Dear Annie: I liked the advice you gave about not moving in with a partner too soon in a relationship, but my situation is quite the opposite. I have been with my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years (we are both in our late 20s), and it has recently come up that he would not consider marrying someone unless he has lived with the person for a minimum of a year. I would like to wait until marriage; I like the idea of building a home and starting a new chapter of life together as a married couple. I want my future husband to carry me across the threshold of our new home together and not into a home and life we've already been sharing. I also like the idea of having my own space until I'm ready to turn it into "our space," which I think should come along with the "what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours" commitment of marriage.
I understand his thoughts on the subject (see whether it works before you commit), but we spend six nights a week together already, so there isn't anything new we would learn about each other by living together. We've already figured out who makes the coffee versus who makes the bed and those kinds of daily lifestyle arrangements. We basically do live together. We just keep our belongings in separate places. We are very compatible, but is this a deal breaker? I love my boyfriend, but I don't want to stay in a relationship that has no potential for a future. Should I wait it out? Walk away? Is there a compromise? -- Don't Want to Be Roommates
Dear Don't Want to Be Roommates: If you're both set on the same destination, there's no sense in breaking up over the route. But make certain you do in fact agree on that destination. Ask him how he feels about marriage, with open-ended questions, not leading ones. You want him to feel comfortable being honest now so you can save yourself trouble later. If he's serious about cohabitation as a steppingstone, then propose a compromise. You'll move in together after you're engaged. If you can afford to move in to a new place (rather than either of your current apartments), it might help establish that new-chapter feel.
Dear Annie: I'd like to suggest another option for "Anxious Adopter," whose adopted son has visits with his birth mother but whose adopted daughter has no contact with her birth family. My suggestion would be for "Anxious Adopter" to talk to her son's birth mother to see whether she could find it in her heart to include your daughter in the visits. Our 15-year-old daughter relinquished her newborn son for adoption many years ago. Years later, when our grandson became a part of our life, he had an adopted sister who had no knowledge of her birth family and no contact. Because she was special to our grandson, she was special to us and was included in our time with our grandson. My husband and I were honorary grandparents at her wedding. -- Twice Blessed
Dear Twice Blessed: First, I'd like to say that I respect the rights of birth mothers in open-adoption arrangements, and it would be regrettable if my earlier response suggested otherwise. I love your solution, which shows real heart and practicality. I've passed it along to "Anxious Adopter." Thank you.