Dear Carolyn: I have been with my girlfriend for two and a half years. We movedin together 11 months ago with the understanding that if we stillfelt the same way after a year, we would plan marriage. I am a home brewer of beer. Besides enjoying the stuff I make, mydad (who died three years ago) and I did it together, and it bringsback very happy memories. My girlfriend has complained a lot everytime I make a batch (every two months): She says the kitchen isalways dirty afterward no matter how hard I try to clean up, andthe smell of the hops bothers her and lingers in the air fordays. Last Saturday, an officemate was supposed to come over to make abatch with me. My girlfriend was visiting with her mother for theday; 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, behindappliances, baseboards, etc. Afterward, I took a nap. When girlfriend woke me, and before I could tell her what I didthat day, she said the smell was worse than ever, and although thekitchen 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 sether up and then told me to “forget about it.” Since last week, she refuses to discuss the incident. I told herthat her behavior — making believe that beer was a problem for herand not being willing to discuss it — is causing me to have doubtsabout marriage. My girlfriend says I am looking for an excuse notto make the commitment. I mentioned counseling and she ignoresme. I do very much love her. I know she can be somewhat controlling. Myheart is telling me one thing, and my gut is telling me theopposite. I don’t have anyone neutral to talk to. My brother is mybest friend, and he is not an admirer of my girlfriend. My motherreally likes her and thinks she is her best shot at being agrandmother. The thought of her not being in my life depresses me, but this hasgiven me huge doubts about a healthy marriage. Am I making too muchof it? — Conflicted She lied to you to try to make you feel bad about— and quit doing — something she knows is enjoyable andmeaningful 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 beit; I believe controlling people make exhausting mates — and that’sthe best case. I don’t think there are exceptions (except those whoadmit it and work terrifically hard to mend their ways). There are lots of reasons for that, but here’s the one that I holdparamount: Over the course of a lifetime, everyone is going to bewrong — regularly about little stuff, like what time a movie startsor which route is faster, and occasionally on the big stuff, likewhich person to marry, which career to pursue or which investmentto make. On the little stuff, imagine a future where every wrong turn andmissed movie is either your fault or must be tiptoed around. On the big stuff, imagine having little say in the shape your livestake as a couple, and then being blamed when you prove to beill-suited to this life that was chosen for you. Imagine having kids someday … and she picks up on your brother’sdistaste for her. What are the chances he’ll get to bounce hisnieces and nephews on his knee? Imagine a life where you push your preferences aside in favor ofhers — it’s just easier, right, to avoid a fight? — and it’s stillnot enough. Not enough for her to be happy, because completecontrol over another person is impossible, so there will always besomething about you that she wishes would change, and not enoughfor you to be happy, because you’ll miss all the things you gave upto please her — and be left to wonder whether the payoff evercomes. Perhaps I am now the one making too much of this. But: Until your girlfriend is able to (1) tell the truth, and (2) admitfault, and (3) renounce trying to change you, these remain youronly options for resolving the beer incident: You either ignore itand get no redress for her lies and manipulation, or you become theguy who found excuses not to commit. You love her, you say. But if she loved you, then wouldn’t sheoffer you avenues that don’t make you the jerk? Email Carolyn at , follow her on Facebook atfacebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noonEastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.