O ne of the most popular questions our women readers often raise with us is how long should she hang around a guy that she’s been in a relationship with for years, before he pops “the question”?
Frankly, we don’t actually know!
A one-size-fits-all time frame doesn’t exist. People enter into relationships at different ages and stages in their lives. However, evaluating how well you know your partner, your relationship direction, what you’re expecting marriage will do to your relationship, and what you see as the current and anticipated quality of a relationship could be more useful ways to judge if it’s truly time to take the plunge.
Personally, we got married 10 months after meeting for the first time. And by God’s grace, it’s now 14 years of marriage. You see, personally we don’t believe in long drawn-out dating relationships that have no aim of marriage in sight. Dating has to have marriage as a purpose.
However, we also know of couples that are happily married, and have dated for say, more than 10 years. Your attitude and willingness to put in the work makes a big chunk of difference.
Hence, before we even get into the possible reasons why he won’t propose, we advise that you get the actual reasons of his comfortability with the status quo from him by having a good-old chat. You can’t be in a relationship with opposing objectives. That is called, division, when you have di or two visions while in the same relationship.
I ndeed, years of relationship without clarity on whether it will ever graduate to marriage when you in fact want to be married, presents with problems. But instead of focusing on how long you’ve been dating, we advise that you first evaluate whether your head and heart are in the right space by considering the following five questions.
How important is marriage to you?
If you managed to be with each other for whatever number of years without being married, can you accept your relationship as is and remove the expectation of marriage? If not, how willing are you to taking a stand for what you want? Are you willing to give up the relationship and pursue your desire with someone else with-whom you share a value-system?
Do you view marriage as a relationship reboot?
Your wedding might be magical, but becoming married isn’t a magical experience that will instantly transform an unstable, unhealthy relationship into a stable and healthy one. Whatever your boyfriend is today while you guys are single, he will be – and perhaps even more – when you’re married. The wedding ring doesn’t have a magic wand to make you someone you’re not while you were single. Marriage is not a rebooting process.
Do you think you’ll be happier when married?
Marriage is incapable of making anyone happy. You bring happiness into marriage, but you don’t get it as a result of being married. Expected future satisfaction translates to current relationship reality. That means doing the necessary relationship work today and more intensely during the marriage. It also means loving and appreciating yourself, thereby being secured in who you are and needing no one to make you happy before you actually get married. Happiness is what each of you should bring to the table after the wedding, so you don’t burden your spouse with unfair expectations of making you happy – something neither of you are purposed to do in marriage.
Do you expect that things will be different in marriage?
Before you get married, consider how your relationship typically operates. Are you a low or high-conflict couple? Countering the idea that marriage launches new experiences that introduce declines in satisfaction, we’ve often found that what happens early in a couple’s time together tends to happen later too.
What do you think are the issues that might be holding him back?
Was marriage ever a subject when you began the relationship? Does he want to get married? If so, there certainly are issues that are making him to either rule marriage out or shelve it. Are these worth addressing, accepting, or rejecting? Is the timing an issue?
There are many possibilities why he’s comfortable with just a dating relationship with you, and we won’t go to details. It may be that he’s not ready, either due to other responsibilities or simply isn’t yet where he’d like to be in life. It could be that he feels he needs to have his character at a certain level first before tying himself to someone else in marriage.
Some guys won’t propose because he feels you’re not “the one”. Sorry it’s true. He could still be with you only because he actually likes you and has grown accustomed to your company, but that doesn’t mean he wants to marry you. He may actually be stringing you along until he meets “the one”. Of course there may be something wrong you’re doing – in your character and behaviour, but you may also be doing everything right.
It’s also possible that due to the fact that you’re perhaps already staying with him, just like a married woman does, he sees no need to marry you. He already has all the benefits of a married man, so why should he “complicate” things by formalizing the relationship into a long-term commitment. Who needs a cow, when you can get the milk without owning one?