Monday, October 31, 2005

Prescription for a Marriage in Hell

Hi, Terry-

I have been dating my boyfriend for five and a half years. We are 23 years old, and I would really like a commitment. We have talked about getting married, but he says he probably doesn't want to get married for another three or four years. I love him so much, but I feel it's unfair that I have to wait around. It's as if everything is on his schedule. I think it's ridiculous to wait that long. We are thinking about moving in together, but now I'm having second thoughts. I'm worried that if we move in together, we will never get married! He says that moving in together is a commitment in itself. I want to be with him and have a ceremony where we can pronounce our love in front of everyone.

He lives his life and expects me to just follow along. For example, he always plans his weekends around what he wants to do and just assumes I will do what he wants. He doesn't keep me in mind. I took off work on Friday so we could spend time
together (we have completely opposite work schedules), and he slept the whole day! What a waste! When I confronted him about it he says he didn't mean to hurt my feelings. I want him to plan things for us to do, instead of me always having to make the plans and figure everything out. I've just become increasingly angry and feel like he doesn't understand. He says that if we both know that we want to get married it shouldn't matter if it's now or in four years.

Should I stick around or move on? I don't want to wait, and then three years from now have him decide that he doesn't want to get married for another four. Please help!


Hello, Confused-

If you're angry now because your boyfriend doesn't consider your feelings, how do you think you'll feel in another five years?

The thing is, you can't make him commit to you (nor should you try). You deserve a guy who's quite literally jumping off the couch to marry you, and he's not doing that.

I understand why you'd want to get married after 5 1/2 years together, but if he's not willing, then it's not your job to change his mind. Instead, you might ask yourself if he's doing you a favor. You're not happy about the way he treats you, and marriage is not going to change him (in fact, he's probably going to get worse).

The idea of proclaiming your love for one another in front of the entire world is romantic, but think about it: A wedding lasts a couple of hours. A marriage is meant to last a lifetime.

Let me ask you a question.

Do you really think you would be happy spending your life with this man (the way he is now, not the way you think he might turn out to be)?

If the answer is no, then you owe it to yourself to move on. If the answer is yes, you truly love him and want to marry him, then I'd advise you to spend less time with him, instead of more. I would definitely never take a day off work to hang out with him, that's for sure. It sounds as if your boyfriend is taking you for granted, and you need to step back a bit.

Be less available.

I'm not telling you to play games. But it's time this guy stopped assuming you're going to do whatever he wants every weekend. You can give him the message by going out with your friends often(if you don't have any friends, make some). If you're interested in learning something new, like pottery, yoga, or beermaking, I suggest you take a class that gets you out of the house one day a week. It will introduce you to new people and new situations, and learning new things makes you more interesting.

If you have a habit of stopping by to see your boyfriend after work, taper that off. Don't see him all the time. Expand your horizons. Do different things with different people.

After a while (or maybe even immediately), he'll either notice and stop taking you for granted, or he won't. If he does, then, good, keep it up (and if you do marry him, keep it up 25 years from now). If he doesn't, then keep moving in the other direction. Build a life for yourself.

I know you don't want to hear this, but you're young. And I'm afraid that if you twist this guy's arm, and he marries you, you'll be a fat old woman in a sweatsuit by the tender age of 30. I'm afraid that you'll be doing all the work around the house, shuttling kids around to soccer and helping them with their homework, while he continues to do what he always did: what he wants.

As far as living together goes, you're right. It's not a commitment, and that would be fine if you were both happy with that. But you're not. So do not move in with him(but if you decide to disregard my advice on this score, make sure you clear up who's going to cook on which nights. In other words, you're not to become anybody's maid).

Please do not let the image of yourself in a Vera Wang dress cloud your judgment. Repeat after me: A wedding lasts just a few hours. A marriage to the wrong guy could mean a lifetime of misery.

Don't believe me? Head to a family restaurant on a Friday night. Check out all the unhappily married couples who talk to their children but not to each other.

I hope this helps.