There are lots of good reasons to get married, but I heard what has to be the all time worst reason the other day. A couple had been living together for seven years and she wanted the relationship to “move forward.” She didn’t think it was enough to live together; she wanted to get married. He didn’t want to get married, but he caved.
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That’s a recipe for disaster. Marriage is hard enough when both people really want it. It’s doomed to fail when one person gets dragged into it in the first place. Our cultural assumption is that the natural progression of relationships is this: singles meet and date. If the dating goes well, they’ll move in together. If the living together goes well, they’ll get married. The problem is that the entire scenario is based on assumptions. I learned a long time ago that when you assume you make an ASS-out of U-and ME.
What’s the alternative to going along with this cultural assumption? One important thing is to clearly state up front what you want from the relationship. Talk about it early and often. Is marriage important to one or both of you, and if it is, for what reasons? Is it important because of what you really want, or because of what you think others will think?
Understand that the woman in the relationship may change her mind over time. I know, newsflash, right? That’s due to one of two reasons. The first reason is that she wasn’t being honest with you or herself initially. This is not usually done on purpose so cut her some slack. Theoretically, she might be fine with never getting married, but after seven years of living together the internal and external pressure of the cultural assumption gets too intense.
The second reason she may change her mind is that she’s not feeling the same level of commitment from her man that she felt early on, and she believes that marriage will strengthen that commitment, which, as we know, may or may not be true. What’s true is that relationships change over time. Good relationships don’t just happen, they take a little work by both people in order to stay good.
The solution to this dilemma is to talk about it more and address it head on. Sorry guys, I know talking isn’t always your strong suit. But trust me on this, it’ll save a lot of grief in the long run. This perceived lack of commitment is most likely just complacency. If you’re really not comfortable talking about what’s happening, you can do certain things that will show her you’re still “in it.” Spice things up a little: Surprise her with an unusual date, bring home flowers for no reason, or seduce her on a Tuesday night.
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