Dear Annie: I’ve been with my girlfriend for seven years and lived with her for four. She wants to get married and have kids. For the past three years, I’ve promised to propose every six months, but when the time comes, I back out. I even went ring shopping but couldn’t pull the trigger.
Although I want to get married and have kids one day, just the discussions of such a commitment give me serious anxiety to the point where I cannot breathe. I want us to travel the world before tying the knot, but she’s too attached to her job. My family says I am too young to get married at 27 and that if I need counseling now, before even proposing, things will only get worse when we have a mortgage and kids. My therapist says contemplating marriage should be exciting and happy, but all I feel is trapped. I love her, and living with her is fun, but marrying her feels like doom. She says I am stringing her along without a timeline as she is pushing 30, but I’m honest that I cannot guarantee if and when I’ll be ready. Do I propose with a five-year engagement?