ask amy Monday

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:11pm

DEAR AMY: I found the man I want to spend my life with. We've been together for almost three years. I think we have a great life together, but I want our relationship to progress to marriage.

He goes back and forth, though he says he loves me with his whole heart.

I don't know what to do. It breaks my heart that we can't take the next step.

But wait, that's not all.

We separated at one point because of various things but could not stay away from each other because we are so much in love. In our time apart, we both dated other people.

When we got back together, we agreed all communication with whomever we dated would end. I ended my contact, but he continued to communicate with the other woman.

I found her name in his phone recently and got upset, and he turned around and said I was the bad person.

He promised me many times that this communication stopped, but I know they still call and text each other.

I have given him the ultimatum — it's me or her — and he says it's me. He says she's moving in with her fiancé and I have nothing to worry about.

I am living with him with a promise of marriage and a happily-ever-after but with nothing to show for it. I want a ring and marriage.

How long should I wait?

— Brokenhearted

DEAR BROKENHEARTED:
You might be able to persuade this guy to marry you, but you won't get that all-elusive "happily-ever-after."

Your guy's indecision about marriage is his answer. It's just not the answer you are looking for.

Your ultimatum is poorly framed, and ultimatums only work if you attach a consequence. In your case, yours should be, "It's marriage or I walk."

I don't recommend this, mind you. You should consider walking away with no strings attached because you two simply want different things in life and from each other.


DEAR AMY: I am the oldest of three girls in my family. I don't have children.

I recently moved more than 3,000 miles to be closer to my mother in her golden years.

Despite the fact that I live much closer to her now, I rarely get to spend time with her.

My other sisters (who have children) manage to monopolize all of her free time, leaving me with about one day a month to spend a few hours with our mother.

I don't know what else to do short of adopting a child to spend more time with her.

— Out of Options

DEAR OUT: If your mother is healthy, stable and not being manipulated by your sisters, you should assume she is parceling her time exactly the way she wants to. Many grandmothers simply can't get enough of the grandkids; they'd take the kids with or without the parents.

There is every possibility you are competing for your mother's attention not with your grown sisters, but with the kids. And competing with children for the exclusive attention of their grandmother is a game you will never win.

You are part of a family that includes siblings and children, and I urge you to see yourself as part of a larger group that has its own dynamic.

You could try to manage more one-on-one time with your mother by seeing if she would like to do an adult activity with you on a schedule. She might enjoy a subscription to the theater or joining a book club with you.

But if her interests run mainly to children, then, yes, adoption might be the only "foolproof" way for you to get more time with her.


DEAR AMY: In response to the recent suggestions about how to introduce adult live-in companions, why not simply use their name?

If you are being introduced to someone who knows you, no explanation is necessary to define the relationship. If they don't, then it's none of their business!

— Debbie in Nebraska

DEAR DEBBIE: I completely agree, though there are times when one is compelled to describe a relationship.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles