Both of us know that the only way to be together is to get married, and I’m actually kinda ready for it (plus, his mother likes me!). He isn’t there yet, and he’s told me that. He thinks he will be some day but isn’t sure about now, and says maybe the December trip will help but has no idea whether he can come or not. I couldn’t possibly think of anything other than waiting around for him because we’re just so perfect, but I want this to work and really want to get married. I don’t necessarily need it to be now, I just need his commitment, but he’s not there yet. What should we do? — Overseas Love Drunk
Wha??? I’m not sure why marriage is the only way for you to be together (maybe for visa reasons?), but if that’s truly the case, then it doesn’t seem like there’s much potential here. Obviously, you two need a lot more time in each other’s company before either of you is ready for a commitment like marriage. You need to figure out where you’re going to live for one thing (are you in Asia indefinitely? Does he plan to move there when he’s done with his degree?). And what does “finishing” his PhD even mean? If you were both in college just nine months ago, I’m confused as to how he’s be “finishing” a PhD program already. They usually take years to get through. Is your plan to “wait around” that long? What if he can never afford to come visit you during that time?
Maybe there are details you’ve left out of your letter that would completely change the picture, but based on what you shared, this seems like the sort of relationship that might exist well in fantasy but would be very hard to execute in reality. And that the only argument you made for your marriage case is that his mother likes you is also of some concern.
What about what you both want for your future? Do you share common goals? Have you discussed children? If so, do you share a desired timeline for when you might want them? Have you discussed any of the big issues a couple needs to discuss before getting engaged? Or, are you just focused on being together any way you can and for some reason marriage seems like the most logical means to that goal?
I say focus on small things first — like your next visit. If he can come see you in December, great. Use that time to discuss some of these larger issues, but also focus on reconnecting and seeing whether the connection you share is still as strong as it was when you lived in the same place. After his visit is over, think about when you might be able to visit him.
If neither of you can even commit to visiting the other, you need to seriously consider whether marriage is anywhere near the cards for you. If you can’t make a few sacrifices to see one another on a fairly regular basis (maybe every 4 months or so?), how can you expect to make the sacrifices necessary to marry one another and merge your lives? Marriage does not solve problems. It only exacerbates the ones that already existed. So make sure you have a handle on them before you even think about walking down the aisle.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.