Why He Won’t Marry You
Falling in love never felt so good
If you’re a woman who dreams of getting married, and especially if you want children, there’s nothing more devastating than hearing the love of your life suddenly start to question if he’s really the marrying kind. You distinctly remember that he was one who mentioned marriage in the first place. It was a couple of months after you’d started dating. You were at Trader Joe’s laughing and shopping together. You couldn’t believe that two people could have so much fun doing something so ordinary. Just as you were reaching for an avocado, you felt his arm around your waist. He spun you around, looked deep in your eyes and said, “I think I could get used to this. I might even marry you one day.” Your heart exploded. These were the words you’d been waiting your whole life to hear.
When reality sets in
Fast-forward two years later, and everything’s changed. The man who claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you is having second thoughts. The more he applies the brakes, the more hurt and anxious you feel… and with good reason. You’re almost 35. You want kids now more than ever, and your biological clock is t-i-c-k-i-n-g! Any man in his right mind knows you don’t mention marriage to a woman unless you mean it. Did he mean it? And if he did, what made him change his mind?
In the early throes of passion, it’s easy for two people to make big promises to each other: marriage… children… a chocolate lab and a white picket fence. When a relationship is shiny and new and there are no issues or problems getting in the way, a man might really feel like the woman he’s with is The One and imagine spending the rest of his life with her. Sometimes, it’s even the man who sets the wheels in motion and brings the issue of marriage and children up first. But then, months or years down the line, things change. One day he’s talking about diamond rings and babies, the next day everything comes to a screeching halt. The man who claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you is starting to rethink everything.
What the hell happened?
He led you to believe that you were on the same page, that one day you would get married and start a family together, so you invested precious years of your life in the relationship. Now, it feels like your whole life is unraveling. What the hell happened?
As a relationship coach, one of the biggest reasons I hear men give for questioning marriage is that the dynamics of the relationship have changed. A partnership that once felt easy and harmonious is now rife with anger and fighting, and the man doesn’t know how to deal with it.
When clients discuss this issue during their sessions, the women often claim the fighting and anxiety is a result of their partner’s hesitation to propose. Or, they’ve proposed, but they’re evasive when it comes to discussing the wedding. The women are convinced that all their troubles will be resolved once they walk down the aisle. But the men are afraid the fighting will carry over into the marriage. The men say that they believe there’s something about the way the women are pressuring and pushing to get their way that isn’t going to stop just because they’re married.
A vicious cycle
The more anxious and angry a woman gets, the more a man will dig in his heels. Men don’t want to be mothered or told what to do. They don’t want to be given ultimatums or deadlines and made to feel like they’re being pushed into doing something before they’re ready. Women, on the other hand, face very real deadlines, and the thought of missing out on marriage and a family can be traumatizing, not to mention anxiety provoking. It’s a vicious cycle.
Of course, there may be other factors at play as well: marriage, children, and a home all cost money. Though times have changed and many women are out-earning men, many men still feel it’s their duty to be financially responsible for their partner. There’s also tremendous pressure when it comes to taking on debt to finance a lavish wedding, not to mention the financial burden of children. Women also need to consider other, deeper issues that may be driving their partner’s fear, like coming from a broken family, having a father who cheated or a mother who was alcoholic. These difficult early life experiences can cause many men to feel avoidant and harbor a real fear of commitment, which is a serious issue that can be hard to discern in the midst of all the drama and fighting.
Getting to “I Do”
The very best thing a couple in this situation can do for themselves is to seek the help of a therapist or coach. I put my clients through some very structured listening exercises so that they can really start to hear each other’s perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of what’s happening on both sides. I encourage my clients to recognize that, in this situation, there are two people who are hurt and scared, and help them learn to come from a place of love rather than anger and desperation. Until both members of the couple understand where the other is coming from, it will be very difficult to move forward.
It is heartbreaking to find yourself in a position where the person you want to spend the rest of your life with won’t commit. With a ticking clock and your whole future hanging in the balance, it’s understandable that you would feel anxious and hurt. If you’ve found yourself in this situation and don’t know where to turn, I encourage you to set up a consultation and see how I can help.