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Seeking true commitment of marriage

What’s the problem? How long is too long to stay with someone without receiving the true commitment of marriage

Dear Dr Nekia,

How long is too long to stay in a relationship with somebody without a true commitment? I have been with someone for five years now and they still refuse to talk about the option of marriage. We have a son together and I just am not understanding what the problem is since we live like we are married already. Sometimes I feel like walking away but then I think about my son and how much time I have put into the relationship. It would all just seem like a waste.


Five-Year Relationship

Dear Five-Year Relationship,

How long is too long depends on you. I think that a lot of us compromise more and more the longer that we stay in relationships. The longer that we stay in these relationships that seemingly are going nowhere, the more attached we become to the person we are in the relationship with and the more intertwined our lives become with theirs. We end up combining households, having children, and even joining friends, family, and finances. These things can make separation quite difficult and the prospect of marriage seem like the only logical step.

However, in your case, marriage is obviously not the next step. Marriage should only be a step to consider when both persons involved in the relationship are ready and are in agreement on the terms of marriage. People get married for many different reasons, and there are likewise many different forms of marriage; if your partner is not even at the point where they agree to discuss marriage then marriage should be a topic that is off the table. Understandably, this is not what you want, but marriage is not about just you. Marriage is not even about your son, it is about you and your partner’s willingness and desire to come together in commitment to provide a loving and stable household for the entire family.

When we begin to stop thinking of marriage as a self-centred desire, we begin to see the seriousness of it all. Besides, do you really want to be married to somebody who is not ready for you? Whatever their reasons are, you will have to determine for yourself just how long you are willing to wait. Keep in mind that the rest of your life could be far longer than the five years that you put in. Also, because relationships offer us experiences and opportunities to grow, your five years would never be a waste unless you choose to think of it as so. You have one life to live and you deserve to be happy. Time is something that is precious and valuable and cannot be returned or regained. Love is also precious, so be honest with yourself about your wants and needs. There is no right or wrong as long as you both are happy and OK with your decisions.

Dear Dr Nekia,

I am a single mother who is having a bit of a hard time dating again. My problem is not meeting men, but keeping them around. I have a son who just doesn’t seem to like anyone that I introduce him to. I do not bring men around often but when I feel that things are getting serious I introduce them to my son to see if he likes them. It is very important to me that my son gets along with whoever I am going to be with, and I would never be with someone who he doesn’t like. But I am beginning to question if I am making the right choices in men, or if it is that my son will not accept anyone at all.


Lonely Mama

Dear Lonely Mama,

I have heard similar situations to yours and what I usually say is that how you proceed with dating as a single mother all depends on a few factors. First, how long have you been separated from your son’s father? You may be ready to move on, but understand that it is very difficult for most children to give up on the hope of their parents getting back together. In fact, it is not uncommon for children to keep hope for years following the split of their parents.

If your son is not ready to accept another man in your and his life just yet, then you will want to keep potential lovers away from him as much as possible. Keep your love life private until the relationships have reached a point where you both seriously are considering combining households and staying together for the long-haul.

Introduce the idea of a stepfather to your son over a period of time to ease him into the adjustment. Next I would ask how old is your son? The age of the child will determine what boundaries need to be set between you, him, and the potential men that you are considering. Younger children need more boundaries, whereas older children need to be listened to, understood, and then communicated with in a way where there is mutual respect.

This is not to say that younger children do not need respect or to be understood, but that younger children do not have the awareness or critical thinking to be able to make informed and sound decisions regarding adult relationships. Much of their opinions are formed on their own personal feelings fuelled by their self-centred desires. In essence, your wants, needs, and best interest are not their priority.

Furthermore, young children should never be placed in the position of making the final decision regarding who is suitable for their parent. It is not their job to do so and, while children are often believed to be more sensitive to the true nature of a person, when it comes to their parents moving on with romantic partners children will remain emotion-centred which will cause them to act out in disapproval. Hopefully you will agree that as an adult, you can trust your instincts and opinions about a person more than you can that of a child.

Lastly, I would encourage you to go ahead and take a second look at the type of men that you are attracting. When considering to invite a man into your life, you must be extra vigilant because you have to not only think about your own wellbeing but that of your son also. I am sure that you understand this because your ending of relationships with men simply based upon the personal disapproval of your son, shows that you are very sensitive to your son’s happiness and comfort.

Maybe you are a bit too zealous with this, and should try to strike balance between everything. If not, you may find yourself a lonely mama for far longer than you would expect.

Dear Dr Nekia,

My wife and I are very proud parents of a baby girl. The issue that we are having is that her mother lives with us. I do not mind having an extended family, it makes for convenient help and a greater sense of family, however what I do have an issue with is that she is micromanaging the raising of our child. I expected that she would give advice, but she basically is taking over as though her grandchild is her child.

My wife often gets her feelings hurt, but is afraid to stand up to her mother. She doesn’t want me to do it because she is afraid of it being disrespectful. Frankly, I have had enough. How can I address this issue?


Not The Mama

Dear Not The Mama,

I can understand your frustration and you wanting to step in. I believe that it is very important to you for your wife to feel secure as a new mother. It is not uncommon for fathers to be protective of their partners who are new mothers. It is actually admirable, but seeing as how the issue is with her mother, you will most definitely want to be firm while being sensitive.

Let her mom know that you both appreciate her input and love having her around to lend a hand and be a part of your growing family. I would also encourage your wife to have a heart-to-heart with her mother. The relationship between mother and daughter is a delicate one and it can be made more complicated than usual with the addition of a little one. Grandmom is probably excited about the new baby and her maternal instincts have most likely resurfaced. Your wife should be clear about the boundaries that she wishes to set. She should explain to her mom that her help is welcomed but that it is important for her to take on the majority of the responsibility because it is at the very least important for her to experience the raising of her own child.

Experiences create closeness and bonding for new mommy and baby and this is critical in the first stages of life. Recall to grandma’s attention how she felt with the birth of her own children. Encourage her to share her feelings and stories of her memories. This will give her a positive outlet for her emotions as well as help her to realise that her daughter has a right to experience motherhood just as she did. Being a part of an extended family can be a very helpful and beautiful way of life, and many of us have lost that vision. Hopefully, you all can reach an understanding and come together to create a loving home for your little one to thrive and enjoy.

•Want relationship advice? E-mail nakedtruth@royalgazette.com