She Vowed Never to Marry Again; How Can I Convince Her?

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Reader’s Question

I am in a relationship with a woman who suffered for many years in a bad marriage. Her husband was very nice to her before they were married. But shortly after they were married he showed his true colors and was very abusive. Whenever they argued, he told her she should get a divorce. But in her culture divorce was unthinkable, so although she left him for a short time, when he came to her and begged her to return, she did. It wasn’t long, however, before all the bad patterns returned. Still, she stayed in the marriage, and they raised two children together. But her marriage was extremely painful, and after over 40 years of marriage, she finally divorced him.

Unlike my woman friend, I had a wonderful marriage and loved my wife dearly. We were married for 42 years before my wife passed away. We had a great marriage and raised four children. So the marriage experiences of my woman friend and myself are vastly different.

My woman friend and I have reached an impasse in our relationship. I would like to marry her, but she has vowed never to marry again. She has suggested living together, but my religious belief does not accept sexual relations outside of marriage. She often says that men treat you one way before you get married, and then treat you differently after you get married. I cannot convince her that I am not like her former husband. She is so afraid that she will get stuck in a bad situation again.

Do you have any suggestions? I’m afraid that we will go our separate ways if we cannot solve this problem.

Psychologist’s Reply

Of course it’s not really possible to give completely accurate advice so remotely, but there are definitely some things about your situation worth noting. Persons who have been in relationships with “covert” individuals who hide their true colors on the front end and reveal themselves well into a relationship can develop a deep sense of mistrust both of themselves and of others. I write about this at length in my book In Sheep’s Clothing [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].

Your adherence to principle might be a mixed blessing for a time. While your commitment to not living together out of religious conviction provides a favorable testament to your character, it could possibly also be seen by your friend as a manipulative tool to coerce the idea of marriage. Your best chance with this relationship is to bare your history and soul to the best of your ability. Your friend will need to come to both know and appreciate the kind of marriage you nurtured for 42 years and the fruits that came of it. Even if she eventually becomes less apprehensive, the truth is that all relationships carry risk. But she’ll be more likely to take a leap of faith if she comes to believe that you are the genuine article.

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