The Standard (St. Catharines)

Be wary of partner’s sudden marriage proposal

- Ellie is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationsh­ip questions via email:

Q: I’ve been living with my partner in his home for 10 years through my 40s. I stuck with him through tough times and through his cheating.

I’m now in my 50s (he’s 10 years older). Then one day he suddenly texts me from work to ask me to marry him.

I’m hesitant. I believe that all he wants is income-sharing when we both retire. Part of me wants to marry him, but another part doesn’t want to because it makes me feel being used.

He looks at me as his cook and cleaning lady. How should I deal with this?

Questionab­le Proposal

A: It’s interestin­g how much you’ve not said here about this proposal — no word of “love,” no mention of trust and respect. It seems the only choice is whether to cook and clean for him while remaining in a common-law relationsh­ip, or to do so as his wife.

Ten years together deserves at least a full discussion of what you can expect from marriage.

As a wife, you’d be entitled to half the value of his home if he left you … unless you’d already signed off on that (speak to a lawyer). But then there’s your belief he’s after income-sharing of pensions ... again, something that may not be what you want.

Besides insisting on more informatio­n from him about how he thinks this will work and/or change things, and also getting legal advice, you need to have a separate chat with yourself.

Being in your 50s means you could have another 40 years ahead. Do you want them with this man? As things are now?

If you have trouble answering yourself, consider having a private online session or two with a counsellor to help you decide whether to accept the proposal or not.

Q: I was married for 13 years and we divorced when my only child, a son, was age 11. He loved his father and they maintained a good relationsh­ip.

I met my now-husband of 14 years a couple of years later. We moved to the countrysid­e (not too far from my previous location).

My spouse and my son get along well and before COVID-19 we got together periodical­ly and for special occasions, including my son’s girlfriend.

My ex also remarried and there was little reason to ever see each other.

Over the past couple of years, I heard from my son that his father wasn’t well and I do regret somewhat that I didn’t contact him. But I periodical­ly asked my son about his dad’s condition.

When he passed, my son was devastated. He’d visited his father in hospital regularly but hadn’t anticipate­d the depth of loss he now feels.

I sometimes feel his grief is not only current but part of his dealing way back with the divorce. I also worry that he resents me for not staying in contact with his father, especially as his illness worsened.

I don’t know what I should do in this situation to help my son.

Concerned Mom

A: This is about your adult son’s grief, not what you did or didn’t do. He’s long been comfortabl­e with his relationsh­ip with you and your partner. It’s unlikely he expected you to contact his father.

His focus was on his father’s health, not on your past relationsh­ip.

Stay close and supportive of him, understand and acknowledg­e his grief. Don’t make it an issue between you.

Ellie’s tip of the day

If a marriage proposal makes you doubt its underlying intent, that’s not a good sign. Think through your answer very thoroughly.

Ellie Tesher

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