About a week ago we were on a family outing. During the outing we made a quick run to the store. I had the kids and he wandered off. He came back all bummed and depressed. I asked him what the problem was, and he said, “I’m a little bummed out because of what I had to do.” I didn’t think anything of it, but the next day I overheard him speaking to his best friend. I heard his friend ask if the ring was still at the jewelry store, and my boyfriend replied with, “Yes, but I returned it.”
Usually, I don’t get bummed, but lately our relationship hasn’t been the best. (We are going through a custody battle and our life is stressful). I don’t understand why he wouldn’t just talk to me about this, and why he would be so irresponsible as to leave both the purchase and return receipt out for me to stumble across. I am left speechless and sort of feeling like I will be the “forever” girlfriend and never his wife. Why would he just return the ring without even mentioning it but leave the “evidence” for me to see? By the way, I saw the ring online and it’s breathtaking. Seeing it made me that much more depressed. — Forever Girlfriend?
So… your boyfriend of five years, whom you are raising two children with, blurts out in a heated argument that he spent a few thousand dollars on “the perfect ring,” and you didn’t “talk to him about it or even think about it“?? And then, one afternoon when he’s acting depressed and tells you that he’s “a little bummed out because of what he had to do,” you didn’t ASK what it was he had to do? You simply — in your words! — “didn’t think anything of it.” Really?? Your boyfriend acts depressed and tells you he had to do something that bummed him out, and you honestly didn’t think anything of that? And you wonder why he left the receipt for your engagement ring out where you would be sure to see it?
Your boyfriend clearly wasn’t being “irresponsible” by leaving those receipts out; he left them out for you to find, hoping you would see them as a huge flag signaling a need to talk. Why he doesn’t just use his words, I don’t know. It seems you both have a problem when it comes to that. But you have five years together and two children. Quit acting like a couple of babies and communicate what is on your minds! TELL him you saw those receipts and APOLOGIZE that you didn’t express concern about what was going on when he told you he was depressed and bummed out, and then ASK him what the hell is going on and then TELL him you are ready to make your relationship a priority.
I empathize that you feel stressed out with your ongoing custody battle, but life is stressful. It’s these times when you need to support and depend on your partner, not push each other away. Quit ignoring your boyfriend. Quit pushing things out of your mind because you don’t want to ruin surprises or you don’t want to face reality. If someone blurts out in a heated argument that he spent several thousand dollars on the perfect ring, an appropriate response might be something like, “I didn’t know you were thinking along those lines,” or “You did?! I had no idea. Let’s talk about that.” An appropriate response might be letting the heat of the argument cool down and re-visiting this idea that your boyfriend of five years just told you he has a ring, and saying: “Hey, that thing you said earlier? When we were fighting? About the ring? You were serious about that? Does that mean you want to get married? I don’t want to ruin anything you might have planned in terms of a proposal, but I want to talk more about marriage and what that means for us.”
And now — now that the ring has apparently been returned, an appropriate response would be: “I saw those receipts for the ring. We need to talk. Because I’m done not talking and not thinking about things that are important, like you and our relationship. It’s time for us to communicate.” And then do that. Because five years and two kids and you and he are important enough.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.