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Current (4/5/98) Column --


E-mail flooded in about my advice, in my March 22nd Column, to the 28-year-old woman whose guy kept making excuses to avoid getting married. (I told her she should put on some pressure and set some deadlines and, basically, not to wait for him to bring up the "M" word.) The following two responses pretty well sum up all of them:

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Reference below, your response to this person's question. You're blowing my mind! You make it sound as if the young lady should squeeze the guy's nuts until he gets married. I understand your point of view, but gosh it seems a bit much... I mean, shouldn't the girl have enough confidence in herself and who she is to not have to make such a big deal out of marriage? Maybe if she would not worry about "getting married" and just enjoy the moments she has with her boyfriend she will find and experience the committment for which she yearns, irrespective of marriage (what is marriage truly? isn't interaction and love more important? why does marriage always have to be the only road to a happy life? No, I'm not bitter, m'aam, just trying find consideration in reality, not a cultural norm).

Dear Mind Blown Person,

A cute e-mail joke hit my in-basket last week entitled, "Women talk in Estrogen; men listen in Testosterone." Very apt. Why would you expect men and women to think the same about marriage?

If women waited for you men to get around to it, there would be very few marriages. Yours are the usual things guys say about the "M" word, but don't forget, guys can wait forever. Women have a biological clock ticking. And if it weren't for women's clocks, maybe we wouldn't think marriage is such a big deal either.

Marriage, for your information, goes a crucial step beyond "interaction and love," as you put it. Marriage incorporates those things, but it also means you stand up in front of friends and family to accept your responsibilities as a partner, as a father, and as a member of society. That's how we form families. That's what people do, in some form or another, all over the world. Marriage is not just some "cultural norm," it's the reality of our species. Get used to it. Every woman is eventually going to want to get married, so you're only kidding yourself if you get rid of one and find another one to escape from a marriage demand.

Besides, every survey shows that married men are the happiest members of society in general, happier than single men, single women or married women. So stop fighting it. Go with the flow. Succumb and be happy, you will eventually anyway.

And by the way, lots of guys like to have their balls squeezed, especially if it's done with love.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Thanks for your 3/22 column on the "M" word. I needed to read exactly that.

I've been dating my boyfriend for 3 years, and since we've been married before and have one child each, this slow going had suited me fine until recently. I brought up the subject of our future and we'd had some discussions, but I was getting a little impatient. Finally this weekend, at our 3yr. dating anniversary, I asked him what he thought our future looked like and he said, well, we could get engaged and get married at about this time next year. He didn't seem joyful, and I asked him if this is what he wants, and he said he wants to be married to me for eternity, and that if we waited for him we might be dating for 3 more years! I was feeling a little worried that perhaps I'd pressured him and maybe a little is needed as you indicated in your column. Now I feel better!

Thanks for your words of advice.

Dear Pressurer,

Don't feel badly about pressuring a man into marriage. If you wait for them to do it, you could wait forever, or at least another three years.

Too many women have been watching Hollywood movies for too long where the man chases the woman begging her to marry him. It usually doesn't happen that way, and if it does, a woman should be suspicious. Why is he so anxious, she should wonder, and why is she resisting?

The truth is that women do the choosing. In almost every species, it's the female who gives the signal that says, "Hey you, come over here, I'm ready." Then she lets the man catch her.

It's a known fact that men like the status quo. They hate change. They like their old robes, their old shoes, and their old single states.

You waited three years and then decided you were ready, and you went after what you wanted and you got it. You're a good example of "The Steps to Commitment" in my Library. Good for you -- and lucky him.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm 26 and have been living with my girlfriend for the past five. She desperately wants to get married and have kids. Some time ago, she told me she had "forgotten" to take the Pill a few times. I got pretty mad. I was also scared. I'm not ready to have kids.

Three months ago my best friend got married. Another good friend is engaged, and another has recently bought a house with his girlfriend. I was beginning to think I should get married too. As I said, my girlfriend really wants to. But at my best friend's wedding I met this other girl. I felt a special "click" with her. I felt that she had what I find lacking in my girlfriend.

I feel a great affection for my girlfriend, but find myself avoiding sex, and comparing her to the other girl constantly. I've decided I don't want to marry my girlfriend, and resent her constant pressure. I'd leave her for the other girl, but the other girl lives in another country.

What can I do? I'm young, and don't want to end up in a marriage that I don't want. At the same time, I feel guilty. My girlfriend is so good to me, and I know how much it would hurt her if I left. I'm also scared of ending up alone.


Dear Scared,

Everybody who's honest would admit that getting married is a little scary. But what on earth did you expect -- to live with a woman for five years, to take her to weddings, to act a lot as husband and wife, and not have her want to get married and have children? Get real! If you stay with her, she's going to continue pressuring you to get married.

So if you resent her pressuring you that much, move out. Then she'll find someone else and probably marry the next guy she meets and you'll be alone, or with ms. wonderful from the last wedding, or with someone else. But there's nothing you can do to turn off her natural desire to get married and have kids.

Living together makes it even worse. And having friends buying houses together and getting married means she's constantly bombarded with the fact that you won't. And now you don't want to have sex either.

You're relatively young, and maybe the woman you're living is really not the right one for you. But don't make the mistake of comparing a fantasy of some girl you don't know with the reality of another. If you can't live without your fantasy, then be brave and give up the woman you've been living with. You really can't have both -- a five year relationship and an unknown exciting new fantasy. They're two different animals.

The honest thing to do would be to stop tormenting yourself and your girlfriend. Either decide to break up, or see a therapist together to try to work through this problem.

Five years is long enough to know if you want to get married or not. I don't blame her for demanding that you make up your mind.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

Dr. Tracy regrets that it is simply impossible for her to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. However, she does read every question, and tries to select the three which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.

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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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