Should I dump him if he will not commit?

-- Question for John --

I got divorced 3 years ago after 23 years of marriage. Now involved with a guy divorced after 28 years of marriage. He has been living with me for three months. I thought we were in committed relationship. But he told me last week, he could not commit to forever, would probably never get married again, plans on keeping his apartment for indefinite period.

I was upset and asked him to leave. He did. Now he says I violated his trust (he never wanted to be asked to leave anywhere again), says he loves me and is not looking for anyone else but that he still cannot say to me what I want to hear. Not only marriage but commitment.

Our relationship was great. But he’s back at his apartment and I am wondering if I am wrong? Should I ask him back and give him more time? Should I stick to my guns that I want a commitment? Should I dump him and look elsewhere? Aside from this issue, we are well suited to each other on basic moral beliefs, social background, goals, upbringing,intelligence, etc.

-- Answer from John --

If he is not looking for someone else and loves you, then that represents a stage of commitment already. The rest is a fight over wording, and timing. Couples have a natural tendency to polarize. The more you say you want commitment and marriage, the more he will shy away from it.

What I usually suggest is to table the notion of whether to marry or not and let go of the fight over the word commitment for awhile. Say for six months. Instead, focus on what agreements you can and will make with each other for that period of time. If he is willing to agree to monogamy for six months, that is the basic underpinning of “commitment” and “marriage” anyway.

In addition to monogamy, I would suggest a commitment to focus on personal growth. Obviously there is sufficient pain and distorted beliefs about relationship that has come about from past experiences. Perhaps especially from the two long term marriages.

There is healing that can happen. And a re-examination of what lessons truly should be learned from those past relationships–so that you both can achieve the love and intimacy your hearts dream about now.

I suggest as a part of a commitment to personal growth and healing the wounds from the past, you each consider some form of coaching and reading about relationships.

Open up to the work of healing the heart and educating the mind.