Then Jack happened


Dear Jack,
My boyfriend of four years and I are having some issues. The main one being I want to get married but he doesn’t seem to be that into it. When we first started dating he said he never wanted to get married and didn’t want to have kids, but now we’ve been living together for the passed two years and I’d really like to get married and have a child with him. I’ll mention this to him and it starts fights and lately he says things to me like I should be more prepared in the future to support myself (he covers most of the expenses). What’s the best way to communicate to him that I don’t want to lose the relationship but I want to take the next steps?
Ready to Take the Next Step
I feel bad about your predicament but this seems to be a monster of your own making. When you had the ‘long term goals’ conversation at the beginning of the relationship he told you pretty specifically that he didn’t want to get hitched and didn’t want kids. Shouldn’t that about cover it?
That’s not to say that people don’t change. They do. I imagine that lots of people go through periods of time saying, “I’ll never settle down, no kids for me, I’ll never get a real job, every Saturday morning cartoons and candy only,” but then they change. For someone in your situation whom is living with your hopeful permanent mate for a couple of years I can understand your confusion, but living together doesn’t necessarily mean your boyfriend is or should be expected to change his previous position. You can’t punish him for his honesty, you accepted what he told you four years ago and now it is up to you to continue accepting it or reject him if he won’t change.
As far as how to communicate, in my estimation any attempt that ends up with fights and threats regarding support indicates a failure to communicate effectively and clearly. If you bring up the issue of marriage all the time and that contributes to his poor reaction than you need to rethink how you are approaching it. Give some time to let the whole topic cool and then set aside a time to discuss it, in advance, so you can come into the conversation calm, cool and collected. Tell him what you want and find out whether or not he can get there too. If he can’t, that’s your answer and you will either have to accept him and the relationship how it is or move on with your life.
If, on the other hand, at the very mention of marriage and kids he bristles and threatens, that is a rather large red flag for inappropriate controlling behavior. The financial threats are particularly worrisome. In that case, you should evaluate whether you want to be in this relationship period, ring or no ring. You might consider getting some couples counseling if you don’t feel comfortable communicating because it might be beneficial to have a professional keeping this positive and calm.
The lesson here: believe someone if they tell you something major like “I don’t want children.” If you want to be in a successful relationship you should accept your partner for who they are not who you want them to be or else contempt could breed. I can imagine an even worse situation, you talk him into marriage, you talk him into a child, the baby is screaming and needs to be changed and it is 4 AM and he decides that he’s never changing the baby again because this is what you wanted. Repeat until the divorce. Is that fair? No, probably not. Is it possible and logical? Sadly, yes. Have that conversation, but listen to the answers this time.
I’ll become anything you want me to be, babies, marriage, pet ownership, move in with your ailing mother, go back to school, just ask me some questions at