dear prudence: Advice on manners and morals.
Is my girlfriend's cat wrecking my marriage hopes, or does she just refuse to move on?
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2006, at 6:23 AM ET
I can't believe I'm actually in this ridiculous situation. I am in my late 30s, dating a wonderful woman the same age. We've known each other for seven years, been best friends for five, and have dated for two of those. Why the wait? My girlfriend is a widow. She married her high-school sweetheart when she was 21 and he died in an accident less than a year later. Understandably, she has been hesitant to move forward with any commitment to another guy. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to marry this awesome woman, but I have been sensitive to her need to move slowly. I have tried to show her that I respect her love for her deceased husband and her slight sense of guilt in "moving on." When I finally thought the time was right, I asked her to marry me. She said that she wasn't quite ready and she wanted to hold off on marriage plans until her cat died. (Strange as it sounds, I felt it was a reasonable request since she and her husband got this cat together when they were married.) This cat, Pumpkin, was 16 when we made the agreement and seemed to be on his last legs. Prudie, that was almost three years ago. I hate to pressure my girlfriend to break our agreement, but this cat is a freak of nature that is ruining my chance at happiness! What to do?
Believe me, Pumpkin, who is now the equivalent of 80 in human years, has long since moved on. Your girlfriend did suffer a terrible loss when she was young, but that was heading toward two decades ago. Either she is truly stuck and needs some counseling, or she doesn't really want to marry you but enjoys your company and stringing you along. I have the feeling that once Pumpkin turns into a pumpkin, your girlfriend may enter an extended period of mourning over him that leaves her unable to contemplate marriage. While Pumpkin might have nine lives, you have only one, and you have to get going with it. Tell her you need her to set the date now, or you'll have to look for someone with less emotionally complicated pets.