She wants a col­lege grad

Los Angeles Times - - At the Movies - Send ques­tions to Amy Dick­in­son by e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

Dear Amy:

My brother-in­law asked his long­time girl­friend to marry him. Since he has yet to com­plete his un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree, she told him she will give him an an­swer when he grad­u­ates. She gave him a dead­line to fin­ish or she would break up with him.

My brother-in-law is heart­bro­ken be­cause he thinks she doesn’t trust him.

Her con­cerns are le­git­i­mate be­cause he needs to get se­ri­ous about his fu­ture and she has al­ready com­pleted her bach­e­lor’s. Nei­ther of them has a job. They are in their mid-20s.

But who’s in the right? Should she have given him the ul­ti­ma­tum? Or should she just trust him and say yes?

I’ve been mar­ried a long time, and I know that mar­riage is hard work, so to start off with ul­ti­ma­tums and con­di­tions sounds like a dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen.

Concerned in Chicago

Dear Concerned:

This girl­friend isn’t say­ing, “Once you grad­u­ate, we’ll start to plan our mar­riage.” She’s say­ing, “Once you grad­u­ate, we’ll dis­cuss mar­riage.”

The con­cept of grad­u­at­ing be­fore mar­riage sounds re­spon­si­ble, though it’s ob­vi­ous from your ac­count that she de­liv­ered this news poorly — or your brother-in­law in­ter­preted it that way.

I am with you. I don’t like ul­ti­ma­tums. I like con­ver­sa­tions, ne­go­ti­a­tion, com­pro­mise and un­der­stand­ing. But she re­vealed ex­actly where she stands.

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