I’m 32 years old and have been with my boyfriend Jeff for five years. We moved in together this past January with a plan to be engaged by the end of this year. It’s now November and we have no plan. My traditional parents are starting to question Jeff’s intentions and I’m not sure what to do. Jeff says he wants to marry me and we both want children and we don’t have forever. I don’t want to push but I’m sad and scared that maybe Jeff can’t commit and I’m wasting my time. He’s a great boyfriend, we enjoy spending time together and have taken some amazing vacations. My parents think I should give him a “propose or move on” deadline but I love him and don’t want to risk ending the relationship by issuing an ultimatum. What should I do?
Sandy M. Oak Park, IL
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This is a difficult dilemma to want commitment from someone you love, with whom you enjoy spending time, and wonder if staying with less than a full commitment is better than losing the person and the parts of the relationship you enjoy. It’s the “half a loaf is better than none” rationale. You may want advice but honestly I don’t know enough about you or Jeff to guide you to making one of the most important decisions of your life: should you stay and wait or accept that our time on earth is limited? As time passes and you don’t move ahead on what’s important to you, you’ll be passing on some opportunities to fulfill your life dreams.
Individual therapy might be the place to start to explore what you really want from your life, and to examine how your relationship with Jeff fits with the dreams and goals you have for your life. You describe Jeff as a great boyfriend but what you want now is someone who wants to be your husband and someone who wants to partner with you in parenting children. Couples therapy might be another option for you and Jeff so that you can discuss your relationship in a safe place with a professional who has skills to guide you though the difficult conversations to help you figure out what’s next.
I wish you all the best.