DEAR ABBY: I am a 39-year-old mother of four and have lived with "Arnold" for 18 years. Arnie has always promised he'd marry me "someday," and I believed him -- until last Valentine's Day.
Before Valentine's Day, I had been dropping hints about how romantic it would be if he proposed on that day. We found a sitter and he took me to a fancy restaurant for dinner. I was thrilled, because it was the first time we'd been out alone in a long time.
My heart was pounding all through dinner because I thought this would be the night. Arnie kept repeating how much he loved me -- something he has a hard time saying. But that's as far as it went! When we were walking to the car, I finally said, "You're not going to pop the question, are you?" He then removed a tiny ring from his pocket and said, "This is a promise ring. I promise to marry you -- someday."
I was devastated. It was as though we were teenagers and he was asking me to go steady. Arnie went on to add that he "wasn't ready" for marriage yet. Well, I don't think he'll EVER be ready!
Am I wrong to expect this man to make a legal commitment? For heaven's sake, we have four children together! We have been a couple for almost two decades. Brides are supposed to be young and pretty. I'm turning old and gray with every day that passes. Should I continue to hang onto the hope that Arnie will keep his "promise" -- or is it time to leave? -- MOTHER OF HIS CHILDREN IN CANADA
DEAR MOTHER: You have been patient long enough. Arnold's promise was an empty one and an insult. If marriage is what you want, please don't wait until your grandchildren or great-grandchildren are old enough to be your flower girls and ring bearers. I recommend consulting an attorney to find out what your common-law rights are. You've put your money on the wrong horse.