It’s not uncommon for a couple have different degrees of readiness when it comes to commitment or marriage.
Perhaps your partner’s started dropping hints and you’re not quite sure how to react. Perhaps you’ve reached a point where it’s clear they’re expecting you to ask. Or perhaps you’ve started to argue about it and aren’t sure what to do.
This can be a confusing and bewildering situation for everyone involved. You might feel under lots of pressure to make a decision or risk the future of your relationship and your partner may be feeling rejected or upset.
If this is something you’re going through, it can be useful to take a step back and think about what’s causing this difference in expectations – and what you can do to address it.
What’s it about?
It’s important to state that that plenty of couples have very fulfilling long-term relationships without getting married at all. For some people, marriage is part of the expected course of a relationship. For others, it’s not something they want or need to do.
If your disagreement is based around differing attitudes towards marriage itself, you’ll need to think about whether you can find a middle ground. Sometimes, one member of the couple might be open to considering changing – sometimes not.
If you think this is going to be a difficult conversation, you might like to consider Relationship Counselling, which will allow you to talk in a safe, supportive and confidential environment.
Sometimes, this kind of conflict comes down to a fairly simple question: is this the person you want to be with?
The answer, of course, isn’t always easy to figure out. Our attitude towards commitment and marriage can be affected by lots of stuff, such as – ideas we’ve carried throughout our lives, our experience of our parents’ marriages or insecurities or worries left over from previous relationships. Sometimes, we don’t really know what our attitude towards commitment is – and that can be confusing in itself.
However, sometimes we aren’t so much confused as reluctant to face up to difficult questions. If you don’t think your partner is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you may need to think about whether it’s fair to continue with the relationship, particularly if you know that they’re very clear about how they would like things to develop. Is it a case for you of ‘not now, not yet’ with this person or ‘not ever’? You owe it both to yourself and to your partner to give this question careful thought.
Figuring things out
Whatever the case, the best way to get to the bottom of things is to talk openly and honestly about the issue.
Having this kind of conversation can be pretty daunting, so, if you’re feeling nervous, you might like to think about the following:
Don’t talk when you’re already upset. Bringing up the topic during an argument is only likely to escalate things. Instead, talk when you’re relaxed. You might even like to plan the conversation, saying, ‘This is something we need to talk about. When do you think we should do it?’
Try the speaker/listener technique. We tend to think we’re pretty good at listening, but in reality, it’s hard! Often, we’re just waiting for our turn to speak. During this technique, one person speaks and then the listener repeats back to them what they said. Not what they think they said or their reaction to it, but what they actually said. That way, you can really understand. Then the other person takes their turn to talk. It may feel stilted at first but it can be a very useful way of beginning to hear and understand each other.
Keep the conversation going. In all likelihood, this isn’t something you’re going to resolve in the space of a single discussion. It may take multiple talks, with time in between to really think about what’s been said.
Consider counselling. If you’re really struggling to talk without things spinning out of control, you might like to consider counselling. Your counsellor can help you to stop arguing and start talking. The conversation may not always be easy, but learning how to talk about tricky topics is an important part of any partnership and marriage, and one of the key components of that much longed-for ‘happy ever after.’
CREDIT: The Relationship People