Been with my OH for 3.5 years, we have two LOs aged 1.5yrs and 8 weeks.
We spoke about marriage at various points before our first child was conceived, he was keen on the idea and I was open to it. During that pregnancy I warmed to the idea and was quite open with how much I would like us to be married now we were expecting a baby. Although he was fully committed to us having our baby, he seemed to be lukewarm about the idea of marriage - the dynamic had changed. I'm somewhat regretful to say I pursued the idea more than I should have done looking back, I feel I pressed the issue more than I should have done.
He started off saying what did it mean, what would it change, married friends said it didn't make any difference etc etc... Then he said we had enough to think about with a baby imminent, we couldn't afford to get married, he didn't want to think about it until we'd moved in together and had baby. I explained I wanted the security of knowing we were heading in the same direction, he agreed. The birth of baby came and went, we'd had plenty of discussions about getting married and he let slip he'd planned to propose at the birth but didn't, and for some reason this really upset me - I was starting to think he was saying one thing and meaning another, and he said he wanted the proposal to be a special occasion, and wanted to plan something.
Anyway he did ask after lots of talking, and I kinda wish I'd left it to him to do it off his own back - you see where this is going?
He seemed disinterested in making any arranagements, although I gathered from female friends this is not unusual! I took it upon myself to set a date and told him, we started to work towards it until we realised what we would want would have to be put back if we were to afford it, so I cancelled the initial plans.
I did originally say I wasn't bothered about an engagement ring and I would wear the ring he already bought me. I changed my mind after some thought, and let him know, which he seemed fine with - but a year down the line, nothing. I knew money was tight but he was off spending relatively large amounts on his hobby - of course I want him to enjoy himself, he works hard, but I started to feel put out and told him. He seemed to take this to heart as he reported back one day he'd told his close male friends what I'd said and what they thought and they agreed with me and could see how I'd feel put out.
I feel like I've created a bad situation out of mostly my own doing. I do feel that had I not pushed things, we'd still be moseying along living together with children but no sign of marriage - and I feel that if I never mentioned marriage again, he wouldn't either.
He did mention once jokingly that he didn't need to get married because it was like we were anyway (why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free anyone?) and if I'd said I wouldn't sleep with him/move in together without getting married, then he would have done. I don't know how much he meant it but I don't know what to do *shrugs* I want the commitment of being married, but I want him to want it too. In all other respects he is great - a great father, a good partner, works hard, supportive - but this plays on my mind so much, most recently because I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said nothing, and that he wasn't getting anyone except the kids anything - I suppose being honest I was secretly hoping he might present me with a ring I just don't know if he wants to get married or not!
My question to you is do you want to get married or not?
You seem to have a solid relationship and are already living together and sharing parenting duties. I think you're setting arbitrary boundaries and expectations; for example, you said you want an engagement ring. He can't afford a ring right now, and he doesn't want to make sacrifices to save up to buy one. So this is one way that you're limiting things, because you're making him feel obligated to jump through more and more hoops to propose.
I think if you really want to be married, then you will propose. It's nontraditional, but then again so is your relationship. You don't need some flashy, overpriced diamond ring or a fairytale wedding. All you need to do is ask and sign a piece of paper. Maybe instead of wanting him to sacrifice his hobby to buy you a ring and afford a fancy wedding, you could sacrifice your own fantasies of these things to marry the man you love.
I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but I just wanted to convey that you also have power in this situation. You don't have to wait around forever for him. I think for him, it's probably just getting harder and harder to propose, because the longer he waits, the more perfect it "has" to be in his mind and the more intimidated he feels. You can change that!
Nobody wants to feel like they're dragging a man down the aisle. And truthfully, if it meant much to him...he'd forego some of that hobby stuff and save up for a ring for you. What gets me is that he had to check with his friends to see if your being "put out" was a normal thing or not. He simply couldn't take you at your word.
And that whole "why buy the cow" thing. Why buy the whole pig for just a little sausage? I hate sayings like that.
In all honesty..IF he wants to marry you, wild horses wouldn't be able to stop him. He'd save up for that ring without your having to ask. He'd plan on how he was going to ask you. You wouldn't have to feel like you're dragging him down the aisle. For some men, the "wife" thing is important...others, not so much. I think you've got one of the latter. The biggest issue is that you both seem to want different things. I don't think he understands how important this is to you.
There are benefits to being married. Legal ones. You have NO protection if something were to happen to him, God forbid. Maybe if you help him understand (even though it's unromantic) that you have no legal leg to stand on without being married, it might help. If he were to experience something catastrophic, you couldn't make decisions (medical or otherwise) on his behalf. The ONLY support you would get would be for your children. You won't be entitled to any of his social security. The list goes on and on. But I view marriage as a contract between two people. That's what its' original intention was anyway. A way to secure property between families. The notion of marrying for love is a fairly recent one (within the last coupla hundred years or so).
FWIW, I'm not married. I've done it twice (the last one was over 20 years) and I don't consider myself to be successful at it. I'm in a long term relationship with my SO to whom I am committed with every fiber of my being. I CHOOSE not to marry b/c I don't need the financial security. And if 20 years down the road it turns out that this r-ship isn't successful, then I can walk away (or he can) without the disaster of divorce. JMHO.
I hope you can both resolve this, truly. I used to preach so hard to my daughters (27 and 24, respectively) to not live with a man before marriage. For just this very reason. My 27 yo went ahead and lived with her b/f before they got married, and she had to drag him down the aisle. She left him, and he came running with an engagement ring. I wouldn't advise that. Now they're both miserable.
The ring and fancy wedding... I never wanted an expensive ring or a fancy wedding, that's the thing. The ring I wanted is less than the equivalent of two weeks' wages for him, he could have easily saved up for it several times over by now... but hasn't. In my eyes I don't want a ring as a material possession, but something which symbolises *that* commitment between me and him.
The issue about legal standing should something happen is one I have thought about; he says I'm being morbid. He understands but doesn't seem to place any relevance on it, he says if anything did happen then me and his mum get on sufficiently well for him to know that she wouldn't be awkward with any of his affairs, but I explained it would be quite humiliating to me to have to come second behind his mother when I'm the one he lives with and am the mother of his children He then says people don't get married because of what would happen when they die...
I do wish I hadn't gone the path of having children and living with him before being married, and feel I'm stuck in a place I wish I weren't because I have no leverage. I'm not sure where I go from here.
He's avoiding the issue by saying that it's morbid to talk about those things. It's reality. Things happen. And to leave you beholden to his mother..not right. He doesn't know that she won't change towards you if he's not there. She might also use "helping" you as leverage to get her way. Nope..too much room for disaster here.
Since he won't marry, then you have to do the things a single person would do to protect themselves. Plan for your future. Get an education, so you can support your children. SAVE MONEY. That is the biggest thing a woman can do for herself. SAVE MONEY. Anyone can sock away $10 out of the weekly grocery budget. He is right that people don't get married because of what would happen when they die...but if he were thinking rationally and truly wanted to protect the mother of his children, he'd think a little harder.
I do believe that marrying him would be a mistake. He simply sounds as though he's dead set against it. That is why I would prepare for MY future. With or without him.
Please don't get your hopes up expecting anything from him. If you don't have any expectations, you won't be disappointed. He's pretty much let his feelings be known, accept him at face value. If he does do anything, then it's a wonderful surprise.
But truly...get yourself an education. You have to prepare yourself. And please start socking a little money away. My daughter wanted to leave her husband at one point and come home..with her infant son. I told her she WOULD be expected to get a job, and she WOULD have to put her son in daycare as I'm physically unable to care for a child that small anymore. She would have to manage her money wisely, with the goal towards independence. Moving home wouldn't be a free ride. She chose to stay, b/c she wasn't willing to do the hard work required to live on her own eventually. Again..they're both miserable.
This really does suck, and I feel badly for you. I hope you'll think realisitically about your future and plan for it. With 50% of marriages ending in divorce (not sure what the stats are for folks living together) I firmly believe every woman needs to have an emergency plan. It's unromantic, I know. But real. I hope for the best for you.
major misfit, I appreciate your respectful advice.
Luckily I already have an education, I went to uni when I was younger. I also am in charge of our finances and do save money, the majority of it is actually 'mine' although I consider it to be 'ours' within our relationship; it was given to me related to something from before we met.
As I have never met anyone I wanted to marry before, I never really understood the idea of not living together prior to getting married. I do now! I mean, I consider myself to be intelligent and worldly, and have no problems with people living together and not being married, but with the benefit of hindsight I wouldn't have planned things to happen like this (our oldest was a happy 'accident'!)
He had a recent spell in hospital, and when he was being admitted, the nurse asked who his next of kin was. He relayed this to me afterwards, and said he said it was me, but wasn't sure who was legally. His mum was with him (I was at home with the children) and says his mum gave him a 'look', he seemed to think she expected him to say it was her.
I do not worry about managing on my own - I have two older children and broke up with their father when the youngest was a baby, I worked to support us then and I would do it again once the baby is a little older if it was needed.
I COULD propose; however, I know I want us to get married. I just don't know how much he does. IMO if I left things as they were, and didn't take any action either way, we would mosey along into the sunset for the rest of our lives and never end up getting married. If I took the steps and arranged a wedding, my intuition tells me he would happily enough get married. I just honestly don't think he would get me a ring himself, arrange anything himself, off his own back.
The sad thing is that I remember how proud he used to be of us being together, the effort he used to put into our relationship; back then I would have put money on if he did propose, he would want it to be a big thing he did and it meaning the world to him. Now, to him, he has said there are other more pressing things (mentioning rightly looking after the children) which is honorable but I do have a relationship with him as well as us being parents together - I hope that makes sense - I don't mean at all to devalue how good a dad he is or how important the children are to us, but mean that we also have a relationship between us two that is important.
I would like to applaud his consideration of the children..but I don't believe a man (or a woman, for the matter) should get kudos for doing what's right involving their children. It's what GOOD parents do.
He sounds like he's put the relationship on the back burner. More of a daddy than a partner. Am I correct? He's happily traipsing along, status quo, and he's happy enough with things as they are. He's forgotten to nurture and nourish the relationship between you two. It's kinda like "I'm good, why aren't you"?
Ordinarily I would never advise this...but this seems very important to you, and you did say that he'd likely happily get married if you set about to planning everything. So that's exactly what I'd do. I would plan a simple wedding and go get my ring. I would handle all aspects of this wedding, and not ask for input from him. Again..I usually would never tell someone to do this..but it's very important to you and it doesn't sound like he's OPPOSED to getting married. He's just apathetic when it comes to marriage. So you take the bull by the horns, tuck away your pride, and set forth to marry the man. Plan a romantic night, and ask him to marry you. Put the question in a fortune cookie. I don't know..something. It requires a yes or no answer, and no further discussion is needed. Don't ask him if he's sure he REALLY wants to do this (if he says yes). Just go with it.
This way, your future and that of your children are protected. YOU are protected. He doesn't sound like a bad guy, just a little oblivious. If it's no big deal if you don't get married, it's no big deal if you DO. So jump in there and just do it. In all honesty, and if it was THAT important to me, and I really believed he was not firmly dead set opposed against it, that is exactly what I would do.
BTW..his mother is his legal next of kin, barring any adult children. And yours are little, so that leaves mom with the "title".
My SO and I have each others' powers of attorney..this way I can make legal decisions should he become incapacitated, and can issue medical directives. His mother would be faster to "pull the plug" than he's comfortable with, lol.
Good luck, and I hope you'll keep us posted with whatever decision you decide to make. You both sound like nice people, with little kids who deserve to have a happy future.
Applepie, I hadn't thought of it in that sense. I agree with that perspective, the only trouble is that he didn't have that from his parents when growing up which I think is part of the problem - I can see he likes the idea of marriage but has trouble with how it works in practice, understandably so as his father wasn't a good role model or even around much.
major misfit, you are EXACTLY right in saying the relationship is on the back burner. He often wonders why I'm not happy with things how they are. I know from past experience how important it is to nurture and work at a relationship; he on the other hand thinks when two people have that spark, and love each other, they shouldn't have to "work" at it, it just happens. He was very attentive in the "honeymoon" period, that seems to have eased off now.
I am guilty of not trying as hard; difficult to do so anyway with small children to look after, but a lot of my efforts were rebuffed and sad to say, I stopped trying as much because I was fed up of him not being terribly bothered. Odd really because he shows his affection in practical ways; for example I was really tired today and had some stuff to do after the kids' bedtime, said I felt that sometimes the day never ended, and when I was putting the baby to bed, unbeknownst to me, he was tidying up and doing the jobs he knew I was going to do and hadn't had time to do whilst he was at work, even though I know he was tired. Things that make my day easier.
He *is* a little oblivious to this though I like the idea of me taking the reins, but crazy as it may sound, I don't know how he'd react to me buying a ring because he's quite traditional and feels things like proposing and buying rings are a man's job, which is fine with me, I just wish he'd take on those jobs!
Maybe if you set up that romantic dinner (will his mother babysit????) and fix all his favorite foods, and ASK him to marry you...if he agrees maybe he'll take the initiative and get that ring? You already know you're not going to get the proposal, you're a modern woman in the 21st century just doin' what a girl's gotta do.
I wasn't too sure how I felt about the love languages thing that everyone talks about, even after my SO and I both took the test. Interestingly enough, my love language is acts of service. You don't gotta compliment me, you don't gotta smooch on me all the time, you don't gotta buy me anything...just empty the dishwasher or scrub the toilet. My SO's is physical touch, with quality time a close second. I have to make a conscious effort every day to make sure that I give him the touchy-feely, kissy-huggy (not sexual in nature) stuff he needs. I make a conscious effort to snuggle up next to him on the couch while he's enjoying "Hell's Kitchen". (you get my point). These aren't things that come natural to me...I have to ACTIVELY THINK about them.
I don't know how you could get through your sweetie to get him to nurture your relationship better. There are tons of books, websites, etc. to help couples along with this. I'm not big on the self-help stuff, (I need too much work on myself, lol) so my knowledge of what's available is limited. There's the old die-hard...talking...but he seems a little hard to get through to.
I can tell you this much...the more time you spend with JUST each other, the easier the conversation comes when talking about your relationship. There's a lot to be said for friday night date night. I've read, and heard it said..that the more you give, the more you get in return. I haven't found that to be necessarily true..I think it depends on the person.
If he's happily ensconsed in his world as it is, shake it up a little. I think you're going to have to be the one to take the initiative. Make arrangements for a babysitter..make dinner reservations..and when he comes home, have on an outfit that even he can't say no to. Oh..one little hint..if you have some reading material that you'd like him to take a look at, leave it by the toilet. I know that sounds totally nuts, but it has worked on more than one occasion. Sometimes men will read *anything* out of desperation.
I really do wish you the best on this. I hope soon you're posting about your upcoming wedding!
I agree with major misfit’s plan to have a simple wedding. I agree that he might not want to get married enough to actually propose and plan it, but he’s not opposed to it either.
He is happy the way things are, would be happy to stay that way, and probably would be happy to get married if it didn’t take a lot of effort. He’s probably just neutral, and wanting him to care makes sense, but unfortunately that might not change his mind.
You said that he’s very traditional? Maybe you could still let him buy the ring for you after you were already married or after you’d proposed. You don’t have to buy yourself a ring without his input; you could propose to him, have a simple ceremony or go to a Judge (Justice of the Peace?) to get the legal documents taken care of. THEN you can go ring shopping together--that way it would be more fun and less pressure--you’d already be married so he wouldn’t have to worry about all the details. It could just be a fun time for the two of you to pick something nice to symbolize your union. Just another idea.
I really do believe that your boyfriend is a solid guy and committed to you. I hope everything goes well for you!
you got some good advice, so just a few thoughts here that occur to me are--
its not a good sign in itself that he told you he does not plan to give you any gift for Christmas...a man who loves you would not even consider not giving you a gift...is that really how you deserve to be treated?
the ring? he spends money on his hobby, but cant be bothered to get you a ring? there is somthing wrong with that picture,
dont mean to bumm you out, but it doesnt sound right
i believe this is headed to a worse off place, if it continues to stay like this-- you have the value of marriage, you keep wanting to be validated which is understandable, you want the real adult comitment of marriage, not playing house..also the legal stuff, how sad that legally your not considered the next of kin..that sucks imo
you guys might get along for a time but if he continues to traipse along, with you being upset about marriage, it will all blow up
tell him you do not need a fancy ring, express to him that your hurt that he manages to put money to his hobby but doesnt seem to be able to do so for a ring.
he will continue to as you put it, mosey along into the sunset, without any commitment, unless you bring it to some type of line in the sand..
tell him this is a huge step, but imo, if i were you, i would let him know you can no longer live with him, and you guys can go to a justice of the peace to get married...if he isnt willing to do that, i think you shouldnt continue to let him play house
I do have moments of feeling bitter. We have talked about it a number of times, and I think it would be accurate to say that no, he is not averse per se to the idea of getting married on the whole - although I do wonder sometimes - but he simply does not either prioritise it in his thoughts or actions or currently place any relevance on it related to our lives. Ie it's just a concept to him at the mo, he has no desire or drive to get me an engagement ring or start planning a wedding.
The problem I have is deciding if his lack of motivation will continue long enough for me to consider it a serious issue. Will anything change for him? I don't know. I can't SEE things changing in the foreseeable future and that is where I find myself - I suppose saying that why doesn't he prioritise it or why aren't I important enough for him to be doing these things? Or is it just his way?
It MIGHT just be his way. It MIGHT just not be that big of deal to him. Maybe he can take it or leave it.
laelsmom...I take umbrage to the "playing house" remark. I know a lot of married people who don't fall into the "real adult" category. My SO and I are just as committed as some, and more committed than others (who are married)to our relationship. I view marriage as a CONTRACT between two people. Two people sign on the dotted line, and the papers are filed in the courthouse. You need a lawyer and a judge's decree to break that contract. People get married because they're supposedly "in love". I don't need a contract to declare to the world I love the man I'm with. I have no need for that contract, as I'm financially independent of him, we have no children together (nor will we have any), and all of the legal "stuff" is taken care of anyway. We are FAR from "playing house", and I don't understand why people still have that antiquated notion of those who make a conscious choice to NOT marry.
My SO would marry me tomorrow (his words, not mine). I wear a ring...it has no significance except to tell the world (not that it's necessary) that I have made a commitment. There would be some legal issues (just like married people) because we've taken steps to safeguard some things.
So..I'm not "playing house". Maybe I'm a bit more logical in my thinking than that of a younger person..but I've been there, done that..and don't feel it necessary to do it again. One could make the argument that since we've taken legal steps, share a deed, etc., why not just go ahead and get married? I don't need to, I don't want to, it's not a big deal to the man I share my life with. Simple.
tobio...you can't make something important to your b/f that just isn't. You can't make him feel a priority he doesn't feel. You COULD draw that "line in the sand", but that's issuing an ultimatum and they usually backfire. Please don't back him into a corner by issuing an ultimatum. UNLESS you want to end this relationship and find someone who feels marriage IS important, AND a priority. And you're well within your rights to do so.
The argument could be made that your not proposing to him smacks of lack of motivation. From a traditional standpoint, it's the man that does the ring shopping and proposing. That is a purely TRADITIONAL standpoint. And there's nothing wrong with tradition, if that's how you view things.
I'd like to know...do you feel "important" to him in other aspects of your relationship? Is it only this area that makes you feel unimportant? Is he nurturing and caring, does he have your back in a tough situation? Do you fear him cutting and running if a serious issue were to hit? Is he a good father? If you were to take the marriage issue off the table...do you feel like you're a priority in the rest of the areas? The issue of marriage isn't on the table in my r-ship...and I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that I'm the number one priority in my SO's life. Do you feel the same way?
For the record, I think the man should marry you. Y'all are young with a young family. You've got a long way to go in this life. So give me his number, and I'll call him and ask him why the hell he doesn't get off his apathetic ass and get married already! I'm KIDDING!!!!!!!!!