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Confessions: Nine years together but he won’t put a ring on it

Readers Lounge By Simon and Boke
I have dedicated my life to him but do not think he is ready to make the commitment (Photo: Shutterstock)

We are both divorced and have been together for about nine years now. I believe he loves me, we have a child together and have been raising the children without many issues. He, however, does not seem interested in formalising our marriage; even showing some commitment to my parents by paying bride price. I have dedicated my life to him but do not think he is ready to make the commitment. What can I do to get him to commit to me? I feel like he keeps me for convenience. Please advice.

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What the readers say:

Could it be that you have not won his confidence? As much as he enjoys the arrangement. Your first marriage, which went down the drains, could have been more promising from the onset. Why don't you seek his sincere opinion on getting married again? Equally, why do you think he is better than the first man?

[Tasma Saka]

Mercy, nine years seems long. Being together for that period proves he is truly in love with you. Remember, you two are divorced, rushing things isn't a good idea. Learn to be patient and it will happen if it is meant to. Also, you need to be sure that's what he wants. There must be a reason why he has taken that long. Do not force things to happen.

[Ouma Ragumo – Sifuyo]

If he is not being mean to you or showing any signs of leaving you, why are you so concerned about bride price? If it ain't broken, I don't see why you should fix it. Enjoy life and everything else will fall into pace at the right time.

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[Onyango Outha]

Boke says:

Dear Mercy,

I’m happy for both of you that you found love. Many people after divorce become bitter and getting into another serious relationship is the least they think of.

One of the effects of a broken relationship on an individual is the fear of commitment. This is when an individual tends to be unnecessarily slow in showing or making commitment in a relationship. I strongly believe your husband could be undergoing this. This could be because of the experiences they had in the previous relationship, especially if they never foresaw the break up. The phobia can also originate from childhood, for example, children who have gone through abandonment or loss of a parent and such related circumstances.

This could explain his reluctance to formalise your union. Phobias are best handled by a therapist over a period of time. Unfortunately, you cannot hurry the process. The best you can do is to offer your support and an enabling environment.

An enabling environment could include you putting him under no pressure and surrounding yourselves with people not just in long term relationships but healthy ones.

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It is likely to be an uphill task to get him to see a counsellor but try and encourage him, let him know you are for him. You see, one of the things that people with commitment issues have lost is trust. The trust that the other person means well for them. For a start, you could be part of a group counselling. Some churches offer this then, as he gets comfortable, you could see a counsellor as a couple.

If you approve this relationship and this man, you can afford to be patient as you support him.

Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in counselling psychology and loves to share her knowledge in life and relationship

Simon says:

Mercy, that is a genuine concern and the situation is not looking very good as of now. You said that you are both divorced and my hope is that both relationships (previous marriages) are finalised to ensure there are no pending issues. This is essential as it would clear the way for any plans you may have to solidify your marriage through fulfilling the customary requirements.

That said, and assuming everything else is in order, I may ask you why a man would want to buy a cow when he is getting milk for free. If the cost is clear there is no reason as to why nine years down the line and a child later, he will not show any sign of commitment to your parents. Visiting your parents often is good but it always helps to put your money where your mouth is and show some sign of goodwill. You see, he perhaps needs to understand that just like him, you have invested a lot in this marriage. You are taking care of him and his children just like he has taken care of you and your child. That you have also invested a lot in this including your feelings, commitment and physical effort so in the least he should not appear to be non-committal to the future of your relationship and to this family you have built together.

Through all this, you need to get him to want to do it rather than create a scenario where he is feeling coerced into paying dowry and showing commitment to you. This is somewhat a bit of a long process and one for which you need to let him know how much this means to him and that would also do him lots of good if he did this.

Simon Anyona is a relationships counsellor

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