Dear Carolyn: I’ve been with a wonderful man for two years. We’ve discussed at length spending the rest of our lives together, including our thoughts on money, raising kids, our careers, and working to fix problems that arise in our relationship instead of quitting.
He has told me that actually getting married is not important to him and that our commitment is the same regardless. I greatly value marriage as a sacrament, and he said he was fine with getting married. This was a few months ago.
Last week he took me engagement-ring shopping, and told me a few days later that he was scared because it was hitting home, and he isn’t sure he is “cut out” for marriage.I love this man, and I believe he will be a great husband and father. Is there a way I can help him reach that conclusion? He is averse to counseling in general, although I haven’t suggested it yet for this issue.
Maybe Hearing Bells?
Interesting how you’ve put yourselves in different versions of the same position: The (well-meaning) lies you’ve told yourselves are both coming due.
His is that the commitment is the same whether you’re married or not. If the two were truly the same, then formalizing the commitment with marriage vows wouldn’t be an issue.
Yours is that you’ve decided “beyond a doubt” that you want to be with him. If that were true, then skipping formal marriage vows wouldn’t be an issue.
Both of you need to decide which you believe in more — each other, or your opinions of marriage.
There are ways to “help him reach that conclusion” you so badly want, but please avoid that route. Instead, I urge you to concentrate on reconciling your own contradictions. Consider taking time apart to do that. Not only will that allow you to measure each other’s presence through absence, but it also will remove the temptation to look to each other for answers.
If that brings you together, great, but still consider a pre-marriage class.