DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Ross" for 13 years. We have never lived together. Shortly before I met him, his business fell on hard times. We agreed (I thought) that once he was financially back on his feet, we'd get married. Well, it's been almost two years since his financial recovery and still no proposal.
Last Christmas, he asked me what I wanted. I told him, "an engagement ring." Needless to say, I didn't get one. When I asked him why, he said he has become disenchanted with marriage. Then he talked about actress Goldie Hawn and producer/actor Kurt Russell's long relationship -- very happily unmarried. Many of Ross' friends and family are either going through divorces or are unhappily married. But I don't understand what this has to do with us. Why should I be penalized?
I have never pressured Ross about marriage. I thought it was only a matter of time. He says he loves me, there's no other woman, and I believe him.
We are still seeing each other exclusively, and I don't want anyone else. But something is missing. We're not "complete." I find myself getting upset with him over many little things. I can't let go of the hurt and disappointment. Am I to blame for allowing this to drag on without a solid commitment from him? What do you think, Abby? -- UNHAPPILY SINGLE IN CINCINNATI
DEAR UNHAPPILY SINGLE: I don't blame you for feeling hurt and disappointed. Ross may be afraid of commitment and is unwilling to take on the legal and financial responsibilities of marriage. Regardless of the reason, what is missing from this relationship is his willingness to make a legal commitment.
There's an old saying, "If you're looking for trout, don't go fishing in a herring barrel." If it's marriage you desire, stop hanging onto a man who is disenchanted with the institution and find one whose values are more in keeping with yours.
DEAR ABBY: When I read the items in your column about the definitions of "elderly," I had to share this:
About 12 years ago, my husband, "Jeff," and I, our two young children and all of Jeff's family gathered for a five-generation dinner. Jeff's great-grandfather, who was 97 years old at the time, was visiting for the first time since our children were born.
Also in attendance was his daughter, my husband's "Grandma Hazel," aged 72.
All of us women were in the kitchen preparing the dinner when I noticed that Grandma Hazel was drinking a soda. In the eight years that I'd known her, I had never seen her drink one. She drank a beer now and then -- but never a soda.
When I commented to Grandma Hazel that I had never seen her drink a soda in all the years I'd known her, I was floored by her reply. She leaned over and whispered, "I know. I had to put my beer into a soda can because Dad doesn't approve of my drinking!" -- YOUNG WHIPPERSNAPPER, ARLINGTON, TEXAS
DEAR WHIPPERSNAPPER: Regardless of age, we're all children in the eyes of our parents and we seek their approval. Evidently, Dad had never approved of Hazel's drinking habits. As the old expression goes, "To get along, you need to go along."
(Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.)
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