Dear Christine, Ready in Redford

  • Posted on March 11, 2018 at 7:13 am

Dear Christine,

I’ve come across your columns on line and enjoy them. While I see you mostly seem to deal with LGBT issues, I assume you work with straight couples in your practice too.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 5 years. He spends a couple nights at my house, I spend a couple nights at his, and we spend a couple on our own. We tell each other I love you all the time. He’s never mentioned marriage though. We were only 22 when we met and now at 27, I feel like I want to be married and start a family. I’ve been old school, waiting for home to ask. Any ideas on how to get him to pop the question?

Signed,

Ready in Redford

Dear Ready,
Thanks for  following my blog and taking the time to write a question.  I do work with all kinds of people and relationships, not just the LGBTQIA… population.  Your situation sounds familiar.  You’re in a long term, serious relationship and after 5 years you are ready to make a legal commitment, marriage.  But you don’t know where your boyfriend is on this topic.  I’d suggest some direct conversation about what you need and want in a relationship, as those needs and wants probably have changed over the time together.  Do you really have no idea where he stands on marriage after 5 years together?  Have you ever talked about what you want in the future, careers, kids, finances, where to live, what to live in:  apartment, condo or house?

You both were young when you met and have grown up with each other in a way.  Now you sound ready to take another step.  A healthy relationship allows you both to feel emotionally safe enough to honestly explore your thoughts and needs about the relationship.  If you just wait for him to “pop the question” you may wait forever!  If you bring it up, then you both get a chance to share your hopes and dreams, your fears and also your non-negotiables.  Non-negotiables are those things that you must have or you cannot have in a long-term, committed relationship.  Perhaps you don’t want to live with someone who smokes, or who uses drugs, or who doesn’t keep a job.  Those are important boundaries to communicate so that you both know what you each need.  If he needs to smoke, and you need him to quit, it’s probably a losing battle for you.  He needs to find it in himself to quit, and if he quits for you, you retain the credit and/or blame of his ability to quit or relapse.

Non-negotiables will cut through the chatter and help you both see if you are headed in the same direction with your life goals.  For example, some people do not want to have children at all.  If you know your boyfriend is like that, don’t think that you will change his mind or convince him to eventually have a baby with you.  My parents’ best friends had two daughters that the couple both wanted.  The wife, however, wanted a 3rd baby and knew her husband didn’t.  She tricked him into getting her pregnant and he never would have much to do with his son.  That son had a lot of issues as he grew up feeling ignored and not wanted by his father, and by high school was into drugs and the wrong crowd.

You have invested a lot in this relationship, but the only way to know if he wants to keep investing in it with you is to begin to have conversations about what you need.  If you cannot have this direct a conversation, that might tell you something about how emotionally safe you really feel with him.  If you don’t risk, you won’t ever what you really want.  Take a risk and have a heart-to-heart talk about the future.

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

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