He's had the milk, now he doesn't want to buy the cow

DEAR COUNSELLOR,

I've been with this man for 10 years and each time I mention marriage, he says we're not ready, and we need to achieve certain things before we wed. But each time we achieve something he shifts the goalposts and mentions something else. For example, he said we needed to own our home first, and he needed to see if I'd be a good mother to our children. Well, four children later, we're still in the same space. We also bought our home three years ago, so he has no excuse. I've gone as far as to check out packages at RGD to show him that it doesn't have to be lavish or expensive, but he won't budge. I'm now 45 and I fear that I may have wasted my life with this man, when I could have been happily married to someone else. He's not a bad man, nor is he a cheat, as he comes home every night. It's just that the mention of marriage seems to scare him.

Thank you for getting on The Counsellor's Couch. It is certainly understandable that after 10 years and four children you'd want to be married. In fact, when people have inquired as to what's a proper courting period, I have advised that three years is pretty much a reasonable time. The imperative is always to get to know your prospective partner very well. Now some couples do feel their relationship is formalised without a wedding; they are content with cohabiting and being common-law partners. But we Jamaicans are generally religious and to a large extent, traditional so marriage is usually desired by many Jamaican women.

The Bible does say, "Marriage is honourable in all…" (Hebrews 13:4.). So I commend you for wanting to get married. Yet you've said that the mention of marriage seems to scare your partner. Some men do feel that getting married will jinx their relationship but this is superstition, causing unnecessary fear and intimidation. Marriage is, as the Bible says, "good", right and blessed by God. (Proverbs 18:22.) Statistics prove that. They show that married people have better sex, and are healthier and happier. They earn more money, generally live longer, and have more fulfilling lives. Decades of research by organisations (such as General Social Survey and Gallop Marriage Historic Trends) show that even formerly married people (divorced, separated, widowed) are generally better off. It's an interesting study. It may be helpful to do the study with your partner, or show him the data.

My advice:

Speak with your partner again: Assure him you want to grow old with him. Let him know that you believe in the institution of marriage and that you want this experience. Remind him how much you've given to the relationship, and let him know the time has come. You can also set a timeline and tell him you want to get married on that particular day, or by that time.

Make much ado about it: Start to make plans in his hearing. Let him see that you are excited about it and help him to get excited. You want him to know you are serious and want this to happen. Help him get over his fears. Repeat the plans and date, matter-of-factly. Get his input on where, who's coming, and what he's wearing.

Get with a counsellor: If after about two weeks of trying the suggestion above nothing has changed, involve a counsellor. You can reach out to my office or to any other well-recommended counsellor.

Please note, you haven't wasted your life. I'm sure you've had some wonderful experiences thus far. You've also been blessed with four children. I am confident that you have both supported each other in many ways, and through trying times. It's not a waste. Be confident that good things have been and great things are yet to come.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

Christopher BRODBER

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