I am 28 years old and have been in a relationship for three years with my partner, who is much older – and I am very much in love with him. From the beginning of our relationship, I knew that he was not in favor of marriage, but I had hoped that over time he would change, that if he sees that our relationship is as he dreams it, he will understand that we are made for each other and will want to get married and start a family. He also gave me hope in this, because at some point after that he stopped being completely negative about it and said to me, “maybe later” or “we will see in the future.” My problem is that my own family is very conservative – they raised us with strict principles and they push me in every way to formalize our relationship. Even though I change the subject every time they start a conversation about it, I know deep down they are right and that I too would love to become engaged and get married. And what has made things worse was that a few days ago we thought I might be pregnant and in the conversation we had he more or less told me that he would recognize the child but there is no way we could get married. I did not expect that. Is it ultimately better to split up now and find a man who wants the same things I do? But how can I leave this man I love so much? Is there a way to change his mind? I do not really know what to do and I would like your opinion.
Dear Maria P.
There are many reasons why one wants to get married – or not. Many times these reasons have to do with previous experiences or the way one has grown up. For some, marriage is just a contract, a formal commitment, and for others it is a necessary condition for personal happiness and fulfillment.
It might be a basic condition for a relationship to evolve and be maintained over time is, in addition to love, mutual respect, meaningful communication, in addition to a common attitude, common values, common dreams and goals. Even when emotions are strong on both sides, a relationship will not move forward if everyone’s worldview and aspirations are different.
Something similar may be happening in your case. You started a relationship with a partner who from the beginning stated that he does not want to get married in the hope of convincing him that he is wrong. For him, however, the fact that you continued the relationship with him despite the fact that he clarified his intentions to you may mean agreement and acceptance of his position. So, maybe from the beginning of your relationship there was a problem in communication, which may have been tacitly covered up by both parties for different reasons.
The first thing that might be good to do is to have an honest conversation with yourself about the reasons you want to marry this person. How exactly do you feel about your partner, how is your daily life with him, in what ways does he show you his love, and how safe do you feel in this relationship?
If your feelings for your partner are really as strong as his and you believe that he is the man of your dreams, on a second level it would be good to look for the reasons why you would not continue a lifelong relationship outside the framework of marriage. For what reasons, if everything in your relationship is as you have dreamed, you do not want to continue this relationship anyway, because you consider marriage a necessary condition for your happiness? Does it have to do with the way you look at life or does it have to do with what your immediate family environment tells you to do? That way, you can better understand whether or not you should stay in this relationship.
The point is not to change your partner’s mind but to communicate needs and desires to each other honestly. Only then will you understand what is best for both of you.
Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional Life Coach, ICF ACC, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor and Trainer, and Certified Points of You Practitioner.