He’s stalling the marriage

It's "Why won't he marry me?" week.

We can discuss during chat at 1.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for about five years and living together for most of that time. We talk about getting married and he has made it clear that he wants to. But not before he has finished his master's degree and secured a more lucrative job. (We are in our late 20s.)

These are both valid reasons, and I understand them. I love him and I'm willing to wait. I've made it clear that marriage and a family is my priority. I've finished my masters and love my job, and I'm willing to wait for him.

And if that were all that was going on I wouldn't be writing in. He hasn't really made any progress in attaining these goals. He talks about it, looks into things, but doesn't follow through. We've talked about this, but I don't really think that he understands how important this is to me. He seems to get defensive and almost annoyed that I'm trying to talk to him about it at all. I can wait if there are goals with real time lines attached to them.

I guess what bothers me the most is that I really just want to be totally OK with waiting. I want a marriage and not a wedding, but I'm genuinely sad about this and I don't know how to make myself be more settled with the wait. Lately, it feels as though I'm ready to get on with everything and he just isn't there yet. We love each other and otherwise have a happy, healthy relationship. How do I make it clear to him how important this is to me, and make myself OK with waiting?

– Sad and confused, Boston

SAC, there are two things happening here. 1) You want to get married. 2) Your boyfriend is stuck in a tiny rut. One has something to do with the other, but not everything. If you're asking him to speed up the degree and job so that you can get married, well, I'm not sure that's a huge incentive, especially if he wants to stall his adulthood. If you're asking him to speed up his degree and job for his own sanity, well, that's a different thing. That's just being a good friend.

I'll give you some of the same advice I gave to the letter writer yesterday -- the part about making a list of fun goals. But in your case, I'd also advise that you separate the marriage talk from the degree talk as much as possible. My fear is that everything has become too … tethered. His degree has ceased to be about him getting a degree. It's about getting to the wedding.

My last piece of advice is to start living like you're a married couple. Don't treat your relationship like you've pressed the pause button. Plan big vacations. Buy some plants. Talk about where you would get married/have kids when it happens. If he's unwilling to discuss the future and to do some of the things on the list now (assuming that a few of the items are financially feasible), you've got yourself a bigger issue on your hands. Because waiting on a wedding isn't the same thing as waiting to live a life with someone. There doesn't have to be a party right this second, but your relationship shouldn't feel like one big warm-up.

Readers? Is the wedding too connected to the degree? Should she be confident that he does, in fact, want to marry her? Why is he stalling the degree and job? Should they wait to get married? How can she put herself at ease? Discuss.

– Meredith