Q: Hi Meredith,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for six years, living together for five years, and just recently bought a home -- all great things, except that anytime I bring up an engagement, he freaks out. We have openly talked about wanting to get married and have a family, and it is definitely something we both want. Recently, if I bring it up (which honestly is NOT very often), I get responses like "the more you ask about it, the longer it will be put off," or he'll make excuses like, "I need to make more money first," "We just got a house," or "I want to pay off my credit card ..." -- ANY reason why we can't get married. He keeps acting like he is waiting for the perfect moment (seemingly financial) and then he will do it, but he doesn't understand that it is NEVER going to be the perfect time and bills will always be there. Worst of all, he dangles the carrot in front of my face a lot by hinting at my ring size, mentioning that the has priced out some options, and talking about having babies. When I show intrigue or ask questions, he backs off again. It is getting to the point that everywhere we go people ask us why we aren't married or engaged and call us common law. We have been together longer than all of our friends that are married with children. I am getting impatient, but I would never give him an ultimatum or leave. What should I do!? Why is he so hesitant when we are already very committed to one another?? I am not getting any younger here!
– Common Law Bride, Mass.
A: I believe that you're confident that he's in for the long haul. This is about how you're being treated you as you wait for a proposal.
You need to have a talk about the weird dangling carrot. You're not a child, so you shouldn't be punished like one. When he says, "The more you ask, the longer you'll wait," is he kidding? Or is he really treating you like a teenager who broke curfew? You need to explain that this is not cute to you, and that you want to be a part of the decision-making process for your future. Let him know that if you both develop the grand plan, it'll be less stressful for him. He shouldn't be the only accountable party. And no matter what, he should treat you with respect. If he feels overwhelmed by your questions, he should say so instead of firing back with comments that put you off or humiliate you.
I do have some empathy for the guy, of course. Buying a house is a big deal and he might need to sit with that change for a bit before contemplating the next one. You can let him know that you understand that this was a big move. It was so big that you want to make sure that you're both on board for the next step and that you've talked it through before it happens.
Really, your issue isn't about the proposal, it's about communication. You want to know what's happening instead of waiting for him to make decisions for both of you. Let him know that after six years, he has to treat you like the co-pilot because that's what you are.
Readers? Should she care about the common law comments? Is she ruining the romance of the proposal? How should she deal with his comments? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.