Readers’ dilemma: ‘I want to get married and my boyfriend doesn’t’


I want to get married and my boyfriend doesn’t. We’ve been together for five years, living together for two, and I want us to show our commitment to our family and friends by getting wed in front of everyone. My boyfriend has said he doesn’t want a big stupid wedding, and doesn’t agree with marriage. He’s not interested in civil partnerships, either. I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to commit. I want to show everyone that gay men are just as good as everyone else, but my boyfriend is ruining this for me.

Will, via email

The Guyliner replies: The introduction of gay marriage in the UK is fantastic, and we should be delighted for those couples who have been waiting to get married. But just because we can now get married, doesn’t mean we have to. Marriage is a nice idea for those who want it, and can be a sign of commitment in a relationship, but deciding not to trot down the aisle doesn’t mean you’re not committed. If anything, less formalised relationships are more difficult to get out of – divorce certainly has an air of finality that the act of merely ‘splitting up’ doesn’t.

You say you want to marry to “show everyone that gay men are just as good as everybody else” and “show our commitment to family and friends”, but you don’t say anything about doing this for you and your partner. You seem to be more concerned with staging the event and doing a PR job on your relationship than, y’know, just getting on with being in a loving relationship.

Many shrink from marriage for plenty of reasons – it doesn’t make them a commitmentphobe. He may have been the product of an unhappy union himself or wish to preserve some level of independence and be his own person, all the while enjoying being with you. If you do press for marriage, you’re going to have to prove to him that a) you’re doing it for the right reasons – in others words, yourselves – and b) that it’s a positive, logical step for you to take as a couple.

If he really won’t be swayed, why not look at other ways you can commit to each other, whether it’s going into business together or collaborating in some way on a project, buying a house (if you have the means) or embarking on some personal journey together, whether it’s travelling or setting some personal fitness goals like running a marathon.

Getting married may be a way of showing your ‘commitment’, but it doesn’t make it any more authentic. I think your suspicions he’s waiting for something better are unfounded, but if he really is, no day spent in matching tuxedos picking confetti out of your hair is going to make a blind bit of difference. Eyes still wander whether a ring’s on the finger or not. The heart wants what it wants. Do what’s right for both of you – even if it means you have the big day all by yourselves.

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