I started my career and working towards my long-term goals shortly after. I talked to him about getting into school to get the education he would need to start a career and get a job. He willingly started going to school and got excited about the possibilities that were in front of him. However, since he was also working a dead-end retail job to pay his bills and for school, he didn’t feel comfortable enough to take more than one or two classes at a time. He also had a very hard time deciding what he wanted to do with his life and flip-flopped around in different programs. I was not too worried about it at the time. I mean, who really knows “what they want to be when they grow up”?
Over the last three years, a number of bad things happened: he totalled his car, I spent three nights in the hospital and had two surgeries which put me into massive amounts of debt, our water heater broke and flooded our house, one of our pets was diagnosed with kidney failure, I’ve needed about $3k worth of dental work done, etc. While all this was going on, he was still working his part-time retail job and going to school. Because of that, I had to pay for each of these items without any help at all from him financially. But I was ok with that because there was a light at the end of the tunnel – he would have a job and could help me out financially after he finished school. I felt certain that he was working hard to get to the life that we
wanted. Even still, I was having an increasingly hard time dealing with the mounting debt, the junker cars, the house slowly falling into disrepair, never buying myself anything and never going out to do anything fun.
Over a month ago, he flunked out of the program he was in (and hit my car causing significant body damage in the same day). So now he’s going to have to change course again and get into a new program. He also owes the school almost $1k to pay back the assistance he got before he can sign up for another program. Because of this, I have no idea when he will finish school and get a career. His mother has offered to co-sign on a loan for him, but I’m not sure it will come through before registration for the next semester closes. And as for my car, the body damage costs more to fix than the car is worth.
At this point, I feel very resentful of him. I’ve had to carry the financial weight for our entire relationship, and now there is no end in sight. It’s been six years, and he’s not progressed much at all in
that time frame. I feel like I’m judged by everyone I come into contact with because I’m wearing hand-me-down clothes that are two sizes too big for me, I’m driving a car that looks like it’s been in the demolition derby, my teeth are in terrible shape and I can’t afford to get my pets’ shots. I wanted us to be married long ago, but his failure to get through school has kept that from happening.
We’ve talked about all of this many, many times. He’s feeling pretty worthless (understandably) and is depressed. I’m feeling trapped and resentful. I think continuing to talk about it would hurt more than
help because if I’m honest with him about my feelings, it’s likely just going to make him feel worse, and if he feels worse, he’s not likely to succeed in school.
I feel like I owe it to him and to our relationship to give him one more chance to get his situation in order. After all, I still love him and these last three years have been hard on him too! But I’m seriously doubting his ability to rise above all of this and actually achieve anything. Should I give him another chance to succeed or should I MOA to avoid carrying more debt and resentment? — Resentful Provider and Girlfriend
One of the most important things a couple needs to survive long-term is trust. It may be the number one most important thing, and here you are basically saying in various ways that you don’t trust your boyfriend — actually, your “fiancé”. You don’t trust him to succeed at anything, you don’t trust him to be dependable, or provide for you, or even meet you halfway on financial contributions to the household. It doesn’t sound like you respect him very much — another important factor a relationship needs. I wonder: do you even like him that much?
What is clear is that you resent your boyfriend a whole lot. You think he’s a failure and resent him from keeping you from the life you want. But that’s the thing — owning nice things (for example, new clothes) and being comfortable and having some savings are things YOU want, but they may not necessarily be what your boyfriend wants. You say, “I felt certain that he was working hard to get to the life that we wanted,” but did you ever discuss what HE wanted? Are you certain his ideal future looked like your ideal future? If he’s so unsure about what he wants to do with his life, isn’t it possible he’s confused about the kind of life he wants?
Six years is a very long time to spend with someone, and I’m sure despite the resentment, there’s probably a lot of love there. Shared history and lots of time together will bond people even when reality threatens to pull them apart. But you can love someone and care deeply about him and his well-being and that doesn’t mean you’re meant to spend your life with him. Six years is a really long time to be disappointed by someone over and over. Are you sure you want to spend the rest of your life feeling resentful?
Here’s the thing: your boyfriend may never change. You can’t bet on him getting his act together and working toward the future you want. It just may never happen. Especially if he’s depressed and fails to get treated for depression. That would be the first thing I would do if I were you — convince him to see a doctor. There may be a medical reason he’s so unmotivated. But regardless, you have to decide whether this is something you can live with. (If he IS depressed, it may be a life-long battle he has to fight to stay well).
I would never advise someone to get engaged to someone she isn’t quite ready to marry just yet. The whole, “We’re engaged, but we’re going to wait until X,Y,Z happens” doesn’t make sense to me. Don’t get engaged until you’re ready to get married. Do you think once you get married, everything good is locked down and you never again have to worry about unemployment or not having money or getting sick or whatever else life might throw one’s way? Married people have challenges too. So if you can’t deal with challenges before getting married, don’t get engaged. If someone has to change before you’ll be happy marrying him, DON’T SAY YES TO A PROPOSAL. It’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to him. What happens when you get engaged before truly being ready to get married is the engagement becomes a kind of prison. You can’t MOA, even when the going gets tough, because you’re engaged and that’s practically like being married.
Except it’s not. You haven’t signed any papers. You don’t have to involve lawyers. You probably don’t even have to divide too many assets. You truly can MOA. It may not be easy emotionally. Actually, it definitely won’t be easy emotionally. But logistically, it will be much, much easier to move on before you tie yourself down to marriage.
You can’t change your boyfriend. He has to want to make changes himself. If you don’t see any indication on his end that he wants a different life, then there’s no sense wasting any more time in a relationship that doesn’t have much future. Your boyfriend may not want any better or any more, but it sounds like you do. Why let him keep holding you back?
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.