Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss


Interracial Marriage
Promises, Promises
Dating the Not-Quite-Divorced

Interracial Marriage

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm very much in love with a younger man. He's 29, I'm 36. We have been very good friends for almost 2 years. We go out, have fun and really enjoy each others company. Our relationship started out as friends, led to a "booty-call" and then somewhere along the line, we fell in love with each other. We are not together right now, but he has told me he wants to marry me next year. We know we are perfect for each other, but I'm very worried about how my parents will handle our marriage.

He's black, I'm white. Although my parents aren't prejudiced, they are narrow-minded. They know him and think he is a terrific person. They also know that we are very good friends. But, they don't know about the sexual part or the seriousness of our relationship.

My kids know him and think he is great and have asked me if we are ever getting married. I told them that we are best friends and nothing could be better than marrying your best friend, but I'm concerned how they would feel about having a black step-dad. They are fine with it, because they know what a loving, caring, special person he is, and how much we mean to each other.

My parents, on the other hand, are a different story. Even though I'm 36, due to some circumstances, I'm living in their house. They have told me since I was young that people shouldn't marry out of their race. I, on the other hand, feel that if you find someone you click with and love with all your heart, race doesn't matter. I have told my parents that you can't help who your heart loves.

I'm currently dating the neighbor who lives across the street. He's 40 and white, and my parents have known him for 8 years. He is terrific and treats me great and my parents want me to marry him. He's a confirmed bachelor, and has told me many times that he loves me, but will never marry me. I'm fine with that, knowing that one day soon I will marry Scott. I have told Jeff that some day I want to be married and I will let him know when that time comes. (Scott knows that Jeff and I date) Even if Jeff proposed, I would say "No" because our views are so opposite in so many things. Scott and I share the same views about children (I have 3, he has 2), money, and so much more.

I'm so sorry this is so long, but I really need to know how to tell my parents, when the time comes, that I'll be marrying out of my race. Thanks for your time and advice. I'll be waiting for your reply! PLEASE HELP!

In Love and Scared to Death

Dear In Love and Scared to Death,

First of all, you are way too old to be living at home with your parents. If you get financially settled, move into your own home, and live separately from your parents, you won't be so worried about what they think. Frankly, you are acting more like a sixteen-year-old than a thirty-six-year old.

Your parents deserve a break. Move out.

Then tell them that you know they want you to be happy. And that you expect them to support your decision to be with Scott or anyone else you decide you love.

If you stop acting like a child, maybe they'll stop treating you like one. At your age, you know who you like and who you don't. You shouldn't feel obligated to please your parents with your choice of mate. That's more than they should expect, and also more than you can expect. Your parents grew up in a different times with different values, so you can't expect them to think exactly like you do. Few parents are totally happy with the person their child chooses to marry anyway, so don't make that the most important factor.

You should marry the man you love. You've considered your kids, his kids, and each other. That's all you really have to take into consideration. If you can make all those people happy, it'll be a minor miracle, without adding in parents.

Of course, as long as you continue dating the neighbor and using him as your "white front" for your parents, you'll be giving them the wrong idea that you will marry a white man. By giving them those expectations, you will make them even more disappointed and upset when you marry Scott.

You should tell Jeff the truth, that you intend to marry Scott. As for your parents, it's time to start bringing Scott around more so they can get used to him and the idea of the two of you being together. You need to start desensitizing them to the idea. But do your utmost to get out from under their roof.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Promises, Promises

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 26 year old female. I have been with my fiance for seven years. We have been living together and have been engaged for five of those seven years. We live in his parents' house where we rent a few rooms. My problem is that I am very confused. Every time we decide to make plans to get married, there is always a reason (according to him) why it can't be done.

We were supposed to get married two years ago when his sister was getting married (it was supposed to be a double wedding) but his sister's wedding plans fell apart so we also dropped our plans. Last year he agreed to set a date to get married this year. I suggested something very small since we don't have the money right now for a big wedding and he agreed. When the time got closer and closer for us to get married, he wanted to wait until next year. I am very frustrated because I am always the one in the relationship to bring up wedding plans.

Last year, at my prodding, he agreed that we get married on a caribbean cruise next year. He said that I should go ahead with making the reservations and he has told several of his friends and coworkers that he will be getting married this year. We agreed that he would inform his mother of our plans. I love his mother dearly and I have a good relationship with her and the rest of his family. It's been six months now and he hasn't mentioned anything to his mother. When I asked him about why he hasn't done it yet, he says that he "forgot". How could someone possibly "forget" to tell their mother of such a major life's decision. We live in the same house with her. How could you tell friends that you are getting married and not your family. I keep telling him that I feel very hurt by his telling me that he forgot and he says I'm making a big deal out of nothing. At this point I don't feel like making any arrangements because he shows no interest in the situation. I am at lost in this relationship. I feel very depressed at times.

When we first got engaged, it was on my 21st birthday but it was also a few weeks after a friend of mine informed me that he had cheated on me. He admitted it and we got past that situation. Now I really wonder if he just put a ring on my finger just to keep me in his life. But there is never a day that goes by without him telling me he loves me. He is a very sweet and sensitive and generally a good person. He says that if he doesn't marry me, he doesn't want to marry anyone else at all. However, there are problems.

Other problems in the relationship include the fact that every year when the weather gets nice he goes hanging out every Friday and Saturday night with his friends and leaves me home. I don't have many friends so this is very hurtful to me. I feel that if he is ready to settle down, these kinds of activities should slow down quite a bit, don't you think? There have also been other signs of infidelity such as leaving the room to make phone calls on his cell phone, having female friends that he does not tell me about, and a couple of years ago there were some purchases for women's clothing, accessories and gift store items that showed up on a joint bank account statement and he would not tell me who they were for. There have been other suspicious behavior on his part over the years.

Please help me because I don't have a mother or a female around me that I can talk to about this situation and it's eating me up inside? Talking about the situation doesn't improve things. Should I go ahead with the cruise arrangements or just make arrangements to leave?

Sincerely, Confused and Depressed

Dear Confused and Depressed,

No wonder you're upset. You've been hanging on this guy's promises for far too long without getting married. Haven't you ever heard the old saying that "Talk is cheap"? It's time for you to insist that he put his actions where his mouth is. But first, you have to decide once and for all whether you really want to be married to this man.

You've been saving up stamps of indiscretions and other problems and you've got years of stamps saved in your book of his wrong-doings. If you want to marry him, you'll have to forgive and forget and make new rules for your relationship -- starting with being faithful.

Because you've waited so long, you might as well wait until your cruise. Make the reservations and let your fella know in no uncertain terms that this is his last chance. He either has to marry you on the cruise or you'll be gone. Sometimes when things have dragged out as long as this has, you just have to put your foot down and demand what you want.

Meanwhile, if you're actually engaged, you should have an engagement ring. It doesn't have to be expensive; it's the principle of the thing. Drag him out to shop for it together if he stalls. I can't understand why you haven't already informed his parents of your plans, but wearing a ring should solve that problem. Also, buy a wedding dress and let them see it.

Of course you're the one who makes the wedding plans. Women always do that and men rarely participate except to reluctantly show up and do what they're told.

Only you can decide if you really want to marry your fiance. If you want to marry, consider marriage like any other goal - picture yourself doing it and then take the necessary steps to accomplish the goal.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dating the Not-Quite-Divorced

Dear Dr. Tracy,

What do you think about dating and getting involved with those who are separated and not yet divorced? I have joined an on-line matching service and have been told by 2 men I contacted that they are not yet divorced and wanted to be honest with me about it. They have said it matters to some women. I don't think it matters to me, but maybe I'm missing something. I'd like to give them as fair a chance as I would anyone else, and watch for signs that indicate if they are still overly attached to their ex, whether spouse or lover. (By the way, there are no young children from their marriages. )

Being Cautious

Dear Cautious,

The fact that these guys told you up front that they're not quite legally free yet is a good sign. Maybe.

Actually, you do seem to be missing a few things. For example, married guys often use pending divorce as a ploy for having a fling with a woman who would never date a married man. Then, later, it's their escape if she gets too attached -- "Sorry, the divorce isn't going through -- hey, I told you in front that I was married."

Lots of other guys say they're separated when what they mean is that they're separated from their wife for the nights they spend with you. In any case, it's crucial to find out exactly what's going on. Does he have his own place? Even if he gives you his "home" phone number or actually takes you there, that's no assurance. Maybe it's just a married guy's romance pad. Does he really live there? You need to know if he and his wife are legally separated. Is a divorce actually in progress? Have papers been filed?

Or he may be actually separated but dragging things out, hoping for reconciliation. How long have they been separated? What needs to be done to complete the divorce? Why hasn't it been done? Is the ex wife remarried or involved with someone else? Is there any chance they're going to get back together? Is the guy still spending a lot of time with her?

I once met a guy who went to his ex's house every week to do his laundry. Obviously not a good prospect for a relationship with a future. He was still hung up on his ex. Another man I met was just the opposite. He was still furious with his ex over -- get this -- a plaster monkey she kept in the divorce. Even though there was no question about the divorce going through, he was so consumed with his anger that he would have been a terrible relationship bet.

Even if the divorce is going through for sure, you have to ask yourself "Do I want to be this guy's 'Interim Woman'? The one he throws aside after he's gotten over his heartbreak or played out his mid-life crisis?"

But it can work. My very own husband of 23 years wasn't fully divorced, only separated, when we began to date. We were both still dating others at first, so I knew he wasn't just seizing on me as his Interim Woman. And I verified that his divorce was real. So there are no hard and fast rules here. You have to judge each man and each situation on its merits and make a careful call as to whether he's going to go back to his ex.

I didn't rule out a less-than-totally-divorced man, and it's turning out to be a long and wonderful marriage. It's not the paperwork that makes a man divorced, but rather his state of mind and how the two of you hit it off.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
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