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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I dated a man nine years ago. We lived in different cities and neither of us could move at that time so we broke up. I have been single the whole time; he married, had two children (ages 8 and 5), and divorced in those nine years. We have now been dating for seven months and are deeply in love with each other. Though he has mentioned marriage, he has also said that he wants to wait six months. I am ready now. I think I should back off from the relationship and give him some space. I feel he needs to get his head together and decide whether he wants to make this commitment. Am I being too hasty?

Answer

As I understand your question, you had not seen this man during the last nine years. He now is divorced and has two young children. So for all intents and purposes, this is a new relationship. You have been together for seven months; you are in love and want to marry. He wants to wait six months, which means that if you wait you would have been going together for a total of thirteen months. However, since you are ready to marry after seven months, you are contemplating ending the relationship until he "gets his head straight." And you are wondering whether you are being hasty.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to ask yourself what's your hurry. Seven months isn't a long time to get to know someone after not being with them for nine years. And seven months isn't long to wait, if you are getting as much out of the relationship as suggested by your statement, "we are very much in love." You didn't say anything about yourself other than you have been single during the nine year period. He, on the other hand, has responsibilities toward two children. For him, taking a step toward marriage, means a step-mother for his children, and the responsibilities that go with marriage. He is probably thinking about how he will be able to integrate his young children into a new marriage. He might be a bit gun-shy about making another mistake. He might be thinking about financial considerations given that he probably has child support and may have spousal support as well. A lot of factors may be at play other than the fear of commitment. I would be wondering how long he has been separated, what his relationship is like with children and his ex-wife. For him, at least, there is a lot more to consider than just "we are deeply in love."

I'd suggest that you talk about some of these issues and use this time to think about what marriage to this man would be like, above and beyond the romance. Leaving the relationship because he wants a bit more time before making a major commitment probably says more about your impatience than it does about his unwillingness to make a commitment. You may do well to use this time to get to know the man that he is today, not the man he was nine years ago. You might even want to consider counseling together to explore some of the issues I alluded to above.

3/5/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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