Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I’ve been seeing “Chris” for seven years. Yes: seeing him, for seven years. Not engaged, not married. Generally speaking, I am really, really happy. A year into dating, we moved in together. Three years ago, we went in together on a house — actually had it built from the ground up on an empty lot. It was an amazing experience and we were smart about it, knowing we aren’t legally protected, making sure we accounted for ownership should we have broken up.
I guess the good news is everything is fine. Our home is amazing, I love Chris. But I’m wondering, will we ever get married? A good girlfriend of mine just got engaged to a guy she has barely been with a year. I wanted to be happy for her but I felt so irritated that she is engaged and I’m not. Seven years?? What is he waiting for?
Chris has said he wants to be with me forever. I have reciprocated and said I’d love to marry him. He has been cagey about that. He has said he isn’t sure long-term, “government-sanctioned” commitments are warranted, and that he “likes how things are” and doesn’t need a title to know where he stands.
I’m starting to really worry he will never marry me. What should I do?
First off, as much as we wish it were so, men aren’t mind readers. You can drop hints all day, but what you need to do is unequivocally and clearly tell Chris exactly what you want and need to be happy. Until you do so, you’ve given him permission to hurt and disappoint you, because frankly, we can’t hold our partners to standards that we’ve inadequately communicated. It just isn’t fair.
But before you even get that far, pump the brakes. How important is it to you really that you marry? Is Chris the guy? It seems you’ve stayed in this scenario a long time — years, in fact. Why is it you want so badly to be married? Is it because you want Chris? Or is it because you just want somebody? It’s essential to understand our own motivations in relation to these large questions when we are pushing other to take action.
Consider holding your own aspirations up against what might be seen as society norms or as what “everybody’s doing.” In other words, so what if you’re seven years in with no ring or proposal; are you happy? Likewise, forget the hasty couples that hitch up a year or so in. Do you really want to be with Chris because he seems to be THE ONE, or are you pressuring yourself because you don’t want to be alone? These are essential and difficult questions to pose to yourself at this juncture.
Welcome to Alaska, land of the midnight sun and home to a segment of humanity that tends to bristle if not rage against many “government-sanctioned” norms. Like taxes. And turn signal use. And even marriage. Any surprise that common-law marriages are not legally recognized here?
Here’s another thing to remember about Alaskans, particularly the men: The goods are odd. And your man, with all of his outstanding qualities has one quirk, one stickler, one anti-establishment heel-digger-inner: marriage. So what? If an anti-marriage stance was a deal-breaker for you, the deal was officially broken like six years ago, sister. Or maybe this is some kind of seven-year itch? More likely the first mosquito bite of the season …
Look: You’re “really, really happy,” which puts you in a much better situation than most. You’re sharing an amazing home and life with a partner you love and who loves you — also rarefied relationship air. So if it isn’t broke, why break it? Because you want him to buy you a ring and sign some paperwork with you at the courthouse (where there may or may not be a bench warrant for him)? You’ve already won, you’re already living the dream and you don’t even know it.