Should I Stop Having Sex With My Boyfriend Until He Decides If He Will Marry Me?

Should I Stop Having Sex With My Boyfriend Until He Decides

I have been dating a man for 3 years. He’s amazing and we are in love. He told me he loved me first over 2 years ago and he says it to me daily.

Two problems: 1. His ex-wife was diagnosed with breast cancer as of a year ago and we do not know how long she has to live. He has four children with her and they have been divorced for over 5 years. And, 2. He has not asked me to marry him.

How long should I wait? I know it sounds a bit cold…but should I give him the benefit of the doubt and wait until his ex-wife dies? He tells me he can’t get married and hurt his children while their mother is still alive.

Should I stop having sex with him until he decides if I’m his future wife? My gut tells me that I should not be having sex with a man if he is not sure if he wants to marry me at some point. (Our sex life is amazing…really don’t want to give it up).

Thank you.
Paula

Oh, god. Not this again.

Let’s get the easy part out of the way first: Sex is NEVER to be used as a weapon.

This guy is your loving boyfriend of three years and you’re thinking that the best way to procure a ring from him is to PUNISH him by withholding sex?

Are you kidding me?

Cutting off sex from your partner is childish, selfish, petty, and, above all, ineffective in making a man WANT to commit to you for life. It demonstrates that you have no clue how to communicate verbally, establish healthy boundaries, and be a fair and even-keeled partner. Literally, NOTHING could be a worse idea than you floated above.

By the way, none of what I said above means that I think your partner is a healthy bet for a husband. That’s a completely separate question. But now that we’ve dispensed with why it’s always a bad idea to use sex as a weapon, let’s talk about the real issue at hand: whether this man is a good investment of your time and energy.

Cutting off sex from your partner is childish, selfish, petty, and, above all, ineffective in making a man WANT to commit to you for life.

I’m working on limited information here, so forgive me.

All I know is that you say that he’s an “amazing” man who tells you he loves you every day and that you’ve been together for three years. For all the women who are inclined to reflexively side with you because “women good/men bad,” please pay attention to the OPs words: she’s HAPPY and gets treated well by her long-term boyfriend.

However, if Paula wants to be a wife, and not just a long-term girlfriend, she needs to get some clarity as to whether this relationship has a future, not just a present.

He’s not “wrong” if he wants to avoid hurting his children while their mother is still alive.

At the same time, you’re not “wrong” to want to get a ring on your finger after three years together. That’s why you need to communicate in a healthy, matter-of-fact fashion to your boyfriend. You’re not going to attack him, or berate him or threaten him. You’re going to ask him to help you solve an intractable problem.

First of all, ask him, point blank, if he intends to marry you.

Is that direct? Yes. Should he know the answer after 3 years? Yes.

If he hedges – and pulls out that typical guy stuff like, “Why do we have to rush things? Why do we have to label things? Why do we need a piece of paper?” you have your answer: your guy wants you as a girlfriend, and nothing more. You must have the courage to leave him.

Ask him, point blank, if he intends to marry you. Is that direct? Yes. Should he know the answer after 3 years? Yes.

However, if he says yes – but he doesn’t want to do it until his ex-wife has passed away – then you can follow up with some more empathetic questions. Ask him why he feels that way. Do his kids know about you? Love you? Have a relationship with you? Want him to get back with his ex? These are all things that I can’t answer which are germane to your situation. Personally, I think he needs to be able to stand up to his ex-wife and his kids and tell them his intentions, but I don’t know the nuances of your relationship or his family dynamics. Only you two do.

Personally, I’m skeptical. Sounds to me like he’s making excuses to avoid marrying you and this is just a convenient one. However, if YOU determine after talking to him that he loves you, he treats you well, he wants to marry you, and he promises to do so shortly after his ex’s passing, then, by all means, stick around.

It’s a lot of “ifs” but you should be able to trust your gut if you think he’s a man of character.

Then again, your gut tells you that you should cut him off from sex to get him to propose.

Forget that I said that last part and get an answer about this guy’s intentions right away.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Skaramouche

    I’m sympathetic to your situation, Paula, but really I’m speechless.  Cutting him off from sex is definitely NOT the way to go about things.  I understand this sentiment – “I don’t think I should be having sex with a man if he’s not sure he wants to marry me at some point”.  I feel the same way myself.  But for the love of god, why didn’t you ascertain this BEFORE sleeping with him then?  What has changed from the day that you decided – “Hmmm…I want to have sex with this man” and now when you’re thinking of stopping besides the passage of time?  Either he’s wilfully misled you and intends to stall indefinitely (I find no proof of this in your letter) or there is no tangible change and it’s only the passage of time without progress in the direction of marriage that is making you uncomfortable.  Either way, discovering a sudden (and possibly false) sense of virginal modesty and issuing an ultimatum is a bad idea.  Have you tried open conversations in the past?  Have they failed?  
     
    Look at it this way: 1) you withhold sex, 2) you get a ring.  All that would tell me is that your boyfriend is ruled by the wrong head :P, only thinking in the short term and that doesn’t bode well for a marriage.  And secondly, you will never know whether he actually wanted to marry you or whether he gave you the ring to shut you up in the short term.  Is that really how you want to get engaged?

  2. 2
    judy

    I agree with Scaramouche.  Why sleep with him before marriage if you want a wedding ring?

    Have some compassion for his wife and kids.

    By the way, I’d get out of there for a while – go on holiday somewhere.

    If he needs you when his wife dies, for God’s sake don’t press the wedding ring issue.  He might just accept your pressure, and then throw it in your face years later as in “Christ.  When my wife just died, you chose just that moment to force me into a wedding ring”.

    Hope you can hear it.

     

     

     

  3. 3
    Stacy

    Evan, I agree with you wholeheartedly.  For the life of me, I do not understand why it seems that the most proven ineffective strategies are used over and over again? Withhold sex? Horrible idea. In fact, if my man dealt with situations this way, I would question how he would deal with all situations and I would most likely leave.

    But back to the OP, I can truly sympathize that his ex is dealing with this and especially with 4 kids in tow. I can also understand his point of view if the ex is at the stage where she is so badly off, that death is knocking at her door.  IF that was the case, then yes, I can understand why he does not want to currently put his children through the idea of him having a new wife because that is a major change for them (especially if they are fairly young).

    However, his ex being at death’s door literally is the only situation I would understand.  Anything else, and he should be able to incorporate at least a proposal to you if he wants to.  But as Evan said, you need to have the conversation to understand his reasoning in detail.  You should know him enough to gather if he is bsing you.

    1. 3.1
      MaryAnne

      To withhold sex cause you want a ring. or anything is immature.  If I were him I would run while I can.  Just shows your immaturity.  Is the sex the only reason you are with the guy, not a reason to marry a person.  After all these years you should be there for him as I am sure he and his children are going through a lot of emotional issues.  If you cant be supportive then I suggest you end the relationship as you are being selfish especially due to what he is going through.  Also you might want to think, are you ready to raise his children and be a full time wife and mother.  If the answer is no then I would suggest you move on.  Not trying to be harsh, just realistic.  Hope this advise helps.

  4. 4
    SAL9000

    I think her “cutting him off” comment was a stress reaction (i.e., something not well thought out and otherwise something not likely to be acted upon).

     

    The ex wife thing is a perfect hedge, plus, how well will shall she suffer the macabre silence for a death that could take years to run its course?

     

    I agree with the advice. Her intuition is correct that something is not right and probably along the lines of commitment and priorities. There is no way to force or manipulate it – ask and pay very very close attention to the answer.

  5. 5
    Greeny

    A couple of important questions for Paula:

    1) How old are you?

    2) Do you want to have children of your own (with this man/in general)?

    3) Does he want more kids with you?

    Marriage for commitment’s sake is one thing. Marriage as a pathway to a family (blended or otherwise) presents a whole different set of considerations when it comes to having honest conversations about timelines. If you don’t want to have children together and/or are in your late 20s or very early 30s, this is a very different picture than if you are 33 or 34 (or 39 or 40) and are hoping to start a family with this man.

  6. 6
    Chester

    I am surprised how many posters are giving this guy a pass on saying he can not marry until his ex wife dies. Really? Why? In this case according to the OP they do not know how long she has. She might have a very long time and she may recover. Like Evan said, that objection to marriage needs some careful but open and honest communication. Feels like an excuse to me because it just does not make any sense.

     

  7. 7
    Kitty

    Don’t have anything to add.  It sounds like her boyfriend is stringing her along but her idea to get him to propose is so wrong it is scary.

  8. 8
    kevin

    Why should he want to get married…for petes sake the man has already been divorced…women answer this question why is is so wrong for a man to enjoy a happy relationship without marriage. ..I honestly believe marraige is just a woman thing. Men do not think about it at all. All they think about in that regard is the pressure they may feel from a woman to marry her

    1. 8.1
      Isobel

      I agree that he should not be made to get married, at any time. But, he has said they will get married, after his ex wife has died. If a man, or woman, does not want to marry then there’s nothing wrong with that. Saying you want to get married when all along you have no intention to do so is dishonest, and giving flimsy excuses to side-step the issue is a bit of a red flag in my book.

      By the way, my ex husband was the one who pushed the ‘marriage’ thing, not me. It’s not just women who want to get married.

    2. 8.2
      Holly

      Perhaps the only reason some men don’t think about marriage is that some women will give them everything a marriage entails without first requiring it.

      1. 8.2.1
        kevin

        Any man who has been married knows all the thingsthat are supposedly gonna happen more actually happen less…less sex, less cooking, less cleaning, more nagging, more bills

  9. 9
    kevin

    He I a good man and he is good to her end of story…even after marraige it doesn’t stop…then it will be a new car she wants or a vacation or upgrade her ring…marriage will not make her happy. ..it will scratch that otch for a day then ots on to the next issue for her to nag about

  10. 10
    SusieQ

    “I would marry you, but first another woman has to die.” You’ve let him put you in a mindset where you are actively hoping for the death of this woman and beloved mother. Is this really who you want to be? Not wishing for a mom to recover from cancer to see her kids grow up but actively wishing for her to sicken and die?

    I wish you a healthy relationship with an available man. I hope someday you’ll look back on this period of your life and shake your head because you’re in such a better place mentally and emotionally.

  11. 11
    Mrs Happy

    Wow.

    I have a few thoughts. Hopefully I won’t get too attacked, some of the below isn’t nice.

    1. If you marry him and his ex-wife dies, you are likely to become a full-time stepmother of FOUR children. That is major – a major sacrifice for you, major work for you.  To be blunt, you will be doing the work of bringing up somebody else’s four children.  The children and their father will have significant emotional issues for years. You may have fewer of your own biological children, or less of a career, certainly less freedom and independence, as a result. The 4 children will cost you time, effort, energy, and many other resources. Yes you would receive things in return. Probably not what you outlay though.

    I personally wouldn’t want to do it. I find (my own) children exhausting, and expensive, and demanding, and wonderful… I do not love anybody else’s  children anywhere near as much as I love mine, and most people feel the same. I actually now thank my lucky stars that previous relationships with divorced fathers of young children didn’t worked out for me – I truly did not appreciate what I was close to getting myself into during my 20’s when I entered into those.

    2. I do not understand the “use sex as a weapon” cliche. Weapons kill/wound people. How exactly is a lack of sex a weapon?

    3. I read her emotions regarding sex as, I’m feeling uncertain in this relationship, and in the context of everything that is going on, I do not feel like having sex like I used to. Newsflash to everyone: because a person does not want to have sex as often as they used to, does not equal, that person “using sex as a weapon”. Jeez. Maybe her emotions have altered! She clearly links sex and marriage, as some people do.

     

    1. 11.1
      Manish

      Sex is a weapon when one person in a relationship uses it as a manipulation tactic. Think of the wife who trades sexual favors if the husband does chores. For one thing, your partner is not a kid or a pet–using treats to get what you want (and withholding as a punishment) is not how adults communicate anf get what they want. If your partner can’t do the dishes or commit without some sort of short term reward, then perhaps he or she is not mature enough for a relationship.

      I’ve always wondered about women who withhold sex as punishment–don’t they ever feel like sexually frustrated? Aren’t they punishing themselves

      1. 11.1.1
        Theo

        A woman who withholds sex is not very attracted to her man. The guy needs to understand this and move on.

      2. 11.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        Regarding Manish’s question @11.1:

        “I’ve always wondered about women who withhold sex as punishment–don’t they ever feel like sexually frustrated? Aren’t they punishing themselves?”

        The flip response is:

        I’ve always wondered about men who don’t do lots of housework, aren’t they domestically frustrated? Aren’t they punishing themselves?

        Because, the reality for most people is, sex drives differ between the sexes, and usually a male wants sex more often than a female, and this becomes much more apparent in long term relationships after the heady rush of hormones/lust has waned.

        Thus, as a female in a long term relationship, a woman can have sex when she doesn’t particularly feel like it, because (insert reasons here – e.g. she loves him, she wants to gift sex, she is financially dependent on his earnings and wants herself and kids to stay within this relationship, he has been sweet to her and she’s feeling close, etc). Or, she can not have sex with him, because (insert reasons here – e.g. he was mean yesterday or last week, or inconsiderate tonight, she’s sore with her period, she’s tired from work or the kids or the housework or all three, life is stressful at the moment, etc). She isn’t necessarily “using sex as a weapon” by not having sex when he wants to, or when he hasn’t done the dishes, but him doing his share of housework (which means she doesn’t have to do his share as well as her share) might be one of the many factors that (subconsciously – most of this isn’t thought through in such logical steps by people with every marital interaction) tip her over into “being more in the mood”.

        We do not say he is “using the dishes as a weapon” when he does not do the dishes (when he doesn’t want to), do we? So why say she is “using sex as a weapon” when she doesn’t have sex (when she doesn’t want to)?

         

        Most men are average in bed (as are most women). For many, sex means movement back and forth in some variations both anatomical and speed etc, until the male ejaculates. For lots of women, as they move through their life cycle (e.g. through excitement about this during teens and twenties, all the way through childbirth years, then menopause, into old age with lubrication problems etc) this just gets less and less good a deal. For some women, at times, having sex is about as appealing, as doing the dishes is, for some men. So Manish, the answer is, no, they do not often feel too sexually frustrated.

         

        To Theo’s comment @ 11.1.1:

        “A woman who withholds sex is not very attracted to her man.”

        That is false. A woman can be very attracted to, in love with, the man she is with, and not have sex with him. Women are not up for sex every minute of every day! Many things lead to a woman not wanting sex. If every guy “moved on” every time he didn’t have sex whenever he wanted it in a relationship, interactions between the sexes would last a very short time for all but the asexual and impotent males (who would suddenly become wonderful catches!).

        1. Manish

          Using sex as a weapon is a manipulation tactic when the withholding partner does not express his or her own feelings, instead passive aggressively reacting like a parent scolding a 5 year old.

          Both partners should contribute equally, yes. And that means having honest discussions. The OP should not just stop sleeping with him to get a ring, just like someone shouldn’t propose just to get laid

        2. MaryAnne

          To Happy, don’t lump all women in the same category, I am a 45 year old straight woman, some people think I look ten years younger and I have a heathy sex drive like guys.  Not all people are the same.  When I was married it was me who wanted sex more and my ex pushing me away.

        3. Mrs Happy

          Dear MaryAnne,

          I did not “lump all women in the same category”;  you may note I didn’t use qualifiers like “all”, “always”, “never”, etc.

          Of course some women want sex more often than their male partner, but this is rarer than the reverse.

          Sexual problems are the most common reason couples seek couple counselling, and the most common sexual issue presenting, is a discrepency in desire.  Of every 11 couples presenting with this complaint, in 10 pairs it is the male who wants more frequent sex. In 1 out of every 11 couples, it is the female with the higher libido.

          (Interestingly in general the women want higher quality sex, while the men want higher frequency sex.)

          Thus the most common situation in people visiting a counsellor is, the man wants sex more often than the woman. This probably (not certainly) reflects gender differences in the non-counselling population.

          I don’t think the generalised statement ‘men have higher sex drives than women’, is much of a surprise to any adult, and this is because this is common.

           

          Regarding “I have a heathy sex drive like guys”,

          it’s quite unhelpful (and possibly egocentric) to believe that YOUR sex drive is the normal one, and your partner’s, whether higher or lower, is the abnormal one. Everyone has different sex drives. Problems can arise when sex drives don’t approximately match, but this doesn’t make one person right and one person wrong, it just makes the 2 people different. And it is common to have mismatched desires, really really common in long term relationships.

           

          Dear Manish:

          re “Using sex as a weapon is a manipulation tactic when the withholding partner does not express his or her own feelings”,

          I think what people above and below our conversation here are trying to say, including Al @ 22, is, that sometimes the withholding partner is expressing their feelings, in not (wanting or) having sex.  One of my points was simply, it’s not always passive aggressive or childish – sometimes people (women more than men) just do not want sex frequently. And it seems the partner, society, commenters on this blog, like to label this emotion or behaviour as a “weapon”, or “passive aggressive”, or “manipulation”.  I disagree with this general interpretation.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

           

  12. 12
    judy

    Kevin 8 – why does a man want an employment contract? It’s just a piece of paper, isn’t it?

    I believe that women are brought up to believe that having that wedding dress and ring is part of commitment.

    The same way that a man thinks he has made it when he has a great car, huge salary, and can pull women.

    These are generalisations.

    As an older woman, I would no longer insist on the wedding ring and would prefer the love.  However, inside, there would be a deep disappointment at being cheated out of the wedding ceremony.  It’s a rite of passage – the same way that Christmas is not Christmas unless the house is decorated, New Year without at least a glass of bubbly or a happy text is not New Year.

    My question to you is, why can men not understand this?

    1. 12.1
      kevin

      Well as formerly divorced man I believed in forever, together for more than 9 years married more than 7…but for a man it really only takes this experience once to understand relationship dynamics of adults. ..so with that being said men believe if/when you dont feel the same about me whether it be 1 year, 2, 5, 10, or 20 years later u just leave no drama or courts involved. ..the fact everyone (men and women) agree that divorce is a possibility, why even think about it in the first place (unless you have never been married) if u have been then just relax and enjoy the relationship. And before u think I am oppose to marraige again I am not, BUT that is solely based on the pressure I may feel from my girlfriend to get married and like other men I will try attempts and stipulations to probly prolong and hope the pressure goes away. ..but it will never be my idea, I wont be spending my days at work dreaming about the perfect tux, cake, reception hall, or honeymoon. ..well maybe the honeymoon 😉

      1. 12.1.1
        pat

        This isn’t a male vs female issue, it is a married vs never-been-married.  He’s been married and divorced, and is in no rush to experience it again.  She hasn’t.  If she were divorced, too, she probably would share his indifference.  You yourself stated that when you first married, you “believed in forever” – that’s probably how the OP feels, too.  Doesn’t she get the chance to believe in forever, the way you once did?  I think everyone is entitled to that feeling on their first go at marriage.

      2. 12.1.2
        popee

        Marriage is the ultimate sign of commitment. That is why women are into it. Most of us are not looking for “a man”. We’re looking for a man *who is open to/interested in* commitment. It’s almost as some dating coaches have suggested (and government forms ask) if you’re not married, you’re single, basically. And that’s the issue.

        I have a several friends who are in their 30s in living with their SOs in LTRs of 10+ years. And it is not the same as the married ones. They are basically convenient roommates who care for each other. I have dated men who have told me openly on the early stages they were married before and were not willing to marry again at which point I stopped dating them. I want to grow old with someone. It’s great that you don’t want marriage, just don’t expect a lot of women to stick around after you make that announcement.

        1. Chance

          What do women commit to when they marry?

        2. popee

          “What do women commit to when they marry?”

          They commit to the other person. Marriage means you are not looking anymore, you can build a future with someone. If I have a boyfriend I am single. There is no future in place. If a man isn’t interested in marriage that means he is committed to being remaining single, to delay the future and he is open to meeting others, in other words.

      3. 12.1.3
        ShivaD

        Kevin – I have to respectfully disagree when you state there is no drama or courts involved with LT marriage-less commitments that dissolve.  Kindly catch as many Judge Judy episodes as you can where the docket is full of litigants battling it out after dissolution of a LTR – hell even STR. I’ve also seen it 1st hand. If you don’t want to get married that’s fine but to state that men don’t believe in marriage and only do so because they are pressured sounds ridiculous. I know men who can’t wait to find a woman to marry and start a family with – they just aren’t willing to do it with any lady. I also know men who made it their priority to lock down their ladies because THEY wanted to get married – not because they were pressured or because that’s what she wanted. My two older brothers who have long-term marriages (one 20+and the other 12+) are these kinds of men and that’s after a history of watching our parents all have
        multiple failed marriages (we are a very blended family).
         

         

         

        Not everyone is built for marriage and not every woman wants it. If you would only get married because a gf pressures you then you ARE opposed to marriage. Making that commitment because you feel pressured is a recipe for disaster and not being true to what you want. I think the fact that you want something long-term that can easily be walked away from is scary. Sounds like you want one foot out the door at all times – what kind of committed relationship is that?
         I can understand why you would feel that way after 20? (can’t tell if the 9+ and 7+ years was concurrent or consecutive) years but it sounds like you need to just date and have fun.

        Ppl can be together and married for years when they should have walked away from the start. Prime example – Gwen Stefani, who turned a blind eye to her husbands womanizing and cheating ways for 16+ years only to finally have to deal with it when he got busted with the nanny. Winner that he is he still denied the blatant evidence (nude photos and msgs to hook up for sex was flirting?!?!). She had so many warnings and clues. She could now take the stance that she would never get married again and its a waste of time or she can acknowledge the fact she stayed waaay too long with the wrong person and ignored multiple warning signs. She can take responsibility for attaching herself to a liar and a cheater for so long. She can dust herself off and get back out there to meet the right one after seeing with a more seasoned view and idea of what she desires and deserves in a partner.
         

  13. 13
    L

    The decision to remarry when you have children is not one to be taken lightly.  I could certainly understand that he wouldn’t want to jump into things or impose too many changes on his kids.  I mean, a divorced person with a healthy ex would be hesitant, I can only imagine how it would be if the person you marry would eventually become your children’s’ full time parent.

    Three years is a good amount of time to know if you want to marry someone in normal circumstances, but he also may be hesitant e.g., unsure you would be a good stepmother, unsure he wants to remarry at all.  I think a conversation is in order.  However if you are the type of person to consider withholding sex to get your way, he is absolutely right to hesitate.  Something tells me that the letter writer is not very mature and he has good reason to be unsure whether she’d be a good stepmother to his kids.

  14. 14
    judy

    L – 13.

    I agree with you that withholding sex is a rotten idea.

    It strikes me too (seen completely from the outside) that although the ex-husband may not be in love with his wife any more, at least he has the decency to think about his children.

    You are right when you say that “….he has good reason to be unsure whether she’d be a good stepmother to his kids”.

    Seen from her point of view, I think that three years is a long time and maybe he is just using her and she is just using him (if she is thinking of withholding sex – doesn’t this reinforce this view a bit?)

  15. 15
    Dijah

    hi Paula,

    I hear what you are going through. being with someone for that long and they are not showing any signs of proposing is quite worrying. Therefore you need to make a decision now and don’t wait  for his ex-wife to die for him to marry you. Remember he was married to that woman and by him doing that it means  that he had strong attachment . what am trying to say is that he may end up heart broken at the lose of his ex and may not consider the idea of marrying again. Its not easy to loose someone you loved especially to death. But then again I may be wrong. I dated a man who has been divorced for 14yrs already for 21/2 yrs but I had to put my foot down. enough was enough. He came up with all sorts of excuses,his children,and all and eventually realised he never wanted our relationship to be made known to his family,to cut the story short,I had to get my mind right and left him. It wanst easy but am glad

    I did.  Am ready to get back into the dating world again and have told myself to be careful and be clear with my partner about what  i want from   a relationship so girl, GET YOUR MIND RIGHT

     

     

  16. 16
    lurks

    This seems like even when the guy isn’t married to the woman who is sick anymore she is still the woman in his life, it is like if he was telling the OP “You will only be the woman in my life when that place is not taken anymore”.  Even if the EX is sick that is no reason to not married, when the ex wife dies the excuse will be that the kids are grieving and they need time and there will be always a reason to not do it.  He won’t get marry until and unless he needs someone who takes care of his children.

  17. 17
    karem

    LURKS. 16

    I cannot be more agree with your post.

    Why is an excuse what happens with the ex-. They are divorced!!!!

    Before or after she ‘dies’ doesn’t make any sense to me. Before because she is sick. After because she just died. There will be always an excuse.  I don’t see the relationship at all between her health condition with the OP desire to be married with her boyfriend.

    At any point, when you have kids it will be difficult for your children to see one of their parents to be remarried. Sooner or later for me will be the same. So, he said he doesn’t want to hurt his children if the ex is still alive. It will be not the same hurt or worst after she die.??

    Why this woman has to condition or to sacrifice her wishes and her life waiting for someone to die. I don’t get it.  Sorry.

  18. 18
    Karmic Equation

    Women who don’t have children and who have never been married probably should think long and hard before becoming involved with divorced men with children.

    Dating is difficult enough without adding other people’s children into the mix, particularly when you don’t have any yourself.

     

    1. 18.1
      Josie

      Yes.  I am in this situation myself, as a late 30s single woman who DID want kids with the “right man” it’s just the right man never turned up.  My longest relationship was with a childless, never been married man who did lead me on about marriage, and I ended it after nearly 5 years.

      So now, my dating pool is limited to: (1) divorced men with kids (2) divorced men without kids (3) single never been married men over 40 that I generally avoid , due to the strong possibility that they will be a commitment avoidant Peter Pan, as my ex bf was.

      I actually like kids.  That said, I lean toward men who have only one or at most two of them, knowing full well how much time , MONEY and effort more kids than that will entail.  A childless girlfriend married a man with three, and it was a significant burden for her.  This gal has a career that is important to her, and it was impossible for her to make a necessary career move because her husband is tied to his location due to the kids.  That resulted in her having to “weekend commute” between her new job and the husband (several hours).   Just another consideration to add to the complicated mix….

    2. 18.2
      L

      Yes!  As a divorced woman with children dating divorced men with children, it is obvious to me that a lot of the commenters don’t get it.  Divorced people with children do not behave like never married people.  We just don’t.  We don’t operate on the same timelines.   We know marriages can end and are very cautious about being rushed into a deeper commitment. He is absolutely right to postpone any thoughts of marriage while his children are undergoing a trauma.  And if OP doesn’t get that, she isn’t the type of person he’d want to marry anyway.

    3. 18.3
      MaryAnne

      I am divorced and gave birth to two children during my marriage both of which were planned.  I agree that women and men should think long and hard before getting involved with a person who had kids.  Not only do you have to deal with the kids sometimes you have to deal with a crazy ex spouse or significant other.  I know women who had a lot of issues due to the other persons ex’s.

       

  19. 19
    .02 for you

    Dating a divorced dad with kids is different from dating a young man who has never been married. If he is a good dad he is committed to his kids and may not want to marry right now no matter how wonderful you are to him. With a spouse who has cancer this makes the timing much worse. So much of midlife dating is timing.

    But the issue with the mom with cancer and the kids is really hard. It will consume everyone involved. Honestly you may not feel like marrying him after he goes through all of that because he will still grieve his ex. It will be hard for him to be a sole parent. Cancer will be a roller coaster. The kids will have a long hard road ahead of them.

    I agree with Evan to ask, “do you intend to marry me?”

    I can understand that you would feel bad and not want to have sex with someone who doesn’t want to marry you. But that is not effective to change what is in front of you. I believe you have to his answer to your marriage question along with your gut to either throw in the towel or throw in more time to navigate a really tough situation so he really wants to marry you when the time is right. If you want your own biological children I would say ask him the question and if he doesn’t want to marry say goodbye now.

    I know it must be hard to be so torn between being with a man who loves you and is good in bed to the goal of marriage. It is hard to find it all!! Good luck to you!!

  20. 20
    Kitty

    1. As many of the commentators have said becoming the stepmother of 4 children is very serious and requires careful consideration.  The letter writer didn’t say how old the children were but adult sons and daughters, especially those whose mother is dead, still need their fathers.  They just need their fathers in different ways than do minor children.

    2.  I loved Evan’s line about

    “Then again, your gut tells you that you should cut him off from sex to get him to propose”

    Feelings can be terrible liars.  You can feel young when you are far older than 30 or 40.  You can feel like a rich person when you’re three months behind on your rent.  I say trust your logical brain and if you can’t trust your own rent or borrow a brain.

  21. 21
    jon

    Yes, Paula should stop having sex with the BF, take a step back, and allow both of them to examine their relationship and whether they can have a future together, or if they should break up.  Of course, she never mentions her age or if she wants biological children of her own, so I’m guessing she might be over 40.  Most women want the security of marriage, especially older women who fear being alone.  If Paula is pondering not having sex, and moving out, then I think she needs to trust her gut.  Its been 3 years already so Paula deserves some solid answers.  Take a break for a month, and figure out if there are other men out there for you, that can give you the security that you want and deserve.

  22. 22
    Al

    Clearly a conversation is needed between these two people. I wouldn’t write either one of them off just yet. The OP is struggling with her feelings of being shoved aside for other priorities in his life and is unsure how to get through to her BF her feelings of dismissal. The BF may just be feeling caught between his conscience and his GF. His ex IS dying after all. That’s no small thing, especially when kids are involved. His priorities kind of have to be elsewhere to some degree right now.

     

    Before anyone here sits in judgement over her thinking of withholding sex, realize that this is FAR more common in marriages than people are admitting here. It’s just not so simple.

     

    When a person feels that their partner is not hearing them, is refusing to listen or see their side, is causing them pain, it’s not beyond the pale to look for what that person values and snatch it away to get their attention. Sure, it’s petty and passive aggressive, but it’s been done as long as people have been mating. Let’s not cast too many stones. How many of us have also found ourselves doing things we normally wouldn’t out of frustration? I know I’ve done this very thing. I now understand that it doesn’t work. If your partner refuses to acknowledge your needs after you’ve calmly and politely tried to discuss it like adults, then he isn’t going to “get it” after you cut off the sex supply. It’s like putting a band aid on gangrene. The relationship problem existed BEFORE the withholding and that’s what needs addressing.

     

    The mature way to deal with problems of this nature are to discuss it like adults and try to come to a compromise that works for everyone. If one partner can’t do that, or a middle ground can’t be found, it’s time to walk because I can promise you that type of thing does not get easier the longer you are married. It only gets worse.

     

    This fella may be hedging or he may not be. What the OP needs to do, IMHO, is to  first be compassionate. He may be feeling overwhelmed and heartsick. He may need her support, not her pressure, right now. That’s what real relationships are about, being there for the other person when they need you and vice versa.  That being said, I wouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt forever. At some point, it’s appropriate for the relationship to move forward if that’s what they’ve agreed to. If he’s using the ex wife as an excuse to hedge that’s not cool and the OP needs to be aware of letting things linger for too long. She should take stock of what she really wants out of life and be prepared to walk away from him if he doesn’t want the same things. He also needs to be honest and not continue to dangle her on a hook if he knows he isn’t into a deeper commitment.

     

    Either way, communication seems to be failing here.

  23. 23
    RealityChic

    This is not about whether you should withhold sex. This is a question of whether you should walk away.
    STEP 1 – Your Personal life goals – Aside from this man, do you want to have a happy marriage and children of your own? If so, you need to make the decision about this relationship with that in mind. Everything you stated is about him but you need to take a step back and re-acquaint yourself with what you want out of life. As a woman, you have a time limit on when you can do that and don’t allow people on this forum to paint you as “selfish” because you want to assert your personal goals.
    STEP 2 – Divorced Man with Four Kids – you need to ask this man in plain English if he wants to re-marry and have more children. IN PLAIN ENGLISH. Some divorced men view re-marriage, especially with that many kids through a financial lens. And the thought of a new wedding, new honey moon, new home, new babies + ex-wife and 4 growing children can overwhelm a guy. He may love to have you “around” but will not be able to take on this responsibility of re-marriage and new babies. If you are 30 and above,  be prepared to suffer the short term pain of hearing him say no but this would free you to pursue what YOU want in life. This is NOT your husband and the folks that are suggesting that you should take on the “for better and for worse” of HIS life and the guy not do the same for YOU, is one-sided and unfair to you.
    Observation – Breast Cancer “diagnosis” is not a death sentence. His ex-wife may be one of many victorious breast cancer survivors. Or she could live a long-time suffering, rebounding, relapsing and lose her battle 1, 3, 5, or 20+ years from now. The man that tells you that you should wait to see this through is actually telling you a lot. I am not available to commit to you in the way you want; put your desire for marriage and a family of your own on hold for 1, 3, 5, 20+ years.  THIS IS NOT YOUR HUSBAND and you should not be making personal sacrifices as if he is.

    Observation – Pulling Back on Sex as a way to Gain Leverage won’t work – I understand the psychology of feeling like you are not secured in this relationship with a ring. The only leverage you feel you have is sex. I think subconsciously you know you are at a disadvantage because who can “compete” with the explanation of “hurting four kids and an ex-wife with cancer”. The sex card will not trump the complex family situation. Withholding sex will not change the long-term situation in your favor.  Why? Because he will still be bound by these huge responsibilities that will limit his ability to give you ANY of the things you want.
     Have that conversation soon. Check the answer against your personal goals. Do the math… take note of what Mrs. Happy said. That scenario would be your life.

  24. 24
    popee

    The bigger picture is that the OP’s main concern – marriage – is small potatoes in relationship to 1. the exwife’s potentially terminal cancer and 2. the four children’s present and future. Marriage, at this stage would seem heartless and thoughtless, esp. if you consider what the kids are going through. I get the impression, from the letter, that the OP is too self-absorbed to consider the whole situation and that she will not do well as a step-mom.

    The unconfortable question then becomes, from the BF’s perspective, “is this woman good enough to become the stepmom to my 4 kids if their mother passes?”.

    I met a man I really like who is in the middle of  a divorce and we go on platonic dates from time to time (I also date others I am less enthusiastic about..) and we are very connected but there is so much going on in his life that a relationship is out of the question (complicated ex, 3 kids, middle of divorce, his dad has terminal cancer) for the time being.

    But one of the first questions he asked was if I wanted kids (at 37 I think my time has passed but I want to be a stepmom). He made it clear on the third date he is looking for someone who might be comfortable living with 3 kids at least part of the time. I had never dated anyone who had kids before, and make not mistake, it’s not about “you” anymore, you are number 2 if that, and if you are considering  a man with kids you have to be very comfortable with that scenario.  I am not sure how the OP feels about the kids but that is the most relevant part of this puzzle. If the woman isn’t a good stepmom or isn’t empathetic abt what they are going through, chances are he will not want to marry her just bcs his kids are his #1 priority.

  25. 25
    DeeGee

    We don’t know his side of the story.

    Maybe his ex took him to the cleaners in the divorce, and now he associates marriage with divorce and alimony, and he is just using his ex as an excuse and really doesn’t want to get married again because of the financial hardship that the man always faces.

    I am divorced no kids and I am unsure if I would get married again (at least not without a prenup the next time).

    Evan is right that she needs to simply confront him to find out what her next steps should be.

  26. 26
    AllHeart81

    Is she really even using sex as a weapon or is not wanting to have sex with him a manifestation of her negative feelings about the situation?

    When I have been upset with past boyfriends, the last thing I felt like doing was having sex with them. This does not mean I loved him less or was not attracted to him. It also does not mean I’m using sex as a weapon. However, my fear is that we don’t legitimately believe a woman is allowed to say ‘no’ to sex when she is upset with her partner because then she’s just using it to ‘punish’ him. No. Not wanting to have sex is not a ‘punishment’. I am not his Mommy.  Don’t put women in that position that they are not allowed to say ‘no’ to sex when they are upset with their partners. Not wanting to have sex with him during a specific point in our relationship is because I don’t feel like it and don’t want to make myself vulnerable with him when I am upset with him. How I feel about the relationship, my partner and myself  is directly related to how much I feel like having sex or not.

  27. 27
    andrew

    1) yes, i agree with everybody that withholding sex as a manipulation tactic won’t achieve the desired outcome.  All manipulation tactics backfire when the other person is aware they are being manipulated.

    2) after 3 years, you should already be getting to know the children.  If you are marrying somebody with prior children, and they are still very close, then you are also joining family with the children, and i think you should feel “in love with the kids” before considering marriage.  Just a fact you need to face.  Imagine if you hate them…or if they hate you?  You wouldn’t want to live that life…nobody would.

  28. 28
    Mandy

    Why are you having sex before marriage? Try courtship than dating! Dating does not always mean love and marriage! No man is going to marry you if you keep giving it up for free! Have some morals and self respect! Practice celibacy , humans really don’t need sex , they just think they do, no wonder there is so many pregnancies and STDS ! Never have sex before marriage!

  29. 29
    Kaitlynn B.

    I usually agree with you, Evan, but not in this case. I won’t pretend to be an expert, but I don’t think she is trying to use sex as a weapon. If she was doing it to try to force him into marrying her then ok, but that’s not what’s happening. I can’t speak for all women, but I cannot have sex with a man if I’m questioning the relationship, I’m upset with him, or if I don’t feel comfortable being with him at the moment. If she doesn’t feel comfortable having sex with him then she shouldn’t be persecuted for saying no. It also doesn’t mean she’s any less attracted to him. I am extremely attracted to my boyfriend, but that doesn’t mean I want to have sex with him all the time. If she doesn’t want to have sex with him until he decides, then let her. It’s not a punnishment, in fact, based on the post, she is only thinking about how sex at this time might negatively impact her.

  30. 30
    She's confused

    I think you’re supposed to cut off the sex after he marries you not before 😆😆😆😆

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