Ask Dr. Gilda-He Doesn’t Want To Marry

She’s in love with a guy who says he doesn’t want to marry—how can she get him to change his mind?

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I am 51, was married for 21 years, and realized my ex would never give up drinking, so I left him two years ago. My boyfriend is one year older than me and has been married twice before. I love him like crazy and want to spend the rest of my life with
As much as I love him, I don’t want to live with him indefinitely.
him. He feels the same about me, but says he will never marry again.

I’m not sure how long to wait until I give him an ultimatum. We are living together, he just bought a house for the two of us, and I know he will take care of me. But I’m an old-fashioned girl who absolutely must have the commitment. As much as I love him, I don’t want to live with him indefinitely. What should I be doing at this point?
– Sunny Southern California Girl

Dear Sunny Southerner,
Whoa! Your guy told you his marital non-aspirations, you ignored everything he said, and you moved in with him anyway, on the basis that he’d “take care of” you. Yet, you continue to long for more, by conjuring up a plan to get him to marry you. If you wanted marriage, you should never have moved in with him unmarried!

Remember the adage our grandmothers told us? Namely, “Why should a farmer buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?” Well, girl, your boyfriend has the whole cow, and now he’s got no vested interest in changing the way things are. As my Gilda-Gram says, “In every relationship, the person who cares less has the greater power.” You care about your guy, but he cares for you. Is this equitable to you? Apparently it’s not, because you say you’re not getting what you want.

From the perspective of a business negotiation, you are at a disadvantage because you gave away your bargaining chits and you are left with no leverage. Had you refused to move in together, perhaps he would have missed you enough to find his way down the aisle. But now, why should he?

All along, you’ve been giving this guy mixed messages, saying one thing, but acting another. Here are some examples of how you are sabotaging your own cause:
  1. You describe yourself as “old-fashioned,” but old-fashioned girls don’t move in with a man until they are married.
  2. You say you want a commitment, but your move-in behavior shows him that you’d settle for merely being “cared for.”
  3. You say you don’t want to live with him “indefinitely,” but you have not set a date for when the term of “indefinitely” will end.
If you were in this guy’s shoes, you would probably act just as he’s acting. This is what I suggest you do now, if — as you say — you cannot be happy without being married:
  1. As much as it may break your heart, give your boyfriend a date, and tell him that’s when you’ll be moving out on your own if you’re not married by then. Now, the really important part: Do not go back on your word or your word will never be believed again!
  2. Begin looking for an alternate residence now, just to get an idea of available places. When you do this, you’ll begin caring for yourself instead of depending on a man to take care of you.
  3. Be positive and optimistic, not needy and weepy, when you deliver your message to your boyfriend. Consider this not an ultimatum, but an expression of your own self-care.
As soon as you love the person in the mirror, perhaps your boyfriend will follow your lead. Or, perhaps you’ll view him as not so loving after all. One thing is certain: You’ll never discover the truth until you give him the opportunity to miss life without you. Do you have the courage to finally let the truth reveal itself?

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website ( and send her your relationship questions.
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