*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Choosing the right partner for a long-term relationship often means dating for a while, finding out what their goals are, and figuring out if they match yours or if you need to keep looking until you're sure you can commit.
But what happens when you base your decision on whether to marry someone or not on your parents' opinions? Does that make sense because they have more experience, or is it an indication you're not really in love if you can allow someone else to decide that for you?
My friend Sam, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been dating her boyfriend Angelo for ten months. They met at a party she organized for his sister and have been together ever since.
"It didn't take much to start talking, and once we did, we realized we laughed a lot and had a good time. It was so easy to share things with Angelo, and he didn't criticize me. He was just so supportive and listened carefully. I liked that about him," Sam said.
They spent most of the evening at the party together, and they exchanged phone numbers when it was time to go home. Sam wasn't sure if he'd text her soon, but Angelo sent her a message the very next day.
"He said he'd missed me even though it had only been a few hours. I was excited. And I wanted to know so much more about him, too," Sam said.
They kept texting and calling for the next few days, and after one week, Angelo asked Sam on a date.
They couldn't afford to go out for dinner at the time, but they had a snack at a coffee shop and a walk in the park.
"I actually liked it more that way. I didn't want any pressure to dress up since I wasn't sure how much he liked me anyway. Meeting like this worked better for me, and I wasn't stressed at all," Sam said.
They had a good time and decided to do it again two days later. This time they did go for dinner at an Italian restaurant in Phoenix and tried Sam's favorite dishes. They also went to watch a movie later and talked more about what they wanted from a relationship and what their priorities were.
"He cared a lot about having a family and committing to someone permanently. I liked that since, in my previous relationship, marriage wasn't even an option," Sam said.
They kept seeing each other several times a week, and Angelo also brought her lunch sometimes in the office if Sam was too busy to meet him.
They spent almost all weekends together and planned some day trips out of Phoenix when they could afford it.
"He supported me in anything I wanted to do and encouraged me if work made me exhausted. I needed someone like him in my life, and I just felt I could count on him anytime," Sam said.
Six months after they began dating, Angelo asked Sam to move in together in his home in Phoenix. Sam agreed and ended her lease, packed her things, and got ready to see what it would be like being with her boyfriend all the time.
"I missed him so much anyway, so there was no need to keep renting my apartment if we only wanted to be in one place. And it was time to see if we could get used to each other and having the same space, too," Sam said.
The first two weeks were fine with Sam and Angelo sharing chores and getting takeouts since they were both doing overtime for their jobs. After those days, Angelo stopped doing extra hours and was home a lot more than Sam. And he began noticing everything he thought she should be doing and wasn't.
Angelo expected his girlfriend to cook dinner almost every evening and clean the whole house at least once every weekend.
"It's why I am in a relationship. Housework isn't my thing. And it's her chance to show me she can be a great housewife and that we'd be happy if we got married. She'll be home with the kids anyway. It will be very useful to know how to cook well and to keep our place tidy," Angelo said.
Unfortunately, Sam didn't feel the same way. She would rather work more and have a higher income so they can afford to go on trips or get more expensive furniture and carpets. And if that doesn't leave her time for cooking, she's ok with ordering food or asking her mom to help when she can.
For cleaning, Sam wants to hire someone to come two times a week. To Angelo, her ideas just show she doesn't want to have a family.
"We can hire anyone to do anything, but then is it her home at all? And what would our kids think with their mom away all the time, focused on some projects they know nothing about? That's not how I want my relationship to be like if we get married," Angelo said.
He explained what his expectations were, and Sam told him he needed to compromise and like her the way she was. They both want a big family, but cleaning and cooking are just not what Sam cares about.
They've argued a few times about it, and things got more complicated after Angelo asked for his mom's opinion about his relationship. Adriana, Angelo's mom, is also doubtful about Sam's choices, and she doesn't think she's the right girlfriend for him. Angelo was thinking about proposing to Sam, but he's reconsidering if he should get a ring or not after what his mom told him.
"She doesn't clean and cook; mom says I can't marry her. I don't want her to decide for me, but I care what she thinks. She knows much more about these things. And she was a housewife for so many years. I want my kids to have their mom close. I don't know if things can work out with Sam thinking so much about her job. I love Sam, but I'm confused about the household issues and how to be together since she won't give up on her job in Phoenix," Angelo said.
In the meantime, Sam is wondering what's taking him so long to propose and has told her friends she's expecting it any day now.
What do you think about this situation? Is it ok for Angelo to discuss whether he should marry his girlfriend with his mom instead of telling Sam? Should Angelo lower his expectations if he really loves Sam and wants their relationship to last?