Enrique Iglesias made a public declaration of independence this week, when he announced that he’ll never marry his long-term girlfriend, Anna Kournikova. “I’ve never really thought marriage would make a difference,” Iglesias explained to Parade magazine. “Maybe it’s because I come from divorced parents, but I don’t think you love someone more because of a piece of paper.”
While the rest of the female population let out a sigh of relief and set about booking tickets to Iglesias’ hometown of Miami, 30-year-old Anna must have felt at least mildly hurt by the statement. Because no matter how sensible and reasonable your partner’s reasons for not getting married may sound, it always feels as if they’re really saying, “I love you, but just not quite enough.”
So what should she do? What should you do in this situation?
Love may be blind, but it’s deaf too. When your partner says anything about your relationship, himself, or what he wants, you must stop and listen to him. We say that men never talk about the relationship but in fact, they talk about it all the time. Phrases like, “You’re too good for me,” or “I’m not looking for anything serious right now,” or “I don’t believe in marriage,” are important information, but we choose to brush them aside and think he’ll change his mind when he spends more time with us. He won’t. Instead, he’ll carry on with a clear conscience, knowing that he’s laid down his terms and conditions and that you – by continuing to date him – have accepted them.
We think about marriage as an emotional commitment, but that’s misleading; marriage’s true power is the legal rights it gives you as half of the couple. There is no such thing as a ‘common-law spouse’ – you’re either single or married. And if you’re single, things are much more complicated in the event of a split. One woman who found this out the hard way is Eva Gabrielsson, who lived with her partner Stieg Larsson – author of the bestselling Millennium the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy – for 30 years. When he died aged 50, she inherited… nothing. Larsson’s multimillion-pound estate passed straight to his estranged family, leaving her struggling to pay the bills. It sounds unromantic to think about death or splitting up when you’re in love, but you have to protect yourself.
Never make the mistake of feeling that living together is a step towards marriage. It’s a side-step away from marriage. When your partner can get 24-hour access to you, marriage becomes just a moot point. You’re a done deal. If you want to get married, you have to make being unmarried uncomfortable for your partner so they are motivated to change the situation. Maintaining some distance, living your own life, letting them occasionally long for your company – this works. I’m not advocating you play games: in fact, I’d advise you to be very honest about what you want. In his book Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others, John T Molloy interviewed over 3,000 US newlyweds and found that, in 73% of them, women had put considerable pressure on the man to get married. Not by mutely moving in and auditioning for the role of Wife, but by standing their ground and saying, “I’m not comfortable in an uncommitted relationship.” If this feels difficult, it’s nothing compared to having to read in the newspaper that your partner of 10 years feels marriage is “just a piece of paper”. Anna – I have a piece of paper right here. How about you use it to tell Enrico where to forward your mail?