Issuing an ultimatum is generally not a good idea because things may not go as you would like them to. No one likes to be backed into a corner to make a major life decision within a certain period of time, and most of the time, this can mean the end of your relationship.
Your dilemma may be that you're in what you feel is a committed relationship, but there is no sign of the relationship leading to marriage. If you've been in the relationship for years now with no sign of a deeper, more serious commitment, you may feel frustrated enough to either want a more permanent deal or to find out what your future holds for the two of you.
Be very careful with your next step because you may need to prepare yourself for the relationship to end or never be the same again.
In the best case scenario, you want a deeper commitment to come from your man and have it be his idea. There are things you can do to help this process along, but we can address that in another post.
You should think this through carefully and have a specific plan in place. Don't issue an ultimatum during an argument or when you are angry because you are almost guaranteed bad results.
First, think about the worst case scenario, that being your guy tells you that he won't get married and to “do what you have to do.” Think about how that would make you feel because it's a real possibility it might happen. In this case, you might feel like you've wasted your time on someone who never really loved you in the first place, if he would rather let you go than marry you.
When an ultimatum backfires, you might regret backing him into a corner in the first place, because you really love him and don't want the relationship to end. Now what? You’ve said something to him that you can never take back. Backtracking out of an ultimatum is well, awkward at best.
The bottom line is to imagine what you would do if your man did in fact decide to end the relationship. Are you prepared for that? Where would you go? Are you willing to give up the semi-security of what you know you have in the hopes of finding someone else who is willing to make your relationship a permanent one?
At a recent get-together, my friend and I were being introduced to some people we had never met. The hostess introduced me as "Scott's wife," and then turns to my friend and stammered through her introduction. My friend finally held out her hand and said, "I'm no one's wife."
The problem is that my friend has been together with her man for almost five years. They have lived together and even had a daughter together. Every time I see her, she brings up the fact that she wants to get married so badly, but her guy is not interested in sealing the deal. He even makes jokes about it when he wants to get her to do something for him, he'll say, "If you do this for me, I might propose." She actually breaks down and cries when he does this because she really wants to get married and here he is making jokes about it.
Later in the evening, she was telling me that she doesn't know what to do because it just doesn't look like he'll ever marry her and she is tired of it. I asked her why she didn't start thinking about moving on with her life if he doesn't feel like she's the one, and then she had all kinds of excuses why she couldn't do that. I get that because she does really love him and has her daughter to worry about, but she is becoming increasingly unhappy and that cannot be doing the relationship any good. In reality, I think she is afraid that if she did issue him an ultimatum, it would backfire and the relationship would be over. I don't think she's
willing to run that risk.
If you feel like you are, have a plan in place and be prepared for anything to happen.
When an ultimatum backfires, you might not want the relationship to end so you take back your words, or say you were just joking to see what he would say. If you put an ultimatum
out there, even if you say it in a joking manner, this will register with your man as pressure from you. All kinds of interesting things could happen from that point on, including him
pulling away from you emotionally or treating you differently.
If you issue an ultimatum and then back down and don't follow through on what you say you will do if he doesn't give you a more serious commitment, you will appear like someone who talks tough, but then doesn't take action.
You will give up a lot of leverage in the relationship by backing down and just settling for him calling the shots. He will be in the driver's seat, knowing that you might say you'll leave him if you don't get married, but will then just continue with things the way they are and stay. Your credibility is shot, and your words mean nothing.
It's kind of like having a child and warning your child that if he doesn't do something, he will be grounded for a week. The child doesn't do whatever you asked him to, and then you don't follow through on the punishment. Even a child knows that he has the upper hand here and that with you, even though you talked about a punishment, nothing happened at the end of the day. He will then continue to test those waters and get away with as much as he can because after all, more than likely nothing bad will happen anyway. No consequences to worry about because you really don’t mean what you say.
Again, be prepared to follow through on what you say you're going to do. If you say that you
are going to leave if there isn't a marriage soon, then be prepared to do it. That's why you should tread those ultimatum waters very carefully.
The biggest thing to mull over when an ultimatum backfires is whether you are interested in saving face by following through with what you say you will do, or saving the relationship.
If saving your relationship is priority #1, then you may want to come up with another way to get that serious commitment without ultimatums.
Watch the video here at the How to Make Him Commit website for some better alternatives.