Five years, and he STILL won’t pop the question

Five years, and he STILL won’t pop the question

he-wont-pop-the-questionMy live-in lover and I have been going steady for 5 years now, and I consider our relationship worthy of knot-tying to seal the deal. He considers us practically a married couple anyway, and has no desire to walk me down the aisle. Any time I bring up the subject, he says I’m putting pressure on him. We are both of marital age, and I feel this is an important direction towards our future together. Should I be concerned about marriage, or is it a dying tradition? Persephone

There’s practically a married couple and then there’s an actual married couple and for some the difference is a huge, aching gulf. It can really create heaps of tension in an otherwise perfectly fine relationship. For lots of women (and men, mind you) making it official is a really important deal and something they take very seriously in terms of their relationship status. Fair enough. Other’s couldn’t give a flaming toss, and are quite happy living in sin with a couple of rug rats and a mortgage and a feeling of commitment that a piece of paper couldn’t add to. Fair enough too.

Sadly, many couples are split on which camp they’re in. Plenty of blokes don’t see the big rush to the altar a necessity if they’re already living the life of a married man. I often feel like bopping these men on the head, but that’s their position and they’re entitled to it. Problem is, this casual attitude can cause some pretty major friction if the lady of the house wants her wedding, tiered cake and her sparkly Tiffany ring. She’s earned it, is of marrying age, etc.

You’ve got several choices here as I see it.

A. Hassle him relentlessly until he begrudgingly walks you down the aisle so he can go back to watching the footy in peace. Not a great start to married life, but it can work.

B. Try to place much less importance on marriage that you do on creating a harmonious living space, planning a family (if that’s your bag) saving for a house, trip, car, renos. In short, act like a married couple. Hell – people won’t even notice after a while. You could even buy yourself a ring.

C. Drug him to the eyeballs, put him in a tux and marry him Weekend at Bernie’s style.

D. Sorry, that last one might be illegal.

E. Pop the question yourself. Hey, that’ll switch things up!

We really do see your frustration, but weddings (lovely as they are) aren’t nearly as important as day to day love and seeing your future together as long and happy, no matter what your marital status. If you can’t talk him round, don’t let it eat you (or your relationship) up.

Love, reality chick

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Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Bubble Girl 9 years ago

    I agree that marriage is not the be all and end all. But what would worry me is that he is unable to even talk about getting married – especially as you are 5 years into the relationship.

    I myself used to be the kind of girl who believed that living together was as much as a commitment as being married – my ex and I were together for 7 years and had a house, a car, a dog, mutual friends . . . the works. I couldn’t have been any more committed to him if I tried. But he couldn’t even discuss the idea of marriage and you know what happened at the 7 year mark? In an off-hand remark I asked him if I was the love of his life and he replied “I don’t know”. Then it all came out that he wasn’t as committed in his head (and heart) as I was. There was an “extra step” that he couldn’t or didn’t want to take with me, but at the same time, he didn’t want to necessarily end it – it was comfortable for him.

    When I met my current partner, there were never any issues about discussing marriage – even in the beginning. And even though it took us 4 1/2 years (we were engaged for 18 months of that) to walk down the aisle, I knew then that we were in step together. And it wasn’t for me about the wedding, or being “married” – it was about standing up in front of our friends and family and saying publicly (and legally) that we love each other, we are together and we intend to stay together.

    After 5 years you should be able to at least discuss marriage without him freaking out – I think that is a reasonable expectation. And while you certainly don’t want to be “pressuring” him into doing something he doesn’t want to do, you also need to know, without a doubt, that he is capable of making that commitment to you – if not, he needs to be honest so that you can make informed decisions about whether you compromise your wants and needs and stay, or cut your losses and find someone who is able to give you the commitment you deserve.

    Big hugs, Bubble Girl x

    • k 8 years ago

      Better advice than the columnist.

  2. Melanie 9 years ago

    Many couples now have different priorities other than getting married, for example going travelling, saving for a car or buying a home.

    Many relationships break down because of financial arguments, so perhaps saving towards financial investments and then getting married is a feasible and problem solving solution? After all it is both of your futures, so making it a stable one might be the answer?

    We wrote a blog looking at the cost of a wedding in comparison to other expenses which might explain the reason behind avoiding marriage:

  3. Kitty 9 years ago

    I have a toddler & a shared house and nearly six years with my partner. Its taken some time but I’m finally okay with not also having a ring. It was a problem for me not to have that validation of our committment and love but a few months ago I decided if I really wanted to I could propose and so far, I haven’t felt like it. We have lots of other priorities- including raising our child & buying a family home. maybe next year!

  4. Persephone 9 years ago

    Polly you’re exactly right! You should be writing the column! Thanks for all of the advice 🙂

  5. Ok here we go, another great post from the RC I can relate to! I’m 28, mister Slimalicious is 33 (it’s his birthday today!). We’ve been together for 5 years and 4 months!
    We often talk about wedding stuff and babies. In France not many people get married anymore and it’s very common to have kids without being married. My parents have never asked me if I was going to marry Mr Slimalicious, and I’m lucky to have no pressure. Mr S is more traditional than I am, so is his family. I still want to marry him (mostly for the celebration of our love with our family) but it’s no big deal. What matters to me is having children with him, because THAT IS A COMMITMENT.

  6. Persephone 9 years ago

    I definitely don’t want to come across as desperate to marry. I certainly don’t nag my lover about this, and would never pressure him into anything. From time to time, I do throw it into the conversation, much to his distress! I love him enough to marry him – meaning I would never call off the relationship because he doesn’t want to walk down the aisle. However I don’t like the way he dictates whether I will or won’t ever get married, if that makes sense.
    Perhaps I should have listened to my wise friend who said “Why would he buy the cow, when he gets the milk for free”.

    • polly 9 years ago

      That’s what I was getting at – it grates when the guy (meaning guys in general) gets to dictate what you do as a couple, whether that’s walk down the aisle or have kids or whatever.

      The problem is I think so many of us don’t discuss expectations – BIG expectations like these – early enough. The relationship just rolls on for years and we think all those things will happen naturally and sometimes when you think, ‘hey, um, why hasn’t that happened?’ and you push, you realise the other person just doesn’t have the same values as you do, or want the same things, which is a fucking tragedy when you’re in love and have all this history and whatever – especially if it’s important to you and you always just thought it’d happen.

      If you love him and know you can give up the ‘marriage dream’ (ha) without too much worry then that’s great. But if you are always going to have a little niggle about how he got to dictate whether or not you walked down the aisle as a couple, then that’s a bit sucky. After all it’s give and take and compromise, right?

  7. nuta 9 years ago

    I am in the same boat- but worse- a 6 year relationship. It is a big deal when you’re in your late 30s like me & wanting to have a child. My clock is ticking! I am thinking of getting out of this relationship.

  8. polly 9 years ago

    But come on, after five years surely the guy knows whether he wants to spend his life with her? I think the whole ‘don’t pressure me’ line is bullshit.

    It’s hard when you feel like someone else is dictating the path of your life, and you love them, and don’t want to lose them, but are faced with that prospect if you say, ‘Um, this isn’t where I envisaged us five years in’.

    Persephone, if you love the guy and know you can put the marriage thing to one side – regardless of whether you EVER get married – sure, stick around. But if you’ll always feel a little crap that you had to give up on something that was important to you, and that he knew it was important to you, considered you ‘already practically married’ yet STILL wouldn’t consider it, move on outta what will become a big old tub of resentment soup.

  9. bron 9 years ago

    I’m sorry but why so desperate to marry? If the relationship is working why do you need that piece of paper? Why so desperate to marry someone who clearly isn’t ready?

    Marriage is a mutual decision. If he’s not ready and feels forced into asking you, he will resent you and it’s not going to work.

    Give him time. Give yourself time.

    Marriage is not a big deal.

    • Lola 9 years ago

      As usual, Bron, you’re a fountain of wisdom! I was “forced” to have a church wedding the first time around, and resented it bitterly. I’d say, Persephone, that you’re no cow and you don’t give away milk, but probably need to pop the question yourself. Best of luck, and remember that weddings and marriage are overrated, whereas happiness and/or contentment in any way, shape of form, will bring the cows home – or better say will have a wonderful and lasting effect on everything you do, on your own and as a couple.

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