He knows I expect a wedding and he has even taken me to pick out rings so he can have an idea of what I like, but that was five months ago. On occasion he brings up how expensive rings and weddings are. On those occasions, I’ve chosen to ignore his comments. He also seems to have this phobia that women will take his house and money. I once asked him what’s one thing he wants to tell me but feels like he can’t, and he said, “Can I ever trust you with my credit card?” I was shocked to hear that because I rarely shop, always try to save money for my future, have a great credit score, have no student debt, and am working toward a doctorate degree (which will take me two to four years) while planning to work full-time after graduation. I’m not the type of girl who’s looking to leech off some guy.
Last weekend on a double date we were congratulating a couple on buying their first condo and I said hopefully that that’ll be us in five years. He said: “Who’s this ‘us’ you’re talking about? Are you buying me a house?” I said: “I can buy myself a house; I only need 10% downpayment.” He said: “That’s great. Can I live in your house too?”
I would’ve gotten up and left, but it was a double date and I didn’t want to be rude. I’m getting some scrooge vibes, but I might be wrong. Is there any way I can know if he’s ready for the financial commitments of marriage?
Is this how easy-going white men are? A Middle Eastern guy would be too proud to show he’s struggling financially. They also often take initiative in most steps in the relationship. I feel like I don’t know what I should expect from my guy.
Can you please tell me how I can school him? I feel as though I’ve been Rosie sunshine for too long. — Done with Rosy Sunshine
You don’t need to “school” anyone (except maybe your parents about backing off and letting you live your life). What you do need to do is actually TALK to your boyfriend. No more ignoring the hints he drops (like how, on occasion, he brings up how expensive rings and weddings are and you choose to ignore him) and no more asking what he wants to tell you but feels like he can’t. (I mean, you aren’t middle-schoolers playing Truth or Dare; you’re grown adults in a relationship in which wedding rings and weddings have been mentioned!) Finally, no more saying you don’t know where you stand because you don’t know how things work with white guys.
Since you want to know how things work with this particular white guy in this particular relationship with you, the person you need to ask isn’t me or some other white person; the person you need to ask is your boyfriend! So sit him down and tell him that you need to know what he’s thinking about your future together. Tell him that since you looked at wedding rings five months ago, you’ve been wondering if a proposal is coming and that he has said some things recently that make you wonder whether he’s on the same page as you. And then listen to him. Listen to what he says. If he expresses fears or concerns, don’t ignore them, don’t invalidate them, don’t compare him to men from your culture who you think would act differently. Just listen to him.
If your boyfriend has financial worries – and paying for a wedding and a ring is a valid worry! – what words can you offer him to ease his mind? You say that in two to four years you plan to have your doctorate and to work full-time, but what about until then? Do you expect to be supported? Do you expect your boyfriend to pay for the wedding himself? If your boyfriend can’t comfortably afford any of the rings you gave him an idea you liked, are you willing to take something less expensive? Have you considered that perhaps your boyfriend feels like he simply cannot provide the lifestyle you’ve made it clear you want (a particular ring, a condo in five years)?
I can appreciate that there’s a cultural difference at play here. Maybe where you’re from people don’t discuss money issues, and everything just sort of … I don’t know, works out? But in the West – in America, specifically – if two people aren’t on the same page financially before they get married, there’s a very good chance it isn’t going to magically work out. If one person thinks they’re going to be buying a condo in five years and the other person is like, “Huh, really? Because you’ve got four more years of school to go and I’m tens of thousands of dollars in debt and can’t even afford a tinfoil ring, let alone a ring with 4 Cs,” you’ve got yourself in a bit of a pickle, from which the only hope of a way out is to actually communicate.
And so that’s where you are: you need to communicate. You don’t have to be “rosy sunshine” about it. In fact, if that’s a euphemism for not being open and honest and frank and upfront about your expectations and desires, I recommend you NOT be rosy sunshine at all. Just be honest about what you want and need and expect. And let him be honest (about what he wants and needs and expects and whether or not he can meet your expectations). And listen. Because, the truth is, here in this culture, being 25 and a full-time student with one-year of dating under your belt does not scream ready for marriage. That’s not to say a 25-year-old full-time student can’t have a happy and successful marriage, but in this culture – the culture your boyfriend comes from – we don’t operate from the assumption that marriage needs to happen within six months or before a person turns 26.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.