Dear Margo: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Should I marry my wonderful boyfriend? Margo Howard’s advice

Other Voices, Other Rooms

Dear Margo: I’m in my early 30s, with a wonderful, caring boyfriend of more than a year. The problem is he wants to marry me! Most women in my demographic would love to have this “problem,” but I grew up with an absentee father and a stepfather with a rage problem. In my early 20s, I almost married someone just like him, but came to my senses and called it off. After another long-term relationship ended badly, I decided marriage was not a priority and spent several years casually dating, until I met my boyfriend. He says a year is plenty of time to figure out if something is heading toward marriage, and staying in a relationship that is not altar-bound is unacceptable to him.

I cannot get the notion out of his head that my fears of marriage do not mean I am equating him with past abusive men. Before he brought all this up, I slowly began changing my mind about marriage because I could see how good things were with him. But it was a slow and private process, and all the fights about marriage are making me less inclined to discuss it — or consider it. I would like to go to couples counseling, but his job recently cut his insurance and neither of us can afford to pay out of pocket.  –Feel Like the Guy

Dear Feel: You are in somewhat of a role reversal, although people don’t usually fight about getting married — or whether or not even to discuss it. This man clearly thinks you are “the one,” and I understand his wanting to at least talk about it. Although it’s usually men who have commitment issues, I hope you can overcome the fears instilled by the unfortunate men in your life. I am further sympathetic to his feeling of wanting to move on if you’re a no-go. Let me be the couples counselor: I suggest you start talking with this man you describe as “a wonderful, caring boyfriend.”  –Margo, enthusiastically (ahem)

Welcome to the Good Schnook Club!

Dear Margo: I live overseas in a lovely place. The plane ticket to get here is pricey, but things are fairly cheap once you arrive. My husband and I have issued standing invitations to family members and longtime friends. On happy occasions, someone takes us up on the offer. Recently, though, I have ended up with a long-term guest who feels that my request for the equivalent of less than $5 a day to help with food is not doable. In the past, our overseas guests have always been happy to chip in, and therefore we are taken aback at this refusal. Then again, I wonder if maybe this behavior is normal and my expectations are off — since you recently answered another letter saying, “Are you a hostess or an innkeeper, and are your friends guests or paying customers?”  –Hostess’ed Out

Dear Host: The letter you refer to had to do with weekend company. And guess what? It’s your house. Anyone who rolls in for more than a week (and this sounds like a lot more than a week) and is asked — and refuses — a modest request is a moocher. I suggest, if you’re a wuss, that you say the next arrivals are due very soon, ergo the holiday must end. If you wish to be direct, just say you can no longer afford their guest status. For you to offer the equivalent of a free hotel and feel pinched makes no sense.

It may blow the friendship, but I’m guessing you’re not feeling very friendly to this person right now anyway.  –Margo, correctly

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to dearmargo@creators.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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65 comments so far.

  1. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW1 – there are community counseling centers that are really cheap or free – please avail your self of one immediately.  If not give your boyfriend my email.  I would love to find a man such as yours who knows your painful background and still wants a future with you.  Does he show signs of violence or aggressiveness that you do not speak of in your letter?  Why must you punish him for other’s screw ups.  Either there is something you are not telling us about him or you are are suffering from extreme displacement issues that only good counseling can get you through.  Hurry and do it before you lose this jewel. 

    LW2 – before issuing unlimited invitations, be sure you tell folks that an extended stay will mean they need to assist with expenses.  You are after all not a bed and breakfast and if they had to pay for a motel or hotel – it would be much more of an expense. 

    • avatar Carmen Clemons says:

      LW1, look for a domestic/relationship violence support services organization in your area. I know the one in my county has counseling available for adult survivors of childhood abuse.

  2. avatar savena says:

    LW2: I think it is tacky to ask house guests to chip in, especially if they’ve shelled over airfare to visit you. Airfare within the US is not cheap and peak season international flights can be over $1k/person. If you’re really only out $5-10 a day hosting, don’t be so cheap! If both you and your guests agreed before their trip to the duration and this “room and board” money wasn’t discussed, you shouldn’t ask for any money. Even if they stay for 2-3 weeks, if you agreed to host, don’t penny pinch and charge them! If their trip was a month or longer, you should have discussed a contribution from them ahead of time. If their trip was short and then they unexpectedly extended their trip several weeks or months, then it is okay to discuss with them contributing to the household budget.

    • avatar bamabob says:

      this wasn’t an invitation expressly extended to this freeloader. a “standing invitation to friends and family” means “you should come visit us sometime.” As a resident of a beach town I know how *some* out of towners can interpret such standing invitations. short visits are one thing. long term guests/boarders/squatters are something else again.

      • avatar Susan Thomas says:

        This is an old saying that states that fish and guests both stink after 3 days. This is not a guest it is a full blown moocher who is settling in for the long haul. It’ s time to step in and say there is other company arriving soon and you hope he can find somewhere else to stay. They won’t be happy but tough, neither are you and it’s your home!!!!

    • avatar CanGal says:

      $5-$10 dollars may seem like nothing to you, but it may be a lot to them. They may have retired there because they can live cheaply. We don’t know their financial situation. Paying for food for constant guests may even put them on the street in their waning years. She also said long-term, so I’m guessing it’s probably been more than a month already (2-3 weeks is not long term in my book).

      LW in the future make sure the expectation of $10 a day is known in advance.

    • avatar chuck alien says:

      don’t be so cheap indeed!

      what kind of entitled jerkwad visits someone for a week in their own home and doesn’t offer to pay something?

      and why is it the homeowners responsibility to feed them? they are providing a place to stay… food is entirely separate.

      you have to realize… “i paid a lot for airfare, so you have to feed me while i’m here for free” is just not a responsible, rational, or adult attitude.

      just so we’re straight… when you come visit me, i’m not on the hook to feed you. you will pay for your own meals, and at least take turns buying the groceries that we eat. ok?

      but i won’t charge you for the room. because i’m a good host like that.

    • avatar Jody says:

      I strongly disagree with savena. I believe most people who have manners were taught by their parents to be gracious guests and offer some sort of “trade” for their visit. I’ve traded gifts, money, errands, meals, chores, etc. when staying with friends or family. But, that’s how I was taught to behave my parents. It’s how I teach my kids to behave as well. My guess is that the hostess isn’t even getting her dishwasher loaded by this squatter, or she probably wouldn’t be complaining. But, that’s just a guess. Either way, when you choose not to live your life from the perspective of gratitude, you miss out on a lot. It sounds like this person has worn out their welcome with the letter writer, and will lose out on continuing a friendship and any future invitations.
      I believe the letter writer needs to be honest and let her guest know they have worn out the welcome mat and it’s time to go. Good luck!

      • avatar A R says:

        I think you’ve hit on something. The true guest, invited and hosted in all the ways, reciprocates with a gesture such as a dinner out, gift, or other action during their limited stay.
        There are guests, (which you host and pay for), boarders (who have a paid arrangement with you that they solicited and you negotiated), and what appears to be a third category that people are addressing: short-term “timeshares” where you let the person know that your home is available as a hotel, but they are on their own for all expenses, chores, and fees.
        What I find in error is the discussion of the third group as “guests”. Guests don’t buy their own food, pay a daily stipend, and do your dishes. Those belong to the third group, which is a valid category, but to call them “guests” does a disservice to the name of host/ess.
        In the first case, you invite, they accept and you pay (host). In the second case, they request, you accept with terms they agree to (both parties offset the cost in some way). In the third case, you essentially advertise your space, they buy-in, and they pay.

    • avatar Chris Glass` says:

      We used to live in a coastal city with wonderful beaches nearby. We invited friends and family to visit with the understanding that we were not meeting all of their expenses so they could use us for a free vacation. We both worked and were saving to afford a home of our own.

      We felt that it was too much for someone to expect us to provide them with a place to stay then pick up the entire tab for their meals out entertainment, liquor etc. Our request was that they pick up after themselves, plan their own lunches while we were at work and buy the adult beverages of their choices. If they didn’t like the places we chose to take them or the food we prepared they were welcome to go elsewhere at their own expense. After one couple stayed two weeks we put a time limit on visits. Not because we didn’t want to see people but because we weren’t prepared to be unpaid innkeepers. We also made it clear they could not invite friends to stay with us or expect us to babysit while they hit the night spots.

      It is not unreasonable to expect long term visitors to pitch in with housework, help prepare meals or pick up the kitchen or help with groceries. If they went anyplace else they would pay considerably more. It is obvious that you have never had “guests” demand that you change their sheets daily, prepare special diets or take over your home while in residence. Note the wording of the letter this is a long term guest not an overnight or short visit. When we hosted people that refused to help themselves they were never allowed back. We didn’t consider ourselves their unpaid servants.

  3. avatar Lym BO says:

    LW1: “I cannot get the notion out of his head that my fears of marriage do not mean I am equating him with past abusive men.”
    Because from where I stand, it sounds like you are.
    A year isn’t that long. And ultimatums suck. If you feel like he is the one, then talking about marriage (or long term, monogamous relationships) certainly is in the cards. As is a lonnnngggg engagement. I ended two 30 month relationships & broke off two engagements before I found Mr. Right. You might respond that you can really see you together forever, but aren’t quite ready for the walk down the aisle, but will be in time. Then change the subject. If things continue on a good note, it may be you begging for the ring-since he will be confused. LOL

    • avatar Amy says:

      So you’re telling her she should be as uncommunicative as possible, accept the ring even though she doesn’t want it, and assume she can break his heart after three years pf “engagement” guilt-free? No. No changing topic, no more hiding. She should be direct with her boy and explain why she is so afraid. It seems to me that she’s hidden these feelings from her boyfriend, in which case, the person he’s so eager to marry is a total lie.

      • avatar amw says:

        An abusive past really isn’t dinner conversation.

        Lym Bo isn’t suggesting the LW lie. She is suggesting that she be honest about her fears and be request more time to digest the information and get used to the idea.

        The LW made clear that this man had begun to soften her view of marriage and a lifetime commitment. It was a personal experience. After a year, she may have still had some reservations, especially about telling her beau what an effect he’d had on her.

        There isn’t anything wrong with a long engagement. There will always be guilt after a break-up…but it is a lot easier to break an engagement than get a divorce.

      • avatar Diagoras says:

        There is something wrong with a long engagement if you don’t intend to actually marry the person. You don’t say “yes” if the answer is still “maybe”. That’s completely dishonest. What she needs to do is be honest about her reluctance and the reasons for it and the fact that she needs more time. If he’s not willing to wait, I can’t really blame him, though because there is always the possibility that the person asking you to wait is just stringing you along. There are sources of free or low cost counseling available and pretty soon there will be mental parity in health care. This is her problem and if she’s not willing to take responsibility for it then she’s not ready to get married and she needs to let him go so he can find someone more suitable.

      • avatar amw says:

        I never suggested she say yes with the intention of saying no.

        BUT if she does change her mind (or anyone else in the world for that matter), it IS a lot simpler to say “this isn’t working” than file papers with the court because “oops” you made a mistake.

        If he’s not willing to wait AFTER she explains herself, he wasn’t the right one. If she were just stringing him along, she wouldn’t have written Margo in in the first place.

  4. avatar Carol David says:

    As someone who had terrible fears of intimacy, I can understand the pressure LW1 might feel. My husband of 20 years – who I married after 11 years of living together! – never put the slightest pressure on me, and that was the only reason I could overcome those fears. If he can’t be somewhat compassionate with her he might not be the one, regardless of how “wonderful and caring” he is.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      Who says that he can’t be compassionate with her?  What obligation for compassion does she have for him?  Apparently none, because she cannot even discuss the situation with him.  She thinks it is perfectly fine because she has issues to keep him in limbo.

      She needs to take responsibility for herself, seek help and stop playing a victim

      • avatar amw says:

        I agree somewhat.

        I think there has to be an honest conversation so that they can come to some type of compromise. What’s important is for her to explain these reservations to her boyfriend. Sometimes a year isn’t enough for someone to open up.

        Perhaps she needs counseling to sort out her past…then again, she may just need to be honest.

        Regardless, yes, they must both show compassion to each other. Two people truly in love wouldn’t blink at the thought.

      • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

        If a year is not enough time to open up, then she needs to deal with that conversation first.  He may be willing to give her as much time that she needs if she is willing to give him something to hand onto that he can understand.  He may not be willing to give her the time that she needs either.  If that is the case, then they need to understand that they are not right for each other. 

  5. avatar A R says:

    LW2: If you host, you don’t ask for reparations. You set parameters for length of stay when the guests calls to say they are able to come. “Great! We’d like to have you stay 5 to 7 days. When will you arrive?”Don’t ask anyone to stay longer than you can afford. A standing invitation does not equate to an unlimited stay; it just means to let us know when you can come for a visit as there are no blackout dates in general. A good guest will probably treat the host to a dinner out, which is your equivalent of $5 per day. Sorry, but asking for a daily fee is the tackiest thing I’ve heard of in a bit.

    • avatar amw says:

      What’s tacky is if a guest overstays their welcome and continues to mooch off of the host.

      I agree, you shouldn’t ask a guest for money…but to prolong your stay without permission (as it appears this guest has done) doesn’t give you the right to contine to expect to be pampered.

      If I were in the guest’s shoes, I would apologize, explain the need to stay longer and offer to pick up groceries, clean the house, do a load of laundry…anything to take the burden off the hostess.

      To me, that’s fair. If the guest is unwilling to do that, then I see nothing tacky about asking for money to foot the bill.

      • avatar A R says:

        Or, just woman up and tell the guest how long they are able to stay. This is passive-aggressive (“Maybe if I charge, they’ll go ahead and leave.”) at best and spineless at worst.
        One doesn’t “end up” with a long-term guest. The letter writer has abdicated all responsibility for what happens in her own home.
        It’s either a guest or a boarder. She needs to decide which. The first you host, the second you charge.

      • avatar amw says:

        I agree, at some point you must put your foot down.

        BUT the guest has a duty to be polite and respectful to their host/hostess. The sense of entitlement this society has is simply appalling to say the least.

        I will tell you one thing. That “guest” would no longer be welcome to stay in my home. If they insisted on visiting, they could make their own hotel arrangements and stay as long as they pleased…just not on my dime.

        It is ridiculous to think that someone should be so accomodating regardless of the circumstances because their offer of a place to VISIT has been taken advantage of. I call that RUDE.

        The only circumstance under which I would call this host/hostess an enabler is if it were a constant problem.

  6. avatar CanGal says:

    I stay at a friend’s beach resort often, only ever for a couple of days at a time. Even though it is only a couple of days, I would never think of not pitching in for food. I bring food with me – they would never accept cash. Instead of asking for a certain amount of cash in hand, maybe word it as “Pitching in for the groceries” it sounds better.

    • avatar Miss Lee says:

      I also never visit, even for a few days,without expecting to pitch in for food or host a few meals out. I also never attend a dinner at someone’s house without at least a small bunch of flowers to give to the hostess.  This was a rule that I was taught by my mother.  It seems that some people were raised in the forest by wolves and haven’t been taught what it means to be a polite person. 

  7. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  Nothing really to add to what has already been said. 

    LW#2:  I am conflicted on this letter.  On the one hand, I think that requesting money from *guests* is not the proper thing to do.  On the other hand, I don’t know what *long-term* means.  And I also know that the proper thing for a guest to do is to pay for at least one meal out (or more if the stay is longer than 3 or 4 days), chip in at the grocery or liquor store and come with a hostess gift of some sort or send one after.  If the guest has not done so, or the visit is longer than 2 weeks, I  would be figuring out a way to tell the guest that visiting time is over.

    It sounds like this *long-term guest* may be using LW#2 as a free hotel, has not offered to pay for a single meal or drink, has not announced a departure date and that perhaps LW#1 is suggesting he/she chip in as a way of getting him/her  to chip out of  town.   A simple *I’m afraid we need to ask you to leave now* should do the trick.   If, however LW#2 knew in advance how long the stay would be, I think she/he should suck it up until the guest departs and the next time the guest wants to visit simply say *oh that will not work for us…sorry*.  Because while one shouldn’t expect a guest to pay a daily rate for the privilege of visiting you, one should expect guests to have some basic manners and LW#2 now knows this particular guest does not.   

    Expectations should be set before the visit.  I spend summer in a modest house on a nice island.  I recently invited 2 of my long time *girlfriends* to visit me here to catch up on 40 years of out lives and pretend we are 17 again.  However…in extending the invitation I said *I think a stay of about 5 days  would be good*.  That way they know how long they are welcome and they also know when they can *escape* my presence politely. 

  8. avatar Barbara says:

    For LW#2 – I do not agree with the writers who think anyone you issued a “standing invitation” to are entitled to free food from you. I talk with each person who plans a visit and we agree on the right arrangement. I would never charge my mother-in-law and she can stay as long as she likes. My sister would never think of expecting me to pay for their meals — even though I would do that in a heartbeat. She usually stays in a hotel if the visit is going to be longer than a couple of nights. And she not only brings food, etc., she pitches in with cleaning and anything else that needs to be done. For friends it depends. There are a couple of them who I have no problem with either length of time or providing food. Others I’ll say that I’m delighted they can visit, we can accommodate them for a couple of days and recommend some very nice inexpensive hotels either in the area or in other travel destinations nearby. Frankly, no one I’ve ever had visit has ever come with the expectation that we would just feed them. They have ALWAYS offered to chip in somehow. That is what Miss Manners taught all of us as proper young ladies.

    I would not have a problem being direct with the current visitors. “We’ve been delighted to see you but we have other plans after Wednesday. Do you want us to help you find a nice hotel?”

  9. avatar sandra b says:

    LW2 – The guest has more responsibility than the host. While the host provides clean towels, bed & bath and a comfortable stay, it is the guest who MUST make it a pleasant memorable experience. In reply to Margo’s previous remark of “are you a hostess or an inn keeper” that goes both ways. No – I’m not an inn keeper so don’t show up thinking and acting like I run a hotel catering to your every need. If you are just coming for a freeloader stay at my home, don’t bother. If you’re coming to be with me and enjoy the wonderful things about the place I live – cool. While Margo advocates not showing up to an invitation empty handed – like a dinner – bring flowers, wine, chocolates – why on earth is it not good manners to bring a hostess gift or contribute otherwise when staying for an extended visit. As a guest, your first responsibility is to make your host sad that you are leaving.

  10. avatar sandra b says:

    LW1 – All I keep hearing is the song…”if you don’t know me by now… you will never, never know me at all…” This is clearly all YOUR problem, fix it or release the guy. You have serious trust issues and no relationship is going to surmount them. The man sounds like the kind of person who would be willing to work through that. Take the marriage classes at your church and if you don’t have one, get one. That way you have no excuse about not being able to pay for counseling. One more thing – if this was that important to you, you would find the money. You would give up the cable TV, the $4 Starbucks every day, bring your lunch to work instead of popping off $10 bucks, and so on. I get so sick of people whining that they can’t afford something life changing or life critical but continue to blow $ on the “I deserve” stuff. If you have been out of work for the past 5 years and can barely feed your self & keep the utilities on that’s different, but I doubt this is the case. How much were those Jimmy Choos? I have heard dozens of ” I can’t afford counseling” as the BIGGEST excuse in the world for I don’t want to admit it’s my problem and change it. My reply is always, “then I guess you’ll just have to live your life the way it is. Good luck with that”

    • avatar Dani Smith says:

      Man, how obnoxious are you?  “How much were those Jimmy Choos?”   What, are you in her flippin’ clothes closet are something?  You can’t just go around assuming people chug $4 Starbucks every day, pop off $10 for lunch every day, and have a closet full of Jimmy Choos.  The average American doesn’t even know what the frack a “Jimmy Choo” even is.  And most people that I’m surrounded by at my workplace, which is a fairly decent sized employer encompassing a wide range of people from all backgrounds, *bring their own lunch,* of which includes leftovers from dinner the night before.  So, get over yourself before making obnoxious assasine assumptions about who people are and where they’re coming from.  You sound like a total beeyatch. 

      • avatar Karrin Cooper says:

        *LOL* Dani!!! Couldn’t have said it better myself!! : )

      • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

        I agree.  Your response to this person is perfect.  It seems that the person is out of touch with the ordinary American of 2011.

    • avatar Mishy Smith says:

      LOL, I have a job with insurance that would provide me with counseling, could probably afford the Starbucks and the lunch although I don’t since we have coffee and lunch provided by work, and still don’t know what the hell a Jimmy Choo is. Plus, why do you assume this woman wants to be party of any church? Get one? Not everyone is a tolerant, humble, forgiving, non-judgmental Christian such as yourself. If the church was filled with counselors such as yourself, I know I wouldn’t “get one.” Get off your high horse and join us here in reality, sandra. Not everyone can be as perfect as you.

  11. avatar Karrin Cooper says:

    LW #1 – I can sympathize! My first husband was abusive, and once I got the courage to leave after 2 years, I swore I’d never get married again. I dated, had a 13 year LTR, involved in another worthless 4 year LTR and all the time swore never again because of what had happened in my first. Then I met my husband. Did I still have fears? You bet!! I was terrified! But fter 25 years of being divoriced, I have been wonderfully married now for almost 3. Just talk about it, letting him know those fears and how deep they are…it helps get over them. It did for me : )

    • avatar Kathy says:

      I think Sandra B may have been a little over the top, but I had exactly the same thought when I read it.  If something is important enough, you find a way to get it.  And if you can’t, then it’s not that important.  LW1 sounds like a perpetual victim.  “I had an absentee father ..”  Yeah, she and millions of other people who are now quite happily married.  Including me.  My husband’s dad had a rage problem.  Didn’t keep my husband from getting and staying married.  Everyone’s got crap in their lives. You deal with it or you live in it.  She’s living in it.

  12. avatar martina says:

    LW2 – Did youlet him know before he showed up you expected him to contribute?  If so, feed him bread and water.  If not, you’re stuck and should make sure that future guests understand your expectations.  Though, it is rude and thoughtless for the guest to not consider chipping in himself.  Dealt with a couple of rude and selfish long term (month or longer) guests in the past and I no longer allow long term guests.

  13. avatar Koka Miri says:

    Under most circumstances, I’d agree that a guest shouldn’t be expected to pay for their own meals, but this wasn’t an invitation to benefit the hosts, but rather an offer of free lodging to guests who want to travel cheaply. The situation is reversed. The hosts are already doing the guests a favor by offering up free lodging. In an oversees situation like that, I’d almost be tempted to advise the guest to pay for some of their hosts’ meals for their trouble! From the sound of it, the hosts aren’t particularly lonely, but rather wanted to do a nice thing for their families and friends by offering them a vacation home. The guests need to recognize that for the favor it is.

    If this was written by a host in their own country who had invited a specific guest, my advice would be reversed.

    Re: LW1, there isn’t quite enough information in there for me to form a solid opinion, but at first glance she hasn’t been dating the man for two years yet. I know a lot of people get married quickly, and a year might be considered tops, but I would feel rushed in her situation too. He needs to accept that she needs more time, and if that’s causing fights, I think there might actually be a reason she’s having qualms about marrying him.

  14. avatar Anais P says:

    LW1: Are the two of you living together? Living together for a year or so before marriage is tailor-made for your kind of situation. It will give both of you an opportunity to see how well you can get along. Thanks to other posters for ideas for obtaining low-cost couples counseling prior to marriage.
    LW2: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” You might frame a copy of Ben Franklin’s appropriate quote and hang it somewhere when guests like this one arrive. Really, staying more than a week without contributing something to the general good — like a nice dinner out and a hostess gift, at the VERY least — is quite boorish. Margo’s advice to use imminent guests is a great idea to get him or her to leave. You have been more than generous in offering your home; guests should be generous in return.

  15. avatar ShadowsRider says:

    LW1 your letter is setting off all kinds of alarms in my head. 1 year is not a very long time to date, and for him to be pushing for marriage this quickly, and so emphatically that you guys are fighting sounds like a control issue. He wants marriage so he can ‘own’ or ‘control’ you. Stop second guessing yourself, and go with your instincts. Anyone who tries to pressure someone to do something they aren’t ready for, or comfortable with does not really care for that person. Remember, most abusers start off charming and caring….

    If you really want to try counseling, clergymen, free mental health clinics, and support groups are good resources.

    • avatar Rita@ Goldivas says:

      Shadows, I agree. A year isn’t such a long time. I remember a boyfriend commenting once that most relationships are great for the first year, it’s after that when the problems start to show up. And, yes, his insistence that they get married right now does sound like he could be a control freak. I think that most women who found themselves in abusive relationships will tell you he was wonderful in the beginning. So, maybe this guy is too good to be true. If he can’t give it another year, that’s a big red flag to me.

      • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

        Reread the letter.  He did not say that he wanted to get married now.  She says that he wants to know if they are heading towards marriage.  They are not even having the conversation because she cannot deal with the topic. 

        It may be a big red flag to you if he can’t give it another  year, but perhaps he does not want to waste his time when she may never be ready for marriage.  That is not a red flag, that is called a rational decision.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      Save your psychoanalysis for a case in which there are actual facts to use it.  The problem is that they cannot even discuss marriage, not that he is stating that they need to get married tomorrow.  The letter did say, “a year is plenty of time to figure out if something is heading towards marriage.”  Did you ever stop to think that maybe your illogical advice would apply to her as well?  Does she really care about him if she is unwilling to deal with this subject that is important to him?  

      The best advice is for her to seek help to figure out what she wants, not to put ideas in her head regarding the sinister motivations of someone when there is no evidence of such. 

    • avatar Lesley Morgan says:

      I agree that the man is possibly the problem here.  The only man I ever dated who started pushing so early in the relationship (and a year, to me, is still early) ended up being a rageaholic control freak.  So yes, dear LW1, go with your instinct.  I wonder if something else is going on with this guy that you feel in your gut, but that hasn’t made up to the head level to be articulated yet.  In other words, your reluctance about commitment may not have to do with your past after all, but with something about him that’s bugging you at some level.  Best wishes to you!

      • avatar Michelle Zumbrum says:

        Thank you Lesley, Shadows and Rita—
        I think a year is rushing it, big time… I have read on this forum someone comment once that if a person doesn’t know the other after FOUR months, then it is time to move on. What is the flippin’ hurry?

        Yes, they should talk about it. BUT, if he pushes harder after she tells him she needs more time to think about/work out things, then he should be out the door.

        The tortoise and the hare come to mind when it comes to love….The hare was all fired up to get that finish line whereas the tortoise took his time… AND the tortoise won….

      • avatar Diagoras says:

        A year is rushing it?! LOL! My husband and I were already moved in together by that time, got married 6 months later and have been married for 13 years. It doesn’t take an entire year to figure out whether you want to spend your life with someone. Either she doesn’t love him enough to marry him or she hasn’t done the work of overcoming the baggage of her previous relationships. So depending on which is true, she needs to either let him go or take some responsibility and get some counseling. If the genders were reversed we’d be complaining that the guy is wasting her time and she should move on before she’s too old to get married. Well, guys might have more time on their biological clocks, but they still have biological clocks. If she needs more time she should tell him that but he should not wait for her indefinitely and she needs to take concrete steps to get over her past so that he knows she’s not just stringing him along.

      • avatar amw says:

        I think it depends on the person. I fell in love with my fiance on our first date. We were engaged after we’d been dating for a year and a half and will have been dating two and a half years when we’re married.

        For some that would seem like a long time…to others, maybe not so much.

        You are correct that men also have biological clocks. I never really put much thought into it until the discussion about children came up.

        Communication is always the key.

        And in relation to your story, my parents met, dated and were married within ten months and have been married 29 years. :)

    • avatar Sue ZQ says:

      “Stop second guessing yourself, and go with your instincts.” Shadows, I couldn’t agree more. I was thinking the same thing. Whether or not it’s a control issue, she needs to consider this possibility. Some control freaks are very charming and can play nice until they’ve locked in their target, after which the emotional abuse picks up steam.

      • avatar HappyMommy says:

        Thank goodness for this thread. I have been thinking the same thing myself. If she’s feeling anxious, a caring guy would want to support her through her fear, not pressure her.

        “all the fights about marriage are making me less inclined to discuss it” means they are discussing it – and he’s putting on the pressure.

        Red Flag Alert. This guy is not as wonderful as he seems.

      • avatar Diagoras says:

        That doesn’t necessarily follow. Plenty of fights between couples happen because one person is not really opening up to the other person or not being completely honest.

  16. avatar Joyce Halee says:

    LW2 – I lived in a major ski resort for many years, and discovered first-hand how many moochers there are, so we finally started telling people ahead of time that they could stay, but had to pay a certain amount a day – - they couldn’t have had a tent for that amount.  I also asked a cousin to leave after his girlfriend would sit around all day doing nothing, and the first thing she’d ask me when I’d come home from work (yes, people do work in ski resorts!) would be what’s for dinner.  When I suggested that she knew where the store was and she obviously knew how to cook, it would be nice for her to cook dinner one night.  That upset her so much that she went to their room and wouldn’t come out.  The next day I told them to leave, and I haven’t heard from them since.

  17. avatar yeahright says:

    i once saved and framed a dennis the menace cartoon: Don’t people ever live happily ever after without getting married?

    what’s up with the boyfriend that he’s not just happy being a boyfriend?

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      What’s up with thinking that there is something wrong with the boyfriend for wanting to pursue marriage? 

      To each his own, unless you think differently than me, I suppose.

    • avatar Phillip Koons says:

      Uh…the same reason that some girlfriends aren’t happy being just a girlfriend. It’s understandable. If you truly feel that your partner will never want to take the relationship to the next level, then you find someone else who can meet your needs.

    • avatar HappyMommy says:

      You are so right! I want a copy of that cartoon.

      Also, what’s worth having is worth waiting for.

  18. avatar Phillip Koons says:

    LW1: Sorry for your past relationships. It doesn’t sound like you’re over the hurt of them though. Ultimately, I can understand where he’s coming from. If there’s no hope of a marriage which he wants, then you both need to go your separate ways so he can find someone that also wants that. Otherwise, if you want to salvage the relationship, you need to be completely honest and upfront about your fears and face them. Give him a chance to soothe them. Maybe just talking about the future and possibility of marriage may help calm the situation down. However, if you really don’t see it happening, you need to free him to find his own happiness.

  19. avatar blueelm says:

    LW1: I’m going to ignore your past relationships because they are in the past and I think it is silly to shape ourselves in order to have a pretense of having “overcome” something.

    Here’s the thing though… are you sure he wants to marry you or is it that he wants to BE MARRIED and you are the best option around. Is that what is hanging you up? Because if he wants to marry *you* that is one thing but if he just can’t stand not being married and you aren’t sure then it is quite possibly just not going to work.

    If you don’t *want* to marry him then do not… no matter how anyone else feels about it.

  20. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    Before we visit out of town friends or family we plan ways to help them with expenses by buying certificates to local restaurants and bringing specialty items from our area. We expect to make our own beds, clean the bathroom we are using and pitch in with daily chores. That way we can all enjoy the time together. We limit our stay so they don’t feel used. Any visit is an interruption to the normal family routine of the host even when they enjoy your company.

  21. avatar carol grzonka says:

    these ‘guests’ aren’t. after 2 wks. i would begin to consider them roommates and request they start helping with the expenses.  there are a lot of moochers out there.  they’ll either comply or leave. then YOU get a breather.

  22. avatar Anne Whitacre says:

    Some people are tone-deaf.  Many years ago, I had a friend from work who was laid off; she made plans to go to France and had about a 3 week stint between giving up her apartment and then catching her flight.  I said she would be welcome to stay with me for that amount of time in my house.
    it stretched to 6 months.  She never offered to pay rent; her departure date changed every other week; she decided to take French lessons, buy new luggage, get a new camera and wardrobe and in the meantime complained when I interrupted her meditation by fixing my own breakfast in the morning.  when the heating oil ran out (since she was home during the day and I was not) I finally suggested that she fill the tank if this was an issue for her.  (she “contributed” but not after complaining to my mother.)   I never pushed her for rent because she was always leaving “in two weeks” and I was about 30 years younger than I am now, and “didn’t want to rock the boat.”. 

    humph.  after that episode, I always put a time limit on stays, and always buy groceries, a house gift, do the laundry, clean the kitchen and entertain myself when I stay with friends.   sometimes it takes one bad narcissistic freeloading house guest to finally set down some rules that you will never have to use with your considerate real friends. 
    And yes, I think anything more than a few days, its worth making expectations known about shared costs. 

  23. avatar GG1000 says:

    Hostess’d – I don’t agree with Margo on this one at all. Guests are guests. While it’s nice if guests contribute to the household by paying for a grocery shopping trip or a couple of meals out, presenting them with a bill for a specific amount smacks of a hotel. And since the amount you mention is so small- is it really worth messing with your relationships for it? They are probably not reacting to the amount, but rather to the experience of being given a bill for what they thought was a friendly visit.

    Finally, when are people going to learn to talk to each other. If you are going to demand payment for staying with you, then people should know this BEFORE they come, so that they can get a hotel instead if they so choose. Discuss this with people before they book their flights.

  24. avatar Debbie Brink says:

    In my opinion, LW2, you are correct.

    I believe that it’s just common courtesy to pick up after yourself in someone else’s home as in your own. Not to mention, it certainly couldn’t hurt to contribute to groceries, fill the car with gas, do your own laundry, and help out in whatever fashion you can when staying with someone else. They are doing YOU a favor by letting you stay there; the least you can do for them in return is be a Good Guest. There are few things as annoying as moochers. Especially mooching family members. O_o

  25. avatar Davina Wolf says:

    It’s simpler and the same cost to rent a motel room rather than stay with friends when I travel.  Buying flowers, wine, groceries and dinner out easily add up to the cost of a few days in an inexpensive motel, plus I don’t have to worry that I’m imposing.