I’ve been reading some of your advice to other readers and was wondering if you could help me out. My boyfriend and I have been together for over four years now and have spent the majority of that time in a long distance relationship, with life constantly keeping us apart for one reason or another. Now we are finally living together and I feel like we’re finally starting to move forward, but about two years ago he made it clear that he doesn’t want to get married. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get married either, but now we’re four years in and I’m wondering where exactly this is going, as he still feels strongly about not taking that step and I’m now quite certain I am. He won’t explain his reasons for not wanting to, and all I can think is that if my boyfriend won’t marry me, it must be that he doesn’t want to commit to me. I feel really strongly about it and love him with all my heart, but if he’s not willing to take that step with me then what kind of future do we have together? I’m really confused about the whole thing and would really appreciate your advice.
You are absolutely correct in wondering what is going on in this case, but I feel that you are probably better off than you think. The two of you indeed have a long history together, and it sounds like you have all the hallmarks of a mature relationship except for the lack of a legal commitment. You have managed to stay together for several years, you have been through hard times and good times, and you remain a couple even through all of this. If you feel like your boyfriend won’t marry you, there’s probably more to it than you think.
The first thing you must do is to make an honest assessment of how important getting married is to you. You mention having confusion and possibly some doubts about your future together, but not the reason for these doubts other than his reluctance to tie the knot. Are there any other factors involved, or is this the only one? You don’t mention how he feels about you – does he say he loves you? If your needs are being met and you are both finding contentment and fulfillment despite the fact of being in an unmarried state, you should think about your need for marriage and weigh the consequences of forcing a decision.
Secondly, you mention that he “won’t explain his reasons for not wanting to” get married. It seems to me that this is the real problem and perhaps is more important than anything else in this situation. If he can’t at least be open and communicative about why he doesn’t desire marriage, than you are correct to have misgivings about the future. If he could tell you how he feels and why, and would allow you to try to understand his feelings, there might be a way to compromise. But withholding this crucial information isn’t a good sign or portent for the future.
Finally, you have demonstrated an ability to be very patient with a man whom you clearly love and cherish, so please try to be patient for a while longer. Explain your concerns and ask him for a chance to solve the problem with the help of a counselor or other objective party. If he won’t be forthcoming and honest about his reasons for not wanting to marry, you will have to make a very difficult decision, and I don’t envy you. But I know that love conquers all, and I’m confident that you will make the right choice.