Is Her Asking For Marriage To End Long Distance A Fitness Test?

Reader Email: Dear Athol, I wanted to take this opportunity to say “Thank you” for the large amount of information and insight you have made available on your MMSL website. I’ve been reading regularly for the past few months now, and I find it reassuring to see concepts which I have been struggling with described and explained in an easy-to-understand format. Rest assured that I have ordered the book, and am currently awaiting its arrival.
My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 5 years now, the last 3 of which have been at a distance of 400 miles. We are both previously married, her with one teenager and me with two younger kids. When I got transferred to my current location 3 years ago, I offered for her and her son to move in with me. She looked around my new area for jobs, but that was back in ’09 when the economy went in the dumper. After not finding anything, and given that her son was now in high school, she wished to wait until he was done to consider moving again.
Well, that time is approaching soon, and I’m starting to get the “where is our future headed” vibe/questions. Now, I haven’t received any kind of ultimatum, but after some discussion, it’s become apparent that she is ready to get married and won’t move here unless I propose.
Am I facing the ultimate fitness/shit test here?
Athol: Hi there, thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.
In this case I don’t think it is a Fitness Test. What you’re asking her to do is uproot her entire life and come to you. So you’re asking for her to display commitment to you. By holding out for marriage, she’s asking you to display commitment to her.
She’s basically playing “Tit for Tat” as I would advise her to do. Either you both play the “commitment” card, or you both play the “not committed” card and no one is worse off than the other. But she can’t let herself get punked by her playing the “commitment” card and you playing the “not committed” card.
If I was advising her, I would tell her not to move unless you marry her… if moving her whole life isn’t enough to get you to pop the question, the question will never be popped because you can get her to do what you want without having to.
So it seems a fairly reasonable expectation on her part. She gets a husband, you get a wife and a live-in stepmom for your kids. However the risk to you is she moves her whole life to be your wife, and “fails on arrival”. She can’t find a job, she can’t find friends, she can’t do whatever… and she crashes into an early retirement of sorts at your expense. So I think a reasonable expectation for you is that she doesn’t fail on arrival and clear/fair/reasonable expectations should be set in that area. (i.e. “you need to find an appropriate job within X months”)
The entire point of marriage being to have a functional, productive and happy life together.
And naturally this entire thought process is dependant on her being someone worth marrying in the first place.
I have a sixth sense that all is not sitting right with you on a gut level. If after three years long distance you haven’t decided she is someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, I don’t know when that feeling is going to kick in for you. Jennifer and I were long distance for three years and all but deranged to get together and married and the suffering of long distance over with. Jennifer and I put marriage on the table to begin our long distance courtship. You don’t seem that keen.
Plus if you’re reading the blog and about to read the book, I suspect you’re about to get the jones to get your shit together and bump your Sex Rank up a point or two and see what that gets you on the open market.
Your call. If she’s the one, she’s the one and more power to you. If not, don’t drag it out.


  1. Peter Phoenix says:

    After going through the pain of your last marriage would you rush to do it again?

    Get her to try living with you for a couple months. If she can't do it, then she isn't willing to make sacrifices for you.
    If you don't like living with her, then you've learned your lesson without having to marry her.

  2. I completely agree. My fiance and I are in a 4,000 mile LDR (we are getting married this Oct, me moving to England next year) and marriage was always a topic of discussion with us from even before we started dating. In LDRs you HAVE to talk about commitment on this type of level. The fact it's been three years, not looking good.

    Commitment goes both ways as Athol said.

  3. Trimegistus says:

    Athol, maybe you should write a longer post about what constitutes a shit test — and why turning your marriage into a constant battle of wills isn't a good idea.

  4. Stingray says:

    Peter Phoenix,

    I wouldn't say five years is rushing anything. I would agree with you if they lived in the same town, but that would be asking her to change her ENTIRE life (and her sons) for him with nothing in return. If it didn't work out, she would be stuck, with a teenage son, in a strange place with nothing and no one. She would be a complete idiot to make that kind of change without some kind of commitment from him.

    If he wanted to go the living with route to see if she is willing to do what a wife should do and take care of him, then he should be the one to make the move back to her.

    Either way, he has a major decision to make. I wish them luck.

  5. And, of course, living together before marriage is a divorce risk, at least for the first 10 years. That lack of commitment inherent in living together doesn't seem to change once you get married. The latest research shows it is worse, but not much worse like it used to be before it was so common.

  6. By The Sword says:

    There is no reason for these two people to get married. They have both been around the block and since this woman seems a little old to bear the new guy any children i would suggest that they forgo marriage. There is simply no point. The man gets nothing from it while the woman get the option to help herself to his acquired wealth and future income. If they had a child together or were planning such I would at least understand the need to band together financially, even though there would be no guarantee that the guy wouldn't get screwed over in divorce court. But Athol, you advising this guy to place his head on the chopping block needlessly is in poor form.

    Men have a proverbial gun against their heads held by their wives and girlfriends. Men can be accused of any misdeed and be believed by the police and state. It is very important that men everywhere know this. Marrying a woman is placing your head in a guillotine and praying that a woman won't pull the lever when she tires of you.

  7. The main reason to get married is to have kids together. You two are both presumably done with that. You can’t be divorced if you don’t get married. Divorce 2.0 in America is very unfairly tilted against men especially when they’re the higher earner as they generally are. Marriage is one way commitment. The man is committed but the wife can leave the marriage with a bunch of his money at any time and for any reason.

    Why expose yourself to having to give her more than half your money, retirement accounts, your home, and maybe even alimony if she stays for a good while before deciding to leave you? Remember under now universal in America no fault divorce, even if she breaks up w/you because she cheats and falls in love with someone else and out of love with you, you’ll own just as much as if you were thoroughly at fault. Sure you hope and expect it won’t work out that way, but why make a one way commitment. You should both make a two way emotional commitment, and live together.

    I’ve been happily living together with my lots younger gf for four years now. I think marriage and the knowledge of what divorce 2.0 would mean to the man, gives American women too much security. Yeah Athol’s marriage game helps on that but still.

    I definitely wouldn’t marry her without a period of her living with you and also her landing a job. You’ve not been regularly together for three years. If she loves you she’ll move in with you first at least.

  8. Reader Email

    Now, I haven't received any kind of ultimatum, but after some discussion, it's become apparent that she is ready to get married and won't move here unless I propose.

    If that isn't an ultimatum, I don't know what is. She doesn't sound all that into you to me.

    She should look around for a suitable new job in your area before giving up her current one in her current area and moving.

  9. It's women that usually end marriages and live together relatinships, not men.

    Women file for divorce 2.5x as often as men do in America.

  10. Reader Email–

    By the way, I'm curious. Are you getting child support from your ex spouse? I've noticed that when men get custody, they rarely get child support.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ok, you've been together for 3+ years and you don't want to get married???? I think the answer is obvious. MOVE ON. You're wasting your time. You clearly know by your actions that this person isn't the one. Move on.

  12. Anonymous says:

    It sounds to me like he might want to get married, just not in response to a fitness test (because per the manosphere definition, when you give in to a fitness test, you fail it and lose her attraction).

  13. Phil Mueller says:

    "Athol, maybe you should write a longer post about what constitutes a shit test — and why turning your marriage into a constant battle of wills isn't a good idea."

    Already covered to an extent here:

  14. Athol Kay says:

    By The Sword – "But Athol, you advising this guy to place his head on the chopping block needlessly is in poor form."

    In general this is a blog positive about marriage.

    Doug1 – "You can't be divorced if you're not married."

    That depends on state cohabitation laws. Which is quite worrisome I think you'll agree.

    I don't think marriage is a one way committment though. Either party can dump the other.

  15. I don't think marriage is a one way committment though. Either party can dump the other.

    Neither party makes an enforceable commitment to remain in the marriage and provide spousal services.

    But only one party in the vast majority of financial circumstances given the biases of divorce 2.0 law and family courts, makes a financial commitment to the other if the marriage falls appart, for which the man gets zero in return.

    It's worst when she's a stay at home wife with zero or near zero income and they have kids. Even if she makes as much or somewhat more than he does though, she'll always get custody of kids they have together if she wants it and isn't a drug addict not in a program. Even if he (rarely) gets custody, he almost never gets child support=also stealth alimony.

    In 2007 96% of alimony was paid by men to women. That's despite women earning more than men in 22% of American marriages that year.

    I think this guy would be an utter idiot to marry this woman before she moved down to begin living with him. She showing major security/gold digger qualities.

  16. Athol Kay–
    In general this is a blog positive about marriage.

    Marriage can be good, but the American marriage contract 2.0 is an adhesion contract that's awful for men. This become apparent in divorce, and also when there's a spectre of divorce, given the unequal effects that become clear esp. to the wife, as she talks to her girlfriends and maybe a divorce lawyer.

    (God I hate Blogger. Not allowing blockquote unlike w/wordpress is retarded. As are other blogger things. )

  17. If you're not the marrying kind of guy, or happen to be traumatized from a previous marriage.. I understand.. But I have to agree with the previous comments.. It's been 3 years.. If you haven't proposed, it might be for a reason.

    Funny. Just wrote an article about giving "ultimatums" and never using them when asking for marriage.

  18. Athol Kay says:

    Doug1 – you sound like you've read the Primer then.

    You realize that I get a reasonable flow of email from men that didn't get married because of MMSL right? I'm not sure why you are preaching at me.

    Once they hit the "How to Choose a Wife" and "Marriage 2.0" chapters it becomes quite clear to most men how exacting the decision to marry is.

  19. Athol's the expert but I don't see this as a fitness test. I don't really consider this an ultimatum, either – there's no threat of harm if you don't comply, there's simply continuing the status quo (unless there's a subtle threat of breaking up, which is possible). She's just setting expectations, setting a price in return for what you want.

    I wanted to ask what the value add is in getting married, but I realized that really means determining whether they both want the move to happen in the first place. Long-term long distance is tough but from the couples I've seen do it, eventually becomes stable. It gives them mutual comfort and companionship and probably occasional sex, and they aren't going to get tired of seeing each other every day the way some cohabiting couples do. In terms of time, it seems to be lower-maintenance than a colocated LTR but it's a very beta-attendant relationship because it's very hard to pull off dopamine surges from a distance unless you've got a record deal.

    call it a hunch but I don't get the sense that either of them really want to change what they've got now.

    Another thing: I'd be concerned, both for her and for him, about her moving after her son leaves high school. That will mean empty nest syndrome, an interruption in her son's life pattern, getting a new job, acclimating to day to day life in a new town, learning to cohabit again, throw a wedding in there and that's a LOT of life stress.

  20. Awesome advice, Athol. I appreciate that you advise women setting conditions and sometimes leading too; some gamers are so obsessed with alpha status that they warn guys, "NEVER give in!! Maintain your choices, even if it's going out to eat and she doesn't like the restaurant!!" Pff.

    Jennifer 6

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