What do you do when you have been with a man 21 years, and he still finds excuses for not getting married? We have two children together, and I have two by my ex-husband. They were two and three when we got together, and they are now 23 and 24.
He was married when I first met him. He was separated from his wife for three years, then finally got a divorce. Every time I bring up marriage he says he is going to marry me. Lately he said, “Let’s go and get married in September.” But, as always, he never gives me a date.
I feel I’ve wasted my life. I was 19 when I met him and am about to turn 40. My birthday is next month. The children I had for him are 15 and 19. I feel so stupid and betrayed and taken advantage of, I don’t know whether to go on or what to do. It’s a long story. I could write a book.
Eugénie, a familiar piece of advice for novelists is simple: to write an exciting story, put your heroine in the soup and keep her in the soup. In other words, begin with a main character in trouble and keep piling up her troubles until she figures out a way to overcome each of them.
Pregnant at 15, pregnant at 16, you were a child having children, making decisions no child should make. At 19, married and divorced with two kids, you became involved with a married man. An outsider might wonder, where were the adults in her life while all this was happening.
Now at 40, with your youngest children coming of age, you have come to a realization. A thing can happen in a way so late, so inelegantly done, so far below minimum expectations, it might as well not happen at all. It won’t be an event to celebrate. It has been ruined.
Because it is too late to get the genuine affirmation you crave, the question becomes, “What can I do, on my own, to improve my life?”
Between now and September you can stop thinking about a wedding and start planning your future. You can begin life anew as an adult woman making her own decisions. You can have a whole other lifetime as an actualized person.
You were robbed of your childhood. What did you aspire to? What was dormant within you? Who did you want to be? Those are not simple questions, and the answers may or may not involve this man who won’t marry you.
A wedding in September that you can’t plan for or tell your friends about is a phantom. Without plans for your own life, your future is also a phantom. Instead, each day you must work for what you aspire to in life, whatever it is. You need to decide what will give you a sense of worth.
This man knows he doesn’t have to marry you because he knows you have no other plans. He knows you have not plotted a course that you can achieve on your own.
“I wish this life was different,” is a great wish, but wishes go nowhere. You are 40. You’ve spent 25 years without a strategy. It’s time to face life as an adult woman, not as a woman who still thinks, “I need someone to take care of me.” If you won’t do anything to change your life, why write us?
You’ve spent life in the soup. The only way out of the soup is to answer the question, what can I aspire to? You said you could write a book. Great. Write that book about your new life.
Direct Answers column for the week of March 2, 2020
Need some relationship advice? Ask Wayne and Tamara. [email protected]