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

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


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65 comments so far.

  1. avatar Violet says:

    If marriage is important to one partner, and the other partner really doesn’t want it, they have a fundamental difference that probably can’t be worked out. I disagree that, if she doesn’t want to get married, she has a problem. Not everyone wants to get married. I never have and probably never will, but more than half the population is single and it’s not that unusual of a choice. It seems like he is rushing her, and should back off a bit. Pressuring he and fighting over it is just going to cause resentment.

  2. avatar Violet says:

    On the house guest issue, I have been in the situation where a house guest became too comfortable with my guest room with its own bathroom, and it got really hard and awkward to get her to leave, so I think if guests come, it has to be really clear from before they arrive exactly how long they are staying, and what’s expected if they exceed that.