Question

I have been with my man for 10 years and we have two children. We live together and are madly in love. We are not married after so many years of dating and by the looks of things he is too comfortable as he never mentions committing beyond this. I want to bring up the issue of marriage but don’t know where to start.

I thought by the time we reached our fifth year of dating, he would have proposed but nothing has happened. How long is it acceptable to date before getting married and if your man is too cosy in a relationship, how do you bring up the topic of marriage in a constructive way?

Mo and Phindi, advise 

A one-size-fits-all time frame for when you ought to be ready to transition from your dating relationship to a greater commitment like marriage doesn’t exist. Couples enter into relationships at different ages and stages in their lives.

However, evaluating how well you know your partner, your relationship certainty, what you’re expecting marriage will do for your relationship, and what you see as the current and anticipated quality of a relationship could be more useful ways to judge if it’s truly time to take the plunge.

NO FORMULA

In our case, we got married 10 months after our initial meeting. And after 14 years of marriage, we are at a very great space in life by God’s grace. We also know of couples that are happily married to date, and had dated for more than 10 years before marriage.

There really is no formula. Your attitude and willingness to put in the work makes a big difference. Hence, before we even get into the possible reasons why he won’t propose, we advise that you get the reasons why he is comfortable from him by having a good-old chat.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

Indeed, a 10-year relationship without clarity on whether it will ever graduate to marriage when you in fact want to be married, presents problems. But instead of focusing on how long you’ve been dating, first evaluate whether your head and heart. are in the right space by considering the following five questions:

 ¦ How important is marriage to you? If you managed to stay with each other for 10 years, can you accept your relationship as is and remove the expectation of marriage? If not, how willing are you to take a stand for what you want? Are you willing to give up the relationship and pursue your desire with someone else?

¦ Do you view marriage as a relationship reboot? Your wedding might be magical, but becoming married isn’t a magical experience that will instantly transform an unstable and unhealthy love life. Whatever your boyfriend is now that you guys are unmarried, he will be – and even more – when you’re married.

¦ Do you think you’ll be happier? Marriage will not make you happy either. You bring happiness into marriage, but you don’t get it as a result of being married. Expected future satisfaction translates to current relationship commitment. That means doing the necessary relationship work; and, ultimately, having a lower risk of divorce later. It also means loving and appreciating yourself, therefore being secured in who you are and needing no one to make you happy before you actually get married.

¦ Do you expect that things will be different in marriage? Before you get married, consider how your relationship typically operates. Specifically, are you a low or high-conflict couple? Countering the idea that marriage launches new experiences that introduce declines in satisfaction we’ve often found that what happens early in a couple’s time together tends to happen later, too.

 ¦ What are the issues that might be holding him back? Again, 10 years is a long time. There certainly are issues that make him to either rule marriage out or shelve it. Are these worth addressing, accepting, or rejecting? Is the timing an issue?

FORMALISING THE RELATIONSHIP

There are many possibilities why he’s comfortable with just dating you, and we won’t go into details. It may be that he’s not ready, either due to other responsibilities or he isn’t where he’d like to be in his career. It could be that he feels he needs to have his character at a certain level first before tying himself to someone else in marriage. Some guys won’t propose because he feels you’re not “the one”. Sorry it’s true.

He could just be still with you because he actually likes you and has grown accustomed to your company, but that doesn’t mean he wants to marry you. There may be something wrong you’re doing, according to him – in your character and behaviour, but you may also be doing everything right. It’s also possible that due to the fact that you’re already staying with him, just like a married woman does, he sees no need to marry you.

He already has all the benefits of a married man, so why should he “complicate” things by formalising the relationship into a long-term commitment. Who needs a cow, when you can get the milk without owning one?

Move! readers advise

LOMBENI

Tell him you don’t want to waste your time with someone who doesn’t intend to marry you.

WISANI BALOYI

Stop giving him sex and stop visiting him. If he wonders, tell him you wish to save yourself for him until he marries you.

MARTHA MAKGAE

Ask him jokingly, and surely he will tell the truth. If he’s not entertaining it, then you should know that he won’t marry you.