Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Wanting To Be Married
How Do You Know Whoís The Right Person?
In Love With Two Men

Wanting To Be Married

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hello I am 26 years old and I have been in a serious relationship for five years. My boyfriend and I have lived together for over four years and we have known each other for close to seven years. I have come to the point in my life that I am ready to take the relationship to the next level.

We have talked about marriage in the past and he has always assured me that I am the one he wants to spend his life with. A little over two years ago we found out that we were going to be parents. The day we found out, he told me that he had recently told his family and friends that he planed to ask me to marry him. Several weeks later on Easter Sunday I miscarried.

Now it is over two years later and we are still not engaged. When I try to bring up the subject of marriage or anyone asks us when we are getting married he simply avoids the conversation or states that he does not have the money to buy a ring. My whole thoughts on this is that if he really wanted to make me his wife, money would not be an issue and also, why did he tell me that he planned on asking me when he found out we were going to be parents? I feel like he is only making excuses and that there must be more to this than what he is telling me but I do not know how to speak to him about it due to his previous responses. Do I give him an ultimatum?

Thank you for your time,

Dear Wannabe Wife,

Youíve been with your boyfriend for five years, living together for four years, and thatís more than enough time for him to know whether he wants to be married to you or not. If he does want to be married to you, you may have to push him into doing it.

Donít be shy, and donít let yourself get trapped by feeling that marriage doesnít count if you have to insist on it. Too many women have waited and waited for a man to get down on his knee and propose with a big diamond ring. Thatís ridiculous.

You donít need a fantasy proposal or an expensive engagement ring. You need a wedding date and an agreement to get married. Having a big diamond has nothing to do with getting married.

Itís time for you to sit down with your boyfriend and have a serious talk. You really have to tell him about your feelings and let him know that it's time for marriage. Find out what his objections are to getting married ASAP. If he says he canít afford it, then tell him you donít need an expensive ring or a big wedding. If he says heís not ready, then you have to give him a deadline Ė and an implied ultimatum if he doesnít meet your timeframe.

Tell him heís had years to get ready, that youíre ready, and that you canít wait any longer. Then give him a date on which you want to get married. If heís unwilling to get married, you have no choice but to leave him. Sometimes leaving is the only way to get a man to really make a commitment.

Some men will put you off as long as they can get away with it. Obviously he thought that when you were pregnant he couldnít get away with it any longer. Now you just have to give him another reason he canít put off marriage any longer Ė that youíll leave if he does.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

How Do You Know Whoís The Right Person?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 32 year old woman (never been married) who has been in a relationship for 2 years with a 35 year old man (also never been married). We have a healthy, happy relationship and in most ways feel that we have improved each other's lives. Since we met, we felt incredibly comfortable and very natural together. We have similar values and spend a great deal of time laughing and enjoying each other's company.

Here's the dilemma: I feel as if I'm a victim of being exposed to too many romance novels and fairy tales, because I'm not sure if what I have with my boyfriend is enough. We both wonder if we are actually "in-love" and not just good companions. I never felt swept off my feet by my boyfriend, and am often disappointed because he's not romantic enough etc. We both share these concerns and my greatest fear is that we will get married and have kids, and one day one of us will wake up and realize that we were actually never in-love. How does anyone ever know for sure that they are with the right person??

I've grown up in a generation where I could have and do anything that I wanted, and the result is I never feel satisfied with anything. I know many people my age who feel the same way. Is it too much to expect that someone will be my lover, companion, confident, friend, intellectual equal and my soul-mate, or should I be compromising some things?


Dear Confused,

Youíre right, youíve been given the wrong message Ė that you can find perfection in a relationship, be swept off your feet by a knight in shining armor, and never experience anything less than wonderful happiness. Oh that it were true. But itís not.

The sad truth is that we can never be sure weíre with the absolutely best person for us in the whole world, because there's not enough time in a lifetime to try out everyone in the world to see if weíve got the best one for us. So, after a reasonable amount of time dating, you choose someone based on your experiences.

You choose someone with whom youíre happier or as happy or even just more content than you have been with anyone in the past. Itís not too much to expect that someone will be your lover, companion, confident, friend, intellectual equal and soul-mate. But it is too much to expect that theyíll be your only friend, companion, etc.

Being swept away only lasts a short time, but a good marriage lasts a lifetime. Frankly, what usually happens when you're swept away in a romantic frenzy is that the relationship burns red hot for a while, but soon thereís nothing but ashes.

Iím not telling you to compromise on important things, but donít have unrealistic Hollywood fantasies of what a relationship should be Ė youíre sure to be disappointed no matter who youíre with.

Instead of comparing your relationship to a fairy tale or romance novel, try comparing it to other real relationships around you and that youíve been involved in. Then youíll be able to make a decision based in reality, not fantasy.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

In Love With Two Men

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I searched your Love Library and couldn't find anything close to my situation, so here goes. I'm a 31-year old wife and mother. I've been with my husband since we were both 18. We've been married for 7 years and have a wonderful 3-year old boy. We have been the envy of our friends since forever. Everyone wished they had a relationship as perfect as ours.

But I'm sure you know, there's no such thing as a perfect relationship. 4 years ago, he cheated on me "emotionally" with a close female friend. That's over now, but I guess you could say that was when the bubble burst for me. I realized that I can never take this relationship for granted.

After that I did everything to win him back, including having a baby. Everything was great until about a year ago. I began to resent the fact that I was doing most of the sacrificing in this relationship. In December last year, during a momentary lapse of judgement, I had sex with a male co-worker (we were both drunk).

We knew it was wrong. He was due to be married in June this year. But somehow, I don't know how, we fell in love. Throughout this whole affair, I never considered leaving my husband, and he never considered not going through with the wedding. We're so different in terms of upbringing and personality. If we actually had a go at it, we both know it could never last. So we just thought we'll go with the flow and eventually, we'd grow tired of each other.

But guess what? We didn't. Now he's married and I'm trying for a baby. We stopped having sex right before he got married, but we can't stop feeling what we feel. We've tried to break up 4 times to no avail.

Things with my husband are great. I love him and can't imagine my life without him, but I can't let go of my boyfriend. I need him in my life in a way that I can't explain. I know it's possible for me to have both, but I can't do without either.

What do I do???

Dear In Love,

Instead of working together to solve the problems in your relationship, you and your husband both looked outside of your marriage for the love you werenít getting in it. You and your husband are both guilty of cheating on each other.

Now you have more than evened the score, and you better quit your affair while the quitting's good. If you donít, youíre liable to wind up without a husband OR a lover. These kinds of affairs donít stay secret forever. You've been lucky so far, but word will surely get out if you donít stop. If you continue, you will hurt everyone -- your lover, his bride, your husband, your child, and yourself.

Now's the time. Your lover's gotten married, and you're no longer having sex. Cut off the rest of it, cold turkey: no private talks, no intimacy of any kind. It will be hard at first, but you must force yourself. Start an exciting new sport or activity to help take your mind off your lover. When you do think of your affair, think of it as a part of your past that you can always remember as a secret memory, but now you're moving on with your life.

Take the energy you've been putting into your affair and redirect it into repairing your marriage. Go somewhere special with your husband. Seduce him into exploring new ways to spice up your sex life. Consider couples counseling to help reestablish the trust you've lost.

If you truly love your husband and you want your marriage to last, you must commit yourself to working on it. But having another baby isn't going to fix your marriage. Fix your marriage first and then think about another baby.

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.

Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"

If you can't find your answer in the Library and you feel you MUST have an answer, you can get a personal answer from Dr. Tracy within two business days by availing yourself of her inexpensive private counseling.

You may submit your question to Dr.Tracy's column by e-mail here. (Tips: to increase your chances of having your question chosen, state your age and your marital history, and remember to use paragraph breaks so that your question isn't just one big, hard-to-read clump of words. Also, questions in all caps won't be answered.)

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