I’m the one who plans and pays

Have an excellent holiday tomorrow. We'll do a an update or two on Friday. If you're a former letter writer who has an update, email it to Meredith.Goldstein@Globe.com with "update" in the subject line.

I met a wonderful, hardworking, smart, great man about three months ago. Things are going well, and we have said those three words to each other and see each other as often as possible. He works very long hours and has children who are in college out of town. I have teens who still live with me.

Here is my issue: He says he loves me, but 90 percent of everything we do I have to initiate, plan, pay for, and organize. Sometimes he offers to help, but I am very independent and always say no. Mostly because I am hoping he will stop offering and just actually initiate something on his own. He makes significantly more money than I do but that is not the issue at all. I struggle working full time raising two kids with an angry ex. However, I am happy where I am and I am not looking for anybody to come along and rescue me. I take pride in rescuing myself.

We get along perfectly and spending time with him is easy, fun, and exactly how I want it to be. We both talk about this being it and spending many, many years together, and that is what I want, but I think I need to pull back a little and see if he is willing to step up and actually make an effort. But I worry he will think I am playing a game.

In reality, I feel I am making too much effort and he is making almost no effort. Also, when we did actually say the three words to each other, he would not say them until I said them first. For real – he made me say them and then he said he felt that way. He's not really putting anything out there or on the line for me. What is your advice?

– Effort


"Sometimes he offers to help, but I am very independent and I always say no."

Well, this isn't making things any better. If you go out of your way to tell this man that you don't want his assistance, you can't expect him to assume you want the opposite.

The best way to avoid games is to stop yourself from playing them. That means not pulling back just to see how he'll respond. That idea will only lead to more resentment and confusion. Instead of asking him to read your mind, tell him exactly how you feel and how he can contribute. Let him know you struggle with asking for help because you're proud of your independence. Explain that you'd like to be more equal in the relationship and to feel as though you're working as a team. Please be as specific as possible about what you'd like him to do. No one should leave the conversation guessing.

As for the stuff about the three words and how they were said ...  all I can tell you is that declarations of love mean something different at three months than they do at six and nine. Pay attention to the feelings behind the words and whether there are other ways he tells and shows you that he cares.

– Meredith

Readers? How does one avoid games here?