Here’s a letter from Shelly – she’s in a classic “girlfriend trap” – and yet, it feels okay to me right now. I like how she describes the relationship, and the man – and I feel that the urgency inside herself is what Shelly needs to focus on – rather than on zeroing in on how to talk about it with HIM.
In other words, she has more time and options and room to move, and the relationship feels good enough as it is – so she can breathe and really explore all her feelings. Perhaps she’ll come up with some “out-of-the-box” ideas for herself!
“Hi Rori, I was wondering if you are in a relationship and your man, he has never been married and he’s 50 yrs old I am 49 years old I have been his longest relationship. At the beginning we talked about marriage because I had been in a unhealthy marriage for 17 years. That said. I told him I still believe in marriage and he said that he would never marry because of divorce rates (I think its more but i do respect peoples feelings) I’ve excepted the fact that he doe not want to marry it definitely was not a deal breaker. But I would live with someone, him yes….
We get along fabulously, spiritually, laugh all the time, have serious discussions and love each other etc. sounds great i know, why would i want to bring up the possibility of one day if he could commit to living together, now that would be the deal breaker, at 49 I will not be someone’s girlfriend all my life.
How would I bring up that subject, its been 9 months never has he missed a day without calling me before work after work and our good night call. We see each other on all his days off, my daughter and I spent Christmas dinner with his family and the next day he spent Christmas with my family. I just think were ready for growing in another direction together and I don’t mean tomorrow but in the not so distant future, I guess I just need to know because I’m falling hard.
The more time we spend together, I love him more than the first day we told each other that we were in love with each other. Thank for your advice to all of us woman. Shelly”
Here’s my answer:
Shelly – What I know first and foremost is that if you have these strong feelings that you don’t want to be a girlfriend all your life, but – that’s what it feels like to you day after day – and if you don’t delve into your feelings and speak to him and clear the air directly…you will create tension and distance and disruption in the relationship.
Marriage is not “the” Happy Ever After for everyone. Sometimes living together, owning a home or a boat together, traveling together – is plenty.
Don’t let images of what other people want color your desires – feel how it feels to be with him, and what you’d need to make it the whole package for you. 9 months is a long time – but not so long that he’s dragging his feet here. If he says he’ll never marry – believe him. See how you feel about that. (Things could shift – but I don’t want you to put any of your eggs into that basket in the meantime.)
The main problem is the need to have a discussion about what your relationship IS – not what it ISN’T.
Yes, it isn’t marriage-bound at the moment – but how about you ask him simply what he sees? Does he see you living in the same house? Traveling together? Or does he just like things the way they are? He lives where he lives, you live where you live, and you see each other often?
And – before you even get into the future – how about the NOW? Is seeing a man exclusively only on his days off enough for you? Do you long for touch and companionship on the rest of the days? After 9 months - seeing him 2 times a week, if that’s what this boils down to, perhaps simply isn’t enough for you. (It wouldn’t be for me…but it might be PERFECT for another woman, who loves having all that time to herself and then a devoted, loving boyfriend and sex twice a week.)
Clearly, if you live together, you see each other every day, and sleep every night together. Is your daughter in the house? Is that a concern for him if you live together? Then that’s something you’ll want to explore.
That’s what you need to discover – and there’s no urgency about it. You are just beginning to heal after being married unhappily for 17 years. Don’t rush YOURSELF – and certainly not HIM.
What you need to feel your way through is the WHY of why you’re exclusively involved with him, if it’s not enough time spent with him for you. If it’s just because you’re enjoying being with him, and no one else is interesting you much – that’s fine. And if someone came along who asked you to the theater or to dinner – how would you feel about saying “yes” to that?
And – are you making yourself AVAILABLE for that?
The key to everything for you is in not feeling “urgent.”
You have some time, here. And so does he.
What you want to do is to keep talking with him. Keep speaking your truth. “Sweetie, somethings bothering me, and I hate to even talk about it, because I feel so good with you…and it’s important to me that we’re just honest with each other and don’t let things get stuffed down…is now a good time to talk?”
If he says “Yes” - then go with…“Once you said you would never marry again, I’m not sure how you feel about living together…have your feelings changed at all about this? What exactly do you see for us down the road?”
Now stop and let him talk.
Next – “I’m asking because I realize I don’t want to be a girlfriend all the rest of my life – even though being your girlfriend feels so great, I’m concerned that after a while, I’ll start to feel insecure and want to feel more solid…I’m just a girl here, and sooner or later, I’ll want more. What do you think?”
Let him talk. You can always ask him…“I don’t want to be putting pressure on you…do you want me to date other men so that there’s less pressure as we go along?” — Basically this is the “No Girlfriend” speech – but with a lot more “air” and expressiveness and exploration in it – and allowing him to get involved in the discussion.