How To Handle Breaking Up With Kids

Q: I guess you could say I’ve been in a common-law marriage for 12 years. Two kids later, we’re contemplating divorce. We’ve had lots of ups and downs —” I’ve had affairs; she’s made costly financial investments/mistakes without consulting me. I love her, but she doesn’t spoil me like I need to be spoiled and like I spoil her. We’ve got too many problems still to move toward marriage. She’s moved home with her parents and will not come back without an official engagement. My heart is not in it anymore, but I love her and feel comforted by the sound of her voice and vice versa.

A: First of all, I don’t know how it is that you’re in relationship with a woman for 12 years and still don’t think you can marry her. Depending on age and professional status, a man is usually popping the question within one to two years. Secondly, I would have to imagine that one or both of you have some fear of commitment because you both have made decisions over the 12 years that resembled those of unattached individuals.

For the sake of the children, I encourage you to pursue counseling and either fix what’s broken or make the decision to end this dead relationship and make yourself available to pursue and engage with a compatible mate. You both sound like fence-sitters paralyzed by inaction, hoping things will get better. Let me candidly say to you that hope is not a strategy.

As you determine a path forward, consider reading “Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others,” by John T. Molloy. And remember: it takes a lot more than love and a comforting voice to build a solid, lasting marriage. Commitment and forgiveness reign as the the most fundamental cornerstones for creating a solid relationship. And if you lack those two things, it’s wise to beginning moving on.