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You Asked: Why Won't He Commit?

You Asked: Why Won't He Commit?

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I have been living together for two years now. He knows that I want to get married, and his answer to me is that he wants me to stay with him forever. But he was in a 16 year marriage where his wife cheated on him, and he is not sure he can commit to marriage again. I'm 47 years old and I feel that after two years of living together, if he's still unsure of me as the person he wants to spend his life with, then maybe it's time I move on.

I do want to marry this man but I'm not willing to wait another two years and then have him tell me the same cop out things about being burned in his last marriage. Please help me to do what is the best for me. I really am confused. How can someone say he wants to spend his life with you but feel that he can not commit to you? Am I playing a fool here? —Being Played Penny

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear Being Played Penny,

If you have never been married before, I can understand your desire for that kind of commitment, but you have to understand where your boyfriend is coming from. It sounds as though he wants to be with you, but the word "marriage" is a little daunting for him. Remember Penny, marriage is just a piece of paper and while it's uber important to some people, there are many couples who stay together for their lifetimes without ever walking down the isle.

Only you can tell yourself what's going to be the best decision for you, but I want you to ask yourself what's more important here — the relationship with the man you love or a ring and a marriage certificate. Just because your boyfriend is hesitant to get down on bended knee again, it doesn't necessarily mean he isn't 150 percent committed to you. You don't want to force him into a marriage he isn't ready for so have a heart to heart with him, tell him you are wanting more of a commitment and hopefully you two can come up with a compromise. Follow your instincts and if you feel like you are settling, or if you aren't getting what you need out of this relationship, then you've got your answer. Good luck to you.


Join The Conversation
gossipqueen gossipqueen 9 years
I'm old fashioned...I want marriage and nothing else.
karlotta karlotta 9 years
My boyfriend doesn't believe in marriage - in part, he sees it as devaluing something very intimate and personal - our love, which is our own, and unlike any other - by entering an artifical and generally cliché system regulated by laws and customs created by others (and Hallmark). While I tend to agree with him in a general sense (I'd rather poke my eyes out than wear a poufy white dress and throw a 400 guest reception) I think there is value in committing to the person you love in either a religious or civil ceremony, where the people you care about will witness that commitment - it just MEANS something, like, I'm telling the world you are it and I am making the bet that it will work and the vow that I will do my best to make it so. But seeing how 1/2 of those vows and commitments go down the drain, maybe my boyfriend's vision, of being with me because he wants to and not because he's signed a piece of paper that makes him feel obligated, is what will keep us together. And maybe some day he'll understand that one important thing (to me!) about marriage - that I'd bear his name! - and we'll have a little party and it will be done. If not, I'll always feel a little weird about it, especially when we have kids; but never will it make me doubt how much he loves me, is committed to me, or has chosen me as the one. I don't need a piece of paper or diamond to show me THAT. I would say - relax, try and take it as it is, as long as you don't see other signs that he's not committed to you. After all, marriage isn't synonym with happiness, to him. Maybe YOU are...
JessNess JessNess 9 years
Why do people still think you need to be married to be in a committed relationship. There are plenty of couples who are together for life but never get married. This need to get married makes me wonder what insecurity you have with your relationship that you feel you need a paper to seal with. What if you two met half way and had a commitment ceremony
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
I agree with you, lickety split - which is why I responded. You were respecting the poster's beliefs, and crapping all over anyone else's who might not be so romantic when it comes to the idea of marriage. "going steady is for kids marriage is for grown ups" - you don't think that's a little judgemental? I'm just trying to share my experience with what you call "going steady," and hopefully it'll influence our poster for the better. Whether or not you want to get married, it's really got to be a committment equalled on both sides - so hopefully a compromise can be reached.
I agree with minaminamina. And, well find it offensive that some people think your are not serious about your relationship just because you have not signed that piece of paper. Most marriages don't work, so no, apparently they are not sacred. Don't pretend like the only way 2 people will be together for the rest of their lives is to get marrried. Statistically speaking, getting married is not a commitment to anything!
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
she wants to be married. the suggestion that marriage is just a meaningless piece of paper is like telling her that her feelings don't really mean anything. marriage means something TO HER. why should she change what she wants because other people don't think it's important. it's part of HER belief system that people who are in love and are committed to each other get married.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
If you want to be married, then this relationship is not for you. He's telling you that he doesn't want to be married then listen to him. I don't think that you should forgo what you want just to stay with him.
lily314 lily314 9 years
Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have been together without marriage (but with children!) for nearly 20 years. You shouldn't limit yourself to the extremes. Don't leave him just because he can't commit to marriage (and don't give him an ultimatum). At the same time, don't content yourself with sacrificing your needs for a ring and vows and something solid. You two clearly care about each other. The only way your relationship can last is if you two talk it out and come to a mutual decision. He's had a bad experience, but a marriage can definitely work if the two parties are committed to each other. At the same time, you really want the traditional sense of domestic union, but a long-term partnership without a marriage certificate can just be as viable. You two need to figure out the best way to resolve your competing needs - with each other.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
My mom went through the same thing, so she moved out. 4 months later they were married.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Lickety Split and WandaHarvest - marriage IS real, yes, but I think the point Dear Sugar is trying to make is that the idea of marriage is more of a psychological stepping stone, and not necessarily a meaningful social stepping stone. While it has a different cultural meaning to everyone, I agree with Dear Sugar - there should be no difference between a loving, committed, and meaningful relationship and a marriage. They can be synonymous or they can be two seperate things. My parents have been together for 29 years - they're not married to each other. They're happy, they raised children, they balance their finances well, and never even wanted to bother with a marriage certificate. In my mothers eyes, marriage is a faith-based cerimony, so she didn't believe in supporting a state-acknowledged system of marriage. My father just doesn't believe in the concept of marriage at all, and prefers knowing he's married because HE is totally devoted to his wife and children, not because he feels pressured into it by society's standards of what's right. Love and committment are very real things - marriage is only what you make of it. If he's committed to you and you love him, then don't pressure him - compromise.
WandaHarvest WandaHarvest 9 years
I marriage is just a ring and a certificate, why is he so opposed to marrying you? Marriage is a more serious commitment, can't get away from it-- consider the increased legal rights and responsibilities that come with it, for example. If you want someone that is not afraid to commit to being with you for hte rest of your life in the strongest way possible, then you should find it. If you are happy with his more organic, and perhaps genuine, commitment, then good for you. But, don't ignore your wants and needs-- marriage is real, and more than a piece of paper.
remedios remedios 9 years
Ouch. I get your desire, but he's got some pretty legit reasons to be hesitant to just get married again. Obviously, marriage doesn't mean that you'll be with someone forever. Otherwise, he'd be with his former wife. You say that after two years, if he's still unsure of whether you're the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with, then you'll reconsider. But before that, you say that he has already said he wants to be together forever. So It sounds like he has made that decision. He just is afraid to put that to paper, for some (understandable) reason. It doesn't sound like his hesitancy in marriage is a hesitancy in commitment. It appears he has committed to you. Instead, it's a hesitancy in trusting marriage as proof of commitment, since clearly it wasn't in the past. That being said, I can understand the desire to get married yourself if you know that you want to be with him, and that's just as legit a desire. I guess I just think you two need to really figure out together why it's so important to you that you two get married and so important to him that you two do not get married. Perhaps you can try to figure out all the financial benefits of marriage to him. It doesn't appear for lack of love, so it seems more for lack of understanding why it matters. Maybe he's concerned about a wedding. If I were him, I'd definitely not want a wedding where anyone outside of immediate family (if even them) were present. After all, friends and extended family already went through it once, and I'd be embarrassed by all the extra stuff of a wedding. Since it's marriage, and not the wedding, that's important to you, and if that's his fear, maybe consider city hall. You don't need others to validate your relationship. It seems like you're going to have to compromise somewhere. Find out the real things that worry him and be willing to accommodate those, because they're all just details (hopefully). Good luck. I wish you the best and hope you two come out both happy in the end.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
And it's only been 2 years, and second marriages have a 61% divorce rate...I'd be reluctant too. Be patient and enjoy being with him, especially if you are happy with him other than just being married.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
marriage is much more that "a ring and a marriage certificate". that description really cheapens what marriage is and what it represents and frankly sounds very high school. the reason most people get married is that they are in love and want to make a public declaration of their life time commitment to each other. living together is just a commitment to pay rent on the first of the month on the same address. personally i wouldn't settle for living together, it's just not enough. i wanted the whole package, ring, husband, vows, children, till death do us part. going steady is for kids and marriage is for grownups. tell your boyfriend that if he wants to be with you then he needs to take your feelings seriously. you want to be married, not go steady. your entilted to have your feelings acknowledged by your partner. and if he wants different things then you need to part ways. if he has too much baggage from previous relationships to make a commitment to you it's better to find out now. regardless of your age you need to see the whole picture and accept your boyfriend for who he is and what he has to offer. he's still unsure of you as a life partner after living with you for 2 years, that's very telling. surely the process of interviewing to be his wife is getting old.
alltherage alltherage 9 years
I agree with sugar see if you can compromise. esp if you know this man is for you. that said you have to decide for yourself if no marriage is a deal breaker for you. you dont want to agree to no marriage but commitment and resent him forever. its a tough one. good luck!
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
Your man is reminding me of Halle Berry... she has been married twice and neither worked out particularly well for her, but now she is with someone else and she seems happy and committed, and is now pregnant with his child. Yet she has repeatedly said that she will never get married again. While I am not in your shoes, this appears to be a circumstance where he IS committed, just doesn't want to get married.
flirtyatforty flirtyatforty 9 years
Well, getting out of a tough marriage can be life altering. Keep in mind everyone has different views on marriage. Maybe since he's been married once, that's it for him. It doesn't mean he doesn't love you or that he doesn't want to be with you. Now, you need to figure out why you want to get married. Are you young and do you want children? Or, are you close to his age and not interested in having children (or any more children)? If you are young and want children, then you should probably look for a man who shares the same outlook. If you are close to his age and really feel strongly about marriage, then again, you should find a man who shares your ideals. The funny thing here is as you get older, you realise life isn't about right and wrong, it's more about what works and what makes you happy.
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