Dear Carolyn: My girlfriend is buying a house, and I feel it’s a statement that she doesn’t trust me or believe in us. We’re in our 30s, have been dating for two years, and have talked about marriage. I see so many people getting divorced, and I want to be very sure that we’re right for each other and that this will last. For that reason I’m not ready to get engaged.
I think if we live together for a year or two and if all is well, then it would be time to get engaged. Neither of us is worried about kids, by the way — if it happens, okay, if it doesn't, also okay.
I said we should find a new place, not move into one or the other's apartment. She agreed but sprung on me that she plans to buy a house. She says I can have “input” on the place but made this decision without consulting me.
Also it will be 100 percent her house so I’d be living there and contributing but wouldn’t have any ownership. Am I right that this is a sign she doesn’t believe we’ll ever get married? Why would she do this if she was fully on board with my timeline?
Anonymous: Because she doesn’t want her financial life to be on hold while she figures out her romantic life. Good for her.
There’s nothing wrong with your timeline, per se; you have to be true to yourself and you’re being transparent.
But between your declarations that she must not “believe in us” or be “fully on board,” you give a lot of explanatory filling about not being ready to marry her and taking a year or years of incremental steps to find out whether you are.
In other words, you don’t even “believe in us” yet. It’s a neither-of-you-believes-in-us sandwich.
Again, there is nothing wrong with not being sure. You and she can take all the probationary time you’re willing to grant each other.
What you can’t do is have it both ways. You can’t have your carefully managed doubts and object to hers, too. You’re not ready for any “us” until you can live with others’ feelings as equally valid.
I hope she consults a lawyer on this housing arrangement, and you accept her (generous) offer to provide “input” on the house, assuming you can leave your sense of injury behind.
But beyond that, the way this is playing out makes sense — to me — for two adults taking things slowly but not expecting time to stand still while they do.
Dear Carolyn: My spouse and I are friends with a woman with whom we share a lot in common, while her husband has different interests. We have tried to socialize with them as a couple, but he is rarely available and seems to prefer to socialize with family or his own friends. We often include the wife in social gatherings, but they never reciprocate.
This makes us feel like second-class friends. We see a lot of the wife and she is a good friend, but she seems unaware of how hurtful this is. It doesn’t seem that speaking to her directly will change the situation — should we let a little more distance form and extend ourselves more to other friends with whom we can have more reciprocity?
— Second-Class Friends
Second-Class Friends: Sure, if that’s what you want. But pardon me while I disagree with the entire premise of your question.
Your arrangement is perfect.
Well, being close to the husband, too, would be perfect-perfect. But since you aren't, consider yourselves a lucky exception. The question with couples like this is usually, “We love Half 1 of the couple, but Half 2, not so much — can we invite only Half 1?”
This couple fixed it for you! You click with half of a couple, not all of it, and they are A-okay with your just making plans with her.
It’s not great if cross-every-T reciprocity is your thing, granted. Otherwise, though, please at least consider the advantages to a couple who not only don’t insist on being a package deal, but also save you the trouble of figuring out how to ask. It’s the friend who matters, not the transaction.
Dear Carolyn: I recently became engaged. Trying to plan a party.
My future sister-in-law found out she was pregnant, and her parents threw her a wedding this past weekend. My fiance asked his mom if she was planning a baby shower? Wasn’t sure when. A few days later said it’s the same day we chose for my party. Also told us we can’t have two parties back-to-back. Also told us we can’t plan a party close to the baby’s due date, or the summer, because that’s when the baptism is. What do I do? I’m so upset.
Engaged: Sit down with your fiance and a calendar and (attempt to) make thoughtful yet reasonable plans. Find out, now, whether he answers to himself or to his mother.
Intel like that is worth more than any single party date, especially pre-“I do.”
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