Should You Stay with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Get Married?

long term

Should You Stay with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Get Married?

Sometimes you are at a point in a relationship where you are so in love, everything seems perfect. You and your partner have been together for quite some time and you are expecting things to progress. But when you broach the idea of marriage, the other person gets anxious or defensive. Perhaps they don’t believe in marriage. Maybe they’ve been down that road before. Or maybe you get a noncommittal “we’ll be married, someday” without a hard date to count on. If you are with someone who is eluding your efforts to get married, or just says they don’t believe in it, while you do, what do you do? You could hand them an ultimatum, either marry me or I will find someone who will. But that usually doesn’t end well. Should you stay with someone who doesn’t want to get married? That depends on a number of factors. First, are they against marriage in total or just marrying you? If the relationship is mutually beneficial, warm, open, loving and stable but marriage is against your partner’s personal philosophy then you can negotiate and come to some sort of compromise. If this person is just biding their time with you until someone better comes along then this person is not the one for you.

Another important thing to do is to search your feelings about marriage. Why is it that you feel as though you need to get married? For some, it has something to do with their culture or religion. Others are being pressured by a family member. It could be something you have always dreamed of. Or it might be because all of your friends have gotten married. Start to uncover what your real feelings are about getting married and why you feel that way. It will give you a better perspective on why it is so important to you and how to address the issue. If you just want to walk down the aisle, have a great reception and be the center of attention, think of the aftermath. You are supposed to spend decades of life with this person, living side-by-side. So you want to make sure your desire to get married is genuine. Then consider the person themselves. Is this who you really want to spend the rest of your life with? Do they love you? Are they supportive? What’s the communication situation like? How is the sex? If you were both thrown into a crisis situation together, would your relationship make it through? You don’t want to set yourself up for divorce.

Don’t just wait around for a proposal and brood. That will never make it happen. If you’ve still decided this person is right for you, discuss all the insights that you’ve come to with your partner. Don’t pressure them with an ultimatum. They will probably pull away from you. That won’t get you anywhere. Instead, slowly get your partner used to the notion. Introduce things subtly and make the idea seem like theirs. British psychologist Anjula Mutanda says to ask your partner, “If we were to get married, what would be your ideal way of doing it?” Agree with their answer and make it sound as if you are very impressed. Keep subtly moving things along like this and see if you get anywhere. If you want to take a more straightforward approach, sit them down in a comfortable place when you are both in a good mood. Make sure it is free of distractions. Compliment your partner and tell them what they’ve done right and what personality traits you adore about them. Tell them how close you feel to them and how much the relationship means to you. Let them know the reasons why you want to spend the rest of your life with them. Explain to them in a calm manner why marriage is so important to you and why you want that person to be them. Tell them you aren’t pressuring them or giving them an ultimatum. Let them know that you can make each other so happy. And then give them time to think about your thoughts and feelings and let the matter drop. Don’t blame. Don’t be defensive. Instead, use a positive, complimentary and romantic approach. If they still refuse to marry you, you’ll have to be ready to either move on or settle for not ever being married. But if they really love you and you were meant to be together, you two will find a way forward. For tips on being extremely persuasive in your quest read, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini.

How to make it Work

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How to make it Work

The Beatles sang “All you Need is Love” but is it true? Most people believe that that magnetic, all -encompassing feeling of oneness, passion and intensity is all that is needed for a relationship to last. But the truth is that it takes far more than just a strong mutual love to keep two people together, happy, well-adjusted and fulfilled long term. But what else is needed to make it work? One of the most important things is a deep bond of trust. Without trust, love can occur, but a healthy, happy long term relationship cannot exist.

When you feel that someone has your back, when you can trust them with your heart, your secrets, your fears and your weaknesses, and they can trust you with theirs, this is then a strong foundation for which a healthy, long term relationship can blossom. Couples that love but distrust each other will have increasingly intense fights until they are broken up. But when love is tempered by a deep, mutual bond of trust, it will be much stronger and be able to survive the clashes that inevitably rock any couple. Once trust is gone however, say though infidelity, it is very difficult to get back. Honesty is another crucial element. Both parties have to be completely honest with each other.

Does that mean that you can’t tell one little white lie and still have a good relationship? No. But when you lie you not only dupe your partner, but you also hurt yourself and the relationship. You start to wonder what your partner is keeping from you. And that deep bond of trust slowly starts to disintegrate. It’s better to be honest, anger your partner but deal with an issue, than lie about it. Because lies will ultimately start eating at the foundation of trust in your relationship and begin to bring the whole thing down. Respect is another crucial element to any healthy relationship. Love without respect can exist. But that person will abuse the object of their love, to the point where the relationship becomes toxic. No healthy relationship can exist without mutual respect. It’s healthy to disagree. But remember to do so in a respectful manner, and expect your partner to do the same.

Compromise is a necessary part of any relationship and it needs to be balanced. If one person is sacrificing all the time for the other, than there is serious respect lacking in this relationship, either one person is a pushover or the other takes advantage, or someone is lacking self-respect and so constantly kowtows to the other. But this will lead to problems. One person will feel disrespected and it will cause a distance in the relationship. People have to compromise fairly and equally. With these qualities and a strong love between you, you will experience a long term relationship you will both cherish for years to come. For more advice read, Building Relationship Trust: 100 Quick Tips on How to Build, Maintain and Regain Trust in a Relationship by Ashley Rosebloom.

If you want a Happy Marriage, be Generous

MATURE-COUPLE

If you want a Happy Marriage, be Generous

According to a new study, if you want a happy marriage, both you and your spouse need to be generous. Making someone dinner, a nice foot rub, a little gift or gesture, any of these things and more can be considered generosity in marriage. According to this research generous couples were five times more likely to report their marriage as “very happy” compared to those who reported a marriage that was not as generous. Each couple used in this study did have children. Experts believe that when we are generous we are actually sending the message that our spouse is valuable and important to us. And of course actions speak louder than words.

Though generosity did increase marital satisfaction significantly, one place that raised it far more was the couple’s sex life. Those couples who reported having “above average sexual satisfaction in their relationship” were ten to thirteen times more apt to label their marriage as a “very happy” one. According to this research, these two elements are not exclusive, but in fact are linked. Being generous may make sex better, say researchers. Those married couples who said that they spent more quality time together, were very generous, and had a high level of commitment also reported high sexual satisfaction levels.

Associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and a researcher on this project, W. Bradford Wilcox said of this, “What happens outside of the bedroom seems to matter a great deal in predicting how happy husbands and wives are with what happens in the bedroom.” It’s really important that you tailor your act of generosity to fit your spouse’s personality, likes, and interests. As Wilcox said, doing so is “…signaling to your spouse that you know them, and are trying to do things for them that are consistent with your understanding of them.”

This study was part of a bigger project called the National Marriage Project. 1,400 couples were surveyed. They were heterosexual and between the ages of 18 and 46. Researchers boiled down their results to the top five predictors of a marriage that was very happy and satisfying. The first four were the same for both sexes: sexual satisfaction, commitment, generosity and positivity towards the children and the raising of them. For men, the fifth one was spirituality while for women it was social support of friends and family. Remember that generosity is interpreted by different people in different ways. Both partners have to be mutually generous as well. Get to know your partner really well, what they like and what you can do for them. Being generous will only make them want to be generous to you in return. And who doesn’t want that? For more advice read, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things that Make a Big Difference by Shaunti Feldhahn.

Could a Once a Year Freebie Save a Marriage?

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Could a Once a Year Freebie Save a Marriage?

The wife of Brooklyn Nets star Andrei Kirilenko has an interesting outlook on marital fidelity. Russian pop star Masha Lopatova recently said that she allows her husband one night per year to spend with another woman, if he so chooses. Lopatova said, “If I tell my child, ‘No pizza, no pizza, no pizza,’ what does he want more than anything Pizza!” So far the basketball star says he hasn’t acted on it. “If something isn’t allowed you, you want to get it,” Kilienko said. “But if it is allowed to you, you will not need it.” Some female fans however are crying “Foul!” since the couple’s deal does not extend the same benefit to Lopatova. Still, this arrangement has got people talking. Could a once a year freebie save a marriage? Of course, this wouldn’t work for every couple. For starters, most would have to have a reciprocal arrangement, since the woman’s inability to meet her desires outside of the marriage, and his ability to do so, could build resentment which may undermine the whole relationship. Another problem might be that the husband could want to visit his paramour on more than one occasion. Still, there are so many marriages that are undone when one or another person cheats and the couple cannot overcome it. In those instances, this could be sort of a release valve.

Writer Ada Calhoun, in a New York Times essay published in mid-September, talked about her quasi-open marriage with her husband, and how it was put in place to allay his fears of her straying, or outright leaving him. Her husband even transformed his fear into something more than an interest. Calhoun writes, “It may seem eccentric that my husband has translated the common fear of being cheated on into enthusiasm for the idea, but he’s not alone. Type ‘cuckold’ into a pornography search engine and you’ll be greeted with countless scenes in which people play out that exact fantasy.” She explains too how she was more adventurous sexually than her husband before their marriage. “Because of this, my husband has at times fretted that I might leave him. What should he do with that anxiety? Maybe eroticizing it isn’t the worst strategy, especially if it gets us talking about what turns us on and keeps us in the loop about each other’s lives. Surely it’s better than the more mainstream reactions to jealousy: becoming paranoid or controlling.” There isn’t any real clear outline of the rules Calhoun and her husband have put into place. We don’t know if she is allowed to stray outright, or vice versa. The only clear rule posited is that both members should be completely honest. Her husband will never have to guess at what her intensions are, because he will clearly know. She will tell him exactly what is on her mind. But that goes for him toward her too.

One of the impetuses for this essay was the fact that her husband had strayed in the past. Calhoun writes, “Years ago, my husband told me he had fallen in love with someone else. He was deeply confused and scared by it. I didn’t even know who he was talking about; that’s how much of a secret he had kept his growing feelings. When he told me who it was, a co-worker, I felt as if I had been shot. I broke things. I threw him out. He ended the affair. Since then, I’ve forgiven him, and we’ve worked hard to figure out why it happened and what it meant.” So her option is somewhat of a quid pro quo. Psychologists say that it takes two special people to engage in an open relationship, those who can find ways to deal with and manage their jealousy in a healthy manner. Each couple needs to discuss in depth the ground rules, what they want to know, and don’t want to know, and guidelines about who it can be, where, when and safety issues, such as condom usage. Putting things into perspective, Calhoun writes, “The main thing that helped me get over the affair was realizing that attraction to other people isn’t necessarily a sign your marriage is bankrupt. In the course of being together forever, especially if you’re out in the world meeting new people, it happens. One of the challenges in a marriage, in addition to deciding whose job it is to do the dishes and how to balance the budget, is to figure out how to deal with lust or love for other people.” Certainly an open marriage isn’t for everyone. But some psychologists believe it can work for a select few. For more on this phenomenon and how to enact it pick up a copy of the classic, Open Marriage: A New Life Style for Couples by Nena O’Neill.

How to make a Positive Change in your Marriage

Couple talking indoors

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This is also true in your marriage. We often point fingers and blame our partner or spouse for what is wrong, but we don’t often look at our own behavior to see how we ourselves negatively impact our relationship and what we can do to avoid negative patterns and instead supplant them with positive ones. Some of these stem from bad relationship habits we’ve gotten ourselves stuck in, or our spouse elicits behaviors that cause a certain response that downward spirals into an argument. In the latter situation for instance, instead of taking part in the same old pattern, finding a way to de-escalate the situation with the right responding behavior could change the whole scenario. After you’ve recognized the negative patterns you and your partner take part in and have isolated your particular role and how it escalates or incites further escalation, you can start to plan how you will react instead, what this will do to your partner’s behavior and what the possible outcome might be. First, ask what it is you really want for this relationship. If you don’t know what the outcome you want is, you won’t be able to alter the behavior pattern. What is it specifically about the present situation that needs to change? You can only achieve things that are concrete. The steps to get there have to be outlined, too.

Change is uncomfortable. If you want to take something on and make things for the better, oftentimes there is an awkward phase before you and your partner settle in to the new routine and pattern of behavior. How might you deal with this awkward phase? Everyone of course goes through ups and downs in any normal relationship. But this is a way that you can evaluate a downward trend and turn it around, to make those valleys far more shallow and those hills much steeper. You have to hang in there and believe that the new pattern replacing the old one will make your lives and your relationship so much better. If you believe in it and have concocted a plan for whatever issue that you two fight about that is mutually beneficial then there is no reason for it not to work. Write down the pros and cons of the current situation. Write about how you feel about each problem or barrier in the relationship. Removing those barriers will increase intimacy and your relationship will thrive. Now it’s time to create a new routine that you and your partner should follow, a proposal that is mutually beneficial and can make both parties feel at ease. You don’t have to solve all the issues in one go. Make a plan with a series of steps or benchmarks. Address the problem with your partner and tell them how you feel about it. Ask how they feel. Talk about the plan you came up with and how it’s a win-win for both of you. Ask them what they think about it. Chances are they’ll be happy and relieved. For more advice, read Relationship Tools for Positive Change by John Grey.