ASK HOLLY: My partner doesn't want to marry me. Why do I care?

Welcome to Mamamia's new advice column, DON'T FREAK OUT, where Holly Wainwright solves your most personal and problematic dilemmas with her sage wisdom. If you have a drama you need solved, email us at — you can be anonymous of course because otherwise, awks.

Dear Holly,

I need some advice about being in a relationship but not married. 

For context, my amazing partner and I have both been married before and both have children from those marriages. We own a house together, are navigating the Brady Bunch combined household, and recently got a silly little dog who is "our" baby together.

My dilemma is that he is totally opposed to getting married again. Holly, how do you navigate not being married but in a "serious" relationship? I always get asked questions if we are married or not, and feel like our relationship is not viewed as serious or as valuable because we are not.

I know that it is probably just social pressure and expectations, but I am also a bit of a romantic and love the idea of standing in front of my family and friends and declaring that this is my person, I pick this one!

Thank you,
"Single" Lady x


Dear "Single" Lady, 

Greedy, greedy, greedy.

Imagine being lucky enough to find love again with a wonderful man with the same taste in silly little dogs, who will love you and your kids and still you want... more?

I'm joking, of course. That's my advice column equivalent of when the cooking show judge says "That's disgusting!... Disgustingly good!" Clumsy, isn't it? Apologies, I'm building tension.


Watch: The star signs dating. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

You, my friend, are allowed to want all the things you want. The brilliant second-chance relationship, the Brady Bunch family chaos, AND a ring and a party. There is no ceiling on desire, and no allocation of happiness that you are in danger of exceeding.

But you asked me how I navigate not being married, so I'll tell you. 

I don't care if people don't think my relationship is serious. Brent and I have been together for 18 years. We have two kids and a home and a silly big dog and bags of history and entwined family stories and an emotional shorthand and so much love and tolerance and irritation and respect. We know it's real, other people's opinions are not relevant.

But crucially, marriage is not important to either of us, so it's not a point of tension. If one of us desperately wanted to get married, we quite possibly would have done it. And that's where you come in.

You want to get married. And, although you're absolutely allowed to want that, I would encourage you to interrogate why.

You say you want to stand up and choose this man in front of all your people. I say you choose each other every day.

You say your relationship isn't viewed as valuable because you're "just" living together. But what's more valuable than two adults with all the options in the world deciding to build a new life together, with all the complexities that blending families involve, because they like each other that damned much?


Maybe there's a part of you that doesn't feel secure without the piece of paper. That perhaps you think he's got the door a little bit ajar so he could stick one foot out of it whenever he fancied it?

But you've been married before, so you know those doors can be opened at any time, whether they're bound with legal red tape or not.

If your desire to get married is about unfounded insecurity, or concerns about other people's conventions, then I say you need to do the work to chuck it out.

If it's truly about a public declaration of love, I say throw an anniversary party and invite everyone who needs to see you being chosen by your wonderful man.

And if you just bloody well want to and you can't shake it and it matters to you more than you can explain, then there's one more option – you have to ask for it. Partners do things that don't much matter to them to make each other happy all the time. If it's a deal breaker, you have to be the one to broker that deal.

Either way, massive congratulations, my friend, on falling in love and being loved in return. It's no small thing. Bigger than any wedding.

Holly xx

Feature image: Getty.

Do you enjoy a weekend away or a trip interstate? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher.