Q. I’m 48-years-old, divorced for eight years and have three grown children. I’ve been seeing a wonderful man for almost two years who treats me very well. We are very good together. The problem is that he is very reluctant to marry again. In fact, he told me that he hadn’t planned on getting married again when I first started dating him. I told him I felt the opposite way so maybe we shouldn’t see each other any more, but he started changing his tune, not letting me go, and saying he was open to getting married, so I stayed. Over the last few months he has told me that he wants me to move in with him and is taking some steps to “make room” for me. I’ve told him again and again that I’m not moving in without marriage plans and he still has intimated that that is on his mind. However, the months are going by and I am still waiting for that ring and wondering if I’m being delusional. Some of my friends think I’m silly to care about marriage since I’ve already been there and won’t be having any more children. They think I’m just lucky to have found a man who loves me and treats me so well and I should enjoy a life with him even if it means shacking up. At this point, I go back and forth between two states of mind: thoughts of breaking up due to my doubts about his desire to marry again, and wondering if I’m being too old-fashioned about not moving in. If I leave, though, I’m afraid I won’t find another good man any time soon and that really depresses me. I’d love to know what you think I should do. Thanks.
A. This is a tough one, since I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules about whether living together is a good idea. Therefore, I’m just going to focus on your specific circumstances. No one knows better than I do how hard it is to find a great partner, so I understand your apprehensions about throwing in the towel, especially because your relationship sounds relatively happy and healthy on other levels. I do wonder if you’ve asked him why he is/was averse to marrying. Very often, men will feel that way for a while after their marriage ends, but will eventually tie the knot again after they have had time to heal. Keep that in mind as I turn my focus to you. If you’ve had your heart set on getting married for a second time, I’d ask that you contemplate the reasons why it is so important to you. Do they stem from a romantic ideal? Are they about security? Does society have an influence on you? Your family? Your children? Is it truly important to you, or are outside influences dictating your feelings? If you’ve given it solid thought and really believe that marriage is the only lifestyle you want for your relationship, then I’m afraid it may mean breaking up with this man. As you’ve described, he knows how you feel, so if he’s letting more and more time go by without a proposal, I’m concerned that either he’s just not ready (though two years seems like a good amount of time to know), or there are some deep-seated fears stopping him. Losing you will do one of three things. 1. Either he’ll realize that he can’t live without you and will beg you to come back under the same circumstances, and if you do, don’t be surprised when you end up exactly where you are now. 2. He’ll realize that he can’t live without you and will beg you to come back with a marriage proposal. If getting engaged that way doesn’t bother you, then I think it may be worth it. Or 3. He’ll be relieved that the prospect of marriage is no longer hanging over his head and as much as he cares about you, will realize that not wanting the same lifestyle means you’re just not ultimately right for each other. If that is the case you’ll have to move on believing that there is another wonderful man out there for you who wants to be married, too. But remember, if you stay, then one of you has to change your mind in good conscience in order for both of you to move forward happily and without resentments. The question is, which one of you will it be?
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