DEAR ABBY: I’ve been dating a guy for five years. We were high school classmates and became close friends shortly after that. Abby, he’s the man of my dreams. I’ve been in love with him since we were 16 years old. We married other people, but we are divorced now and we are together.
We are both 46. I want to get married and he knows it. We have discussed it — but every time I bring it up (and I always bring it up, he never does), he has an excuse. He says it’s only a piece of paper, we’ve both already been married, I have some debt, etc.
I have a 19-year-old daughter, and he has two kids, 13 and 11. We all get along, even our exes. I am tired of being just “the girlfriend.” This is not how I want to live the rest of my life. I have always wanted to be his wife.
He’s a good man. He treats me great, is respectful and considerate and I love him so much. Must I suck it up and live and die as his girlfriend or leave because he doesn’t want to get married? If I leave, I have no plans on dating or trying to marry anyone else. I’m fine alone. Please help. — WANTS THE PIECE OF PAPER
DEAR WANTS: As you have framed it, your boyfriend — whom you love very much — doesn’t want to formalize the relationship, and if you break things off, you don’t plan to become involved with anyone else. If you are asking me for magic words that will convince your marriage-phobic boyfriend to make a permanent commitment, you are asking something that isn’t possible. If he feels as strongly about you as you do him, he may come around one day, but there are no guarantees. And yes, you will have to “suck it up” if you’re not prepared to leave, and while you’re doing that, make the best of it.
DEAR ABBY: I’ve been dating a beautiful woman for a year now. We have fallen deeply in love. We have the kind of relationship that one can only dream of, and we couldn’t be happier.
I’ve bought her some jewelry, including rings, to show her my love. She wears them, but she also wears jewelry, including rings, from past relationships. I told her this bothers me. She said those items don’t have any sentimental value, she just likes them. I have no doubt she means that.
Should I overlook this and not let it bother me, or should I be more persistent? — EXPRESSION OF LOVE
DEAR EXPRESSION: Your feelings are your feelings. Seeing your lady friend enjoy jewelry she received from other men bothers you. You have told her as much. While at one time the items were symbols of the affection her ex (exes?) had for her, to her they are now just jewelry. If you want to continue the relationship with her, place less importance on the baubles. They have nothing to do with you or the relationship you both enjoy now.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)