DEAR ABBY: I have been with my boyfriend for three years. I am pregnant with twins, and we already have a son together. His daughter lives with us as well.
With this pregnancy coming to term, I keep throwing hints to him about our becoming engaged, but he brushes them off. I know he's the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. I don't want to pressure him into an engagement, but it's been three years, three kids, and a stepchild, and I still don't have my ring.
I wouldn't even mind a long engagement. I just want to know we're headed in the direction of marriage. I want to know he wants the same things I want. An engagement is the only way I'll feel sure he plans on spending his future with me. Can you help?
- Very Pregnant in New Jersey
DEAR VERY PREGNANT: It should be dawning on you by now that a man who brushes off hints about becoming engaged isn't interested in a formal arrangement. I wish you had asked for my advice 10 months ago because I would have urged you not to become pregnant again unless you were sure where the relationship was going.
From where I sit, it is going nowhere. There is no way anyone can help you push someone into marriage who is unwilling.
What I can do is stress that, should anything happen to him, you and the little ones will be left with nothing unless he makes a will that names you as beneficiary. When you discuss that with him, do not hint or allow him to brush you off, because the implications are very serious.
Worried about pending death of sister's dog
DEAR ABBY: My sister "Marcie" is very attached to her dog, "Doodles." She had two. They were quite old, and one died last year. It was traumatic for the entire family because we were concerned about Marcie's mental state. Now Doodles looks close to the end, and she's in a constant state of distress.
Marcie takes the dog with her everywhere, whether it's appropriate or not. When her in-laws invited her and her husband on a cruise next spring, she burst into tears at the thought of leaving Doodles for a week.
I'm beside myself with worry over my sister's mental state and afraid of what her dog's death will bring. It's not just Doodles' age and declining health; Marcie has always let her animals run/ruin her life. Thousands of dollars have been spent replacing carpeting, wood floors, urine-stained curtains, rugs, and furniture.
Any thoughts? How can she be prepared for what we all know is coming?
- Too Attached in Tennessee
DEAR TOO ATTACHED: If you think there is anything the family can do to prepare your sister, forget it. She will go through a period of grieving for the animal companion she has grown to love. To her, Doodles is a full-fledged family member.
When the inevitable happens, be patient, be understanding, be prepared to listen when she pours out her grief, and, if necessary, go online to help her find a grief support group for people who are mourning the loss of a pet.