Dear Miss Emily:

I  have been living with my boyfriend for 3 years and we have been together for 4. We have a 17 month old son. Before our son was born, he bought a house and it is only in his name because my credit was not so good. To make a long story short he has said some terrible things to me, but he is trying and things are a little better. I am going to school and am collecting so money is tight. He pays the mortgage, and I pay everything else. Our finances are separate and his attitude is its "his house" and I don't really have a say on what happens to it. We are not engaged and he uses debt as an excuse for not buying me a ring. Shouldn't a relationship be us against the world?  How can a relationship work if we are not a team?

--------------------------Miss Emily's advice------------------------

Most relationships won't survive if it's not a team. Sure, some do, but that's not what you want and his definition of independence falls short of a committed relationship. Yes, it should be you and him against the world and not him against you.  "It's my home" is a demeaning statement to make.  And the reason he does this, I think, is a power play over you. It's an unfortunate way to put you in your place when he feels it will work to end any real discussion over matters of import.  His blatant selfishness is offensive. If he is stalling a marriage commitment, it seems to me he doesn't have any plan to go there, now or, maybe ever. Unless this guy radically changes, he's not marriage material, and it's better for you to find this out now than "hope" he comes around. My advice? Don't fall into his trap. Exhibit you own independence and let it be known that you are not waiting with baited-breath for him to bestow his generosity upon you with a ring and a marriage proposal. If, by chance (and I'm not saying this is true), he's angry because he thinks you trapped him by getting pregnant, that's a whole different scenario - but the outcome may be the same. That said, you have a child together, and your son should be your first priority, no matter what happens between the two of you.