Q: My boyfriend lost his wife two years ago, and we moved in together less than a year ago. At first he talked about marriage, but he has since said he thinks it is too soon. What would cause him to suddenly back down? -- Mary, 62
Dr. Susan: It's not so much that he backed down, but that he wised up. If he was married for a rather long time and then his wife died, he may have jumped into a relationship with you out of sheer loneliness. That doesn't mean he doesn't love you. He talked about marriage because that's what people used to do when they loved someone and wanted to stay with them: they got married. Although that's how a lot of people still behave, times seem to have changed quite a bit. He realized he could have most of the benefits of marriage without necessarily taking on the drawbacks. I suspect he can't see any good reason to tie himself to you permanently at the moment. You'll have to decide how important it is to you to marry him, and at some point you'll have to let him know that this is what you need to be happy. Meanwhile, judge his love and commitment by his behavior toward you. His actions, in other words. If all that's missing is the piece of paper, it probably won't hurt to give him a while longer to be sure.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.