Q. I’m 51 and have been dating my divorced boyfriend for three years. I’d like to get married but he told me from the start he’ll never get married again. His ex-wife is now remarried. I thought maybe this would put his hesitation behind him — it’s been almost a decade — but he still seems reluctant. Commitment isn’t an issue, as we want to be together and decided I would move in with him. Do you think he’ll ever propose, or is this a delay tactic?
I guess I’m old-fashioned and feel it’s important to get married. I’ve been divorced for a long time and finally found my person. My family and friends told me to not get involved as he was clear about not wanting to get married. I heard from a friend that he told his ex that they’d still be married if it wasn’t for her . . . but that was when we first started dating. He doesn’t want to get back together with her now — I’m sure of that .
He has been very hesitant throughout our relationship when it came to meeting his kids, taking a vacation together, moving in, etc. If I didn’t nudge, it didn’t happen. Anyway, I’ve moved in and things are going well, but I’m not sure if this is a step to marriage.
Is this a delay tactic? Do I have to make peace with the marriage thing?
A. If you stay with this man, you should assume that marriage is not on the table. Yes, some people change their minds about big decisions, but he’s been honest about his needs. Why wouldn’t you believe him?
Moving in together is just one way to become closer as a couple. Commitment can be built through shared traditions, investments, and plans. If you develop a strategy for the next years of your life — together — you might get what you want, just without the title.
As for the ex-wife, I’d put her out of your mind . . . but you know that. A lot of people say they’d still be with their exes if not for X, Y, and Z, but those letters are usually pretty important.
As you begin this new living arrangement, see whether it feels like you’re working toward the same kind of life. You don’t have to be married to be partnered. If you like your setup with him now, it might be the best compromise. — Meredith
Delay? He told you he didn’t want to remarry. It’s not a tactic. He’s telling you NO to marriage. LUCILLEVANPELT
If he decided to marry you, it wouldn’t be because you nudged (read “nagged”) him to do so. Isn’t that the kind of behavior most guys want to run away from? JACQUISMITH
Buy yourself a nice band. Wear it on your left ring finger. If and when he asks why you are wearing it, say, “Because I want the world to know I am committed to you.” Done. You have achieved the exact same thing without the wedding and the marriage certificate (that is dropped in a drawer somewhere only to be found in case of divorce). HETITHINK
I’m 51 and I’d never stick my hand on that stove again. TONICNOTSODAColumn and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to email@example.com.