By Nina Atwood
Marriage is a worthy goal in dating, the whole purpose of which is to find someone special to share your life with. Knowing you want marriage is empowering – it gives you clarity as you sort for true compatibility through the men you date. Needing marriage too much throws you off balance and pushes away what you want. Here’s how to strike a balance.
When do guys want to get married? I’ve always asked guys how they feel about marriage. They all say they want to get married … until we start to get serious and then they break up. My last boyfriend told me that he wanted to get married, but first he wanted to date lots of women. Are all guys this nuts? How do you get guys to want to get married?
Dear Cindy: The quick answer is: A guy wants to get married when he realizes he’s with someone he trusts, loves, admires, respects, and with whom he wants to share his life. Your question, Cindy, is really this one: Why didn’t my last boyfriend want to marry me?
Generalizing this question so that all guys get tagged with “he’s nuts” (i.e., says one thing and does another) won’t get you where you want to go. Let’s look at this from another perspective: What can you do to change this pattern in your life? You are the common denominator in all your relationships, and if you are attracting guys who want to date you but not marry you, then you are the one who needs to shift in some way. Why? Because you have no control over what guys do but total control over your own attitude and behavior.
First, take a look at your most recent relationship and ask yourself this question, being totally honest with yourself: “Would I really have been happy sharing the rest of my life with this guy?” Odds are the answer is “no,” and that probably applies to past relationships as well.
Perhaps your focus has been too much on the getting married part and not enough on discovering real compatibility. You’ve been looking over there at him – what does he feel, when will he ask me to marry him? A powerful shift for you would be to look over here, at you – what are my values, life goals, and needs? How can I determine early on if a guy shares my values and basic life goals? Is he right for me?
Focusing on him keeps you off-balance and needy about marriage. Neediness pushes away what you want, so naturally he pulled away. Maybe it was because he sensed you wanted marriage more than he did. Maybe it was because he didn’t see you as compatible, or he wasn’t really in love with you and realized it. Whatever his reason for not moving forward, a change in your focus away from him and toward knowing yourself better will give you a greater sense of control over your life.
When you are completely clear about what you are seeking in a relationship – and I don’t mean a certain look or income level – then your attractor is tuned in to the right channel. You then naturally attract men who are on the same page – intentional about marriage, shared values – and you push away the ones who are not interested in marriage, don’t share your values, or who are not in love with you.
Take a break from dating and work on your personal vision for your life and future marriage. Create a powerful vision statement based on your values and fundamental relationship principles that work. Using the exercises in my book Be Your Own Dating Service, put together a dating game plan and go back to dating with a new intention. This time, instead of trying to get him to marry you, focus on interviewing and pacing new relationships to discover whether or not he’s the right guy for you. That subtle shift in energy puts you back in control of your life, aiming for the right target – true compatibility and the ingredients for lifelong happiness.
Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a licensed therapist, executive coach, and author of three published self-help books, including one for couples: Soul Talk. She writes a blog for singles on the hit web site www.singlescoach.com. Her newest book is Temptations of the Single Girl. Send questions to Nina at firstname.lastname@example.org.