I'm Ready For Marriage...But My Partner Is Not

Reluctant groom

Julia is nervous. Her relationship with Sam is going smoothly. In fact, it's pretty wonderful. They spend every weekend together, call or text one another constantly and get along really well. Their relationship has been going strong for the past year and half and Sam feels committed and serious about Julia.

At least she thinks that it's committed and serious.

The one thing that bothers Julia is that Sam never hints at the subject of marriage. She keeps watching him and listening closely to his words for an indication that he sees marriage in their future, but she hasn't found anything encouraging yet.

Even more troubling is a conversation that Julia overheard between Sam and one of his buddies at a party they attended together recently. Sam was making a big deal to his friend about how perfect being single is and he wondered why anybody would ruin a great relationship with marriage.

Julia's heart sank when she overheard Sam's words to his friend. She now assumes that Sam would be happy to never get married. This is NOT part of Julia's plan for her future.

What can she do?

If you're in a committed love relationship, you might be thinking about marriage. Even if you and your partner haven't been together all that long, you may feel—from deep down inside—that it's right and this is the "one" for you. Or, maybe you and your partner have been together for a significant period of time and you keep wondering if you'll ever take that next step and get married.

Marriage can feel like a VERY big step for a lot of people. Particularly for those who have experienced divorce in the past in their own lives or in the lives of people close to them. The idea of marriage can seem like a path to eventual unavoidable heartbreak.

Others believe that marriage is going to put a serious damper on passion and excitement in the relationship. We've all heard phrases like, "ball and chain" to refer to one's spouse. There seems to be no end to negative connotations with the idea of marriage.

It's no wonder that some people avoid marriage (or even thinking and talking about it)!

If you are a person who would like to be married and you feel ready to move toward marrying your partner, it might be difficult for you to fully understand the hesitations or apparent disinterest in marriage that your love expresses. You might be taking it personally too.

If so, we urge you to stop taking it personally and go for honesty instead.

Be honest with yourself.

Take the time to be very honest with yourself. Before you try to talk with your partner about his or her intentions for your relationship, make sure you really know how you feel and what you want.

Ask yourself questions like these...
"How much of a priority is it for me to get married?"
"What is my preferred time frame for getting married?"
"How flexible am I willing to be about this?"
"What are my reasons for wanting to get married?"
"Are there other ways to fulfill my relationship needs even if we don't get married (now or ever)?"
"What do I actually know
with certaintyabout my partner's intentions for our relationship?"
"What do I actually know
with certaintyabout my partner's attitudes toward marriage?"

What you find, when you answer these questions honestly, may surprise you.

It could be that your urgency for getting married has more to do with what your family and friends are pushing you to do and less with your own desires, for example. It might be that you are more (or less) flexible about when you want to get married than you previously believed.

It might also be that you are mostly making up your partner's aversion to marriage—there may not be tangible proof that he or she is anti-marriage.

Be honest with your partner.

With your clearer and more accurate understanding of your situation and desires, now it's time to talk with your partner. As you communicate, approach the topic of marriage with a sense of openness, gentleness and love.

You could, for example, let your partner know that you've been thinking about the future and wondering what that will look like for the two of you. Depending on how strongly you feel about this, you can even let your partner know that you are exploring options in your mind and would like to know how he or she feels about marriage and about the two of you possibly getting married one day.

If getting married within a certain period of time is something you are firm on, be honest about this. You don't have to make a threat or set an ultimatum, but be upfront about how flexible (or not) you are on the subject and time frame.

Listen closely to what your partner says in response. Try to listen and understand where he or she is coming from and what your partner wants.

If you are willing to be flexible, you can create some agreements about what your next step together will be.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the passionate relationships they desire. For more relationship advice and information, visit