Meet down-to-earth advice columnist, Chris Stelmack. She takes her readers on a special ride inside the tumultuous lives of single professionals; whose imperfect love lives can use a little boost from an experienced and savvy matchmaking pro. Her no-nonsense advice on life and relationships is appreciated by her readers and clients alike. Chris is the founder of the 4M Club, a millionaire matchmaking agency serving clients nationwide. Visit www.4Mclub.com.
I've been dating a wonderful guy for about 1.5 years now.
We met on a dating website and hit it off immediately. Both of us are divorced with kids, and our families have grown to love each other dearly! My kids are in college, and his two kids are in high school (one is going to college this fall.)
He knows I want to get married, but he is still dealing with issues. How long should I wait?
I certainly don't want to give him an ultimatum, but I also want to get on with my life. I'm going to be 50 soon (he's 48); I don't want to waste my time if he's not interested in marrying me. And if he is thinking of waiting for both kids to be in college, I'm not sure I want to wait four years.
We are together all weekend, but when school starts on Monday, he is back to being a full-time dad and only has time to talk to me by phone.
I really do love him. He is the total opposite of my ex-husband. He is a real gem, but I don't know what I should do or say.
--- Frustrated in Ft. Lauderdale
A. Dear Bachelorette:
I hate to say this (and experienced it once myself); BUT, his kids come first and foremost--get used to it, or get out.
Since I don't see you "getting out," then deal with the fact he's a father first, and your lover/friend second. Personally, I think it shouldn't be a contest (ever!), but as someone who doesn't have children, it's easier for me to take this stance.
I think the real issue here is lack of communication. You've been with this man for almost two years, so you're way overdue for THE TALK.
Make him a lovely, romantic dinner and afterward take a stroll outside. Hand-in-hand, you can easily (and gently) tell him how you feel, and if he loves you as much as you love him, then he should take what you say very seriously. You have the right to know if this man plans on marrying you, and if so WHEN.
It sounds like you're his weekend lover. He shuts you out during the week (except for phone calls), when he turns into playing the role of Mr. Mom. While I commend his fatherly duties, it seems a little out-of-whack to me. Personally, if this man is crazy about you, he should sneak an evening or two during the work week. Even a quick bite to eat mid-week (with kids in tow or not) would be nice.
It sounds like a long-term relationship of convenience for him. Now go find out how much love there is in his tank (enough to marry you when you turn 50?) That actually would be pretty cool to celebrate both lasting love and your birthday!
While you don't want to give him an ultimatum, please be very clear about your needs. If he's not going to start planning marriage with you (and yes, 4-years is too long to wait, if it's going to make you miserable), then perhaps this isn't the right relationship for you.
You're not playing games here--this is serious business. And kids or not, YOU should be at the top of his list too!
I hope he steps up to the commitment plate. Let me know.
Stelmack, Dating Advice Pro
I was married very young at age 17. We were high school sweethearts, and he was 19. We had a baby just short of our second anniversary. Then another, and another. We were really very, very happy and made an amazing team. We rarely fought and accomplished a lot in our life together.
After about fifteen years of marriage, it really felt more like brother and sister; plus, I was now in my 30's and starting to see a little more of life. We ended up separating after 21 years of marriage. I finally met someone and he wanted me to get a divorce. I did and re-married. This man had lots of red flags. But in my defense, I had only dated my first husband and really didn't know a lot about men.
These red flags include: he cheated on his first wife twice, he went to massage parlors, he objectified every woman he saw & could not keep his eyes to himself, and he could have a temper that would include name calling. And yes, I married him. I fell for him and in love with him. Those red flags were not the only thing about him.
After several years with him I had enough, and we divorced. Through all this my first husband and I never were far from one another. We have always kept our homes close by and talk most everyday. He was the one I would always turn to, and I for him. Like I said, we are family.
My second husband is still very much wanting us to be together. I've tried, but I just don't trust or respect him enough to make the commitment again. And the man I truly admire is my first husband, but there is just no real romance between us. But both of us know each other, I mean really know one another.
We have known each other since we were 13 & 15. We are now 49 & 51. We have our children, our grandchildren, and we know the in's and out's of our family and navigate it all really well.
I know this might seem like a real no brainer. But what I have is great romance with one, and great friendship with the other. I find it incredibly difficult making such an important, life changing decision.
What would your advice be?
--- Torn between two lovers in Phoenix
A: Dear Bachelorette:
You have so much wonderful going on with your FIRST husband, it would be a shame not to enjoy your remaining years with him. You obviously still love and respect each other.
You can build romance again--YOU CAN. You had great romance with him before, and somewhere along the way it went POOF (probably when the kids came, as often happens.)
He was your sweetheart once, and he can be your sweetheart again. I actually recommend an audio series called, LIGHT HIS FIRE, LIGHT HER FIRE, by Dr. Ellen (marriage expert.) Go online and take a peek (there is also a free demo.) The website address is: http://www.lightyourfire.com/video2.htm.
It's a "course" you both can take and trust me, those embers will burn brightly and bigger than ever before! In fact, you don't have to be married to learn lots from her series; it's for singles in a relationship, too!
FORGET about your 2nd husband already--he sounds like a loser x's ten. He is what's known as a BAD BOY, which all to often women fall for, and then one day wake up saying, "what was I thinking when I married him?" This man must have been really hot-to-trot in bed or in looks, but as you now realize, that can only carry a relationship so far.
Trust, kindness, respect, fun, love, romance and dignity, though, can last forever! Yes, it has to be nurtured daily and never to be taken for granted.
Your first husband sounds like a gem. Please stay with him for good this time :)
Stelmack, Dating Advice Pro
I'm age 27 and recently met a man online. He does not live in my state. We have been talking and texting for about two weeks. Almost immediately, the issue came up about the sending and receiving of nude pictures. I was very clear in my desire to not be sent anything nude below the belt.
Our conversations have, a few times, included some "PG-13" sexual topics. Today, I open my email to find a nude picture of his goods - cropped, up close and personal! I'm shocked and offended.
Why would he do that, after my explicit request not to?
Should I ever talk to him again?
--- "Oh no, you didn't!" in Denver
A: Dear Bachelorette:
First, send me all nude photos men email you, so I can screen them personally (KIDDING!)
Bad joking aside, this is a serious offense and not to be taken lightly by the man who did this to you. I don't blame you for being shocked and offended, you should be! You made it very clear to him you wanted no nude ANYTHING below the belt.
For future consideration, how about insisting no nude or shirtless pictures period? Unfortunately, you sent mixed signals to this guy (having "PG-13" sex chats with him.) In his mind, you opened the door for more, and he ignored your "no nude photos below the belt" request. It was boorish and wrong of him to send it, regardless.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a fairly rampant problem with online courting. (Can we bring back romance again, please? You know, when men bought you a rose and handed it to you on your first date--rather than his body parts beforehand?)
It's very offensive if or when a man does this, and NOT sexy at all (let's leave it for the bedroom, okay guys?)
You ask if you should ever talk to him again? If all you want is more sex chat and nude photos, then yes. If you want to be treated like the lady you are, then shut the PG-13 theater down for good.
Stelmack, Dating Advice Pro