DEAR AMY: I have been with my boyfriend for three years. He’s my best friend and I truly believe he’s the love of my life. We genuinely like spending time together and our sex life is great! Our families love each other. I just have one issue: I feel like we are on different pages when it comes to when we want to get married. I would like to be married sometime in the near future. He talks about marriage like it’s a very distant thing. I have tried to talk to him about this. He says that he can’t wait to begin that chapter of our lives, but he doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to do that. We are young, only 20, but we are from a small Southern town where it is not uncommon for couples, especially high school sweethearts, to be married and even have a child by now. I don’t want to come off as pushy or desperate when we talk about this, but I get irritated with our discussions about marriage because they never answer my questions and concerns. I need advice on how to handle this and talk about it in ways to get answers from him without sounding pushy. Is this just immaturity on his part, or could this be a bigger issue? Am I letting this get to me too much? I get jealous — instead of excited — when I hear about people getting engaged and married.
In Love in the South
DEAR IN LOVE: I do believe that immaturity is an issue here, but you are the one who is being immature.
One reason some couples marry and have children very young is because they belong to a faith system or culture that frowns on premarital sex. This prohibition can sometimes urge people toward the altar.
Another reason some couples marry young is if they are going into the military.
Neither of these factors seems at play in your case, and so it seems to me that your boyfriend is behaving rationally, and you are taking his answer (he’s not ready), but rejecting it because it is not what you want to hear.
Here’s one idea: Ask your boyfriend to get engaged now, and set your wedding date for either six months after your 23rd birthday; or for after either of you graduates from a degree or certificate program and/or has been working full time for one year.
Once you have locked that down, your jealousy toward others should subside, and you can talk freely and frankly about your future without seeming too “pushy.”
DEAR AMY: I have rosacea, a skin disease that can flare up and cause an extremely red rash on my face. I have it under control with topical medications, but the side effect is that I look like I’ve recently been at the beach lying in the sun. I live in a rainy climate with limited opportunity for sun exposure, so people will often remark to me, “Looks like you got some sun! Vacation?” I find myself struggling with a response. I know they think they’re giving me a compliment, so I don’t want to embarrass them by saying that I have a skin disease. On the other hand, I don’t want them to think I’ve been going to a tanning salon, nor do I want them to think I’ve been on some exotic vacation that I can’t afford on my teacher’s salary. Any ideas for a good response?
DEAR TEACHER: I don’t think you’re necessarily embarrassing someone to correct their assumption, especially if they’ve offered it up to a stranger.
I assume that because you are a teacher, you have many encounters with many different people — both adults and children.
If someone remarks that you look like you’ve been in the sun, you could respond, “I wish. This is just the way my skin gets sometimes.” Also consider that if you simply say, “I have rosacea — the medication makes my skin red,” in a neutral way, no one would take offense.
DEAR AMY: I agree with you (and others) that charging rent to adult children is a good way to teach life skills, especially if those children are working. My grandmother added a twist. She charged my father rent for several years, then turned around and gave the rent back to my father and mother as a wedding gift. Wise woman — teaching life skills and modeling generosity.
DEAR GRATEFUL: I’ve heard from many readers sharing this wise and practical technique.