My girlfriend lives far from my city; we’ve been together several years, long-distance for one year. I’m ready to commit and love her deeply.
She loves me very much but isn’t willing to commit, as she’s unsure whether she wants marriage.
I’m Muslim; she’s not, although we have similar cultural values and backgrounds. But when we discuss having kids, she wants time to research Islam and decide whether she can be in a religion-oriented family.
However, she’s not acted upon it (she has a busy university schedule). She’s also unwilling to leave her parents’ locale and move to my city where my family lives. We’re both studying with some three years ahead for our goals.
The distance and pressure on me to make all the moves leaves me unable to focus on my studies and work, and always feeling heartbroken.
I’m thinking of ending the relationship, but afraid to lose her. We’ve maintained the love and friendship through long distance.
In love and Confused
Call a break, not an end. You’re already apart in your current states of commitment. You don’t want to have to “convince” her to go to the next phase.
She’s wise to want to study the challenges ahead, and these aren’t small considerations regarding a life together possibly involving children. Meanwhile, you’re both on absorbing paths that need full concentration.
A break provides breathing space, and takes away pressure. It’s not a break-up, but rather a time to agree to focus on the immediate tasks, rather than anxiously keep debating your relationship for the future.
Set a time frame – four to six months, when you’ll be in touch and talk again. No contact in between, unless it’s just about school and life in general.
You both need the emotional distance from pressure. If love and friendship remain strong, you’ll each need to compromise enough to make it work.
I married against my parents’ wishes, 11 years ago, so they don't talk to me. I’m early 30s; he’s mid-30s. We have three kids under age nine. He’s a successful businessman; I’m working at his firm.
He and his colleagues make fun of their wives, as “rule-makers.” When drunk, he’ll say he doesn't like me; he only likes our kids and stays for them.
In public, he’ll put me down. Recently, he told a relative he doesn't like me and wants to divorce me. However, if I leave him, I don't have anybody here.
I don't want to be separated because my kids will be affected badly. I wanted to fix our issues but he’s very stubborn. He’s not going to let me go, or he’s not going to stop verbally abusing me. I need a solution.
So long as you don’t fear physical abuse, try standing up for yourself when he makes putdown comments. You likely need individual counselling to help you find your confidence and courage for this. Your parents’ abandonment has apparently left you feeling helpless in this relationship, but you’re not.
Given his independence and macho attitude, he needs you to help raise the children. Telling him that he has to deal with you decently as their mother might be a wake-up call to stop badmouthing you.
A therapist will help you find your self-esteem and either respond to this man as his equal, or determine to take the kids and leave (he’ll have to support the kids and share marital assets with you, so he may give separation a second thought).
FEEDBACK Regarding the father of two children who’s “trapped” in a loveless marriage (July 28):
Reader – “He’s BLAMING his wife for his own problems, at the hypocrisy of not realizing that he CHEATED, got caught twice, and thinks he married the wrong person.
“Marriage is about commitment, mutual love, and respect. Love’s an act of will, plus emotions, that leads to action on behalf of the other
“He’s FAILED to love his wife, and be the husband he promised to be, and the father he “wants” to be SO that they can all begin healing.
“I'm a guy absolutely infuriated by his lack of responsibility.
“What they need is marriage counselling to understand what marriage IS, and not abandon their children nor each other for other relationships.”
Ellie – Counselling is always a wise effort, but after 23 years together and a known 14-year affair, they’ve stayed committed to being miserable together.
Tip of the day:
Major differences of faith and family styles call for a couple to think through how far they can compromise.