DEAR AMY: I have been with my girlfriend for over four years. Everything happened really quickly between us: She got pregnant after only three months of dating and then we moved in together.
After our son was born, the "flame" slowly started to go out between us and never really came back. After three years, as much as I really loved this girl my patience had worn out, and it seemed we were more roommates than a couple raising our child.
On top of that she told me (after three years together) that she doesn't want to get married. This shattered me. She talked about marriage in the beginning but as soon as things got tough everything changed.
I'm traditional and would love to get married; it's something I have dreamed about and believe in. I love this girl so much and I don't know whether I should split up my family over her refusal to marry me, especially now that she is pregnant with my second child.
I don't know what to do. I'm so torn. I love her so much; please help me sort this out. -- Frustrated
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Marriage marks an important declaration about long-term commitment, but your perspective (and your partner's) is skewed. She thinks, "Our relationship is flawed, and so I don't want to get married." You think, "Our relationship is flawed, and so I want to get married."
Marriage will not solve (or even change) your relationship problems. You've already made a family together. Because your partner seemed to want to get married at one time, you can assume that she is not necessarily against the institution itself.
Do not push to get married when your relationship is in the ditch and then use her refusal/reluctance as a reason to leave. Because you have children together, you are both duty-bound to make every effort to have the best relationship possible.
Read Relationship Rescue: A Seven-Step Strategy for Reconnecting with Your Partner by "Dr. Phil" McGraw (Hyperion, 2007). Dr. Phil's challenging program could help both of you take the next step.
DEAR AMY: I've had over 39 wonderful years with my husband, who has a debilitating disease that will eventually lead to his death.
I've taken care of him for the past six years, and I hope to be at his side when he transitions from this life.
We are not religious. I would like to have some kind of service or celebration to honour him and to give his friends and family closure, but I cannot come up with even one idea of what to do. It's like I'm blocked in that area.
We have children and grandchildren but they live 1,500 miles away, and I will be the one that has to make these decisions.
He is not a social butterfly, does not belong to any organizations or clubs, and many of his friends are gone now.
Do you or your readers have any ideas you could share with me? I would appreciate any input. -- Future Widow
DEAR FUTURE WIDOW: You should not put off having a celebration until after your husband dies. Invite your children and grandchildren to come for a visit. You don't have to plan anything fancy (or anything at all); but coming together, going through photos and telling some family stories at his bedside will seem like a celebration, even if it might also feel like a benediction.
After his death, anything you do should be for you and your children, even if it is a small group gathering privately and going to lunch to toast his memory.
Your local hospice can provide support and counselling during this challenging time.
DEAR AMY: "Put Out" felt that it was unreasonable to transport her parents from the airport a couple of times a year. Your answer was spot on. I have cared for elderly relatives for more than 10 years.
I would give so much to be able to spend one more day with my dad. Put Out needs to re-evaluate her priorities. By showing her kids that she makes sacrifices for her parents, maybe they will learn compassion. -- Laura
DEAR LAURA: Many readers agree with your perspective. Thank you.