Dear Rachel,

I've been dating a great guy for over a year now, and we are extremely happy together. The issue, however, is that I want to get married and he seems perfectly content with how things are right now. I agree that things are going really well, but I am ready for the next step and don't want to keep on dating. I also don't want an endless engagement. I am not going to give him an ultimatum or set a deadline, but I really feel that if he is not ready to move on in the relationship that I might have to move on without him. What do you suggest?


Dear R.L.,

You are unfortunately describing a pretty typical situation. It is all too common that a woman feels ready to move ahead in the relationship whereas the man is happy with the way things are. Often he simply doesn't want to rock the boat.

Often he simply doesn't want to rock the boatIt is interesting how you write that you are extremely happy together when in fact, it sounds as if you are not. Perhaps you have been happy but right now you really are not satisfied with where things are. It sounds like it is time for this relationship to progress and he is not feeling the need at all to make that next step.

In Jewish law, the actual commandment of getting married and having children is a commandment that only applies to the man. A woman is actually not required to either marry or have children, even though clearly neither one is happening for a man without her involvement. But the fact that he is the one commanded and she is not is a powerful idea.

The man is commanded because Torah is teaching us that on his own he might not ever be ready or willing to make this commitment. He might forever stay happy with the way things are, and it is not necessarily a natural desire of his to settle down in marriage; whereas, to generalize, the woman is more likely to naturally desire to marry and have children. This is one of the reasons why it is not a commandment incumbent upon her, as you do not need to be commanded to do something you would anyway want to be doing.

If you have not already, it is vital that you speak with him at length and explain to him how you feel ready to take your relationship to the next step. It is important that he realize that you feel stuck with how things are now and that you are not willing to remain like this for much longer. I do not suggest you give him an ultimatum, but rather that you give him the chance to recognize how you see your future together.

I do not suggest you give him an ultimatum It might sound easy to say that everything is perfect in your relationship except that he doesn't want to get married. But that is a huge exception and one that makes your relationship far from perfect. If you are ready to settle down in your life and enter into marriage, then you need to be with someone that likewise wants that for his future and is ready to take that step.

What must be clarified, though, is whether he is actually scared of the commitment of marriage and of taking that step right now, or if he would like to one day get married but for whatever reason doesn't see you as his future wife. If the issue is that he is having fun right now and enjoying your company but has no real desire to ever marry you, then it is high time that this relationship come to an immediate ending.

If, however, he very much wants to marry you and just doesn't feel ready, then it is important to discuss, either amongst yourselves or with a third party that you both respect, why he is not ready to move forward. Getting married is scary, it is a huge decision and a major commitment, but he needs to understand that what is holding him back could result in losing you altogether.

Clearly you don't want him proposing out of guilt or force, but simultaneously, you need to know for yourself how much longer you are really willing to wait. Try to focus your relationship on working towards the future and discussing the future. Does he talk about you in the plural like "When we have kids…" or "When we are old…" because if he doesn't, it might not be an issue as to whether or not he is ready, it might be a mindset in which he doesn't see this relationship lasting too long.

Clearly you don't want him proposing out of guiltI know this conversation with him won't be easy. And no one wants to feel like they are pushing someone to be with them if they don't want to, but I have no doubt that an honest conversation will show you really where things stand and where they are headed.

I hope you are blessed with clarity to be able to see if this man is truly your soulmate, and that you both have the strength to make the right decision as to how things should proceed. With wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!