If sex with my older boyfriend, Patrick, was like the elephant in the living room, then the subject of marriage was the dinosaur standing next to it. Unlike many May-December relationships where both people are comfortable just being together—or one, if not both, of them are already married—Patrick was dying to marry me.
At first, it was flattering and, although I acted pleased, I tried to make light of it, change the subject, or just tell him that it was far too early in our relationship to consider marriage. That would work for a while, but inevitably, Patrick would bring it up again.
At this point in our relationship, I was sure that our time together would be short. I was sure that I would move on and be with someone more age-appropriate, someone that I would want to have children with someday.
I was renting an apartment in Chicago. It was a beautiful building and I had panoramic views of Lake Michigan, Grant Park, and Michigan Avenue. The building had great amenities, including a pool, sports club, bar and restaurant, and even an on-site masseuse. It was also a great place to meet people. Patrick didn’t like that.
One evening after work, we met for drinks and he asked me if I’d like to take a drive with him along the lakeshore and then have dinner at this great seafood restaurant. I thought it sounded like a terrific idea, so we got in his Mercedes and headed north toward the water. We stopped in Lake Forest, a beautiful suburb with a downtown area that looked like a little village. I had been there a few times with my girlfriends and always dreamed of maybe living there someday to raise a family.
Patrick drove into a residential area and I was perplexed because I knew that this was nowhere near the restaurant. He pulled over to the curb and asked me what I thought of the neighborhood. I was already preparing my speech on why I wouldn’t live with him, if that was what he was thinking. It turns out that he had something a little different in mind…