposed to marriage and its links to religion and a patriarchal society. He is a man of strong principles but honestly, I do not know why he has decided this. He says he wants to spend the rest of his life with me and he doesn’t need a piece of paper to prove it. I believe him and honestly wish I felt the same way, cos lets face it, there are more important things than marriage! Thing is, I am finding it hard to let it go. I want the legal aspects, I want the medical advocacy, I want the societal status of being married. And yes, I want the wedding! Sometimes I mourn that I will never have these things and yet I cannot seem to truly accept it as my fate. I am betrayed by a little voice in the back of my mind saying ‘you will get these things, he’ll come around’.
What do you ladies/guys think? Should I make some serious efforts to let it go and move on with my life unmarried or carry on hoping that he will change? It has come to a bit of a head right now because I am having some life problems so feeling a bit fragile and one of my best friends has just got engaged completely unexpectedly. I am happy for her but in a horrible selfish way, really really upset 🙁
Post # 2
It’s fine to want marriage. Not a wedding, marriage.
But your partner doesn’t.
So you have two options, stay with this guy who you’ve given 11 years to and who you is presumably great because you’re still together but never get married. Or break up with him and find someone who your views align with. This is an either or or situation.
He’s not going to change his mind.
So work out why you want marriage (beyond all your friends getting married), work out its inportance in your life. Then you can decide if he fits with your ideals for your life.
Post # 3
Have you pointed out the ironic confliction in his completely disregarding your needs by citing an objection to patriarchy?
i’d do that post haste.
bad news is if that doesn’t work, he’s giving you b.s reasons to not get married, which is another way of saying he doesn’t want to marry you and doesn’t care what you want. At least not enough to give a little.
It’s not that he has to marry you if he loves you, but rather that he should care how you feel and what you want, and he should be honest with you about where he stands.
Post # 4
Whether you should stay or leave depends on how strongly you feel about marriage. You have to assume that your bf won’t change his mind because people usually don’t. So is this a deal breaker? Only you can answer that.
I know for me, marriage is important. Not because everybody else does it or because I want a party in my honor (although weddings are great too!) but because I believe marriage is the highest commitment 2 people can make to each other. I have always felt that way about marriage as an institution. So I know I could never date/ stay with somebody who did not take marriage as seriously as I do.
Post # 5
Sounds like the decision is in your court. Either:
1. you stay and sacrifice what is important to you – and prepare to deal with future resentment of your SO for not giving you what you want because if you decide to stay, it’s not ok to keep bringing up marriage for the rest of your life knowing full well he is not in support.
2. you leave and be open to finding someone who shares your same life goals and dreams.
Your SO is NOT going to change at this point. He’s 29, not 23, and seems like his thought process regarding is pretty solid and not something he said once on a whim. He keeps telling you his stance on marriage. Believe him!!
Post # 6
I partly disagree I think it is fine to want both, but you obviously have to want marriage to have the wedding, it is not ok to just want the wedding with no committment to the marriage however…blimey that sentence seems more complicated than it should be.
Bee, ultimately I think your partner has made it clear that he does not believe in marriage/ does not want to follow that path, and as others have said I would take his word for it, he loves you, so love alone isnt going to change his mind, this is his own personal view, it is unlikely that it will change.
So as others have also stated you have to make a choice between:
- Staying with him and trying to find a way to truly accept that marriage is not on the cards and to let it go. (however this is easier said than done especially as your views are that you want and believe in marriage, this could cause future resentment)
- Leave him and find someone who shares the same views as yourself on marriage.
This is such a tricky situation though because logically I would always say why leave a good relationship that is otherwise great for the sake of getting married. But I think if I was in this situation I would also be completely torn as I want to get married and would be upset if I was to find out that my partner did not.
Some people do not understand why marriage is so important to an individual but sometimes it just is and you could argue why is marriage NOT so important to you, everyone has things that are deal breakers etc.
Post # 7
Thank you Bees, it is good to hear objective opinions. BalletParker, I too used to think these were excuses but he has stuck to them in the face of my distress, so I have to believe that they are real feelings. Also I do not think this is a question of respecting each other’s wishes- there is no compromise with marriage, it is a yes or no decision. So he is not ‘imposing’ his viewpoint, both our views are equally valid but in reality there is no middle ground. For that matter, I respect him and would never give an ultimatum to ‘force’ him into my way or the highway.
I think it really helps to have other people say that I need to move on and try to let the subject go without resentment. I view marriage as important (particuarly for the legal implications) but it is not a dealbreaker- people spend their lives looking for love and I am grateful for what I have. vintagegirl13 seems to have understood best though, knowing that I am lucky does not make it easy to just stop wanting something! That is why it is so good to hear the cold hard truth from you all!
Post # 8
Marriage is not “just a piece of paper”. It is a religious (if that is your thing), cultural (if that is your thing) and legal bond between two people. It offers legal protections, financial obligations, medical authority and for many people, emotional security.
Please do not let your boyfriend dismiss this extremely important legal and social contract, just because he doesn’t want to enter it.
Also: if it is “just a piece of paper” then why won’t he go through with it? If it is so meaningless to him AND he knows it is important to you, then what is the big deal in getting married, if it will make you happy? It is BECAUSE he knows it is extremely important that he is reluctant to go through with it. Please do not let him get away with this unoriginal, illogical argument, especially when he couples it with the “Patriarchy” (oh so he wants to protect women’s rights, just not the rights of woman standing in front of him?).
I think only you know whether staying or leaving makes sense and I am sure whatever you do will be the right choice for your situation. Just don’t let your boyfriend bamboozle you with that “piece of paper” garbage.
Post # 9
- Wedding: March 2017 - Nepal
I’m sorry, this must be incredibly difficult after spending 11 years with someone. Do either of you want children?
Post # 10
The only comprise that might work, could you skip the wedding. Make it less about the engagement more about the commitment. Say that you are willing to give up the “white wedding” if he would comprimes as well.
There is a religious aspect of course but there are so many legal reasons to get married. It protects his rights if you were to die before him so your joint stuff isnt given to others, gives him end of life desicions if you were on life support (otherwise these could go to your closest blood relation), some companies only give health insurance (in America) to married couples (what if you/he lost your job and therefore health insurance. If my partner dies while employed I don’t get the standard company life insurance. Like it or not we live in a society where marriage is accepted…how will future children feel if you are not married, it would be fine if you both thought it was not important but kids are smart they are going to pick up on mom wanted to be married and dad not wanting to. It also protects his rights to the kids more than if you are unmarried. Also people make assumptions about unmarried couples (they really shouldn’t) but they do.
I admit I am biased, because I just don’t understand his point of view…I tried before responding but I just can’t wrap my brain around it. The only friend I have that shares his views isn’t afraid of marriage per se, she believes that divorce is the real threat. She thinks that if a relationship were to fail that the act of having to divorce (Vs just separating stuff) puts two people into a battle and makes everything 1000 times harder. Maybe he shares her views in which case maybe you could have an strict prenup in place to deal how exactly everything would be sorted out in case of a split.
The only other thing I can think of is ask him to do a commitment ceremony or something…skip the legal/religious stuff and ask him to before friends commit his life to you. That is about as good as a comprise that I can think of. Please update if you can because I’m curious how it works out.
Post # 11
Schmashley and anikaof9 we would like children but we are waiting until we are more stable and properly ready- we have moved to different cities twice in the past couple of years for work reasons. The commitment ceremony is a good idea, but (and this sounds weird considering the situation) I have no doubts as to his commitment to me and I do not feel the need for this to be proved in front of loved ones. It also does not afford the legal protection for both of us. I am not close to any of my blood relatives and to think that they have medical and next of kin status is a significant motivation for me. We have considered marrying in secret (especially as we currently live far away from family and friends) but we both worried it is a false compromise and that one or both might end up unhappy. The closest we have come to a real compromise is thinking about having a legal contract made that affords us ‘marriage status’ in terms of legal and medical standing. I have no idea whether that would be laughed out of the lawyer’s office.
I’ll update if a conclusion is ever reached, but it feels great to get it off my chest anyway! Thanks people X
Post # 13
chickenstory : “For that matter, I respect him and would never give an ultimatum to ‘force’ him into my way or the highway.”
Why? He’s giving you one. He’s 100% saying “my way or the highway.” He’s saying “if you want me, you have to give up marriage” – how is that not an ultimatum? I don’t blame him either. That’s how he feels, good for him. But you also have your feelings, which are equally valid.
You’re right that there’s no compromise to be had. Both of you are sort of giving the other implicit ultimatums, and that’s ok. “Ultimatum” is a dirty word but I think they are a lot more common than people realize in relationships. If this relationship is to last, one of you has to bend to the other’s will and sacrifice your own principles and desires.
ETA: Just have to add that I am pretty sure under no conditions would I be able to tolerate my boyfriend mansplaining to me that the patriarchy was why he wouldn’t marry me. That is just so fucking condescending and as pp mentioned, abusrdly ironic.
I also don’t understand why he would theoretically be ok with the legal and medical benefits of marriage, but not marriage itself. What’s the difference really? In the state I got married in, any person can sign up to be a “minister” in like 20 seconds and officiate a legal marriage. You don’t even have to have a witness to sign the license. So theoretically you could not even have a ceremony and just get someone to sign up on minister.org or whatever it is and sign your license and voila, you’re married. How is that different than getting a lawyer to somehow bequeath to you the legal/medical benefits of marriage but without marriage?
Post # 14
I am not a lawyer, but it is my understanding that it is definitely possible to attain the same protections of marriage, it just takes a lot of paperwork and a very thorough lawyer (and therefore a lot of legal fees). Which makes me ask: if you are both willing to jump through all those hoops, why not just get married? I’m almost certain a quick ceremony at a courthouse/cityhall/with a friend who got an internet officiant license etc, would be cheaper and easier than asking a lawyer to create a legal contract that covers everything marriage automatically does.
If your boyfriend’s main concern is a wedding, then I think you two can reach a compromise very easily: there is a lot of ground before dropping thousands on a blowout occasion and I have attended very meaningful, emotional ceremonies that didn’t include the white dress/200 witnesses etc.
If his problem is marriage, then yes, you are at an impasse where compromise isn’t possible. My point above (that marriage is not just a “piece of paper”) is not to imply that your boyfriend has to want to get married: he is fully allowed to dislike the institution for many reasons, I just disagree with him belittling its importance and using that as his reason for not wanting to get married. Also, I don’t think you should be made to feel silly for wanting to get married, which is sort of the tone I was reading in your posts. It is not an inherently frivolous or selfish desire, for many reasons, including the ones like legal protections, financial obligations and the authority to make important medical decisions on behalf of your spouse.
Only you know how important marriage is to you and whether you want to make this a dealbreaker. I definitely do not think there is an objectively right or wrong answer; there is just what feels right for your situation. Good luck!
Post # 15
Well, it sounds like you aren’t getting married to this guy. That much is clear. What you want to do about it (be common law or find someone who wants to marry you) is your choice.