Does Living Together Lead To Marriage?
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a 24-year-old female. I have never been married and I don't have any children.
I have been in a relationship for the past year-and-a-half that has progressed to something very serious. My boyfreind and I live together now and I love him more than anything. I can see him as my husband, building a life together, having kids, buying a home and having a happy marriage with him. I am pretty sure that he feels the same way. We have talked about marriage and having a family extensively, although he never talks about it like it is something that will happen in the near future.
I come from a deeply religious family. When he and I moved in together, my mother and father, my grandparents and other relatives shunned me. In addition to the whole concept of living together and having sex outside of marriage, they disagreed with the arrangement and said that we were 'playing house', and that he would never marry me once I moved in. 'Why should he marry you when you will already be living with him, cooking for him, giving him sex, etc.?' That is all I heard for months.
I am beginning to believe them Dr. Tracy.
I recently asked my boyfreind why he hadn't asked me to marry him and why he always talks about it, but does nothing about it. He loves me. I love him. We want to spend the rest of our lives together, so what is the problem, I asked.
He says that he wants to get his finances in order before he tackles a marriage and a family, buying a home, etc. He says that the man is supposed to be able to provide for his family and his wife and he feels like he could not do that with his current bills and obligations. I want to believe him. He seems very sincere. But in the back of mind I think to myself that bills will be with you for life, and that is just an excuse he is feeding me.
We recently decided to buy a piece of furniture that cost several hundred dollars. After looking around he told me that he had changed his mind, didn't want to purchase the sofa, becuase it was a large investment and he told me that 'We never know what may happen in the future and who would take the sofa if we split the cost of it, and then we no longer lived together?'
I am worried. I truly believe that he loves me and wants me to be his wife, but his comments and excuses are starting to put doubt in my head. My parents think I should move out, stop having sex with him, and simply date him if I am serious about our relationship. They say that if he is serious, he will propose. But I don't want to do that.
I am confused and worried. At the same time, I wonder if moving out is the right idea. Or would he see it as an ultimatum? 'Marry me or I'm leaving' type-of-thing. I know you touch on these topics in your love library, but I feel like my situation is a bit different, so I was hoping you would give me your advice.
We are supposed to sign a new lease for a new apartment in 3 weeks, so I need to know what to do soon. Should I stay and wait and chill out? Or do I need to leave, Dr. Tracy?
-Wanting to get married.....
Dear Wanting To Get Married,
Itís not true that living together means heíll never marry you. Living together can be a great way to confirm that a marriage will work, and if not -- well, it's a lot better than getting married and then divorced right away. Twenty-two years ago, I lived with my husband for a year and a half before we were married, and my parents, like yours, werenít exactly thrilled with the situation. You canít live your life for your parents. You have to make your own decisions, and you have.
But for most people, living together is not satisfactory in the long term. It's no substitute for marriage, for all the reasons I've given in prior columns -- you have no legal rights, it's tough on your kids, difficult for your families, etc., etc.
So now comes the hard part - you have to put a time limit on how long youíre willing to live with your boyfriend without being married. If you want to be married, stop accepting your boyfriendís excuses about finances. Tell him youíre willing to work, and you donít expect him to be the sole support of you and a family - that you and he will be a partnership.
The signing of your new lease is a good time to re-negotiate this relationship. Let your boyfriend know that living together is a prelude to marriage, and you want to set a date. Also tell him that you want the sofa, and if he canít take a chance on buying a sofa with you to share as your first ďcommunity property,Ē you are worried about his ability to share in general.
If heís afraid to buy a sofa, heíll never get up the nerve to buy an engagement ring. Let the sofa be the first step. You have to start somewhere. Donít take no for an answer. Tell him the sofa is a symbol of your commitment and if youíre willing, why shouldnít he be. If heís still worried, buy a two-piece sofa, or two loveseats. Then agree that in case you break up youíll divide it up.
Whatís worrisome here is that if your boyfriend is concerned about who will get the sofa, imagine how stressed heíd be about marrying if he had a lot of financial assets he could lose in a divorce. If youíre going to marry this man at all, youíd better do it before he acquires lots of money. Heíll certainly be too scared then to make a commitment.
Get him to agree to a time frame for being married. Say gettting engaged in the next six months, then married in the next year. Then if he doesnít stick to his agreement on the time schedule, you would not be using an ultimatum on him if you threatened to move out. Instead youíd be saying that he has to keep his word.
To sum up, donít move out, negotiate. Insist. Stop letting him make all the decisions for your future. Thatís a bad precedent to set.
Nice Guy Finishes Last
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I'm 28 years old and a few months ago I met this 19 year old women at a club. We immediately hit it off. Within the first two weeks we were seeing each other almost on a daily basis. We spent the night together four or five nights a week and she would stop by my work a few times a week for lunch. She would even stop by randomly for an intimate encounter. Things were going so well for the first couple months. It almost seemed perfect. Then what came next totally caught me off guard.
Almost over night she seemed a little more distant, not as playful, and not as eager to have sex. I started to feel like she was slipping away. She still was on speaking terms with a couple of her ex's so I assumed that maybe something was getting back to . I brought it up a couple of times and she assured me there was nothing. Then one night she called me and wanted me to come over so I did. We had a good time but something felt like it was missing and we didn't have sex. The next day she called and I asked once again if she was telling me everything...she then flipped out. She said that she wasn't going to tell me anything anymore if I was going to trust her. I apologized realizing that I was wrong but it was to late. The next day she told me that she didn't want to see me anymore, that she wasn't ready for a relationship.
I was devastated, I couldn't believe how much it hurt. I had only known her for a few months and I'd fallen in love with her. At that point I couldn't stand to think I wouldn't see her anymore so I agreed to be just friends even though I know it would hurt me. That's when I found your website and bought your Manpower book. I read it the first night. Come to find out I had made almost all the fatal relationship mistakes you had outlined. I leant her money, went overboard on Christmas presents, let her know how much I cared for her before she told me, let her break dates last minute...ect. I treated her like a princess. Everything you would expect from a tender hearted, super nice guy.
I've started the withdrawal technique and for the past few weeks she only goes a maximum of three days before she calls. The last time she called she said she had some of the money that I leant her and she wanted to drop it off before she went to work. Then twenty minutes later she called and said that she wanted to come over after work so she would be able to spend some time with me. She did and we talked for awhile and things started to get a little physical, which was mostly initiated by me. When it came down to having sex she said she wanted to wait until we could spend some more time together after. I agreed, gave her a hug and a kiss goodbye and she left. It's now been a few days since she's called and I'm wondering what I should do from here. I haven't called her at all for the past few weeks but I've answered all of her calls except for one. Should I still keep taking her calls? Do I agree to see her if she asks? Do I act more indifferent when she's with me? I love everything about her and I want her back.
Dear Too Nice,
You were naÔve, and you now realize that you did everything wrong with this young woman. You saw her too much. You gave too many gifts, lent to much money, and in general let her know she totally had you in the palm of her hand. No wonder she lost interest. You were no challenge, and she got bored.
Now you want to backtrack, but I doubt that you can. Sheís learned that she can call you and youíll still be available whenever she calls. Thatís not much better than you calling her all the time. If you keep doing what youíre doing, youíll get exactly what youíve been getting, nothing. Sheíll come over and tease you to see if you still want her, and when sheís reassured that you do, sheíll be off again.
Youíre going to have to turn her down to get her interested again. If you really want to get her back, youíll have to find someone else. Fall in love with another woman and she might, just might, get interested in you again. In any case, tell her youíve met someone else. Let her think someone else is getting all the gifts and goodies. Donít always agree to see her whenever she wants. Donít push her for sex.
She may come back, but donít expect much. Sheís really too young to be interested in a committed relationship. Nineteen-year-olds tend to be fickle. They want to experiment, flex their sexual powers, and sow their wild oats.
As a matter of fact, youíre probably best off starting fresh with someone new, someone closer to your age, whoís more likely to be interested in a long term relationship rather than a short term conquest. Then donít give too much too soon, follow what youíve learned in Manpower. Write off the loans you made to the 19-year-old and consider her an expensive lesson, but a valuable one.
Why Does She Love Him
Dear Dr. Tracy,
Hi... My boyfriend asked me why I love him!! I'm not sure as to why he would ask that and how I am to answer?
We have lived together for 2 years. He was in a relationship with the same girl prior to me for 6 years. I am a 27 yr. old divorcee that was married for 3 years with no kids. We both were lied to and cheated on. And I know that causes extra precautions, but I still can't understand why the "why"?!?!
To me, I have a wonderful boyfriend that I am in Love with and wish to spend the rest of my life with. That in it's self was hard to come to grips with. I never thought I would trust or care for someone completely like I do him. But when he asked me that question I was thrown back. I mean I told him that he makes me laugh. He helps me stop and smell the roses (or at least want to). He helps me strive to be the best person I can be. I think of him and what he is doing... when I have free time and if he is thinking of me. I want to share the sunsets and stars with him. I want to see all the world with him by my side. I am open and honest with him. I can be myself w/o the fear of "what if"...I have actually thought of marriage again.. and what our kids will look and act like in our home??
But I can't seem to think that I have given him a "good" answer to his question as to why I love him. Do you suppose you could help me out in this matter?? Thanks, Mindi
Dear Not Sure,
You wonder why your boyfriend asked why you love him. The answer is simple: he wasnít feeling loved enough. He wanted reassurance.
But instead of telling him how wonderful he is, that heís handsome, sensitive, kind, smart, open and loving, you told him how he makes you feel. Everything you said was about you. How he makes you laugh, how he helps you smell the roses, how he helps you strive to be a good person, how you think of him and how you want to share sunsets with him, etc. How self-centered can you get? It was all me, me, me. Nothing about whatís wonderful about him. Nothing about what you want to give to him.
Youíre right, you havenít given him a good answer. You need to start over, and instead of concentrating on yourself, think of him. Make a list of all his wonderful qualities and start appreciating those qualities. Tell him often how smart he is. Point out when he does something great. Tell him he has gorgeous eyes, strong hands, great legs.
Men need love too, and they need to feel loved. Most of the time when a man is unhappy in a relationship, itís because he doesnít feel loved enough. Your man was asking you to reassure him that you loved him and that he is lovable. You totally missed the boat.
Go back and start over. Tell him why you love him and tell him often. That way heíll feel secure, and youíll both be better able to get over the disappointments of your past and move forward.