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Dating Maze #222 - Getting on with Life
Dating Advice 222

Dating Maze #222 - Getting on with Life

She's stuck on a man who's headed for a dead end. Should she join him down that road?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I've been dating a man for nearly two years and we both want to get engaged. I'm 22, just graduating from college. He just turned 30.

The problem is his maturity level is holding us back. He has a dead end job, cannot seem to go to work on time, and is barely able to support himself, let alone a family. When I raise my concerns he promises to improve and assures me that when we're married I'll be the motivation he needs.

This is very frustrating as I fear he'll never improve. And yet I don't want to lose this wonderful man. But I'm ready to get on with my life. Should I keep waiting?


Dear Marcia,

It seems to us that in the almost two years you've been dating the man you hope to marry, you've gotten to know him well enough to answer the following questions about him and your relationship:

  • What are his goals for the next few years of his life? How does he plan to achieve them? What steps has he taken to implement his plan?
  • Is he self-supporting? Does he live independently or with family or a roommate?
  • Does he manage his day-to-day life well?
  • Does he have any responsibilities for people or things other than himself? How well does he manage these responsibilities?
  • Has his level of responsibility and maturity changed since you first met him? In what way?
  • What are his job qualifications? Is he unhappy because he is overqualified for his job? Is he unqualified for anything better? What is he doing about finding a better job?
  • Has he done anything to make himself more marketable job-wise, such as taking a training course?
  • Why can't he get to work on time?

We suspect that the answers to many of these questions will be negative ones. If that is the case, we can pretty much assure you that what you see now is what you will get in the future. Even though this man insists he will change after the wedding and become more responsible, the greater likelihood is this will not happen.

Further, it is unfair for him to put the responsibility on you to motivate him to change. Motivation to change has to come from within an individual. He's setting you up for blame -- if he ends up trying to change and fails, he'll say that you weren't helpful enough, not supportive enough, or were too much of a nag.

Many people make positive changes in their lives after they marry, but this is because married couples learn from each other and adapt to each other, often bringing out the best in each other. In addition, after marriage, people may make other changes in their lives as part of the normal process of human growth, such as becoming more religiously involved, returning to school, changing careers, becoming active in community or charity work, and/or focusing on improving a character trait. All of these changes arise because the individual is internally motivated to make them.

Some people are late bloomers. They spend their early adulthood pretty much living for the moment, but at some point decide to formulate long-term goals and start working to achieve them. Others are more like you seem to be -- goal-oriented and focused while in their early 20s. Many times, a late bloomer and a younger adult find that they are very compatible and can go on to build a good life together. It appears, however, that this man hasn't reached the late-bloomer stage and may never blossom at all.

We never recommend marrying someone in the hope that they will change after marriage. That's because a person's motivation to make these changes is strongest before marriage -- when he wants to find favor in the eyes of the person he hopes to marry! In our experience, someone who doesn't take steps to become more mature and responsible before marriage has little incentive to do so afterward.

What will happen if you marry this man and he doesn't make the changes he promises? Can you be happy? Can you have the marriage you hope to achieve?

We always recommend that couples who are contemplating marriage share compatible values, goals, and expectations about how to travel the path of life. Do you and this man share these elements, or is he simply saying "yes" to your dreams in order to appease you? Now is the time for you to clarify that you have these vital foundations for marriage.

We suggest that you sit down with him and discuss your separate and mutual dreams and plans for the next one, five and 10 years. Each of you should express your goals as a couple, and as an individual -- in terms of careers, financial expectations, lifestyle expectations, family structure, religious observance, and community involvement. Do you share many similarities? What steps are each of you taking now to implement these goals? What steps is each person taking on his or her own to accomplish these goals individually and for the two of you as a couple?

If you don't have compatible dreams and expectations, if you are each not comfortable with the pace the other wants to take to achieve them, or if one of you does not want to immediately begin making measurable progress to realize these goals, then you have a problem that you may not be able to resolve.

You want your beau to change so that he will become a responsible, mature individual who can be your partner in life. In your particular case, these seem to be qualities that are important to you, but are not necessarily important to him. If they were, he would have begun to make them.

You need to clarify the reality so you can, as you say, get on with your life.

Rosie & Sherry

December 30, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 15

(15) Anonymous, February 14, 2007 1:07 PM

Your dating advice is great. even though i'm already engaged and soon to be msrried i still read the advice and love it.

(14) harold Ron, January 15, 2007 11:29 PM


Being faced with the above dilema, there are no simple answers or common responses to the COMPLEX question "to marry or not to marry". Marriage can be just a piece of a Las Vegas merriage mill binding the lovers into a legal merital problem/s with less room to work on the marital relationships consisting of meaningful COMMUNICATION, REALISTIC EXPECTATION AND STATUS AND ROLE ADJUSTMENT WITHING THE FAMILY SYSTEM:
THE ABOVE IS IN PARTICULAR TRUE FOR SECOND AND THITD POTENTIAL MARRIAGES AND MIDDLE AND UPPER AGE INDIVIDUAL: DOES A MENINGFUL LOVING RELATIONSHIP NEED TO BE SUNCTIONED WITH A PIECE OF OFFICAL PAPER.? Love, freedom, exploration of life, individual advences all cen benefit from a marriage free relationship: The marriage certificate does not enforce success in many instances: Be well,love your partner, be honest and strait forward loyal and fair, it will make you feel like you have been in paradise.

(13) Annie, January 8, 2007 1:19 AM

This man is wonderful ?

He may well be a lovely, kind person, and someone has to do 'dead-end' jobs . I greatly respect the men who take away rubbish so I can live in a clean street, make roads so I can travel in comfort, drive buses so I can sit back and enjoy the ride, dig drains so I can have running water and a flush toilet,and
climb power poles so I can have electricity.

It's all in the attitude. We all know bus drivers who treat passengers like VIPs, shop workers who have a pleasant word for all customers and road workers who send you on your way with a cheery wave.

BUT,if this man is just coasting along, just getting by,doing the bare minimum, then he's not likely to change.

There's an old joke about Christian weddings, how the three most important words for the bride are 'Aisle, altar, hymn.' I don't know what the Jewish equivalent is, but the principle is a crock in any culture.

You're 22, Marcia-you're hardly an old maid.

About the age gap; in one of the happiest marriages I know, the man is old enough to be the girl's father and could be their son's grandfather. Yet they just feel right.

I have heard that ideally the girl should be half the man's age plus 7 years-thus a 21 year old bride will have a 28 year old groom.This does break down a bit as you get older. If the 'girl' was 60, the man would be 106 !

Seriously, Marcia, if you think he's going to change, you're dreaming. Either accept him as he is and realise this or break it off and save yourself and him a lot of heartbreak. There is nothing more pointless than expecting more of someone than they are capable of giving.

(12) Anonymous, January 4, 2007 4:29 PM

If a guy or a gal is not acting responsible before

marriage, it is unlikely that he or she will do after marriage. All issues, should be taken care prior to marriage/not after marriage.There is too much getting use to one another's shitick in marriage, for one to bring baggage/and respsobiblity issues to it. My ex husband had alot of problems getting up on time for work, staying in one job along time, and cleaning up after himself. I did not see this in the three yrs. we dated- because I thought just because he goes to school, and goes to a part time job, and did this ok- he was a responible person, but behind closed doors, he led and currently leads a disorgainzed lifestyle/ and is not responsible person for himself, or our son. So if this girl sees signs that are alarming she should not ignore them, and just because he is a kind gent/does not mean he is marriage material, and can handle the role of being a husband. My ex was a kind gent/ had good middiot- but he can't handle being a husband and a father at all. Because his parents were awful role models in these dept. So I advise this letter writer to follow her head- pay attention with her eyes- and not follow her heart at all! I hope she follows Sherry and Rosie advice here.

(11) Embi, January 3, 2007 9:45 PM

Think about your motivations

Dear Marcia,

You may not feel it, especially if all your girlfriends have already married, but at 22 you are young enough to break with this man and look for marriage with another.

You can give him a final chance, like Joey suggested, to make some positive changes in his life, but if they aren't coming, run, don't walk from him. Move interstate if need be, but take a break from him, concentrate on your own life, and when you are ready you can start looking again.

From experience, I can tell you that the sort of negative traits you are describing do not improve over time, especially if the man is already 30. You are only 22 and this man is not your last hope for marriage and children. Think about what it will be like living with him in 5, 10 or 20 years time. Be honest with yourself and with him. It may be painful to break with him now but but it may also save a lot of pain later.

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