My “fiancé” and I have been together almost four years. I am 32 years old and I have a 12-year-old son with autism. My “fiancé” is 40 and he has two daughters from two previous relationships, 8 and 13 years old. I say “fiancé” because he asked me to marry him on Valentine’s Day 2011 after we were together six months. I said yes and he gave me a nice ring that he said he got from Kay Jewelers, but the ring started fading after two weeks like fake gold costume jewelry would. I figured since this was his first time asking someone to marry him, at least he gave it a try — more than my previous relationship (with my son’s father) of 10 years who always said he should marry me but never asked.
As far as our financial situation goes, my fiancé doesn’t have a regular job. He claims to be self-employed and has his own business working with music artists and distributing their music. When I first met him, he said he could give me a job because I had just come from another state. He made it sound like he was doing so much business, but after working with him I realized not so much. He tells people that he can distribute their music internationally, set up shows for them to perform, gets them studio time, and puts them on a compilation album. He makes the people register between $50-$250, but then he doesn’t really do much for them. I was uncomfortable, so I stopped helping him. He won’t get a regular job because he owes a lot of child support (like $30,000+). I usually work tax season and then temp work, and I have recently become a real estate agent.
We lost the apartment we had together because he was not helping me pay rent. I paid for us to get into the apartment with my income tax money. Since my son has autism he receives SSI and I had some unemployment at the time we first moved into the apartment. I had enough money to pay for the rent, electric, gas and cable package, but I figured why should I pay for it all by myself. Whatever money he made he put right back into his “business.” He didn’t really make much money anyway — most of the time less than $500 a month. He would always ask me for money, and we would argue a lot because I didn’t want to give it to him. He also always asks me to use my name for things for him like getting him a business license, which I told him numerous times I didn’t want to do. We fell behind in the rent because he didn’t help enough and he would rather pay the cable package before the rent, saying he needed it for his business. We got evicted from our apartment and had to go live in a shelter. I didn’t have to stay in a shelter, but I did so that we could still be together. We stayed there for eight months, and then last July I moved to another state with my son because my mom had breast cancer and it was an excuse for me to get away from my fiancé and let him take care of himself.
Besides finances, another issue I have with him is his eight-year-old daughter. When we had our apartment ,she would come over on the weekends and she was too much for me. I was so used to my son being quiet and easy-going, but when she came over, it was non-stop noise, whining, chaos and mess. This little girl would wreck the place if you let her. After a while I did not look forward to her visits and I couldn’t wait for her to go home. Even when we lived in the shelter, he got a court order to get her every weekend, which I didn’t look forward to.
I love my fiancé and his daughter, but I feel that, if we were to live together again, I would be taking care of him and his daughter and I would be very stressed out and resent them both. I don’t see him ever getting a real job, and he won’t take any classes to learn new communication and technology. He wants to move to be with me, but he doesn’t want to leave his daughter behind. I feel we could be one big happy family, but I need help if we are going to live together and we need enough space for everyone because the apartment we had was only one bedroom and the shelter was a studio apartment set-up. I love this man and we get along well outside of the money thing; we had a comfortable home life (when his daughter was not whining and making a lot of noise) and he doesn’t smoke or drink and I love that. He tries to make me feel guilty sometimes by saying it’s not fair that I’m only worried about money, and now that we are long distance we argue on the phone too.
I want a better life for my son and me. I don’t want to have to depend on welfare for help when I supposedly have a man. I feel that, if I want something, I have to get it myself because he will never be able to help me — he’ll just drag me down more and more into poverty. What should I do? — Love Don’t Pay the Bills
Well… I guess I’m not sure what you think I can say to you that I didn’t already say in the column you reference in the very first line of your letter. You presumably read my response, yes? The one where I say:
You can love someone deeply and not be right for each other. If you want something your boyfriend can’t provide — and you know that to be the case — why stay with him? Why invest more time in a relationship that doesn’t have strong potential for a happy future? This money issue is not going to go away. His debt isn’t going to miraculously disappear. He isn’t going to suddenly land a high-paying job with the limited education and skills he has. And his responsibility to his children isn’t going to disappear either. For all intents and purposes, the lifestyle he currently lives is likely going to be his lifestyle for a long time.
You can apply this same logic to your own situation. You can also apply something else I wrote in that same column:
If money is important to you, then why shouldn’t it be a reason to end a relationship if there isn’t a financial match? If, on the other hand, you see more value in other things he can provide such as companionship, emotional support, potential co-parenting, etc., then maybe you’ll decide that the money issue isn’t a deal-breaker. But that’s a decision you have to make and you need to be aware going into it what your boyfriend will and will not be able to provide you.
You yourself said your relationship sounded just like the relationship featured in that column, so I don’t know why you wrote in thinking I had anything different to tell you. Actually, I do know. You wrote to me because you already know your boyfriend can’t provide shit for you and your son and that your relationship is pointless, but you need someone else to tell you that to help dilute any regret you might feel in ending it and to help share the burden of responsibility for your loneliness and stress and fear. Being a single mom is hard, and it’s especially hard when you have a special needs child and not much money and you don’t have emotional or financial support from anyone else. But you are strong and you can handle this. You don’t need ME to give you permission to stop being used by a man who cannot offer you as much as he takes. But I’ll give you the permission anyway, if it makes you feel better.
You can do better than him. You can have a better life than what you can have with him. Even on your own, where you are right now, you are better off without him. He doesn’t lift you up; he drags you down. Aim higher than that. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for you son. He deserves better, and so do you.
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