Why won't he make a commitment?

Posted on: 21 January 2008 by

Ann’s partner says he loves her so why won’t he make a marriage commitment after 18 months together?

Ann Writes:

I am 45, have been divorced for three years, have two children 13 and 8 and am financially independent. I'm a graduate, very attractive and my job brings me in a six figure salary. Eighteen months ago, I visited my sister and met her neighbour. He is 59, divorced thirteen years ago, has two older children and has just retired.

We hit it off immediately and have been a couple ever since. He adores my kids and they adore him. His children seem to love me too. I am 100 per cent sure of the love all round. But he is very set in his ways and routines and is almost too used to being alone. He also appears terrified to actually officially commit to me or these kids. He sends such mixed signals.

We see each other about twice a week (Tuesdays are regular family dinner nights and then once over the weekend) but I want more. He wanted me to buy him a ring for Christmas. I agreed but it turned out that what he wanted was a wedding band which he wears, (of course) on his right hand. I told him I thought it was weird when he hadn't worn a ring for 13 years but he said it felt it belonged there.

He wanted to buy me a three stone diamond, not as an engagement ring but just as a ring. I asked him why and tried to talk to him about it. He told me, "everything in time". He says he wants to do this "right". What does that mean? Is he scared or stalling. How should I know whether to stay or go? I love him but I want more.

Andy Advises:

Ann, it seems to me that your relationship is one of friendship, not spontaneous love.   It’s all so predictable.  You see one another once during the week and once at weekends.  There are no ’spur-of-the-moment’ treats.   No exciting, unplanned outings.  It’s all a bit of a bore.   And of course you want more. 

You are looking for the joy in a relationship that comes with true love, and this relationship sounds more a convenient friendship, or the actions of a couple who have been together for 50 years, than a joyful, blossoming adult relationship. 

So it’s all down to what you really want, regular companionship or a full and meaningful relationship.  And as much as you love one another’s kids (and of course this is vitally important in a second time round relationship), and all get on, it’s clear from your letter that you want more. At the moment, this man has it all his own way.

If you really love him, and want this man’s full, unequivocal love in return, then you have to say so and mean it.  I think you should plan time away together without the children, relax in one another’s company and then lay your cards on the table.  Tell him that what you want is a proper committed relationship and that, as much as you love him, you are not prepared to settle for less. 

You might tell him that you are honestly not content with what you have now and say that if he won‘t give you what you want, then clearly he doesn’t feel as fondly for you as you do for him.  Say that in those circumstances, you want to be free to find love and commitment with someone else.  You might even say that no matter what he thinks, or on which finger either of you wear the other’s rings, they have no meaning to you without a real spoken and written commitment. 

You might tell him that as much as you love him and despite how well you all get on together, without the promise of a proper future together, you cannot sustain this relationship.  End it and mean it. And don’t fall for the: “Well let’s continue to be friends” line. 

Break it off completely, for a few weeks at least.  It will be very painful for both of you, but if he sees that you mean what you say, it may jolt him into the realisation of how much you mean to him.  On the other hand, it may not.  It’s a gamble.  Whether or not you are prepared to take it depends entirely on you.

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