- Dr. Love in the Media
Should I Marry?
December 13, 1999 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Dr. Love, I've been with my current boyfriend for almost 10 years. We currently live together with my college roommate and her husband of 2 years.
My boyfriend is a very bad communicator. He has a hard time expressing his feelings about anything. Often times I'm the one who makes all the decisions in the relationship. Where to live, what car to buy, where to go on vacation. He is very un-opinionated.
However, he never gets mad at me for a wrong decision. THE PROBLEM: We we're suppose to get married this last Sept. but didn't. I gave my boyfriend an ultimatum last year to propose or leave.
He proposed, however I know he really doesn't want to get married. He doesn't think that his commitment to me will be stronger just because he signs a piece of paper.
Knowing that he really doesn't want to get married has casted doubt in my mind whether or not I want to marry him. You see, if he doesn't marry me he'll probably never marry.
I on the other hand am sure that I will find someone who I want to marry and who also wants to marry me. As of now we have no alternate wedding date. Things are just in limbo.
What's the point of continuing this relationship if we have no goals/desire to ever marry. He thinks that things can just continue the way they are. He is completely happy and content with the relationship. I am not.
What should I do? PLEASE HELP
I think you have answered your own question. How can you marry someone when you aren't happy with the relationship?
You have two issues: The first is his passivity. He never takes charge of anything, and instead allows you to run the show. And, second, he is reluctant to marry, which fits his overall way of approaching life: he doesn't take charge and lets life happen to him.
This entire relationship feels like you are trying to push a bolder up a hill. The man seems to have no spine, no drive, no umf (is umf a word?). We know what his problem is. Now, we need to figure out yours.
Why were you drawn to such a passive man? And, what kept you hanging in?
If you study your family of origin, you will probably find that you grew up watching one passive parent being run by the other dominant one. If this is so, you unconsciously chose this guy hoping to replay the pattern and get it right. Getting it right would mean that the passive partner would take charge and become more equal.
You actually did try to force this ending to your script by commanding him to ask you to marry him. He did, but you knew deep down that even the marriage idea was yours.
So, here you are taking charge and running the show again. When you figure out what piece of your childhood is being replayed here, you will understand why you chose this man and why you find it hard to walk away.
I think you keep hoping that he's going to get a spine. If and when he does, you will feel that your original trauma is healed. Kind of like, he loved me enough to take charge and fight for me.
But, is this likely to happen with this guy?
The only way he is going to change is to do intensive character therapy to work-through why he doesn't engage in life, take a stand and go for it, including going for you, hook line and sinker. Would he get help? And, do you want to wait?
Be aware of one danger here. If you are truly locked in an unconscious repetition of a traumatic pattern from childhood, you may find him unappealing if he does become more of a take charge person. Likewise, if you break up with him and try to find another kind of man, you may find a more dominant man unappealing.
This is because we are often drawn to the screwed up types who will play out the worst parts of our past with us. A take charge, dominant man won't play the part of a passive man who you have to push around and command.
So, be clear. Would you really be ready for the man who will take charge? Are you sure?
If you aren't ready for this type of guy, then breaking up will hardly solve your problem. So, focus on you. Figure out what you are replaying from your past. Figure out what happy ending you are seeking. And, take a hard look at yourself: are you really ready to give up the struggle?
The fact that you have hung in with this man for so long indicates that you may not actually be ready for a different type of relationship. I hope I have clarified your impasse, and guided you into the areas in which you need to be thinking and growing.
"If anger and fighting are ruining your dream of a happy marriage, Dr. Turndorf’s conflict resolution program is for you."
-- John Gray,
Author of NY Times #1 bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
"This well-researched book offers a thorough, step-by-step program that provides tools for couples to heal even the most troubled relationships."
-- Dr. John Mack
Pulitzer Prize winning author and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
“This book is mandatory reading for every couple that wants to build lasting love.”
-- John Bradshaw,
Author of NY Times #1 bestseller Homecoming
"Dr. Turndorf is an amazing individual who has wonderful advice to offer men and women of all ages and in all types of relationships. Ignore her counsel at your peril!"
-- Bill Hammond III,
Winner of the Best Historical Fiction Award, 2012
"You are awesome Dr. Jamie. You really are. The best part about you is the way you translate complex psychological stuff into easy to understand and actionable insights."
-- Kajay Williams,
Producer Relationship Advice Cafe
"Let me tell you why you're extremely important now. I really believe your message is there. You're spot on. More and more people should be taking advantage of what you're offering."
-- Michael Dresser,
Syndicated Radio Host
"Good stuff. Great insight. I love your approach. Who doesn't need more healing. I love your idea of using your partner as a healing agent. That's such a great way to see your partner. You give great labels and patterns to look for. I love your method. You make it sound so easy. You have a great website with lots of great information and resources. These are the tools we all need."
-- Dr. Matt Townsend,
Host, The Matt Townsend Show