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Posted on Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Man rethinks marriage plans after girlfriend's refusal to discuss incident

By Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn:

I have been with my girlfriend for two and a half years. We moved in together 11 months ago with the understanding that if we still felt the same way after a year, we would plan marriage.

I am a home brewer of beer. Besides enjoying the stuff I make, my dad (who died three years ago) and I did it together, and it brings back very happy memories. My girlfriend has complained a lot every time I make a batch (every two months): She says the kitchen is always dirty afterward no matter how hard I try to clean up, and the smell of the hops bothers her and lingers in the air for days.

Last Saturday, an officemate was supposed to come over to make a batch with me. My girlfriend was visiting with her mother for the day; I make beer when she is out of the house because of the smell. Shortly after my girlfriend left, my officemate called to postpone. Instead, I decided to clean the kitchen thoroughly, behind appliances, baseboards, etc. Afterward, I took a nap.

When girlfriend woke me, and before I could tell her what I did that day, she said the smell was worse than ever, and although the kitchen was clean, it was still worse than when she left.

After I told her I didn't make beer, she loudly told me that I set her up and then told me to "forget about it."

Since last week, she refuses to discuss the incident. I told her that her behavior -- making believe that beer was a problem for her and not being willing to discuss it -- is causing me to have doubts about marriage. My girlfriend says I am looking for an excuse not to make the commitment. I mentioned counseling and she ignores me.

I do very much love her. I know she can be somewhat controlling. My heart is telling me one thing, and my gut is telling me the opposite. I don't have anyone neutral to talk to. My brother is my best friend, and he is not an admirer of my girlfriend. My mother really likes her and thinks she is her best shot at being a grandmother.

The thought of her not being in my life depresses me, but this has given me huge doubts about a healthy marriage. Am I making too much of it?

-- Conflicted

She lied to you to try to make you feel bad about -- and quit doing -- something she knows is enjoyable and meaningful for you, and when she got caught in her lie, she blamed you.

What part of that string of nasty italics says, "Ignore me"?

You say you need a neutral person to talk to, and I might not be it; I believe controlling people make exhausting mates -- and that's the best case. I don't think there are exceptions (except those who admit it and work terrifically hard to mend their ways).

There are lots of reasons for that, but here's the one that I hold paramount: Over the course of a lifetime, everyone is going to be wrong -- regularly about little stuff, like what time a movie starts or which route is faster, and occasionally on the big stuff, like which person to marry, which career to pursue or which investment to make.

On the little stuff, imagine a future where every wrong turn and missed movie is either your fault or must be tiptoed around.

On the big stuff, imagine having little say in the shape your lives take as a couple, and then being blamed when you prove to be ill-suited to this life that was chosen for you.

Imagine having kids someday ... and she picks up on your brother's distaste for her. What are the chances he'll get to bounce his nieces and nephews on his knee?

Imagine a life where you push your preferences aside in favor of hers -- it's just easier, right, to avoid a fight? -- and it's still not enough. Not enough for her to be happy, because complete control over another person is impossible, so there will always be something about you that she wishes would change, and not enough for you to be happy, because you'll miss all the things you gave up to please her -- and be left to wonder whether the payoff ever comes.

Perhaps I am now the one making too much of this. But:

Until your girlfriend is able to (1) tell the truth, and (2) admit fault, and (3) renounce trying to change you, these remain your only options for resolving the beer incident: You either ignore it and get no redress for her lies and manipulation, or you become the guy who found excuses not to commit.

You love her, you say. But if she loved you, then wouldn't she offer you avenues that don't make you the jerk?

Email Carolyn at tellme(at), follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group



Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

This is a very homebrew biased opinion. I would invest in a pico-System before and engagement ring - If that doesn't appease her issues with homebrewing - 'nuff said. Join the local homebrew club - and you will have all the friends you need - right?! BrewGyver