Q. Oof. I’ve never written in to an advice columnist before, but Google is not answering my relationship questions, so here I am. I’m not in a huge drama situation; I’m just trying to figure out if it’s time to move on. We have been together for more than four years. I was married briefly before him, and he has also been married. After years with a drug addict who hid the remote control outside so the “hackers” couldn’t find her, I was a happy breath of fresh air for my partner.
Moving on together, despite some hiccups, has been great. I have gained weight from being a stepmom and sacrificed parts of my life that made me sane. Because when you have kids, that’s just how it works. 2018 was the year of head lice, etc. Again, it has now been four years. I am 44, he’s 47. I want to be married. I want advance-directive-type security. I had him on my life insurance until I realized I wasn’t on his.
He knows this is important. What do I do? Are there statistics about this? Am I destined to be a spinster with 12 cats? I am tired of being the girlfriend. If something bad happens, it’ll be “Sorry, ma’am. You’re his girlfriend.” His ex-wife is on these documents now. Maybe if I was 20 years younger with a trust fund this would be easier. Anyway, thanks for listening. I’m feeling like I just need to cut and run.
CUT AND RUN?
A. Are you happy in this relationship? Do you enjoy this man’s company and being there for his children, lice aside? Because I can’t really tell. You don’t say much about what he brings to your life. I guess my first question is: What do you love about being with him? It’s something to ask yourself when you have a moment of peace.
Perhaps the answer will make it easier to talk to your significant other about your needs. If you’re planning the rest of your life with him in mind, you’d like to be able to tell him why, and to know that he reciprocates. If he’s not feeling secure about his commitment yet, you do need to step back — or away. I mean, I don’t know how much time he’s had to process his very complicated and painful last relationship. That could be part of the greater problem, but if that’s the case, he needs to do the work.
You say he understands that all of this money stuff is important (and it is). Perhaps it’s simply overwhelming, and he could benefit from some professional guidance. Ask him whether he’s open to meeting with a financial counselor who can help the two of you talk about how other couples tie themselves together when there are kids and exes in the picture. Having a third party in the room, even virtually, will normalize money talk. It becomes a safer place for him to say, “Hey, I want to make sure a lot of this money goes to my kids.” That could be a part of this — him not knowing how to rethink this kind of paperwork.
If he is unwilling to seek help with you, that is a red flag. You have to be able to talk about this stuff for this to work.
If you don’t like how your boyfriend keeps his affairs, and he refuses to put you as beneficiary of his life insurance, then leave. Period. LUPELOVE
Shouldn’t his children and ex be his beneficiaries?
When I married my previously divorced husband, he had his ex-wife and his child on his life insurance policy. It was part of the divorce settlement. It always made sense to me that, if he died, his child would be first in line to receive financial protection and his ex-wife second in line as the only other provider for that child. I’m sure you know that when you’re a stepparent, you have to make peace with not always being your spouse’s first priority. I wonder if there are other specific ways you could ask for a tiny bit more time, attention, reassurance — whatever you feel you need — that would help him show more clearly your special place in his life. NURSEJANEFUZZYWUZZY
Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.