I am 31 and divorced. I have dated Shaun for a year and a half. I love him a lot. He is sweet and funny and attentive, and he seems to care for me a great deal. We spend almost every night together, and he has invited me to family occasions like weddings and Christmas.
I’m afraid, however, that Shaun has a fear of commitment he will never grow out of. Since I am 31 and would like to have a family, I don’t feel I have the luxury of time.
Shaun is 34, never been married or engaged. Until last month he was very firm that, despite his many relationships (he has dated a lot of women, usually for around a year) he has never been in love. He told me he believed love is like a lightning bolt that would suddenly strike and change his life forever.
He acknowledges his opinion of love may be romanticized, but it truly is the way he feels. When I pressed him, he said after a year with me and no lightning bolt, it would probably never happen.
Suddenly last month he said he loved me. I have my suspicions his statement was caused by a fear I was going to end the relationship. I don’t have real confidence that he really loves me, as he defines the word. By the way, since he said “I love you” last month, he hasn’t said it again.
Shaun’s told me he thinks marriage is a huge sacrifice and a big adjustment. He insists he wants to be married and have a family sometime, but he has some “growing up” to do first. He says if it weren’t for the pressure he feels from me to make a commitment, he wouldn’t consider marriage for at least another two years.
I love him but fear I might be pushing him into something he is not ready for. My fear is, if we marry under these conditions, he will eventually resent me for “forcing” him into marriage.
I already had one marriage end. I don’t want to be divorced again. If I had confidence he truly loved me and wanted to marry, I would marry him tomorrow without a second thought. But I have so many nagging doubts.
Kara, we give you credit for not letting the plans you have for your own life, override the foundation it needs to be built on. But every day you went down the road with him not saying “I love you” put you in this position.
You are an experienced, adult, smart woman. You are too emotionally savvy to delude yourself into thinking that marrying a man who doesn’t want to marry you will end well.
Shaun says he hasn’t grown up yet, and it will be at least two years before he would consider marriage. That’s just kicking the can down the road. How can he estimate when he will be grown up?
He’s dated a lot, so the issue is him. He enjoys the benefits of a long-term relationship, but like a man who wants a new car every year, that’s what he enjoys more. Though he has had your model longer than most, he hasn’t closed the door on getting next year’s model.
A pressured marriage proposal has as much sincerity as a forced apology. We always say, if you have to ultimatum the other party, the relationship is over. Why? Because what you will initially be thrilled to have, once you realize it wasn’t given freely, that will be all you can see.
That will always loom over the relationship. You may love and care about him, but one-sided love is imperfect. To be perfect, to last a lifetime, it must be mutual.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of January 14, 2019
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Wayne & Tamara answer as many letters as they possibly can.