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I remember my last serious relationship. It was with a guy who had been dating me for years, and it was one of those relationships that everyone felt was going to go the distance. Like many people, I was really looking forward to being married to a man I thought loved me.
He knew that marriage was a major focal point for me. Unfortunately, he didn't feel the same. After a series of arguments, he eventually ended up dumping me, and that was that.
I was heartbroken. All I wanted was to be married to him, and he didn't ever even want to give me that option. I was furious with him, and felt like he cheated me out of time I could have spent with a man who was worthwhile. I felt angered knowing that he just strung me along like the stupid "in love" idiot I was, until he no longer felt like being with me.
And yet part of me was furious with myself. Not only did I feel cheated out of a wedding ring I believe I should have by now, but I also felt anger with myself for staying with him thinking he'd see the light.
In spite of how alone I felt the months after, I realize I'm not the only one who's dealt with this. There are many, many people out there who want to get married but are with partners that don't want that with them.
Looking back, I realize that I probably should have handled things differently. If I could go back in time, I would have given myself the following advice. However, I can't, so I'll just give it to others who are in my situation - and hope that they'll be wiser than I was.
First thing's first; ask yourself how much of a priority marriage is.
Before you actually do anything involving interaction with your partner - or others - ask yourself honestly how much you need to be married. Is it just a "it'd be nice" feeling, or would you end up resenting your partner if you're still ringless after year number three together?
For many people, myself included, marriage is not something that you can negotiate on. Even if my partner was perfect in every other way, I would not want to stay with him if he didn't want to marry me.
For me, a man's decision to get engaged and walk down the aisle with me is the only way I'd ever believe him when he says he loves me. After all, talk is cheap. That kind of walk, though, says more than a million stupid little love notes could.
On the other hand, my friend Luna is totally different than me in this respect. Luna is as marriage-averse as they come, and would probably break it off with someone like me the moment the "M" word came up in discussion.
Our other mutual friend, Dawn, couldn't really care either way. If it happens, it happens. If it didn't, she'd be equally happy. Prioritize your marriage goal. Are you an Ossiana? Are you a Dawn? Or, are you a wedding-averse Luna?
If marriage is your goal, be prepared for it to be the hill you die on.
As much as it pains me to say this, no matter what you do for a man, it will never convince him to marry you. If he really doesn't want to pop the question, nothing will make him do it. So, if you are someone who really prioritizes marriage, you need to be ready to leave him.
That being said, if you're in a relationship with a guy that you care about, you need to make it clear that marriage is something you need from him in a very direct, business-like way. After all, he does need to know if he's about to be dumped over this, right?
Simply sit him down, and tell him, "Look, I want to be married within a year or so. If this isn't something you're willing to provide me, I should know as soon as possible."
If he tells you it won't happen, or balks and complains, don't do what I did. Don't flip out at him. Ask him why, and try to work things out.
If he still won't budge, your best bet is to tell him that you understand, and CALMLY gather your belongings. Take all your items from his house, and tell him that you need time to think about whether or not you can continue with him.
Then, consider going out with friends for the rest of the month. Give him time to "marinate" in his choices. There's a good chance he may come back with a ring and a wedding date in mind. If he doesn't contact you after that month, start seeing other people.
On the other hand, if he calls you but keeps ignoring the subject of marriage, you may want to tell him that you want to open up the relationship. After all, his refusal to commit shouldn't get in the way of you getting a wedding.
This move can cause a breakup, but you have to see the breakup for what it is.
What hurts is that he may end up being okay with you leaving - and that could be the end of your relationship. But if you really want to be married as badly as I do, then continuing this relationship would have just led to more wasted time and more hurt.
At the end of the day, a guy who won't marry a woman who loves him is a fool. He's losing out on a lifetime of love and happiness - and really, who doesn't want that with someone?
You do need to ask why he doesn't want to marry before you up and leave.
If he doesn't want to marry you, you might want to ask why. If he won't say why, or if it's the idea of loss that scares him, you may need to talk things out. You might find out what keeps him away from the altar is the ceremony, family drama, or issues.
These things can worked out in therapy or with an alternative marriage method. And, then you can get a wedding you want.
However, if you're getting the feeling that he's just playing you for a fool, you may want to rethink staying with him.
A good example of him possibly playing you is if all he says is that he's not "ready" or that he "doesn't know" if he wants to marry you after the talks I suggested. That often says that he already knows he doesn't want to marry - especially if money really isn't an issue that he makes it out to be.
This is even more worrisome if he begins to make more demands that YOU need to meet before he's "ready."
Even if you're not a marriage-obsessed person, think about what him not wanting to marry says about the relationship.
You're the full package. You do a lot for him. What's the deal? Why isn't that good enough for him to fully commit? Though not everyone is meant for marriage, I do believe that men say volumes about how much they care by the commitment they have.
Seriously, life is too short to deal with guys who are too weak to commit. That being said, if you do end up single because he won't pop the question, start by telling guys that you won't stop dating other men unless they are engaged to you and have a date picked out. It's the easiest way to weed out the men who aren't really serious.