Love Letters: Should I Give Up on Marriage?

Hi Mere!

I have been with "Dave" for 3 years now, living together for 2 1/2 and very happy. We have had our ups and downs but we are both happy.

Now here is the issue: I want to get married. Not in a hurry, but eventually want that form of commitment from him. I am 27 years old, from a large Irish-Catholic family/background, so growing up, marriage seemed like a natural next step. Now I am well aware that marriages don't always turn out happily ever after and many people live their lives with their partner happily. That being said, I'd still like to be married ... not to just anyone, but to Dave.

Dave does not share my viewpoint. He's 37 and feels that weddings are too much hassle and that "you don't need a piece of paper to be happy and to show commitment." I believe that his experience with his parents may have something to do with this. (He’s an only child, parents still married but fought a lot. They admitted that they stayed married for him when he was young. They are still together and happier form what I've been told.) I come from a family of divorce and still think that with work and love, a marriage can work.

I have told him what I want and he's still very hesitant ... flip flopping between not being financially ready and not needing the piece of paper. I am torn. I want to spend my life with him (not just anyone, so please no one think that I am just looking for a ring), but I want a marriage and I need this piece of paper, I guess. I'm at the point where I'm being asked on a daily basis when I'm getting engaged and it's weighing on me. Should I just give up and be unmarried with the love of my life or should I make it clear what I want out of life and not compromise? Am I being selfish in wanting more? Should I accept that I will have a permanent boyfriend?

Thanks for everyone’s help!

– Always the Girlfriend, Worcester

It's OK to want the piece of paper. If the legal document is something you need, you must talk to your boyfriend about a compromise. Maybe he'd be open to marriage if you skip the big wedding. Would you elope? Is there a way to remove the financial pressure from the request?

It sounds like you haven't articulated why you need the piece of paper (beyond the family obligation stuff) and how a marriage might change the relationship. Perhaps you should sit down with your boyfriend (yes, again) and talk about where you'd like to be in five years. Does he anticipate that you'll still be together? With a family? If so, how would marriage help/change that experience?

This doesn't seem to be about "ring watch." And it shouldn't be about people asking you when you're getting engaged (please tell them to mind their own business). Marriage is about living and planning as a team. So ask your boyfriend: What is the plan? And more importantly, what is the compromise?

Readers? Should she just live with him without the paper? Should she leave if he doesn't want to get married? Is there a compromise? Why is he so opposed to this?

– Meredith