Dear Shmuley,

While I was in the process of a divorce, I met my current boyfriend. He is wonderful--the man I always wished I could have had, that I had hoped one day my ex would become.

I also became pregnant at the time, and now we have a daughter. My boyfriend was by my side the whole pregnancy. He sold his own home to move in with me, and has helped support my other three children, as well as our own child. We have now bought a house together. However, he knows I want to marry him, but he will not "ask" me formally. In every way and in every action he is my husband--in the ways that even my ex-husband never was. He has told me many times now that he wants to marry me, but he hasn't given me a date or any time frame.

I sometimes wonder if he is still not "over" his last marriage. I have asked him to tell me if he is still hurting from that, but he just either acts like he could care less, or just changes the subject. Am I being impatient, or should I be annoyed, now that we live together, and even had a baby together, and he hasn't yet asked me to marry him formally or given me a date?

He is in every way "committed", but I want the final step from him. What should I do?

Thank you,
--Wanting More

Dear Wanting:

The very fact that you and your boyfriend live just as if you are married is the principal reason why you are not. I am sure he loves you, and it sounds like he is very devoted to you, as you are to him. But for your boyfriend, marriage at this point is a mere formality. He doesn't need to marry you because he already has you totally and fully. Marriage for him would be nothing more than a ritual that brings only obligations without further benefits. I know it may sound glib but think about this: If a man can get a bank loan without putting down any collateral, would he suddenly volunteer it? The same is true here. Why formally close off possibilities and make the huge commitment to marry--especially if you've been burned before--when you already have everything you want?

You already have a child together and live together, so there is no going back. Since he isn't asking you, you must push the issue with him yourself. You've got to sit him down and make it absolutely clear to him that the status quo is simply not acceptable. You must demand--yes demand--that he marry you. Tell him you will accept no other option. Tell him you won't accept any excuses, and that his previous experiences should have no bearing on your relationship. Tell him that you don't want to be his partner, you want to be his wife. Tell him you want to be his wife because you love him and you want to make the ultimate commitment to him, and he to you.

Then--trust me on this--you need to go further. Once you've had that conversation, and assuming it hasn't gone terribly wrong, go ahead and start making preparations for a simple wedding ceremony. Select a date, book a rabbi or a priest or another officiant, invite a few friends, and make the plans. Tell him all he has to do is show up. He may be very irritated, but stand your ground. Remember, continuing with the status quo is simply not acceptable. And don't be afraid of the risks you are taking by forcing the issue, because the even greater risk is that your own irritation with his refusal to marry will begin to evidence itself in how you treat him in the relationship. You will grow increasingly despondent until your relationship is imperiled. So, while slightly risky, this is the best way to proceed.

Be nice, be loving. But above all, be firm. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be married, so you have right on your side.

I wish you every blessing.


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