Dr Love,My husband died 9 yrs ago & I had a wonderful marriage, before he died he told me he wanted me to find someone to take care of me. I’ve been seeing a man for 6 1/2 yrs now, shortly after we started seeing one another I heard someone on a talk show say if there are no plans for the future in 2 yrs, end the relationship; I told him this, and that I didn’t believe in a long relationship of dating.We had talked about marriage, but he seems to be a man that dwells on things a long time; I learned to make the best of everyday as though it may be your last, and don’t let things bother me as much. I love him and want to marry him, but I don’t want to wait forever; I’m to the point of ending our relationship and looking for someone that wants to spend the rest of our life together.I am 56 yrs old, so I have no idea how many yrs I have left; and I don’t want to be alone. He’s 54 yrs old and divorced. Please tell me what you think I should do.Thanks for your help!!
If you’ve been reading my columns for a while, you know that I don’t presume to tell people what decisions they should take. I help people to understand themselves and their deepest motives so that they can make their own unconflicted decisions.What jumps out at me is that you don’t seem to have the courage to assert your position. Rather, you try to fortify your position by quoting what experts say. Who cares what experts say. They aren’t living in your skin.Plenty of people are comfortable having a long term relationship that never leads to marriage. So what? That’s not what you want. If you want to be married, you should be honoring your deepest wishes and desires.You need to be willing to hold to your guns, not because doctor so and so says x, y, or z, but because you are entitled to have what you want for yourself in this short life. You need to tell him what you told me: I’m at the point of ending the relationship and finding someone else who wants to spend the rest of our life together.I suspect that he hasn’t taken you seriously up until now, precisely because you’ve quoted the experts–which sends the message that you aren’t strong enough to stick to your guns and that you are leaning on others for outside validation. When he hears this message from you and only you, he will know that you mean business.If there is any chance that he will move to the next level and marry you, your being firm and clear is your only hope of achieving that end. Before you issue this ultimatum, make sure that you are willing to put your money where your mouth is and leave the relationship if he doesn’t come through. If he senses that you are bluffing, he will call the bluff and not come through.Keep in mind that even if you are willing to leave and he knows it, he still may not come around because of various unresolved issues within himself. Fear of commitment conceals deeper issues that include fear of being too close, fear of abandonment, fear of dependency and weakness, and so on.Because he hasn’t resolved these deeper issues, I am concerned that ‘forcing’ him into marrying you not make either of you happy in the long run. If he does marry you rather than lose you, he may resent you. Plus, if he avoids marriage as a way of keeping his distance, he may find even more painful ways to distance from you after marriage.If he agrees to marry, you will need to discuss all these risks. Ideally, this discussion will get him talking about his problems and taking steps to resolve them. If and when the issues are truly resolved, he could enter into marriage in a whole hearted way.One thing seems clear: You won’t feel whole unless you stick up for what you want and let the chips fall where they may.