He won't marry me and he won't say why

We own real estate jointly and now we've got a son, but he won't give me the security I need.


Cary Tennis
January 7, 2004 1:29AM (UTC)

Hello, Readers --

It's good to be back after the holidays. I look forward to reading all your letters.

I always appreciate hearing from you, even if I don't always write back.

-- Cary T.

Dear Cary,

I have been in a relationship for five years with a man who won't commit. We've been living together for four and one-half years. Before I moved in, he told me he couldn't get married because he would lose his income from his deceased wife's pension. (This turned out, three years after we were living together, not to be true.) We are both older (he is 54, I am 44), have been married before, and now have a 1-year-old son together.

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What is bringing all this to a head is this: Two years ago, we bought a house together in a very rural area -- he put down about 35 percent of the purchase price and we paid jointly for another 10 percent (I've been making the payments since). Now he wants me to sell my own house here, pay off the mortgage on the new house, and move to a small town at the opposite end of the state, 10 hours from my family and friends and with little possibility of a job. To top matters off, we have a real communication issue that makes me question our long-term compatibility. We tried counseling once but it was ludicrous and we haven't had the nerve to try again.

But he still refuses to marry me and won't say why. I want the security of marriage. He says marriage is no guarantee that we'll stay together either. True, I say, but the fact you won't marry me after five-plus years and a child together shows you don't really love me, so why should I give up my life to go with you?

Am I being unreasonable? It seems to me that he wants everything his way -- I sell my house, give up my family and friends, and put in my lot with his but get no commitment from him in return. He has the option of selling his house here and paying off the mortgage himself (and putting the house into his name only) but is very resentful about the prospect of doing so, and he gives me the feeling that forcing him to do this would spell the end of our relationship now. I'm sure his perspective on all this is different, but since he won't discuss this I don't know what it is.

Can you shed any light on his thinking? Is there any solution to this quandary? We have to decide soon.

Sleepless and Weary

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Dear Sleepless,

Do you love this man? Do you trust him? Do you feel secure and happy with him? Do you look at him and think, I really know this man, and I admire him? Is there something good and true between you that makes all the conflict worthwhile? Do you feel that, difficult as he is being, he has your best interest at heart? Do you feel willing to make some sacrifices in order to be with him?

If so, if you're truly crazy about this man, then you should move out and refuse to go any further with these real estate matters. Maybe that sounds nutty. But the thing is, if you love him, you've got to stop letting him bully you. And you've got to have the courage to risk losing him. Otherwise, you risk living with a man who really doesn't love or respect you but who knows he can use your fear of losing him to manipulate you.

When you stand your ground, he may break up with you. If he does, you will have an answer to your question about whether he truly loves you.

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So I urge you to stop being practical. Stop dealing in percentages of ownership. Move out and get some fundamental answers: Does he love you? If he loves you, perhaps he will be willing to provide an explanation about his deceased wife's pension. Did he really lie to you about it? Does he think that's acceptable? What is motivating him? What is he afraid of? Why won't he talk to you honestly?

You have a lot of work to do. If you love each other, one of you has to force the issue.

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Cary Tennis

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