Thursday, October 25, 2007

He Won't Marry Her, But She Knows Someone Who Will

Dear Terry,

I have been living with my boyfriend now for about six months and whenever I bring up the idea of engagement or marriage, he freaks out and shuts me out. He says he won't consider it because of our financial situation. He knows that marriage and a family are the most important things to me, but in order for me to stay with him, I have to put all that away.

Just recently, I ran into a good friend that I haven't seen in four years and come to find out he is in love with me, and he wants to settle down and have a family with me. I am so confused. I love both of these men with all my heart, but I am so scared because I have a two-year-old daughter, and I don't want to do anything to hurt her or confuse her. I don't want to hurt anyone else either.

Who should I be with? The man who will love me no matter what and wants to spend the rest of his life with me and my daughter, or the man that loves me and my daughter, but he won't say he wants to spend the rest of his life with me yet?

-Scared and Confused

Dear Scared-

You're in a tough spot, and what you really need now is space to think. You've got a guy who loves you and wants a future, and another guy who won't talk about the future. And you love them both.

If I were you (and I'm not, I know), I would gently move myself and my daughter out of my current living situation. If I didn't have the finances to rent an apartment on my own, I'd advertise for a roommate or I'd rent a room in a house where the owner allows children. Or I'd move in with my parents, if they'd let me. But I would definitely--and I repeat--gently move out of the place I'm sharing with Mr. No Future.

Then, I'd take my time and evaluate my goals (family and children). I'd evaluate my feelings for both men. I'd evaluate their treatment towards me and my child. It's possible Mr. No Future will decide he misses you and wants to move forward with the relationship. It's possible that you'll decide you'd rather marry the other fellow. Or it's possible that you'll realize that your feelings for the other fellow were just the result of your frustration with Mr. No Future. Maybe you'll marry one of them. Maybe you won't.

Let me say this: It does concern me that Mr. No Future claims that finances are preventing him from marrying you (and the freak-out-and-shut-you-out thing gives me pause, too).

Diamond rings and big weddings cost a lot of money, but modest rings and small weddings (or elopements) usually don't. What is he really reacting to when you mention marriage? The financial commitment or the commitment to the relationship? How much of a financial commitment the two of you make is negotiable. But the commitment to the relationship is something else.

Please take your time and don't jump into anything with anybody. This is your life we're talking about--and your daughter's. Ultimately, you want to be in a relationship with a reliable man you both love, and who shares your dream of providing a stable, happy environment for her.

If you decide one of these guys fits the bill, great. But, if not, you'd be better off on your own until you find someone who does.

I hope this helps.