DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been in a relationship for 26 years, but I am still not married. I have built a life, a home and a family with this man, but we have not taken the next step. I am waiting for him to show me that he appreciates me by marrying me. It just isn't happening. I am tired of waiting. Is it worth staying, or should I finally move on? -- The Next Step
DEAR THE NEXT STEP: You have stayed in this relationship for nearly 30 years. Why? It’s time for you to assess your reasons for remaining committed to this union and for creating, as you say, “a life, a home and a family with this man.”
To walk away now because he has not married you seems illogical. You should have put your foot down years ago to make it clear that being married to him was a requirement in order for him to get the rest of the package. You cannot blame him because you did not enforce the requirements that live in your heart.
Tell him that you love your life, but there is a big part missing for you -- the formal step of legally getting married. Ask him to marry you. Tell him that you have wanted to be married to him for all these years, and you don’t want to wait any longer. See if that gets him to budge. If not, you may be disappointed, but ask yourself, is walking away really what you want?
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am considering having children in the near future. Several issues regarding parenting choices have made headlines recently, particularly about vaccinations. I have seen good reasons for vaccinating and good reasons not to. I want to make the best choices for the family I create. I am leaning more against vaccinating, but I understand that society would shame me. How do I deal with the decision I make in a society that revolves around western medicine? -- Vaccinations and Social Pressure
DEAR VACCINATIONS AND SOCIAL PRESSURE: Vaccinations are one of many hot-button issues for parents. As you can see right now, however, the question about vaccinations has a lot to do with the bigger issue of public health. What you must do is research the pros and cons of vaccinating your child. It is a no-brainer for me; so many children are vulnerable and ill because they were exposed to measles without their bodies having the protection offered by vaccinations, which has been routinely required for generations.
I have traveled a lot and witnessed communities without access to the vaccinations that we in the United States consider standard medicine. Routinely, their children and elderly succumb to illnesses that are easily preventable. I would not put my child at that type of risk.
If you choose to skip vaccinations, you will need to figure out where your child can be educated and engage others in order to protect him or her from exposure to a host of germs. Many parents make that choice. If you do, you will face certain scrutiny. Your response should be grounded in the facts and figures you are using to support your decision, not emotion.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)