Wedding woes: First comes marriage?

00:11, May 04 2012

Here's another wedding woe sent in by a reader:

Hi Greer, 

I hope that this does not sound random just to pour my heart out and ask for advice, however your blog has inspired me to do so... 

I am stuck in a pickle; I have been with my BF for 2 years now we get along great and very much in love (blah blah) and went travelling round Europe together and all that. So things are going well. We both have enough money together to put down a deposit on a house. We have talked about this a lot and my BF and I would really like to go ahead with this. He and I talk a lot about being together and setting up a future.

However we haven't talked much about marriage. I know he doesn't want to at the moment, as we both come from divorced families so makes weddings hard but I am not sure if going into a financial commitment with someone who doesn't want a marriage commitment first. Financially I have worked very hard for this deposit (and its more of a bigger deal to me then marriage) and I trust him implicitly, but I am not sure if it is a good idea. I want a marriage not to be something you have to do down the line just because you a house and been together for years.

So I'm stuck - what do I do? Do I jump into this financially with the hope of a marriage commitment or get the ring to make sure that he is with me always, as this is my life savings... 

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I hope this all makes sense! We both are 26 just by the way :)

Thank you for listening I know you must get a lot of emails and if I do get a response it would be much appreciated.

***

As a child of divorce, I can completely empathise with the way in which a marriage separation in the family shapes the way you view marriage for yourself.

I don't, however, believe that is a negative thing and I do not believe we should steer clear of marriage altogether just because we know the very real consequences when it doesn't work out.

If anything, I believe it's made me examine my relationships more; be more wary of potential areas of concern or breakdown, examine all angles of issues, try harder and love deeper.

And it sounds like the both of you are doing that: thinking, examining, treading carefully.

Now I don't know where you live, or if you live together, however if you do, I assume you're aware of de-facto laws which may or do affect your relationship.

To me, a financial commitment together is, in a sense, marriage.

Sure, it's not the *wedding*, but it is a commitment - and one which for all intents and purposes is seen as marriage in the eyes of many laws.

The main issue, I guess, is that you believe that a ring will mean "he's with you always". I hate to trot out divorce stats - which you'd be well aware of - but to me, a commitment involving finances is just as binding, if not more, than a ring on your finger.

Let's get one thing straight: a wedding is symbolic. That's it. And it sounds like it's that symbolism that you're missing, the token, the gesture and the mushy (and it is lovely) feeling behind it. 

And that, I'm afraid, is a different issue. Then it's not about the house, or the money or any of that, but more about the feeling behind it. "Does he want to be with me forever?" and then eventually, maybe "Are we only getting married because that's the 'step' we missed in this process together?".

I don't think there's a right answer here. If you would like that symbolic commitment before you sign up to a mortgage together, you're ALLOWED to ask for that, or at least discuss it.

But if you don't talk about it, I fear the outcome may not fall in your favour later down the track.

Also keep in mind there's no 'correct' process to follow here. Just because you might buy a house first, it doesn't mean the marriage won't come - but similarly, it doesn't mean it will either. The main thing here is to talk about both your views on marriage - because if it's something you definitely want, and something he definitely doesn't, then that's where the real problems arise.

What advice do you have for this reader? Should marriage come before financial committment? 

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