Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Six Years is Too Long
The Endlessly Critical Girlfriend
A Man With No Baggage

Six Years is Too Long

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My girlfriend and I have been dating each other for 6 years and are experiencing some problems. She has been ready to get married for sometime now, I unfortunately am not financially able to get married yet, nor do I know if I even want to get married ever. I do know that she deserves the best, she is a wonderful person. Also I have a serious problem discussing this with her. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Dear Broke,

Just because you can't afford to get married doesn't mean that after six years your girlfriend is going to give up on the idea. There's probably nothing you can say to her at this point that would convince her that she doesn't want to get married.

She's got six years of her life invested in you, and not being financially able to marry isn't a very good excuse. If everyone who wasn't financially secure stopped getting married, there would be very few married couples. Hardly anyone I know, including me, was able to "afford" getting married when they did.

Actually, two can often live cheaper than one by combining income and expenses. You are probably using money as an excuse when you really don't have an excuse at all. If she's a wonderful person and if you don't marry her soon, you're going to lose her, which will be exactly what you deserve.

No woman can wait around forever (I suggest a three year limit), and six years is way too long. You should know by now if you want to marry her or not.

Why not consider a long engagement and a cheap wedding? You don't have to spend a fortune. You could go down to city hall and get a license for less than a tank of gas.

If you really have no intentions of marrying your girlfriend, give her a break and stop leading her along. If she wastes her youth and childbearing years waiting for a man who can't commit, you'll be guilty of more than being broke. On a more selfish level, how would you replace her? Most women would want to marry after six years, and it's doubtful that you'll be able to find someone else like her -- a wonderful woman who's willing to love you for years without getting married.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

The Endlessly Critical Girlfriend

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 49 involved with a woman who is 50. We are both divorced and have raised our children, although her adult children still live with her. We have known eachother for about 12 years, and we dated once before 10 years ago. The problem is that she is does not appear to be satisfied with anything about me. I returned from overseas duty 5 years ago to try to get back together with her. There was trouble from the start. First, she could not love me unless I admitted to infidelities (perceived). Although I truly was not, she believed I was unfaithful when we went together before. She nagged me for hours. She could not accept that we remembered things differently and we needed to put this behind us. Eventually, since she said she could not continue on without this admission, I relented and admitted to the perceived infidelities.

Then it was my clothes, then the way I dressed, then my possesions were junk and needed to be thrown out, etc. Now, it's the memories of my life. We were talking about Corpus Cristi with another person, a friend of hers who grew up there. We were talking about how nice the beach was and the friend had made a sexual comment. I laughingly commented that my ex-wife and I had once tried to make love on the beach and just got sand in our mouth, hair, and cloths. Now my girlfriend gives me the silent treatment. She says she can't be with a guy like me. She calls me a moron. My feeling is that when two people are as old as we are, we have histories. I should not be afraid of relating that history consistent with the context and mood of the ongoing conversation. That event happened over 20 years ago. I do not speak of ex-lovers by name nor do I dwell on or frequently bring up old loves. Am I wrong in this situation?

Thank you

Dear Unsatisfying,

If the woman you are dating is not satisfied with anything about you, why do you hang around? You've been having trouble with this relationship for years. What on earth makes you think it's going to get any better at this late date?

Relationships are like business deals. They either get better or they get worse, and once they've started in that downward spiral, it's almost impossible to turn them around. And you've been in a downward spiral with this woman for a long time.

She's not going to stop being critical, and criticism is a relationship killer. Nobody wants to be criticized. Everyone wants to be appreciated.

This has nothing to do with your past memories. It has more to do with a woman who doesn't know how to be nice to someone who loves her. Your history is yours to treasure and relish and relive, although sexual details might best be kept to yourself.

On the other hand, a woman who can't find anything good about you to appreciate will destroy your self-esteem and make you miserable. Don't put up with her calling you a moron or any other name. You deserve better. You sound like an intelligent person to me.

If she says she can't be with a man like you, tell her fine, you can't be with a woman who puts you down… and mean it. You've been trying to make this relationship work for too long. It's time to find someone who will appreciate you.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

A Man With No Baggage

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Last year I moved out of a home that, for one year, I shared with my then boyfriend. It seemed as though we wanted different things, and we just weren't "clicking" like we did in the beginning. He would stay out until the early morning or watch pornography in privacy, while I couldn't understand his seeming need for these activities. He expressed his fear of marriage and children, but was not completely opposed to the idea. My concerns were that we simply were not compatible any longer since I wanted children and marriage. I then made the decision to move out.

I have since met another man who has been married twice and has three children, yet I find complete peace of mind with him and he gives me the security that I craved from my last relationship. He is perfect in all other respects, however his ex-wives and children are a problem for me. I never thought I would fall in love with someone with such a past, but I have. Now my ex-boyfriend wants to get back together, promising that he has changed, and my new love has made every effort to assure me that his past will not be a problem for me. Unfortunately, children never go away and this issue has always bothered me.

I now have one man who has no "baggage" but our history makes me question whether it will really work, and another man who makes me 100% happy, all of the time, but he has children and two ex-wives that I will have to deal with. I have prayed for someone to make me happy, and now I have it, but with all the "baggage." I want someone to experience marriage and children with together, the first time for both of us, yet I want to feel that we will not end up divorced. How do I choose the idealistic dream over true happiness?

Dear Baggage Phobic,

There's no choice at all for a woman who really wants to get married and have children: pick the man who's been married before, assuming he's willing to have more children. Why? Because he's experienced marriage and has had children, and it'll be a lot easier for him to do it again.

Besides, how could you possibly give up a man who makes you happy 100% of the time for a man who, just a year ago, was staying out late and had a fear of marriage and children? Do you really believe that, down deep, he's totally changed?

There are very few men who can make a woman happy 100% of the time and if I were you, I'd snap him up before he finds some other woman to make happy 100% of the time.

Don't let ex-wives or children scare you away. Lots of happy, extended families include ex's and children from previous marriages. Instead of thinking of his ex's as a liability, think of them as an asset. After all, they've taught him to put the toilet seat down, take out the trash and be nice enough to get your 100% happy label. He's learned to appreciate a good relationship and will cherish the happiness he's finally found with you.

Forget the idealistic fantasy of finding someone with absolutely no baggage. After all, no baggage could mean that nobody wanted them. And there's lots worse baggage than ex wives and kids!

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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