Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Danny's Dilemma - Cohabitation vs Marriage

Hi Babs

I am a 32 year old mechanic and I have been with my girlfriend for two years. We bought a flat which we moved into 6 months ago. We share the mortgage and the bills and it seems to work. I'm happy and she seemed to be happy and then she brought up the subject of marriage. 

When we met I made it clear I didn't want to get married. I am an atheist and to be honest I can't see what's to be gained from being married. We have a comfortable carry on. We go on holiday a couple of times a year. We both have our own interests and we socialise together. We have a contract which covers our finances in the event of separation or death. I know lots of people who have lived together and then married only to divorce. I can't honestly see the point and I now feel as if I'm having my arm twisted. She says if I loved her I'd marry her but equally I feel if she loved me she'd respect my convictions and the agreement we made.

Do you feel we can save our relationship because it feels as if it's going downhill rapidly! 

Hi Danny

When I read your message my initial reaction was wow this is a win lose situation. Then I started to wonder why you've both chosen this as a battle? I understand why you don't want to get married but you've not told me why your girlfriend does. Did she just agree to what you said at the outset, or did she say she would want to get married in the future? I know you feel everything was OK until she mentioned marriage but I'm wondering if it really was the case? I wonder has something happened to create this shift? I know sometimes women who have cohabited quite happily start to feel they want to get married when they want children? I know that some feel marriage gives more security or shows more commitment. My own view of cohabiting vs marriage is that they are both commitments and given affection and compromise both work equally well. It really is up to the individual and or couple.

If there are no other issues other than your girlfriend wants to get married and you don't. the only suggestion I can make is that you both make a list of the pros and cons of cohabitation vs marriage and then to explore them together. You mention people getting married and then divorced. I wonder whether this has happened to you or someone close to you and as a consequence you are fearful? Does your girlfriend feel it's easier for you to walk out if you're not married? It could be that some relationship counselling may help if the strategy I've suggested doesn't work. However, if you both remain intransigent that's highly unlikely to be the case.


  1. This is a tough one- but as someone who has been married and is now co-habiting and has no intention of marrying again I feel I have some observations to offer on this one.
    I think Babs has hit the nail on the head when she thinks there are other issues here, and I feel it may be a fear of commitment on your part. I don't think it matters what your experience of marriage has been in the past- but I think your partners change is reflecting present insecurirites with a belief that marriage might make her feel more secure in the future.
    What marriage is at a very basic level is making a public and legal commitment to another person- there are expectations therefore that that commitment at least at the moment of making it, will be for a long time. Your woman is ready to make that commitment to you- people's feelings and needs change over time, that is what being in a long term relationship is about, and maybe she hopes that your feelings about this may change too.
    The question you have to ask yourself is this, can I do this for her?
    Do I really want it for myself? Only the two of you can work this out by talking over what you both feel insecure about. I hope you make the right decision.

  2. thanks for your input Mary I appreciate it and I hope Danny will too :)