Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 10 years. I am 28 and he is 26. I never really pushed the idea of getting married or having kids. Lately, though, it’s all I can think about. When I ask him things like, “When do you think we will get married?” he does things like roll his eyes, and says things like, “Pretty soon, I guess, since women are never satisfied with anything.” When he says these kinds of things it really hurts and makes me think I’m just not good enough. I’ve always been patient about this subject because of our age difference, but it’s starting to bother me. I don’t want him to feel obligated to marry me, but I don’t want to waste any more time not knowing if we are in the same place. It’s hard for me to talk to him about my feelings. Am I being unreasonable? Should I just wait it out? Should we see a couples’ counselor? Should we break up? We don’t have children, and we don’t have a joint bank account. I’m just so confused.

Waiting

DEAR WAITING: I, now, have a question for you: Why are you so interested in forming a permanent relationship with someone who doesn’t seem to respect you?

You have been with this man for 10 years, which means you’ve been with him for almost half of your life. I gather this is possibly your first-ever relationship.

It is completely normal for you to want to be married and formalize your family at your age and stage in life. Plus — in life, you get to want what you want. Don’t apologize for it. Don’t let your guy gaslight you into believing that you are being unreasonable.

You could force a choice by issuing an ultimatum, but then, of course, you would be boxing him in. If he capitulates, he might then make you pay for this for the entirety of your relationship.

Counseling would definitely help, but I’d suggest it mainly for you. If he would join you in counseling it would help you two learn to communicate respectfully and effectively.

Breaking up would be your straightest path to getting what you deserve: a relationship with someone who loves, respects and wants to build a future with you.

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DEAR AMY: When my son was preparing to propose to his then wife, he asked if there were any “family jewels.” As it turns out, there was a diamond that had been chosen with the help of my grandfather, who had been in the jewelry business, and given to my mother by my father. My parents later divorced so my mother generously offered this diamond to my son. My son’s marriage lasted for four years. The bride has remarried. My son would like her to return the ring but knows it is legally hers. Is there any etiquette for a situation such as this when there is a sentimental attachment? What would be your suggestion?

In the Family

DEAR FAMILY: State laws govern whether engagement and wedding rings are marital property (jointly owned by the couple) or separate property (owned solely by the recipient).

I can’t speak to the “etiquette” surrounding this situation, but I can say that your daughter-in-law should offer to return the diamond to your son. This is something he could have stipulated (with the help of his lawyer) and negotiated with her before the divorce was final.

Assuming there are no children from the marriage for her to eventually pass this ring to, at this point, your son should simply ask her if she would return this sentimental stone. If she refuses, he could offer to buy it from her.

If he is unable to gain possession, I think he might feel better if he looked at its romantic track record: So far, this diamond is 0-2.

DEAR AMY: I completely disagree with your response to “Furious.” Furious was upset because his husband was prevented from baby-sitting his baby nephew because the child’s parents were worried about sexual abuse. I saw lots of red flags there, too. What kind of uncle visits a baby twice a week and wants to baby-sit?

Furious at You

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DEAR FURIOUS: Parents have the ultimate responsibility for choosing who can care for their children. But there are lots of good men out there who love children every bit as much as women do. This uncle’s desire to spend time with his nephew didn’t strike me as strange.