Poppin' the question...

QUESTION: My boyfriend and I have been dating for over four years. We talk about getting married every now and then and I think he wants to do it. I'm sure we're headed that way because he always has something to contribute when we talk of weddings and children and growing old. He doesn't try to avoid the subject and he doesn't run away when it comes up. My only thing with the subject is this, when is he going to ask me to marry him? I've gotten a little tired of waiting, so I went to the jewelry store and bought him a wedding band. I'm thinking about asking him to marry me. One of my sorority sisters proposed to her husband and they were divorced two years after they were married and I'm worried about what this could all mean. What do I need to know before I pop the question on him?

GARLAND: I guess that all you really need to know is - Is he ready to commit to being married? I know that sounds stupid, but that is really the big question here.

Men are different creatures from women [obviously] when it comes to commitment and relationships. Women are far more emotion driven and when something feels right they tend to stick with it. With a lot of men, even if something feels right they still want to look around and make sure their not missing something better. Once they are convinced that their best chance for long term happiness rests in a certain woman, then they are ready to ask her to marry him and formalize their commitment.

I think that is why traditionally, men are the poppers of the question. Your boyfriend may not be 100% ready to make that big leap. And, if YOU pop the question on him he may feel a lot of pressure to say, yes. He may be afraid of hurting your feelings and he may be scared of driving you away by saying, "No. I'm not ready to get married." Then nothing is worse than getting married to a man that was not 100% ready to be a faithful husband.

I think you might want to hold off on popping the question. At least maybe the "Will you marry me?" part. I'd try to feel him out and see if he feels ready to get married, before you slide a gold band on his finger. You need to know where his head is at, before you accidentally ruin your life.

Thanks for the question. Good luck and drop us a line to tell us how things work out.

CHUCK: My advice to you, and I'll say this to all women: STOP GIVING MEN ALL THE POWER IN RELATIONSHIPS. If you want to get married, and he won't get off the dime, you might want to consider asking him yourself. I don't know too many men who, if they didn't want to get married, would just say yes for the heck of it. Peer pressure does not extend that far.

But before we go further, I'd like you to really closely examine your relationship. You say that he always "has something to contribute" whe you two talk about marriage. That says so much and so little at the same time. I can contibute to a conversation about, say skydiving. But do I want to jump out of an airplane? Not so much. Just because he doesn't run from the room screaming when you talk about marriage, doesn't necessarily mean he wants to do it. If you've been together for four years, some more substantive discussions should maybe have taken place.

But back to my initial point. This is the 21st Century. Both men and women need to act like it, and throw off the traditions of centuries past. Without knowing your sorority sister and her husband, I can say with all certainty that the fact that she proposed to him probably had nothing to do with why her marriage didn't work out.

If marriage to your boyfriend is what you really want, all I'm saying is, consider asking him yourself. Why wait? Maybe your proposing could be the sign or the push he's been waiting for. And if he doesn't to be married, at least you'll know. Then you can decide if you still want to be with him. Either way, good luck.

Working day and night...

QUESTION: My husband and I had our first child six months ago. In the months afterward I noticed that my husband has started working more overtime and even on weekends sometimes. First let me start by saying, I don't think he's messing around, I know thats the first thing that comes to mind. I see the bank deposits, I know he's on the clock when he says he is and that is what is bothering me. He is working so much now that I hardly see him and I know that this started after our son was born. Is he trying to duck the dirty diapers or is he trying to be a super dad? What is he thinking?

GARLAND: Thanks for the question! Maybe he's trying to do both - but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's mostly trying to be a super-dad.

A few years ago, I heard about a survey that some school conducted and it showed that when men became the fathers of boys they tended to work 20% more than normal as opposed to about a 10% increase in the fathers of girls. Now, please don't quote me on those exact numbers, it's been a few years but I think I'm pretty accurate in my recollection.

(DATA UPDATE: This study was conducted by The University of Washington in 1999/2000 using data collected from 1200 men from 1968 to 1993. The Study showed an increase in annual work hours for the fathers of sons at an average of 84 hours and fathers of daughters at an average of 31 hours. So, my 20% and 10% were kinda' off - but like I said, it's been a few years!)

The main premise of this increase was based on the assumption that men did this subconsciously to instill a strong work ethic in their male children. They were trying to lead by example. Boys that see daddy working hard tend to grow up to be men themselves that work hard.

I think this is what your husband is doing. Sure, your son is only six months old and doesn't notice dad's good intentions, but that doesn't matter to your husband. He has just kicked into overdrive. He is also probably coming to grips with his growing responsibility as not just a husband, but now as a father too. Whether you know it or not - I'm willing to bet that he has increased his life insurance and had a physical since your son has been born! I think he's just doing what he thinks is best for his family.

I think you should either give him a little space to go at this pace for a few more months with the hope that he slows himself down [which I doubt he will] or maybe you should just pull him aside and tell him that its okay if he doesn't kill himself in the office. Tell him you and your son appreciate what he's doing, but you both want him home more. There is nothing better for a man to hear than his wife's voice telling him how much he is appreciated. Good luck and congratulations on the little one!

CHUCK: While I might question that survey Garland cites ("Let me work harder. After all, I've got a son."), I do agree with him that your husband is probably working more to make a better life for the three of you.

Being a parent can take a lot of money. I'm not telling you anything new by saying that. But your husband may not be focusing just on the immediate expenses (diapers, bottles, Elmo toys). He may be thinking of the REAL costs that lie ahead. I'm talking about stuff like regular wardrobe replacement as he grows, costs for recreation activities, college. Things only get more costly as a child grows, and he may be trying to get a leg up on these expenses. And most men are under the cultural pressure to be the provider for their families. Your husband obviously takes this seriously. You've got a problem a lot of women probably wished they had.

But if you feel he's doing too much, let him know. Tell him you appreciate him working for you and the baby, but all things should be done in moderation. By working so much, he is missing time he'll wish he had back later, both with your son and you. He may not even realize what he's doing. But I think he'll understand where you're coming from.