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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Still Mama's Boy Even After Her Death

DEAR ABBY: I have been living with Don for two years. I am 22 and he is 25.

I hear girls at the office talking about bringing covered dishes to family gatherings, going to his folks' or hers for dinner, or for the weekend or the holidays, and I get more heartsick every day.

I've begun to realize what marriage is all about. It's really belonging to someone who loves you enough to want to make you a member of his family.

Don is always telling me what a wonderful arrangement we have and how much he loves me.

The past several months, I've been asking myself: "If it's so wonderful and he loves me so much, why do we lie, sneak around and let people assume we are married?"

Why doesn't he ask me to marry him and become a member of his family? They don't even know I exist. -- HEARTSICK

DEAR HEARTSICK: Because he doesn't want a legal commitment. And if he is able to get all the benefits of marriage with none of the responsibilities, who can blame him? I am assuming he didn't kidnap you. You agreed to live with him without marriage. You walked into it of your own free will, and you're free to walk out. Why don't you? I think you're ready.