DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been dating my boyfriend for about three years now, and I would like our relationship to grow to the next level. My dream is to marry him, but I do not want to ask him why he is taking so long to propose. How do I encourage my boyfriend to ask for my hand in marriage without pressuring him? -- Dream Girl, Chicago
DEAR DREAM GIRL: I believe that good marriages grow out of loving partnerships. I do not think that fulfilling the dream of getting married requires a man-on-his-knees proposal, even though that can seem romantic.
More, a loving, communicative friendship that is respectful and that shares values and dreams is what often turns into a successful marriage. Such a relationship includes talking about the future. Without asking your boyfriend to marry you, you can talk to him about his dreams for the future and share your own. You can talk about marriage and what that might look like in your life. Describe your vision of married life. Ask him what his vision is. By talking about your views of marriage and family life, you can each gauge if it is right for you with each other.
If, after discussion, your boyfriend still does not ask you to marry him, you will have to decide if you want to wait or ask him yourself. Know that many women have asked their boyfriends to get married. There is no shame in that action, either.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a good friend who recently got sober. He had been a pretty heavy drinker for many years, but he got his act together and has been sober for about nine months. Here's my problem: I am hosting a party with a few other friends, and we will be serving alcohol. We want to invite our friend but do not want to set him up for failure. We also don't want to hurt his feelings by not inviting him. There is no way that he will NOT hear about the party. It's a pretty big deal in our town. I really don't know what to do. -- Good Friend, Flint, Mich.
DEAR GOOD FRIEND: Reach out to your friend directly and check in with him. Ask him how he is doing, and get a sense of how he is managing his sobriety. You can ask him directly since he told you about his sobriety. Tell him about the party you are planning. Point out that you want to invite him, and you want to be mindful of his sobriety. Ask him if he wants to come. Make it clear that if he does not, you will fully understand.
More than likely, your directness will be appreciated. It may also ignite a conversation where the two of you can speak frankly about his journey. Sometimes people who are sober can manage in the company of others who are drinking. But a warning in Alcoholics Anonymous is about "people, places and things." It could be that he will be better off staying away from triggers that led him to drink in the past. Let him decide.