Her Fiance is Still Married

Q: I have been engaged to a man for over 18 months, after dating for 6 months. He has been separated from his almost ex for 4 years, and at the time he asked me to marry him, I was led to believe that the divorce process was in the works. Now, almost 2 years later, we're still living in separate homes while trying to be parents to our total of 8 children. I won't allow him to move his family in with me and my teenagers until he's divorced and we have a wedding date set. His children (he has custody) have been packing their belongings up since last December because he promised them they would move in by Christmas. Hints, removing my ring, and telling him he had until last month to finalize his divorce or cancel the whole thing have been useless. I love him, but I am tired of living in a state of limbo. Should I hang in and hope or give up and get my life back to normal? --Gail, 50

Dr. Susan: "Hoping" has nothing to do with it anymore. This man needs a definite, non-hinting, non-threatening, non-emotional ultimatum, and he must respond with specifics, and then he must take action. No more "as soon as I get to it." No more excuses of any kind. He's being tremendously unfair to you and to your and his children. What you can do is suggest that you go to a lawyer with him, that you sit down and write up whatever lists are necessary to get this show on the road, that he tell you exactly what the hitch is that's keeping you all in limbo. All this doesn't bode well for a future marriage. He needs to keep his promises, and you need not to make idle threats. If he doesn't follow through with the first step (seeing a lawyer? filing actual papers?), then you might want to make yourself unavailable to him. No dates, no intimacy. If he's fine with that, then I'd have to say he's been looking for a way to get out of his commitment. Find out what he's afraid of, whether it's pursuing the legalities with his ex or it's going ahead and making you and him legal. Now that you've already made a threat that you didn't keep, think hard before making another one. You have to mean it or he'll just keep on doing whatever he's been doing.

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