My partner wants to get married but I am not ready

What you need to know:

When we started dating, I told her that I would not marry until I turned 35. However, she recently started dropping hints about her wanting to get married

I am a 32-year-old man and I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for four years. When we started dating, I told her that I would not marry until I turned 35. However, she recently started dropping hints about her wanting to get married. Although I am well-placed professionally and financially, I am yet to get mentally prepared to tie the knot. She has now threatened to leave me and marry someone else. I will marry her but I need some time. How do I make her understand?


Dear Anonymous,

Your concerns are permissible; marriage is a decision and not a feeling as most people think. Many people can find it difficult to adapt and adjust to changes, especially if it involves making alterations to their thought processes and the plan they had for their lives.

You appear to find yourself in a similar situation. The plan you had for your life entailed a certain life path that you had charted out. However, when you are dating someone, their thoughts, feelings, and plans should also be accommodated.

Having been with someone for four years would lead to a change in plans for most people. Even though you may not have considered marriage earlier than you had supposed, it seems your girlfriend has been able to envision this scenario given the quality of your relationship and the way things have been progressing.

 To keep things balanced and moving forward, you both need to consider making a mutual adjustment. You might need to think of reducing your waiting period and your girlfriend may need to consider increasing the period she is happy to wait for.

This would allow you the requisite period you need to prepare yourself.

You should also ask yourself and come up with concrete answers to the question; ‘What does it mean to be psychologically prepared for marriage?’ If you can clearly explain this aspect to your girlfriend, then she would perhaps be able to understand your perspective.

In case you are not able to, most people (men or women) are likely to think that the intention to marry is not there after all.

That is where her statement about marrying someone else is coming from as perhaps she is not able to understand what more you need to prepare for marriage. She might also think that perhaps you are not interested in the same and are simply making excuses.

So, find time and together discuss this non-judgmentally and if you can, find a professional marriage counsellor to offer assistance. Neither partner should feel obligated to give up their needs to be in the relationship. Figure out what compromises you’re willing to make on certain issues.

Reader advice

Sit down and talk

Anitah Anitez Nabuduwa. Marriage is a delicate topic. You have your goals but so does she. In most cases, women want to settle down faster than men because the more we date, the more we want to be by our partner’s side every day, hence the need for marriage. Such critical decisions such as when to get married are best understood when you both sit down, discuss, argue and then agree to a term that is neutral. All in all, marry only when you are ready but explain to her the genuine reason for your delay.

Find middle ground

David Matovu. It is important to state that a number of couples have very fulfilling long-term relationships without getting married. For some people, marriage is part of the expected course of a relationship. For others, it is not something they want or need to do. If your disagreement is caused by differing attitudes towards marriage itself, think about whether you can find a middle ground.

Consider her stand

Jane Nabanakulya. If you do not think your partner is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you may need to think about whether it is fair to continue with the relationship, particularly if you know that she is very clear about how she would like things to develop. Is it a case of ‘not now, not yet’ with this person or ‘not ever’? You owe it both to yourself and to your partner to give this question careful thought.

Be gentle

Joseph Kato. Remember that finding out your partner does not want to get married can be a difficult thing to hear. It is a bold declaration that has a lot of potential to upset someone, which is why you should not be so blunt. Instead, be gentle, and phrase it in a softer manner. This will help to de-escalate any tension around the subject.

Provide context

Christine Kasirye. Just saying you are not ready is such a vague, subjective statement that will almost certainly be frustrating for her. Provide context when possible. Do you have a phobia of commitment, have you seen your parents’ marriage break down? Do you simply not have faith in the institution of marriage? If you speak your mind, she will be able to empathise with you.

Understand your partner

Goretti Nakate. Unfortunately, a fundamental disagreement like this is the kind of thing couples break up over. One person not wanting to get married could potentially be a deal breaker. Whatever happens, it is possible that your partner will have a strong emotional reaction. If this happens, do not freak out. Instead, try to provide verbal and emotional support. Recognise that, while to you, it feels like you are just stating a preference, she is dealing with a powerful form of rejection.

You do not love her

Micheal Kazinda. What will happen if at 35 you are not professionally and financially able to afford a wedding, will you postpone again? To me, you do not love this woman and are just keeping her around until you find the one you want to marry. Let her go.

Evelyn is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation