• Everyone gets into relationships for different reasons, but for many, marriage is still the ultimate commitment.
  • What happens when you are ready for marriage, but your partner isn't?
  • We chat to two experts about whether it's ever a good idea to give someone an ultimatum for marriage. 

Relationship expert Paula Quinsee, says marriage ultimatums tend to be misguided. “The worst thing you can do is give your partner an ultimatum or make them feel like they are being forced to make a decision,” she says.

She believes that oftentimes when people make ultimatums, they get the opposite effect. 

READ MORE: If your relationship is causing you despair, Imago therapy is designed to help resolve conflict  

While an ultimatum might sound like your last resort, Paula says it is important to understand why you feel the way you feel: 

- Has your relationship gotten into a rut? 

- Do you feel like you are not moving forward in your relationship or there’s no definite plan about your future together?

- You’ve had talks about marriage, but nothing has happened or there’s been no follow through?

- Are you feeling left out because everyone around you is getting married?

- Your biological clock is 'ticking' or you are ready for marriage, but your partner isn’t?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, it is important to have a discussion with your partner to understand why they are reluctant to get married. While you might think that your partner doesn’t want to commit to you, there might be valid reasons why they are afraid to make a commitment.  

“Some people have very real fears of failure about their own experiences - for example, coming from a divorced home and the fear of ending up the same way,” Paula says. She adds that your partner might not feel ready to take the next step, as they don’t feel they are financially sound, stable or might not want to start a marriage with piles of debt.  

Most people are afraid to discuss marriage earlier on into the relationship, however, Paula says this is a conversation couples should have. “If you are ready to settle down, it is important that you discuss this to determine whether there is longevity in the relationship or whether you should move on and find someone else,” Paula says. 

Clinical Psychologist Dr Ian Opperman, says there is no clear stance as to whether an ultimatum is a good or bad idea. “Some offer an ultimatum because they believe their relationship needs need to be met, while some might do it because they require a deeper sense of commitment,” he says. 

READ MORE: 10 ways to enjoy a happier, sexier marriage or long-term relationship, according to experts

He believes that some people might resort to this, as they want someone else to take responsibility for them or want to be needed.  While some people may prefer an ultimatum and feel content with the decision they’ve made, some people might feel bullied. 

“The person who made the ultimatum may always wonder whether they made the right decision,” he says, adding that the person who was offered the ultimatum might always question whether the decision to marry was genuine and might even feel trapped.

Having worked with many couples over the years, the one thing that Paula Quinsee has learnt is that you cannot force someone to be where they don’t want to be. “Rather than give them an ultimatum, let them go with love and light and invest time in finding a partner who is ready to make the commitment you are looking for,” she concludes.  

Are you currently in a similar situation or are you married now as a result of a marriage ultimatum? Share your story with us here.

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