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Baby, but no marriage

Darla wrote:

My boyfriend and I have been on and off for a few years, but we had a baby last year and that essentially sealed a "boyfriend-girlfriend" commitment. Now our baby is one year old, and he still says he is nowhere near where I'd like him to be as far as marriage is concerned.

I must also tell you that we're fairly young, just a couple of years out of college, and that he experienced the trauma of his parents getting divorced when he was a teenager. I appreciate the fact that he is being realistic about marriage - that it's not all love and romance - but I really don't believe this is ever going to happen for us. He also wants us all to live together, but my reaction to that is, why not just get married? I feel like just "living together" will always leave a way out for him.

Putting a baby into this equation makes things difficult because I only want what's best for him. But I love his father dearly, so I desperately want this to work - I just don't want to wait around for something that may never happen.

What should I do?

Dear Darla,

You've made some serious errors, and if you are not very careful, you'll make some more.

You think the baby sealed a committment? Wrong. The baby did no such thing. The divorce courts are full of women who tried to use a baby as a padlock. Don't even think about it, it's the baby who'll suffer.

You believe that marriage will cut off his way out. Piffle. A man can walk out of a door with or without his ring on your finger; if you think marriage will allow you to control him, you've already lost him.

You don't know what you really want. You say you love him, but you don't want to 'wait around'. So what comes first, the man or a band of gold? Decide, it'll make life so much simpler.

The more you obsess about marriage, the more he will believe, quite rightly, that it's a mistake. Having the baby has made the debate worse, because you are always using the bay to put pressure on him.

He'd be a fool to marry under these conditions.

The reason you won't live with him is your fear that it will end the chances of marriage. And so it might. But it also shows that your commitment is not to him, but to marriage itself.

Stop obsessing and start thinking. Other than your mistaken belief it will give you control, is there any other reason you want to get married? Is there a religious reason? If so, then discuss those issues.

Other than that, consider what's best for you and the baby, living with dad - or moving on and starting all over again.

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