In It for the Long Haul
Dear Anne: I'm a 49-year-old who has been dating and living with my girlfriend for almost one year now. I'm madly in love with her, and she says the same. We have talked about marriage, and I would love to, but she keeps saying no.
She went through a 25-year marriage that she thought would last forever. She had been single for a few years, until the time we started dating. When we talk about it, she says her fear is that, one day, I will leave her, too. I can't get her to understand that I'm not like that, and she would have to try hard to push me away.
What can I do or say to ease her mind? -- Confused and In Love
Dear Confused and In Love: It sounds like she is traumatized from the abandonment she suffered during her first marriage. She is frozen with fear, anticipating that what happened to her the first time will happen again.
As a couple, communication is key. Rather than trying to "get her to understand" that you're not like that, listen to her concerns. Then, instead of pressuring her to do something she does not feel comfortable with, try creating some future plans. Continue to express what your needs are, and allow her to express her needs, without trying to change her. And encourage her to seek professional help for her trauma. It sounds like she is hurting.
Dear Annie: This is for "Unheard Girlfriend," the woman whose future husband doesn't help with the housework even though they both work, while she also does the majority of the child care tasks.
Years ago, I had a very good male friend with whom I spent a lot of time. We watched ball games while his wife spent the evening doing household chores. It frustrated me that he didn't help, so I presented it to him as follows: I just don't get why, if you really love someone, you'd want them to work full time like you, and then spend the evening working while you sit here enjoying yourself.
If you both share the work, then you'll have more time to enjoy each other and she won't be so exhausted. It worked! After that, he took pride in showing me the list of chores she'd given him to accomplish while she was gone at work. (Like many men, he'd grown up in a house where housework was not expected of him, so he needed guidance). Everyone dirties things, so everyone should learn to clean up after themselves. -- Friend Who Needed a Nudge
Dear Nudge: You sound like a very good friend. Sometimes, we need friends or family -- or advice columnists -- in our lives who see our blind spots and point them out in a productive manner. It might sting in the moment for a little but will be much better in the long run to know the truth. Bravo to you.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.