Be a Lover Before You Are a Wife

December 14, 2012

The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia conducted a study exploring men’s feelings about commitment and marriage. 

The men in this study express a desire to marry and have children sometime in their lives, but they are in no hurry. They enjoy their single life and they experience few of the traditional pressures from church, employers or the society that once encouraged men to marry. Moreover, the sexual revolution and the trend toward cohabitation offer them some of the benefits of marriage without its obligations. If this trend continues, it will not be good news for the many young women who hope to marry and bear children before they begin to face problems associated with declining fertility.

The top ten reasons why men won’t commit are:

  1. They can get sex without marriage more easily than in times past.
  2. They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying.
  3. They want to avoid divorce and its financial risks.
  4. They want to wait until they are older to have children.
  5. They fear that marriage will require too many changes and compromises.
  6. They are waiting for the perfect soulmate and she hasn’t yet appeared.
  7. They face few social pressures to marry.
  8. They are reluctant to marry a woman who already has children.
  9. They want to own a house before they get a wife.
  10. They want to enjoy single life as long as they can.

Let’s focus on reason #2: 

They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying.

If a man has a girlfriend who provides all the benefits of a wife, why should he marry? Research shows that cohabiting couples are more likely to have children than they are to marry. I strongly advise women not to live with their partners until they have discussed marriage and feel certain of a future together. Similarly, I would strongly advise a woman not to assume a cohabitor role when you are dating someone without having reached that level of serious commitment.

Your assuming the role of wife, especially a subservient one, leaves a man without a reason to offer you commitment, much less marry. He may enjoy your relationship, and all the perks you provide, only to decide after several years that he just does not feel inspired to marry you. It’s so common it’s a pitiful cliche.

To rouse a man to full commitment, you must inspire him. Otherwise he will see no reason to change his life.

A man does not look at ten women with the understanding that he will marry one of them, and proceed to audition each for the role. A man gets married when he is certain that his life is vastly better with one particular woman in it. He wants to take her off the market before another man discovers how wonderful she is. 

He must know that you have the self-respect not to debase yourself by performing the duties and responsibilities of a wife when you are in fact just a girlfriend. 

Emotional attraction is created in men when they feel appreciated, and that they have inspired emotional investment in a woman. How can women display emotional investment in a way that inspires reciprocation, and a deepening commitment on his part?

Christian Carter is a dating coach for women, who wrote Why Men Settle Down with One Woman and Not Another 
for eHarmony:

One of the biggest things I teach is about building a solid foundation for a lasting relationship with a man.  And the way to do this is by creating POSITIVE EXPERIENCES with him.  Men can’t be talked into relationships.  The need for commitment arises from an emotional need deep inside a man.  In order for a man to see you as a necessary part of his life, you need to create the right kind of experiences that serve to create emotional attraction in him. 

A positive experience is anything that you both enjoy and that, above all, is fun.  Fight the need to talk about the relationship, and instead turn your attention to creating great moments together.  Do different things with him – play sports along with the usual dinners and movies.  Spend time in groups of friends.  Read the paper together and do spontaneous things without planning.  Mix it up.  All of these experiences show him that you are a woman who is easy and playful to be with, and that’s the kind of woman he’ll realize he’d be a fool to let go of.

This is the most effective strategy a woman can employ. Her efforts should be substantial, creative and fun. Unexpected gestures are the most effective in rousing a man’s feelings. Your goal should be to delight him and instill confidence that these delights are as rewarding for you as they are for him. 

Positive experiences should occur intermittently rather than on a schedule or routine. A well-timed thoughtful surprise, in the middle of the week, is infinitely more effective in creating relationship value through emotional investment than buying his razor blades and socks for a year. 

Positive experiences motivate a man to cherish you. They do not allow you to be taken for granted, because there is no particular expectation, other than that you will continue to be awesome and find new ways to delight him. Do not allow your relationship to become mundane or revolve around expectations that services will be performed on a schedule. You don’t ever want your boyfriend to say, “My girlfriend always takes care of “x” for me,” unless he is referring to his mind-blowing orgasms. 

Here are  examples of positive experiences, both large and small, that I have found effective in rousing men to become more committed in my own life:


  1. Prepare his favorite childhood dish or comfort food. Whether it’s his Nonna’s Sunday gravy, his mother’s pot roast or his dad’s blueberry pancakes, your version probably won’t be as good, but it doesn’t matter. 
  2. Prepare a special “TV Dinner” when there’s a game on that he doesn’t want to miss. Set it up on a small table in front of him, and join him to watch the game and eat together.
  3. Make a picnic during winter and eat it on the floor in front of the fireplace. 
  4. Make a big fuss about his birthday by cooking a special meal, and inviting close friends to share it. 
  5. Send him to work with a bento box filled with something delicious.
  6. Prepare and deliver homemade chicken soup when he is sick. Stick around if he wants company, otherwise serve it, kiss him on the forehead, and go.
  7. Bring him coffee first thing in the morning as he’s waking up.
  8. Plan a meal that you can cook and eat together, and do the shopping beforehand.
  9. Grab a bottle of wine, head to the Farmer’s Market together to buy great food, and then have an impromptu picnic in a pretty spot.
  10. Make breakfast while he dozes, then eat it naked in bed together.

Fun Activities

  1. Score tickets to some quirky event that is all about his interests. 
  2. Ask him to leave a Saturday open and pick him up for a novel adventure, e.g. snowboarding, hiking, even a trip to the beach.
  3. Plan a weekend getaway for the two of you – and pay for it.
  4. Invite him to a family gathering, but only if it promises to be fun.
  5. Take him to hear a favorite author read.
  6. Attend a film festival or vintage movie house.
  7. Almost anything you’ve never done before – you do the legwork and pay.


  1. Sex, sex, sex. Switch things up.
  2. Get stuff in at your place to make him comfortable when he stays: a bathrobe, flannel pants, toothbrush, etc.
  3. Wear his shirt. Men like to see women in their big, masculine clothes.Credit: PARAMOUNT PICTURES / Album
  4. Hibernate. In advance of a storm invite him over to get socked in with plenty of provisions, and new lingerie. No electronics.
  5. Take a bubble bath by candlelight, and serve a bottle of Prosecco. Wash his hair.
  6. Learn how to give a real, beneficial back rub and give him one, with oil.
  7. Scratch his back, starting with very light scratches all over his back, getting harder as you go. 
  8. Invite him to bring over his favorite movie of all time.


  1. Find a copy of his favorite childhood book. ardizzone
  2. Find a first edition of his favorite adult book.
  3. Find something unusual that he has admired, e.g. tab-collar shirt. wolfe
  4. Add to or inspire a collection. RARESTVintageStarWarsFigures
  5. Make him something. I’ve made scarves, ornaments, pillows, a painting, a table. It doesn’t matter what you make – as long as it’s personally relevant.

Your primary goal is to demonstrate love and affection. You might as well do it in a way that inspires and motivates a man to want more of you in his life. Flattered, pleased and appreciative is not enough.

The years of making a life together will be filled with routine and tedious responsibilities as well as joy. Until then, skip the drudgery and give him something he’ll always remember.