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What makes men decide to get married?

(123 Posts)
JessieMcJessie Tue 22-Jan-13 17:37:57

Any men out there who can speak from experience? Or women whose husbands have explained it to them? What is the trigger between being in love and wanting/hoping it will last forever? I am fed up waiting, I am 100% sure he loves me and can't get enough of me, I make sure he knows I feel the same, we're in our thirties and it's been nearly 2 years.... What can I do to (subtly) tip him over the edge? And please don't say I should ask him, that may work for some people but not for us.

MmBovary Sat 26-Jan-13 10:35:36

OP, I think if you're in really solid relationship, being married or not doesn't make a difference to you as individuals. It makes a difference on a social and legal level, and I think that is very important too.

DH and I lived together and even had our first child before getting married. The relationship didn't change one bit, the problems that we had, we continued having, the happiness that we had, we continued having.

However, if you're going to be taking such a high level of commitment with another person, you might as well have the law behind you to back you up.

In the case of separation, or death, women tend to be very unprotected by the law if they're not married.

We live in a very patriarchal society, and not matter how liberal we are, we have to operate within their laws, otherwise we will lose out badly, and our children too.

You should be able to talk about your partner about this without feeling embarassed.

Katisha Sat 26-Jan-13 10:38:45

It's all very well about being ambivalent about children - I was. But you are at the age where you need to decide NOW. Sadly you don't have the luxury of waiting and seeing how it all goes - he does.

I just don't want you to be in the position in a few years where you can't have children, because you have been waiting for him to take the lead and either a) it dawns on them you wish you had or b) he has gone and had them with someone else.

Lavenderhoney Sat 26-Jan-13 10:51:33

Jessie, i think telling him you would like to be married is a lot different to him knowing you like the idea of it. and I think men are aware women are not fertile for ever, with the publicity about it!

Have you been to any weddings recently or engagement parties where nosy relatives ask you about when you two plan to name the day? If you live abroad you tend to be isolated from old friends who can ask questions as well.

I would be inclined to say are we getting married one day or is living together going to be it? Then you can plan your future and get married or live together and see a solicitor to arrange wills etc.

LadyLapsang Sat 26-Jan-13 15:22:58

OP, I puzzled by your ambivalence towards having children, especially at your age. Ideally do you want children with him or not? I suspect you do. All the women I know who don't want children are very clear on this point and are at pains to tell the guys they date - in fact one of my colleagues split up with her parter because he did want children and she didn't.

If I had to guess what is likely to happen in your situation, I would say you will have a few more years with him, he will get promoted, you may get promoted too. You will both be busy and successful. You will spent quite a lot of time apart because of work. You will then split up. Soon afterwards he will meet a women his own age / younger. They will have a few children together and he may ask her to marry him first (if he thinks she won't have children before getting married or if he thinks he needs to get married to stop someone else nabbing her first). If this were to happen, how would you feel about choosing to delay having children and putting him first for the next few years? If you could honestly envisage that you would say we had a great few years and I don't have any regrets then stay, otherwise go.

With regard to my situation, my DH asked me to marry him because he said I knew you wouldn't be available for long! We were together for about 8 months before he proposed and that was nearly 3 decades ago.

AnuvvaMuvva Sat 26-Jan-13 16:13:36

The age-gap in this relationship isn't very big - it's only 4.5 years. I think the comments like, "he'll marry someone younger!" are a bit... Well, all I mean is that the OP is already feeling she's old at 39, and terrified he'll leave her for someone younger, so I'm worried that comments like those will only make her tighten her grip on him even harder.

Awful to stay with someone because you're suffering from "last man on earth" syndrome.

I'd prefer the OP to wake up and realise that SHE has other options, that she is totally putting her motherhood eggs into this one uncommitted basket, and have the guts to lay it out straight. No trying to be coy and bashful about the M word if you're going to LIVE WITH HIM! So say it straight - are we ever going to get married? And if he hedges and fudges the subject again, leave.

AnuvvaMuvva Sat 26-Jan-13 16:23:17

OP - please have the guts to finish this relationship if it's not heading towards marriage. Marriage, to this man, is what you want. You're not going to be happy living with him, because it'll only make you like him MORE. Men (IME) are opposite: they fall in love during the time they don't see you. When they miss you and can't get enough.

If you want him to want marriage, you have to create a need for it. Living with him takes AWAY the need for marriage, because it provides all the fun bits of marriage (sex, sharing, companionship, convenience, company) with none of the "bad" (financial commitments, divorce proceedings, assumption of duration). It's like renting vs buying.

If you had the courage to ask him flat-out what he envisages for your future, instead of staying in this murky cloud, you'd put yourself in a great position. You'd KNOW what he wanted and could then decide if that matches with what YOU want. And if it didn't, you'd still only be 39, no baggage, no financial commitments to anyone - you'd still be a total catch on the dating market! The longer you stay, the older you'll be when this does come to a head. I'm 41, nearly 42, and I can tell you that that feels a lot older than 39. It hasn't affected my love life (touch wood!) but it has made me see myself as a LOT older.

So... Have The Talk. Do it. If you're scared of what he'll say, that's even more reason to do it! Have some guts! You can't lose. I promise, you can't lose.

AnuvvaMuvva Sat 26-Jan-13 16:24:32

And if he respects you enough to tell you that no, he's not the marriage type, then we'll all be here to comfort you. You're not on your own.

AnuvvaMuvva Sat 26-Jan-13 16:28:45

"Why Men Love Bitches" by sherry Argov deals with this exact situation. She has a script for the talk, and how to handle the aftermath. It's all good.

Please SLAP YOURSELF if you are willing, eyes-open, to put such massively important parts of your own one life -- kids, marriage -- into the hands of this ONE BLOKE, rather than taking any personal responsibility.

How do you think he felt when you told him that your own decision about whether or not you wanted children was HIS choice?! How would you feel if a man said that to you? Really pressured, in some ways, and kind of contemptuous in others, I'd imagine. "My life is in your hands." Eww.

Be someone who knows what they want. Have an opinion, even if (god forbid!) it's different to this bloke's. he's not going to marry a Yes-girl.

LadyLapsang Sat 26-Jan-13 16:54:46

Anuvva, I agree OP does have options, but if she wants children then the reality is on average she doesn't have as much time as he does - simple biology. Much as things are changing, when there is an age gap, the man is likely to be older (obviously not all the time but on average). Of course marriage and children aren't everything and shouldn't be. A good friend of mine met the man of her dreams when it was just too late for children. They are very, very happy together (nearly 20 years on) but by the time they moved in together etc. it was too late for children together. My friend was the one her partner wanted to be with so it was not a problem for him but I just suspect the situation may be different for OP.

ILoveBagels Sat 26-Jan-13 17:41:31

OP, i'm sorry to say that i'm also picking up on something in your posts that says you do want children and you are just trying to convince yourself you dont - because the alternative is the awfulness of breaking up. Please take some time to really evaluate what you want so you know 100% that the choices you are making are right for you. No man is worth living a lie - you will end up despising both him and yourself.

QueenofPlaids Sat 26-Jan-13 18:53:30

I asked DP (dear fiancé I suppose, but I always think DF is 'dear father') and he said he knew within months. We bought a place together which delayed the ring etc. considerably (long story, painful and expensive) but we've always known we're in it for the long run. FWIW we've just it engaged (officially at least) after more than 9 years BUT we've been having dialogue for a long time.

This includes the kids thing because we're pretty much of an age (he is slightly younger).

Can't really fathom how you can move in with someone you can't have an open and honest conversation about the future with tbh confused

rhondajean Sat 26-Jan-13 19:27:27

Thing is, with a lot of men they know pretty quickly. Im sure that statistically you are less likely to be proposed to the longer s relationship goes on for.

Some men just don't want to marry for whatever reason obviously, but personally I don't think two years is a short time. It's certainly long enough to have worked out if you are in for the long haul, and it's definitely enough time for you to have built a relationship that means you can at least both introduce discussions about what you want re marriage.

You need to talk to him, not us!

Anna1976 Sun 27-Jan-13 00:31:55

Find out what he finds really attractive and desirable. If you're not it deep down (or even at the surface), you probably never will be attractive or desirable to him. You will just be convenient.

Speaking as someone who cohabited for >6 years without much discussion; who moved abroad with him, started talking about marriage and kids and discovered he didn't want to get married to me - I would say don't move in with him unless you are damn sure that you are, deep down, what you want and you are what he wants, and that you both want the same thing.

We separated for 4 months, got back together again for all the convenient reasons... and at the first hurdle - it has fallen over again. Because i am not what I want to be, and I am not what he wants.... and no matter how hard I try, I will never be what he wants. Good thing I didn't move back in.

Anna1976 Sun 27-Jan-13 00:34:16

I should add that you shouldn't cohabit unless you are damn sure that he is what you want as well - I was taking that as read. Cohabiting with someone with whom you do not have a damn clear 5-year plan, is a very bad idea.

achillea Sun 27-Jan-13 00:44:24

I wonder if what's happening is that your hormones are kicking in and that your subconscious is telling you that you want to have children. Your conscious mind is slighly obsessing about marriage when your unconscious knows that what will really give you both a future together is having children. Very amateurish late night psychology, I know.

delilah88 Sun 27-Jan-13 10:39:10

I agree with the last poster and in fact was going to say that perhaps you do want children, or at least to be with someone who makes you feel damn sexy and super-wanted in the autumn of your fertility, even if you're not going to act on it. He sounds very ambivalent. My experience of men that age is that they experience time in a very different way to women. He may see himself as extremely young.

I have a friend with a partner like yours. He seemed very uncommitted at the start but she has stuck with him and he is now moving clearly in the right direction. It may take time for this man to embed himself if the committed life, it just depends whether you want to wait or not.

I think the children issue is at the fore here. It's not a take it or leave it issue for women really -- you will end up feeling strongly about it whatever you choose. Talk to him about the next five years, and where he sees himself and you. If he just talks about his career or travelling etc. I think you should then give him the kind version of an ultimatum talk. Commitment will make you happy I can tell.

chucksaway Sun 27-Jan-13 11:20:58

OP who suggested you move in together anyhow - is it because you both expats and it is therefore more convenient to do so being abroad surrounded by a foreign culture? And would this be happening if you were both still in UK? I think you have come to this site for clarification and I sense your insecurity in knowing if hes really into you. I always had a sense my now husband would propose. I knew he was the marrying type and I knew because I sensed a real happiness between us. Do you not have any sense of that yourself? If I was you I would have the frank discussion with him ... for how many years are you posted there?

SolidGoldBrass Sun 27-Jan-13 14:33:55

It is the one great unfairness of life that we can't blame the patriarchy for - the fact that women have less time than men to decide whether or not they want to have children. So a man can spend his 30s in a relationship that's 'fine' - he likes the woman, he enjoys having sex with her, they have lots of good times, he may well consider that he loves her but all along, at the back of his mind, is the feeling that someone better is out there, so he doesn't really want to commit to the extent of marrying her or agreeing to start TTC with her. He doesn't want her to leave him - why would he? She's 'fine', good sex, good company etc etc, and he doesn't really want to be single.
So when she starts trying to Have The Discussion about marriage and babies, he stalls. He avoids it. He fobs her off. If he's not completely selfish, he might say that he doesn't want to settle down yet and he might tell himself that he's mulling over the possibility of marrying and impregnating her if no one more appealing shows up in, say, the next year or so. The more selfish he is the more likely he is to set conditions, which he can keep on changing - we need to be earning more, I need to get promoted, we'll think about it when we can afford a bigger house. Or he might drop vague hints that a proposal is imminent, and then just not propose. The nastier he is, the more he will build on this idea that he might propose as long as the woman behaves herself and pleases him, as this gets him the additional bonus - not only does his comfortable, acceptable life with a perfectly OK woman continue, but the woman is now tying herself in knots trying to accomodate his every desire in the hope of getting the doggy-treat of a proposal.

JessieMcJessie Sun 27-Jan-13 14:47:19

chucksaway it was him who suggested it. I like your expression "real happiness between us". I feel that too and I honestly don't think it's one-sided. delilah I most definitely do feel "damn sexy and super-wanted", though obviously I'd feel even more wanted if he proposed. He's very excited about the move and is proudly telling everyone we see socially. This is definitely not a case of us only being together because we are expats in the same country with limited choices: in 6 years of singledom in London I never met anyone who came close to making me as effortlessly happy as he does and his older friends have commented the same about how happy I make him.

As for the baby thing, we went to visit friends yesterday to meet their month-old daughter. I was burping her and he sort of dived in at one point to catch her head because he was worried I wasn't supporting it right (to be honest, I probably wasn't, I have very little experience of babies. Neither does he though....). I don't think he sees me as the maternal type at all, which may be a red flag but is also a perfectly valid opinion because I'm not. I suppose that after the visit would have been an opportunity to bring up the subject again and get a more definite answer from him, but I just didn't want to initiate the conversation.

I'm interested that AnnuvaMuvva thought that it was unfair of me to have told him that the having children decision was entirely his - all I did was tell him the truth. I appreciate that a Mumsnet board is not a likely place to find people who can understand that I have no strong desire for a baby, but would embrace it wholeheartedly if it was what he wanted. Yet in the couple we saw yesterday I know for a fact that she wanted a baby (she's my age) and he had to be talked into it. He's clearly smitten now, but I thought she took quite a risk. At least to my boyfriend I am offering ambivalence, not resistance, so if he does want kids he can rest assured I will embark upon the adventure with enthusiasm.

We're having fun flat hunting, he's definitely moving forward. I am encouraged by what you have all said to have a more frank conversation with him, and i won't just cohabit indefinitely and let him get too comfy with the status quo. Thanks.

LaraInTheSky Sun 27-Jan-13 15:27:20

SolidGoldBrass, we can't blame the patriarchy for our biological set up, but we can blame the patriarchy for creating an institution, marriage, which chains human relationships to "one fit all" model.

I'm a woman and, to be honest, I never wanted to get married. I finally did when I had children because both myself and my husband felt that if we remained single, we could end up in a real mess in the event of death, for example. So we did the reverse, we didn't get married because we wanted children, we got married because we had a child.

It's a shame that even in this day, in this modern society, there is such huge pressure to get married, like in the old Victorian times, when it was the only way a woman had to secure a roof and food for herself for the rest of her life.

I completely understand why a lot of couples don't want to get married. They feel they are mature enough to be able to commit to each other without the weight of tradition or convention. Unfortunately, the patriarchy will punish you at some point, when it comes to inheritance, pension and decisions to be made at your hospital bed.

achillea Sun 27-Jan-13 16:20:25

I don't think he sees me as the maternal type at all, which may be a red flag but is also a perfectly valid opinion because I'm not. I suppose that after the visit would have been an opportunity to bring up the subject again and get a more definite answer from him, but I just didn't want to initiate the conversation.

About the baby thing. It concerns me that you are making decisions about having children based on what he thinks about you. Nobody is born the maternal type, you become maternal when you become a mother, it just happens. You should decide whether you want to have children or not and then find the partner who will either give you what you want. Mostly this happens naturally and usually the man goes along with what the woman wants and I'm sure if you made your choice he would too. It concerns me that you are not making that choice for you.

chucksaway Sun 27-Jan-13 21:17:47

its difficult to get a total insight into anyone's relationship totally from a board like this but i think you are getting some fair responses here on your particular situation - best of luck with everything really hope it all works out for you both ... and why should it not!

TDada Sun 27-Jan-13 21:38:12

Why do you want to spoil a good thing with marriage?

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