By Jody Valley
Your choice, tough choice
Q: I have been dating a man, “James,” for over 3 1/2 years. For the last two years, I have been trying to get him to commit to moving in with me and be in a monogamous relationship. Right now James says that even though he really loves me, he wants to keep things just the way they are. He says he wants me to be patient with him because he has a hard time committing to anything. I think that is really true. He doesn’t commit much in the rest of his life either. I ask him if I can do anything different to make it easier for him but he says, “No.” I don’t want to run him off by being too persistent, but I want more out of our relationship. I also want to be in a monogamous relationship, something I don’t have now. That’s important to me, especially given AIDS, but even if there weren’t AIDS, I want that kind of relationship. What do I do?
Needing a Partner
A: From what I hear from you, there is nothing you can do besides make a choice about what you are willing to put up with in this relationship. The question for you is: Are you willing to stay in a relationship with someone who chooses not to commit, after almost four years of relationship? I may be wrong, but it seems to me that he’s not the marrying kind.
Snotting brats are part of the package
Q: This is something I can’t talk to anyone about because I come off as a bad person. My problem is that I have a wonderful girlfriend (that is not the problem), and she has 3 bratty kids; this is the problem. My girlfriend and I are made for each other. We fit so well and never have a disagreement unless it is around the kids. She thinks her kids are just precious, and I think they are mouthy and out of control. They are 7, 5 and 3, so they will be in the picture for a LONG time. I desperately want us to have a commitment ceremony and move in together, but she won’t do that as long as I don’t accept her children. I tell her when her kids are well behaved I will be able to accept them, but I won’t accept any children that behave like hers. Then she gets all mad and goes off in a huff. I am just telling the truth. What does she want me to do, lie and say I like the little snots, when they are so out of control? I do like them when they are being good. I have encouraged her to get into counseling to learn to set limits with them and become a better mother, but she won’t. She thinks I should change. She reads your column all the time, and I know if you said she should get into counseling with the kids she would. So, I guess I just need for you to tell her that kids like hers need boundaries so that others will like them, and counseling would help. Thanks!
A: A commitment ceremony won’t make things better; it is not that magical. The problems would only get worse with everyone under the same roof. Not having seen your situation, I couldn’t say if the kids are “bratty,” or whether you just think they are. It is probably some of both; however, as a parent, I sure wouldn’t want to move in with a person who thought my kids were bratty and snots, plus it wouldn’t be good for the kids to live with someone who has such a negative opinion of them. If this were my situation and I was really interested in making this work, I would get into couples counseling and/or family counseling. Your girlfriend is absolutely right not to move in with you as long as you feel this way about the children. It also wouldn’t be good for you. And, you need to be part of the counseling process to make the whole situation work. Make it work, then do the commitment ceremony and move in; not the other way around.