Boyfriend Fears Marriage

Q: I have been in a committed relationship, living with my boyfriend for the past three years, and we dated on/off for five years before that. We just bought our first house and are blissfully happy. The thing that concerns me is his outlook on marriage. His parents had a bad marriage and he is convinced that's how all marriages end up. I want to get married and someday have a family but I am afraid we will never make the next step. He seems excited about our future and wants children but marriage is an issue! Is he commitment-phobic? Or does he just not want to marry me? -- Tina, 29

Dr. Susan: There's a lot of that going around. And it makes sense for a generation that grew up in split families to be wary of marriage. But knowing someone for eight years and living together for three of them ought to be enough for any normal fellow to make up his mind. Recent research shows that people who live together don't necessarily last longer together than those who don't live together before marrying. So what is he afraid of? That once he's married you, you will change so much that he will be sorry and have to help support any kids you have? Marriage offers a degree of legal protection to you. He needs to respect your need and desire for that ultimate expression of caring. He may be the type who is always looking out for the next best thing, a woman who is even "better" than you are. That can happen anyway, of course, and often does, but his holding back on this now is a red light. Sometimes you have to make the leap. You might need to consult a professional with him to dig a little deeper, certainly before having kids. Hopelessness about being able to create a good and lasting marriage can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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