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Ask a Cat: Marriage, mothers-in-law, and commitment

Ask a cat is new advice column featured in the Alaska Landmine. Have a question for the Cat? Email or click here to submit via a form (anonymous) to get the answers to any of life’s problems.

Hi there,

I live with my BF of nearly 4 years. We own a home together, and generally get along pretty well. We have done many things that seem like a partnership but still no ring. I’m left wondering if he is ever going to propose to me. While I generally am weary about marriage, I would still like to be asked! He makes me socialize with friends and do activities like ice skating and hiking so why won’t he do the one thing I would like?

Should I be on a timeline? How do I approach this conversation without upsetting the balance? Should I even worry about it?

Thanks Kitty Cat!


Friend of the Cat

Dear Human Friend,

I have consulted with my own personal cat lady, and apparently yours is a tail as old as time. Why modern human men find themselves so afflicted with aversion to formal commitment is a mystery to Cat. Presumably your boyfriend reaps all the benefit of having a wife, without the legal technicalities. You ask me if you should worry about it, Cat feels that ship has sailed- and rarely does being told not to worry abolish worry.

Your concerns are valid and merit a conversation- albeit, purrhaps an uncomfortable one. Is your partner disinclined to ever be married? Or is he just not sure he wants to marry you? Does boyfriend know this is on your mind? Cat believes there is nothing to fear when it comes to upsetting the balance. If the tough conversations cannot be had, then what is the purpose of the partnership?

It sounds like you make an effort to participate in boyfriends’ life, even if these may not be your favorite things. If engagement/marriage is on your life to-do list, it’s time to figure out what his priorities are and then decide if they align with yours. Cat believes we all have the opportunity to have many great loves in our lives, and whether or not those relationships culminate in marriage or parting ways, each provides us with lessons and experiences that hopefully shape us into better versions of our furry selves.

If you cannot fathom life without boyfriend, you will have to decide if you are willing to let go of your desire for marriage. If not, be mindful that resentment will undoubtedly poison your water dish of happiness. Cat encourages you to decide if what you gain is more valuable than what you could potentially lose.


Dear Cat,

My MIL (mother-in-law) is troublesome. I feel like she is meddling in my marriage and life! What should I do?

Dear Human,

You have not provided Cat with many details, so it’s hard to tell what kind of advice you’re looking for.

As I am very territorial myself, I can appreciate your offense. Unfortunately, it sounds like one way or another, spouse and MIL are a package deal.

The way Cat sees it, the name of the game here is Boundaries. First order of business is getting on the same page as your partner. Do they believe there is a problem? If not, you’re looking at bigger issues. Establishing with your partner what role MIL can play in your collective lives will give you the confidence to implement the changes that need to take place. Fortunately, this may not require a confrontation with MIL, you can subtly train her like you would any Schnauzer or Shar-Pei. Reward good behavior, and gently correct boundary violations. Should problems persist, Cat believes you will have to address the problem more directly- hopefully with Partner at your side. Personally, Cat strongly dislikes the spray bottle method and recommends clear statements indicating 1. How you feel 2. What action (violation) caused this feeling 3. What you need from MIL to rectify the situation- E.g. I “feel frustrated when you show up unannounced to the house, I need you to always call or text before you want to visit.”

Cat appreciates that while this is simple, it is not always easy and wishes you good luck.


Dear Cat,

I’ve been single a long time. I love being single. But I’ve been casually seeing a woman for a while now. As these things go it’s starting to get more serious. Dinners, movies, sleepovers, etc… She really wants to define our relationship, but I am apprehensive. I also don’t want to lose her. What should I do?

Dear Human,

Cat supposes you should decide what you value more – being single or the new woman in your life. What is unacceptable is dragging out the conversation she deserves while you glean what you want (dinners, movies, sleepovers, etc..) while she suffers because she enjoys your company and hopes you will at some point give her the clarity she deserves. Cat implores you not to be terribly, terribly selfish. If you desire to be single, you have every right to be and should enjoy your life as such. As it were, you have found yourself entangled with someone you seemingly enjoy very much. Out of respect for this human, it’s time to boldly face your own feelings and now be a cowardly Corgi.


The view from atop the cat tree:

Based on this week’s inquiries, Cat encourages all faithful readers to live their lives with the bold honesty of a feline. One has nothing to lose by being honest with oneself. Hiding from our own feelings and subsequently hiding those feelings from those we care for only brews resentment and turmoil.

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Cat Owner
4 months ago

To the inquiry regarding MIL, I fully support the spray bottle method. I’ve used it to keep my cats off counters a tables and it worked quite well. If you are looking for a more hands off approach I would recommend a scat mat.

Another Cat
4 months ago

Re: the query about commitment, I think Cat gave great advice but there’s more to explore here. Why does boyfriend have to be the one to propose? Don’t just rock the boat! Sink it! Reexamine your assumptions about gender roles and what you each get (or don’t get) out of them. If boyfriend’s feelings about marriage can be summed up in the Mussolini quote “the putrid corpse of liberty is dead,” then it’s a gift to know sooner rather than later.

Marlin Savage
4 months ago

” He makes me socialize with friends and do activities like ice skating and hiking …”

Perhaps find Someone You want to do things with that You Both enjoy…..