My brother recently got married, and the guys got together for some “male bonding.” After a few too many, the gathering turned into a contentious debate, led by the single men, directed at the already married fellas about “how we got lucky” finding the right women. When I responded back, especially asking the single brothas who came with women they appeared to be in committed relationships with, “why haven’t you asked her to marry you yet?” I got some fascinating, and very real, answers. Here are what I heard to be the top 10 reasons he hasn’t asked you to marry him.
You live together. You have children. You share bills. You cook, clean and wash clothes. Sometimes people even assume you are married although he still tells people you’re his girlfriend. You have essentially taken on traditional wife duties without the title. Why should he get married?
I’m very serious about this. Many guys, early in the relationship, have straight up said they don’t want to get married. He said something like: "Marriage ain't for everyone!" or "My parents weren't married and I’m doing well!" Or maybe even, "No, Jennifer, I’m not interested in marrying you." But you persisted, thinking you would be the one to change him. Please keep in mind that no amount of love can make someone do something they don’t want to do.
I’ve noticed that as men get older, we become more analytical about a woman’s worth. (But get this, not simply her value but her “relative value”.) The guys I know are constantly making subconscious calculations about what’s being offered versus what it’s going to cost them. Do you have excessive debt, several children (not his) or other responsibilities he doesn’t want? Bottom line, most men “hold on an average hand” and only marry when the perception is we’re gaining an asset.
I hadn’t heard this expression before but once explained, I got it. Think “good time girl.” If you always get the call to hang out with him and his boys, or to accompany him on the business trip to a fun city but you don’t get the invite to any company events or family gatherings, he’s basically saying, we can have a good time together but it stops there.
If he grew up in a household with mama or grandma (or big sis, auntie, etc.) at the helm, chances are, no matter his age, those “other” women carry heavy influence on his decisions. If his family doesn’t like you — especially if as a collective they don’t think highly of you — that alone could permanently keep you in girlfriend zone.
I hate to say this so bluntly, but there is no other way to explain it. If your words or actions create constant irritation, there is no way he's going to want to bond with you for life.
You came into the relationship saying you have rules and standards. He then broke every rule and you lowered your standards to accommodate being with him. Even worse, you never enforced anything you originally claimed you would. At this point, you have created bully material, not husband material.
He’s cool with calling you his girl, truly loves you and desires to spend the remainder of his days on this earth with you, however, the discussion of marriage is taking it to a level he is psychologically uncomfortable with. Commitment phobia is a real issue I’ve seen impact many men, especially those with a history of losing a loved one early in life. I’ve only seen this cured with counseling or therapy.
Everyone on this earth wants to feel like they matter. The key ingredient in a relationship is taking that thought a step further and knowing that you matter to your partner. If he doesn’t feel like you need him for anything, why would he marry you?
Getting married is serious business. I applaud those who take time to assess not only if their partner is a good fit, but also if they are mature enough for marriage. Studies show that 1 to 2 years is not only adequate, but optimal for, the dating/courting/assessment period. If you’re in a relationship less than two years, it’s very reasonable that he hasn’t yet asked you to marry him. If you’re past the three-year mark in a committed relationship and your partner still is not ready, it’s going to be a gamble to wait. (Note: most gamblers end up broke!)
Let's continue the conversation about love. You can find me on Twitter or Facebook any time. Look out for my new book, It's Complicated (But It Doesn't Have to Be) A Modern Guide to Finding and Keeping Love, in stores this October.