I know a number of women that are in relationships with their men and wanting to take the big step of marriage. When the subject of marriage has been broached, they haven’t been met with a diamond ring but instead with a brick wall. They’ve had hot air conversations about the ‘one days’ and ‘maybes’ and ‘intentions’, but for some, years on, nothing has changed.

Marriage or engagement is not something that comes easy to everyone and they are huge steps that should require a lot of thought before making these decisions. It is not a given that just because a woman wants to get married, that the man must say yes. However, if you’re a man that’s with a woman who has made it clear that she wants to get married and have children sooner rather than later, it is unfair to keep stringing her along if you don’t think you want to do either of those things with her. And if you’re a man that’s been with a woman for years and you’ve been dragging your feet and leading her on a merry dance – Shame on you!

Marriage and engagement are subjects which pose serious communication problems within relationships, on both sides. On one hand you either get a woman who keeps bringing it up or the woman that after bringing it up for a while, doesn’t speak about it so openly and it’s a sore subject that she’s hoping the partner will recognise and resolve. She’s trundling along in the relationship silent but with gritted teeth and a tense stomach. On the other hand the guy tends to either avoid the subject completely, or comes up with ways to put the subject on the back burner.

This may be where engagement slips into the relationship. It becomes a way of meeting her half way supposedly and keeping the peace. However, it’s all well and good getting engaged, but not if there aren’t actually any intentions to get married! I have seen this little trick time and time again, and I wonder how and why the woman puts up with the obvious subterfuge.

Guys that have been dragging their feet and making endless promises are not being honest with her and they’re not being honest with themselves. They say what is needed to keep the peace until the next tense ‘discussion’, never really addressing the problem at hand. He shirks the issues and comes up with every excuse under the sun, never actually saying what he means.

Why can’t a man say what he means, and mean what he says? What is all this cloak and dagger shit? I have no patience for this. If my man (well if I had one!) kept spinning me a yarn every time the subject of marriage came up, I’d tell him to get lost, and come back when he can learn how to communicate with me properly. These men are full of hot air and are incapable of following through with true actions or words.

I believe that when a man wants to get married, he will marry his woman. It’s not necessarily an easy process, but as a guideline, it won’t take years and years for him to decide to do this. It is different if he is not into marriage and communicated it to his partner from the outset. Some people change their minds, others don’t and if a person is being honest about their choices we must respect them. This is very different from someone saying that they want to get married one day, but ten years later there is no sign of a ring and present opening on Valentines day or birthdays become tense occasions. Does he mean that he wants to get married one day soon, or one day in the next century?

What’s frustrating is that women continue to allow men to communicate in this way. They allow these guys to evade the issues because they want to believe that the guy isn’t messing her about and that he will take her down the aisle one day. Human nature means that we often don’t want to face what is staring us right in the face, but it does mean that we often spend excess time in relationships, when realistically we should have called time and walked away.

Men need to learn how to communicate. It is not enough to say ‘I’m a man’, as if that is defence enough for the inability to discuss, answer, or frankly say anything straight. It is a rare man that will do this, and they tend to be gay. Need I say more?

Many women will agree that it is difficult to get a man down the aisle as it is, without having to get out a phrasebook to translate their every word on the subject. It’s almost as if they would rather have a Babymother than a wife. One seems to carry less weight and responsibility. For a woman it’s the opposite, and the latter brings a certain amount of security and solidity to your relationship, even in these uncertain times of high divorce rates.

My ex referred to our engagement as taking out a lease on a woman with an option to buy, a la Eddie Murphy. He also coined the phrase ‘Engagement is all about intentions’. Translated to a woman, this means I intend to marry you one day, just not necessarily in this century!

For women out there that are unfortunate enough to have a man who is leading you on a merry dance about marriage (this will be a lot of us), you have my utmost and deepest sympathies. You have your work cut out for you and it may or may not work out, depending on what you view as a success.

If you get them down the aisle with the minimum of aggravation that to me is a success. If you have to knock yourself out and the two of you are tussling over his supposed wonderful bachelorhood until it practically drives a wedge between you before you both get down the aisle, it is not.

There is another type of success. If you are a strong woman, who is independent with strong core values, many of the characteristics of a man who determinedly dodges commitment, but doesn’t mind getting you knocked up, will eventually wear on your very last nerve. There is something great and successful about any individual that can step back from a situation and realise that there may be love, but this person is not worthy of your attention. Even if you end up alone for a while with a sore heart, your honesty and integrity is in place.

For the women, who are prepared to go the distance, I wholeheartedly salute you, because you too have your own determination, and you’re going after what you want. Just be careful. When you do eventually get it, ‘it’ may not be all it appears or is cracked up to be. Worse still, it might not have been what you really wanted in the first place.

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