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What to Do if You Want to Get Married But Your Partner Doesn't

Is one of you keen to get married and the other isn't? We asked Hitched Love Guru & relationship expert Anna Williamson how to handle this sensitive issue

Couple sitting back to back looking sad and disconnected as one wants marriage and the other doesnt
Unsplash/Gemma Chua Tran

Couple sitting back to back looking sad and disconnected as one wants marriage and the other doesnt
Unsplash/Gemma Chua Tran

Let’s be honest, it’s never an easy topic when it comes to discussing commitment, particularly if you aren’t too sure what that might look like for you in a relationship. 

Lots of people are really into marriage; for many of us it’s one of those pipe dreams we hold from childhood. I know that I used to fantasise about the wedding dress and the big day and all of the trimmings that go with being a bride! However, being a grown-up adult with some life experience behind you means people can often develop very different feelings and attitudes towards marriage the more thought they give to it.

READ MORE: Navigating Relationship Changes After Having a Baby

Explore Why Your Partner isn't Keen on Marriage

Personal circumstances can have a huge sway: perhaps there are financial concerns around getting hitched, or perhaps emotionally it is something which carries a bit of a negative connotation? 

I know some people who visibly balk at the idea of getting married due to growing up in a family where there has been relationship breakdown, heartache, perhaps they have even been married before themselves, and therefore have formed a different attitude around formally committing to somebody.

The problem is when one partner really wants to get married and the other doesn’t. As my darling grandma used to say: “You can’t fit a round peg in a square hole!” 

There really is no right or wrong way to commit to someone, but what is important is that both people are on the same page and have the same ideas and goals about what their future looks like. 

READ MORE: Is It Time for a Sleep Divorce?

Be Honest About What Marriage Means to You 

Cup of black coffee next to a blanket and a love note reading 'love you yesterday, today and tomorrow'
Unsplash/Debby Hudson

It’s also really important to be honest with yourselves about what marriage means to you. If one partner really has set their heart on it then perhaps that really is a deal breaker. There might be certain cultural or religious beliefs that are an important factor, there might be certain family traditions, or just a real personal belief on the importance of the sanctity of marriage. 

On the complete flipside, there are many people who just don't see the value in marriage, don't understand the importance and don’t see it as being the ‘be all and end all’ definition of their relationship. 

Many people live happily as a committed couple without being legally bonded with a ‘piece of paper’. The key is knowing what is important to you as an individual, and what is important to your partner and to you both as a couple, as well as where you both see your future heading.

READ MORE: Anna Williamson Explains How to Handle Post-Wedding Blues

Consider Compromises if Your Partner Doesn't Want to Get Married

Female same sex couple sitting in bed together drinking tea discussing their relationship

There are some key conversations that need to happen between a couple to work out if marriage is something you both want, or if it’s not going to happen for you. You need to decide if there is a way through such a conundrum if you want different things - can you reach a compromise? What does that look like for you?

When you’re ready to settle down, have an open and honest conversation with your partner, ask each other what you both expect out of your partnership and be willing to listen to what each other truly wants without any judgment.

Ask yourselves what does marriage mean to you? What does marriage look like to you? What is the importance of marriage? Are you looking for more security, recognition of your relationship status, or do you simply just want to ‘put a ring on it’ and declare that you are newlyweds?

Could you stay in your relationship if you don’t get married? Could there be a compromise to be made in any way? For example, buying a house together, agreeing to start a family together, committing to each other in other ways…

Establish your priorities in your relationship. Work out where getting married features as a priority to you both. It’s perfectly understandable to feel upset if you want to get married and your partner isn’t so keen, and vice versa, but remember it doesn’t mean they don’t love you, it could well be a variety of other reasons. 

What’s important is that you properly communicate your feelings and thoughts around marriage, and see whether there is a good middle ground for you both. Commitment is based on love and trust, if you have those ingredients then your relationship can absolutely be a fulfilling one whether you are married or not.

If you're keen to development your communication in your relationship, the following articles are essential reading!