Dear Carolyn: My girlfriend of three years, "Debbie," wants us to get married and I asked for some time to decide. That time is running out. She's 34 and I can understand why she wants to start a family.
The thing is, I'm not positive she's the one. I always figured when the right woman came along, I would just know it. I love Debbie, she's beautiful, kind and generous, but there's still some nagging doubts — like that her sister and mom are both stay-at-home moms and even though Debbie says that's not for her, will she expect that when she gets pregnant? I have no desire to be the sole wage-earner.
My dad told me years ago I would know when the right girl came along, and that I shouldn't settle, but now he's urging me not to let this wonderful woman get away.
Could it be that I'm never going to be absolutely sure, or should I keep holding out for that magic moment where all doubts disappear?
— The One?
The One?: 1. “[S]he’s beautiful, kind and generous”: Holy generic. Do you even know this person?
2. “[E]ven though Debbie says that’s not for her, will she expect that when she gets pregnant?”
Wha? My chat producer, Teddy, translated this so well I’m going to quote him: “She said no but I am going to speak for her and guess that means yes.” Yeah. That.
3. If you’ve read any of my work, then you know what I think of “magic moment.”
I don’t mean to pile on; your letter just has no signs of intimacy between you and Debbie. Do you talk? Really talk — about feelings, fears, hopes, old aches, new epiphanies? Do you listen? Do you trust?
Can you list three things that make being with Debbie different from being with anyone else?
Can you recall how you feel between relationships? Have you felt happy alone? Can you summon the way you’ve felt in other relationships? Is there any difference among these various emotional states? Is the way you feel with Debbie the one you want to keep?
If you were Debbie, would you pick you as a good match?
There is no “absolutely sure” when it comes to other people, not even close. But you can become an expert on yourself and anchor your decisions in that. Please try. There’s no “one,” there’s just someone life would feel dreary without.
To Debbie's Boyfriend: So, you don't want your future wife to stay at home. Great. But are you willing to put in the effort so she can work without going bonkers from stress?
I've met my fair share of men who "can't imagine having a wife who didn't have her own career," and then they hang back and expect to be waited on . . . and are baffled when their wives ramp down their aspirations. This is absolutely a conversation you should be having with Debbie.
— Met My Share
Met My Share: Plus, he could wake up wanting to be a stay-at-home dad. Why not.
Re: Debbie: Remember that no plan survives first contact with reality. All you can do is figure out whether you want Debbie to be the one who stands with you to catch everything life throws at you.