Ask Amy: Long-term engagement brings on frustration
Dear Amy: I’m 55 years old. I’ve been engaged to a 44-year-old man since 2013. After seven years spent with the both of us living with his parents, he keeps saying that he wants to get married. We have even planned a small wedding a couple of times, but he never goes through with it.
I love this man totally, but I’m just not happy with the current living situation.
How do I get him to understand — or should I walk away? — Torn
Dear Torn: Your guy already understands you. He knows what you want.
He obviously does not want the same thing.
When you’re wrapped up in a relationship with a very long history (such as yours), things can seem quite complicated, but never forget this very simple fact: The great majority of the time, people do what they want to do.
Take a good 360-degree look at your situation with this thought: “People do what they want to do.”
(Go ahead and circle the room; I’ll wait.)
Your guy likes things just as they are. How many times must he demonstrate that he likes things as they are in order for you to believe him?
And why would you continue to want to marry someone who quite obviously does not want to marry you? I assume it is because you also like — or at least can tolerate — things just as they are.
You are 55 years old. Your choices are to either get with the program and choose to spend the rest of your life engaged and cohabiting with your guy’s parents, or to leave. But — because YOU have this choice, you don’t get to blame him for your unhappiness.
Dear Amy: I feel like a selfish jerk, but I am only one of two in my generation in my family. I have a cousin, “Stella,” who I believe is at least mildly senile.
Stella and I talk by phone — she does not use any technology more advanced than that. I find our conversations pretty painful — she is repetitive and sometimes argumentative. I know she is lonely.
Am I obligated to keep in touch with her? — Surviving Cousin
Dear Cousin: You are not obligated to contact your cousin, and yet you should, anyway. Coach yourself before a call. Ask questions, prompt her to talk about the past if she wants to, don’t contradict her, breathe, and be patient. If it would help you, you could set a timer so the call isn’t too open-ended.
Remind yourself that you are contacting her out of kindness. Being patient, nice, and kind to her will make you feel good. After a call, pat yourself on the back.
Dear Amy: In a recent column, you published a question from “New Mama.” She had a new baby and her husband had a long commute to his job. According to her, he was unsympathetic to what she was going through.
I’m a little tired of these women who have babies and then whine and cry about having to take care of them.
They should have thought of that before they had them.
Breastfeeding (if that’s what you do) and losing a little sleep in the beginning is natural and part of the job.
Her husband works long and hard so that she has the privilege of taking care of that baby at home.
When are these women going to wake up and stop whining about it?
I had children, breastfed, and took care of them myself.
My husband went to work every day so that we had a lot of good things in life.
I appreciated that. — Fed Up
Dear Fed Up: In addition to taking sole care of her baby, “New Mama” was also working (from home) to bring in household money.
In my view, she wasn’t whining at all — but merely describing what her life was like and asking for ideas for how to cope through this phase, with an unavailable and unsympathetic partner.
I suspect that, in addition to being exhausted and overwhelmed, this new mother might also have postpartum depression, which is potentially very serious. If you have not experienced this (or known someone who has), you don’t seem to have the willingness or capacity to imagine what it might be like.
Additionally, is it absolutely necessary that everyone should experience life’s challenges with the same equanimity as you have?
You seem to have been both fortunate and competent during your child-rearing years. Now might be a good time to work on your compassion.