DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I are about to mark our four-year anniversary. I'm really in love with this guy. We have had many ups and downs, but we stand together.
One thing that is troubling me is him not wanting any more kids. He has three kids from another relationship. By now, we have grown together as a family to where I feel comfortable taking care of his kids with him. But when I ask about us getting married and having our own child, he says he wants to keep working on us first, then go from there. What do you think that means? Sometimes I get mixed feelings about it and don't know what to do. We have a great relationship, and he never specifies what needs working on. Do you have any tips or recommendations for how to expand this conversation? -- I Want Kids
DEAR I WANT KIDS: Step back for a minute and evaluate what you want. If you are ready to get married and be fully committed to this man, say so. Be clear about what is not enough. Being his girlfriend and becoming family with him without a clear commitment doesn't sound like what you want. Say that.
Ask your boyfriend what he wants. Ask him what he wants to work on with you. Ask him what he is afraid of. He could be reluctant to commit since his previous relationship did not work. Get to the bottom of it and let him know what you are willing to do. Do not settle for less than what you want and deserve.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I talked to a friend the other day, and he asked me how my health is. I told him months ago that I had had a health scare, but he never followed up. I am dealing with it and really don't want to talk to him about it, so I brushed off the question. Do you think I owe it to him to give him a detailed update on my health? -- Not Your Business
DEAR NOT YOUR BUSINESS: You have every right to keep your health status private. You can share your health journey with whomever you like. You can also decide that you no longer want to tell certain people what's going on with you. That is your prerogative.
But don't fault this friend for asking, even if the ask was delayed. At least he did follow up. These days, when the stressors are incredibly high for everyone, time slips by faster than we know it. People are often so absorbed in their own challenges that they forget to check in on their loved ones. Don't harbor negative feelings about him because he was not responsive in the ways you would have liked. Instead, determine who has the bandwidth to be there for you in your times of need. Share your sensitivities and health updates with those people, and feel comfortable keeping others at bay.