If your answer to the question 'Do I want to get married?' is yes, that's perfectly fine. But if the question is this - 'Do I need to be married in order to be happy?' - and your answer is yes, then there's a problem. Is it more important that you have the event that is the wedding or are you perfectly happy with a loving, healthy, mutual respectful and exclusive relationship without the tag of marriage? While there's nothing right or wrong with wanting the whole nine yards - the outfit, the ceremony, the dancing and everything else - it might just not be what your romantic partner wants.
There are perfectly healthy and happy individuals who are not too impressed with the institution of marriage. Then there are those who have made scrapbooks of the dream wedding they want and see marriage as a necessary milestone in their lives.
What if your romantic partner is very loving and shows up in the relationship in every way, big and small, but just does not want the relationship to carry the weight of the marriage label, now or ever? Would you then let go of a great relationship and an interesting journey with this person who is your best friend and lover? Would you let go of the loving space where both of you thrive as individuals? This is real food for thought.
If the institution of marriage is very important to you but not to your partner, you need to do the following:
Have a free and frank talk about why you really want to get married, and listen respectfully to his views on why he doesn't want to. Do not take his views on marriage personally and know that his ideas of the institution of marriage have nothing to do with you. You could then choose to continue to enjoy the loving and committed space in the relationship knowing that he knows what you want and may or may not one day change his views, or then if the institution is more important to you, you might choose to let go of the relationship. Remember that any forcing of views and decision of marriage is counterproductive, because while you might get the marriage, you risk losing the respect and love of your partner.
Have an honest dialogue with yourself and ask whether you will start resenting your partner for not giving you what you want - marriage, in this case - and will that then ruin a perfectly happy and loving space between both? Honesty with yourself is key. We must know what we value more. It might also be a good idea to see a professional counsellor for clarity about where your happiness really lies. You could choose to enjoy the love, the laughter, the friendship, the companionship, or then you could choose to have your dream of a marriage. Either way, you must know what you really want and then go for it unapologetically.
Have a few couple's counselling sessions with a professional counsellor, so that if there is any ambiguity about the differing views on marriage and reasons for the same, it can be discussed with absolute clarity in the sessions. What is important is to listen, to respect and to keep the communication lines open about your thoughts and feelings on this subject without any coercive element in the conversations.
Finally, it's important to make peace within by asking yourself that when you look back into your life and it's time for the curtains to fall, will you rejoice the love you experienced and enjoy the memories of cherished moments with someone you love, or will you regret the fact that you were not married? The answer lies within you. Listen to it and respect it.
Dr. Minnu Bhonsle Ph.D. is a Senior Consulting Psychotherapist and Relationship Counsellor at the Heart to Heart Counselling Centre, Mumbai, and has been working with couples for the last three decades.