I got married when I was 24 years old. Sure, I had my share of uncertainties, but I also had a relationship with an amazing woman (for only one year) who I’d grown to love and trust.

If you’re looking for 100%, 90% or even 80% certainty in your relationship, then you should probably move to another planet. As far as I can tell, that level of confidence doesn’t exist here.photo-1430713976611-6c0b558c239e-compressor

Marriage is one of those worthwhile experiences in life. Total dedication and fully exposed. It's a gift, worth the risk. I even write this as I await the arrival of our first baby, who was actually due yesterday, and trust me, it's so worth it. There's nothing more native, more natural, and more human than creating a family.

My purpose in writing is this, I want to encourage those who may be sitting on the sidelines, those who are not even in the game, and even those in a seven-year relationship without a formal commitment.

Here are 3 Overly Common, Crazy Excuses we use to Delay Marriage

One in Two Marriages End in Divorce:

That may be true, but since when do we let statistics guide our relational decisions? 96.9% of serious adult relationships end in breakup. Are you going to stop dating? If we were talking about your stock portfolio perhaps, but not your relationships. Many of us try to mitigate risk in relationships by using the excuse of this statistic, but it doesn’t actually reduce risk, it only reduces joy, experience, and fullness of life. We must remember we gain the most pleasure in the places of deepest commitment. This is one of life's most ironic laws: our sources of deepest pain are also our sources of deepest joy.

We Already Live Together:

My grandparents’ generation had this phrase, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” They like to apply this expression to the fact that so many of “the young people these days” are living together, sleeping together, and generally doing life as if they were married when they’re not. They’ve got the milk, the cow, and the pseudo marriage but it’s a sham. To take this expression even further, when you’re “getting the milk for free” and “the cow” is not yours, you’re actually taking something that doesn’t belong to you. You’re stealing. Someone else is tending the field in which the cow grazes, paying for its food, and more. You get the point? In your relationship, you’ve got to decide: are you all in or all out? Stop riding the fence. As a man, there is nothing honorable, brave, or extraordinary about someone who avoids commitment.

Marriage Is Just a Piece of Paper:

Is it? Then why are so many struggles occurring in our culture today to redefine marriage, to stretch its definitions and borders? Marriage matters. I think there’s something innate in us that longs for the safety of deep commitment. Marriage creates a covenant – an agreement – between two consenting parties. It creates safety. It’s an act of courage to say, “I will stay, come hell or high water. I will not leave your side no matter what.” Ultimately, I think most people today, lack commitment because of unresolved brokenness in their past. They don’t have the emotional maturity, and instead of healing, they use the lame excuse, “Marriage is just a piece of paper” to continue the delay of marriage.

What other excuses have you seen people make to delay marriage? “I need to finish school” or “After we get a house”, etc.

54 thoughts on “3 Crazy Excuses We Use to Delay Marriage

  1. Judy says:

    Dale, I read your column daily and your insights give an opportunity for my own insights. I believe you nailed it and that is why there is so much passion in this topic. “Are you all in or all out.”

    I loved that movie with Nicholas Cage,”The Family Man”, it is a gift worth the risk.

  2. Megan says:

    This is an interesting issue because there seems to be a fine line and balance. Often times in a relationship it seems one person is more ready for marriage than the other. When that marriage-minded person pushes the other towards that, there is a risk of premature commitment…one where that person is now ‘locked in’ but is NOT ready for the “hell and high water” part. So which is better? Pushing the hesitant person to grow up/make a decision or waiting for the next 10 years for them to come around & see what you’ve always seen?

    • Krista says:

      I played that game with my ex. I chose to push him into a decision and we actually broke up over it. It may have happened 10 years down the road, but I didn’t want to wait that long for only a “maybe” commitment. He just wasn’t ready, and I don’t think pushing will ever be the solution.

      I think you need to find someone who is at the same point in life as you. I dated 4-5 different guys in my 20’s and I’m 28, and I was able to find a guy that told me after a couple dates that he’s looking for commitment, but it has to be with someone who also wants to “be all in.” We dated a little over a year, no pressure in him, he proposed, and we are now 1 month away from our wedding!

      Relationships really need good communication and understanding. Both people will have to make compromises, but that’s what it’s all about.

    • JG says:

      I definitely agree, i am in the situation where i feel as i have pushed my boyfriend into something he is not ready for. He says marriage is only a piece of paper or has brought up statistics or the fact that people only want to get married for the wedding. I have been with him for about a total of 3 years. We have 14 month old and a month old babies. When we met i spoke about the importance of marriage and commitment.I really love my boyfriend but i want to be in marriage with a committed man who is ready. Is this a good reason to leave or just wait and see if marriage ever happens?

  3. Jessica says:

    My husband and I got married when I was 21 and he was 24. We had a 3 month old son, so that’s what pushed it to happen that soon. I can’t say we only got married because of that, but I don’t think he would have ever asked me as soon as he did if it wasn’t for that. We have now been married 3 1/2 years and have added a second child to our family who will be 2 on jan 12th!

    • CMG says:

      Expect when you leave God out of the covenant of marriage that He will let you know how unhappy He is at some point. Include God, and He will do what he can to help you all the way. Leave him out and I believe you are doomed.

  4. V says:

    I’ve been with my partner for 8 years, but we met young in high school, so our delay is because of his ‘it’s just a piece of paper’ excuse, and my need for independence from the family home, which requires a stable income from both sides. I expect since we’re both finishing university this year and will be working and moving out, a proposal may just be around the corner….

  5. Lindsey says:

    It’s not an excuse to delay marriage, but it is important to both me and my boyfriend that both of us finish school and become financially stable before making that commitment. We would rather not have to move back in with either of our parents, or have to constantly ask for financial help after we get married. Instead of using this as an excuse, we choose to use it as a motivator to focus on school and work to save up in order to get married down the road.

      • carol says:

        why so obsessed with marriage? they ARE working towards it and it’s not like the longer you’re married the happier you’ll be!!!

    • jp says:

      I’m not married, but most advice I’ve heard from elders “you will never be where you want to be financially.”.

    • CMG says:

      Personally, I don’t think either of you are ready for marriage since you both have other goals in mind. Or perhaps, this isn’t the person for you. If you were set on each other, you would make the plans and do it and know that whatever comes will come. Sadly, it just sounds like an excuse. Ask yourself honestly, what you want the most and you’ll get your true answer.

  6. wildrose says:

    me and my fiance have been living together 7 years…a ‘couple’ 10 years ….and have a 9 month old little boy too now.. we’ve arranged and had to cancel weddings twice in the past…due to family/health problems.. . now tho…neither of us have any family…and truth be told…no friends either…if we got married today…we’d have to pick up 2 strangers off the street to be our witnesses …i would have liked our wedding to be a celebration of our love…among friends/family.. but that isnt likely to happen any time in the near future

  7. kk says:

    my boyfriend said he made so much money that it would mess up my two young sons college financial aid opportunities after that I gave up. We live together but I know it may never happen and i am ok with that but down the road i may never date again, just too much work. k

    • Joy Ward says:

      If he makes “so much money” he should be helping to put those boys through college because when your married it’s “our” money

  8. Katie says:

    I feel that so long as the couple is on the same page regarding commitment and a goal for a wedding timeline – and the couple holds true to that goal and timeline – then there is nothing to worry about. But if one person in the relationship begins pushing back on the original set goal, and the other person continues to hold true to the set goal, then there’s a huge part of the relationship that needs to be re-evaluated immediately. Each should be open and honest in the re-evaluation. It would be a shame to waste each other’s time because the lack of openness and honesty.

  9. vonnaya says:

    Here’s some more excuses. How about 3 yrs after their divorce, I still need to tie loose ends before I can get married. I need to get the time share in my name. I’ve had a messy divorce I’m just starting to trust again. Or I’m making sure that my daughter is set finacially through college before I can get married. Does this sound like someone that wants to be married … NO not at all. SMH

  10. Heather says:

    Here’s one: we have to have our own place first. I will not be married and not have you living with me. ???? I am ready to give up 🙁

    • CMG says:

      Sorry. That would be my answer. If you love someone, none of that matters. You don’t say things like that to someone you want things to work out with. You’ll do whatever you can to make it work. Those are just excuses. Kinda like saying,”yeah, I want to keep my options open or I’m not sure if I want to be married to you.” And if anyone is that arrogant to you, please walk away from them and let your backside be the last thing they see of you.

    • Elizabeth Young says:

      It’s tough, but the short answer to that one is that if you’re sleeping together, stop until you’re married. If you’re not sleeping together, and the wedding date is still a fantasy, there are plenty of decent people ready, willing, and able to get married; it may be best to take your chances finding one of them.

  11. Elizabeth Belt says:

    I spoke with my live-in widower boyfriend yesterday about this. His wife died 8 years ago, and I have been living with him for 1 year, we have known each other for almost 3 years. He told me they were married by a minister and he cried during his vows due to emotion. Yet he tells me that marriage is just a piece of paper. I’m 51 and never married, and I want to be a wife. We never argue and love each other very much, but I need to be more than just a girlfriend. And he also says that to him, we are already married. That’s funny because I have no rings on my finger, and I don’t have his name either. Then he told me that ‘if it will make me feel better, we can get the paper, and get married’. Not a reason to marry someone, I told him…I am worth more than that. I know what I need to do, if I can afford it, is to move out, and just be a true girlfriend to him. Date him, but stop being a wife when I am not a wife. Maybe then he won’t feel like we’re married. At 51, maybe I can’t afford NOT to move out.

    • GypsySpirit509 says:

      Well, that is one way to give him what HE wants. Move out and become just a girlfriend again instead of playing house. I don’t have any answers for you, but I sure know that game.

  12. NANA says:

    beautiful article, my boyfriend broke up with me just because i started talking about marriage, he first said it was just a piece of paper then said he wasnt ready at all so he had to let me go; now im stuck because im in love with him but he moved on and we basicaly kinda of did the thing like married people and i used to tell him see we are doing stuff like we’re married and he would only laugh, i’m still virgin and i decided to wait for the marriage at first he was okay with that but then started to complain he wanted to have sex i told him basicaly if u want that we have to get married first he would say sure i agree but in the end he broke up on new year eve this year and told me he wasnt ready so now im kinda dissapointed because i treated him how a wife would treat her husband ‘except having sex part’ but now i feel good because im reading articles like this that reminds me that theres a purpose why i am doing what i do and thinking how i think a great man will come by one day and accept me and cherish me im sure!! Thank youuu for this

    • CMG says:

      I’m glad you asked for marriage. Like you said, you were willing to act as his wife. It sounds like he wanted the benefits without a commitment. I think men like that lack honor. They really seem to just want to use a woman instead of fixing whatever issues they have. Relationships are meant to be commitments.(and anyone who says otherwise is immature) If they cannot decide, then what is the point? The benefits? Are they that great? No. I think too many people today accept lame excuses and think that the only way they can be involved in a relationship is by compromising what they value. (esp. women) I would take a deeply committed relationship until death do us part any day over an open relationship that is going no where definite. No benefit is worth it.

  13. bethan says:

    Number 2 literally makes no sense. Relationships are not about ownership – owning another human in this context is tantamount to romantic slavery.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      I believe that my wife is God’s gift to me, and I believe in the sanctity of marriage as He designed it. This for me, means that a husband and wife belong to each other, pledged with vows and proven in commitment. This isn’t about “owning” another person as you would own a piece of jewelry or even a dog. This is about the fact that our society is made up of many non-committal persons who for all kinds of reasons, will not give their word in a relationship but still expect to belong to another. What’s the point of getting married if you’re already doing everything as if you were? Commitment, my friend… not ownership.

  14. Sonny750^^ says:

    “Marriage creates a covenant – an agreement – between two consenting parties. It creates safety.”

    How can marriage create safety, when one in two marriages end in divorce? Doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Divorce is a choice – not something that’s automatic. People choose to become a part of that statistic.

      • Sonny750^^ says:

        That’s true, Dale. But as long as they choose to do so marriag can give you no safety. You can’t look behind the forehead of people.

  15. Sonny750^^ says:

    Dear all, I have one general question. Do you think that God accepts a marriage at the registry office as a “full” marriage, or does one have to be marriaged by a minister/priest? Thanks.

    • Elizabeth Young says:

      I’d like an in-depth answer to this myself.

      My husband and I lived together for months before our official wedding. We considered ourselves married since our 3rd month of dating, yet we remained virgins until after the wedding since as teens we had both vowed to do so.

      Long before or wedding, we made a promise between ourselves and God that we would remain together and honor and care for one another as long as we live. But there were no documents, no public stamp of approval, not even a ring. And according to Jewish customs of covenant, the covenant was not at that time sealed with any symbolic act. (I’m not Jewish, but as a Christian I find great wealth in their model of covenant).

      Furthermore, how is an engagement different than a marriage?? I’ve asked many people, and everyone falls silent.

      • Atchlique says:

        First, in answer to the question about how a marriage at the registry office differs from a “full marriage”, It seems that there are several things to take into account. Of all the sacraments that Jesus Christ instituted, marriage differs in one BIG way– it is conferred by the couple being wed, rather than by a minister, priest, or third party. This being said, it IS possible to have a true marriage in God’s eyes without the other parties present, HOWEVER, traditionally the marriage is officiated by a church man, and witnessed, and for good reason. For one, the minister, priest, etc., is supposed to ensure that the intentions of the parties being wed are correct. He also ensures that they do indeed promise themselves fully and in the appropriate way. the witnesses are their to create a certain formality, and also to testify to the union initiated at the ceremony. you may think, ‘but that is not necessary to actually have a marriage. why bother?’ It may be true that a real marriage can be initiated without the other factors, but do you really want to gamble it with your MARRIAGE? Additionally, since Marriage is more than what the state defines it as, it is not necessarily sufficient to sign the papers and call it a day. when you have a ‘full marriage’ with the church and ceremony and witnesses, you are making your vows before God and man, and unmistakably entering into the union of marriage as instituted by Christ. That is the main difference, and one I think well worth making a fuss over.
        As for how a marriage and engagement differ, here is how: Marriage is the mutual sacramental vow between a man and a woman to be joined as one flesh until death. engagement is the statement of intention to wed, and begins a period of a more serious discernment about marriage for a couple. The man states his intention and asks the lady if she wants the same thing. if they both desire marriage, they spend the period of engagement (usually 6 to 12 months) planning their marriage and using that preparatory time to discern on a WAY more serious level if they are called to marriage. Engagement is not the vow of marriage. it is the initiation of serious discernment and statement of intention to make those vows.
        I hope this is helpful.

  16. Christine says:

    I’ve been the one making up excuses and my horrible truth was, he was not the man I wanted to marry. I loved him but not like that. Marriage is an amazing experience that I’ve dreamt about it since I was a little girl. There are different kinds of love but only a certain type the produces a marriage. Marriage is hard. Some of the best things in life are hard but like Dale said, it’s worth it.

  17. David says:

    She’s in Vietnam, I’m in the States. I need to finish all the paperwork and go over there and marry her. But I have NO idea how to do the paperwork, get notary public and secretary of state approval. Then comes the fee for the Vietnamese Embassy to review the documents which have to be in Vietnamese as well. I’ll be in the Navy by June or July, and before that I’m still in school. If I leave school, for a week, then I lost a lot of information. I don’t know what to do, honestly. I don’t know what documents to do. No one can help me, and I have no idea if the documents will go as plan. God so help me.D

  18. confused says:

    what do i do if my fiance wants to delay our marriage cuz hes having such a good time with me right now that hes afraid il change.i just dont know how to respond to that. and we dont live together. thats not acceptable in our country till we are married. so what is he having second thoughts? im just hurt and confused

  19. Tabitha Shepherd says:

    I hear, “our relationship isn’t ready for marriage” and “we are not financially stable” or “marriage is just a piece of paper” and “we already live together”.

  20. help says:

    My boyfriend has told me he wants to ask me between my birthday and his but did not happen because he needed the money for the car which I know he gets paid loads

  21. Concerned friend says:

    As an outsider with no other metric to go off what’s really going on in your relationship, it sounds like open communication will help save hurt feelings. Stick to honestly, with no embellishments. You deserve to be valued, and feel loved. Hope you all the best.

    • Poll says:

      Thank you for tour advice. It jus seems we don’t talk and sometimes do not care deeply for the other person’s feelings. I might have got annoyed today over nothing! On Friday my partner paid for me to have my hair cut and coloured. He said that’s my valentines treat. I came home after work today and he gave me a card. Then I discovered he had gone to visit his daughter and partner, who incidentally were out and let his daughter flowers on the doorstep.
      Am I so wrong in saying hey how tactless? It’s Valentine’s Day and toy buy flowers for your daughter who lives with a great guy and yet I come home to a card. I maybe out of order here, maybe thought he had spent enough. It was not the cost that hurt it was the tactless lack of thought that hurt and annoyed me. Makes me sad and feel yet again a nothingness! Please feed back any thoughts on this I’d be happy for other opinions xx

  22. unhealthy says:

    I can’t afford to marry you. I’d do it but you’d have to pay the difference in the health insurance , I can’t pay for your co-pays ,you’d have to pay for life insurance. I simply can’t “take care of you”. You’re to sickly, I can’t afford it.

  23. Conflicted says:

    My Boyfriend and I have been together for nearly three years. He insists that he is in love with me, that I am who he wants to marry, that he IS committed to me… but its the issue of WHEN has been our biggest fight. His answers are usually ambiguous. I had told him during our first fight over this topic that I didn’t want to be like his ex-girlfriend: 3 years dating and no commitment. I told him during the first fight I would leave after the three year mark because I want to get married and have a family . He has often said he is afraid of losing me, but got mad when I told him during my last “freak out” on Christmas that the three year mark is coming up and I am struggling with either leaving or waiting it out another year.

  24. Nancy says:

    I’ve known my boyfriend since we were kids. I attended his first wedding, which happened because he got a girl pregnant, same goes for his second marriage, so two divorces and now we have been together for almost four years, our four year anniversary is on New Year’s Eve. He was separated when we met, and battling for his house but he let her have it and wanted to be with me instead so a step in the right direction. Since they were separated for 6 years, I thought cool, marriage here we come….wrong. My legs hurt from jumping through so many hoops. He’s great to my boys who adore him and he has given us a new house to live in and I choose to work but don’t have too, he will do most anything I ask except marry me. My parents are all deceased and he comes from a small family as well and already had two huge weddings that cost a ton of money due to marrying women with large families and friends. I was married once and it was at a Texas court house because I was escaping from having to deal with my mother dying, I know stupid and it got annulled. I have been engaged six times and never really wanting marriage because I was having a good time but of course now it’s a matter of life or death for me. I’m giving him until Valentine’s Day and that is it. I deserve to be married and I deserve a wedding. My sons deserve to see their mother get married so if I lose him, then it wasn’t meant to be but I refuse to keep being strung along.

  25. Kimberly says:

    Do people remember the meaning of marriage in the first place? And that is love. If two people love each other there is no excuses at all for not getting married. When you are so deeply in love you will do anything for that person and be there for better or worst. Better or worst…. That is the true meaning. So whatever position that someone is in there will always be that love regardless. No matter how it’s done or what steps you take into trying to do it the right way really there is no right way. The only right way is that big word love. So if you have that deep love with someone you will be willing to go through whatever they are going through in life and try to make it through together and that is the meaning of marriage. Therefore I believe there should be no excuses or the right way to do it. If you love each other you love each other and that is all it is to it. You get married and you make it through life with each other to build. You shouldn’t get married just because of a child has been born and you shouldn’t have reasons to get married. When you love somebody will risk whatever it may be to be with that person and when both partners feel that deep love with each other then they know they are ready to be married and would not let anything stand in the way of that.

  26. Amy says:

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 and a half years, living together for 2. We are both financially stable, have good jobs, etc. We don’t have kids (he hates kids). Some excuses he has given me:
    1. I want to live together for 6 months first.
    2. (After 6 months) No, I said 2 years.
    3. Let’s see what our friends do. It’s not fair on him if we get married first (they later broke up).
    4. It’ll negatively affect our tax.
    5. Well honey, if you want a promotion, first you have to prove to the company that you deserve it.

    I recently told him that, although I love him and still want to be with him, I don’t want to marry him. He said, “That’s a win-win for both of us.” When I told him it was because he was still too immature to make that big a decision, he stormed off and sulked for an hour.
    We are still in a happy relationship, he has never been happier. I still cry about it, but I figure I will be happier as I am now, with a man, rather than in a marriage with a little boy.

  27. Colleen Gollihar says:

    I read this article because I was searching the Internet for answers to why my boyfriend whom I’ve been together with for close to two years says, marriage is just a piece of paper. It crushed me because I just turned 40 and I deeply want to have that in my life. If anyone could understand the fears of divorce it’s me. I have been divorced and my parents divorced when I was 8 years old. I have also seen marriages succeed. I love my boyfriend deeply and we get along so well. Our communication is on point. We can freely talk about anything. I know his reason for “marriage is just a piece of paper ” He was in love with a woman (the mother of his two children) for years. They were engaged and before the actual wedding he lost his job and just started another and he didn’t even get the first paycheck and she just left him because he wasn’t making enough money for her. It crushed him. And now fast forward 4 years later, he is still sad about it. He doesn’t tell me that but he has told me this several times. The woman has moved on goy married and had another child since they havery been apart. He says he’s in love with me, even moved from California to Missouri with me and still maintains he is happy with how are relationship is and says marriage is just a piece of paper. Am I just wasting my time? I believe I deserve the same respect that other woman have. Any input would help

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