It’s wedding season, so my boyfriend and I are attending weddings left and right, but he won’t stop making under-the-breath comments about what a dated notion it is. We’ve been together four years. Should I assume he is never going to marry me and cut my losses?
to the happy couple.
There is a theory about this that I have heard on multiple occasions that has manifested itself in both my life and the lives of various bachelor cohorts with a consistency that leads me to believe it’s accuracy. For our purposes I shall refer to this theory as The Mango Complex. The theory is based on the idea that, like a mango, a man won’t go until he is ripe, and although many factors contribute to this terminal maturity, timing is the deciding one. Sure, the perfect woman (or man) might be a significant catalyst, but while you can stick your mango in a paper bag to speed things along, you still shouldn’t eat it before it’s ready– because unripe mangoes are bitter and hard, and will harbor resentment for decades. In short, a man’s eagerness to marry is based as much (if not more) on his own internal clock as it is on your eHarmony compatibility score.
As far as his skeptical comments about marriage, this could either be something he has convinced himself of to postpone making a decision that intimidates him, it could be a line he’s reciting as a preemptive defense against an impending sense of responsibility or obligation, or he may really be a he-man-marraige-hater. Whatever it is, it is his way of telling you that he’s not ready. On the other hand, proffering these opinions unsolicited is an indication that he is thinking about it, and that’s a step in the right direction. My suggestion to you would be to provide a safe, unfettered environment for these ideas to evolve without fear of persecution or bondage. If you pressure him or try to bring him around to your point of matrimonial perspective, either subtly or explicitly, its only going to serve as resistance for him to brace his separatist ideas against. Remember, he’ll get there on his own, but you can speed the process or obstruct it by supporting or denouncing who he is right now. Just try to enjoy this relatively early stage in your relationship and make it a fun, passionate time that you can look back on fondly after 40 years of marriage and kids.
This brings us to your personal anxieties, or “cutting your losses.” All mangoes aside, I do understand that women have a much more tangible internal clock of their own, and that building a relationship takes time, so you can only build so many until you have to move in and live in one permanently. However, in this day and age, marriage is only as binding as a 36 month lease on a Prius, so if you’re relying on that to validate your relationship or give you some guarantee that your time was not wasted, then you might want to think twice, especially if this symbolic deadline is putting a strain on a healthy relationship. You not feeling secure in your investment is a fundamental issue and a big ceremony won’t fix that. If he’s not ready to take a knee yet, look for other signs that the commitment is deepening, that the relationship is moving forward, because for all my rhetoric about patience, a stagnant relationship is on its way to pasture. If you’re happy and you feel like you are growing together, then you’re right on track and you don’t need to start making contingency plans. So do an experiment: try on his dated-notion hypothesis and take marriage out of your equation. You may already have what you’re looking for, which makes waiting for that rock a little more bearable.