My Live-In Boyfriend Doesn’t Contribute Equally To Our Joint Expenses, And I’m Starting To Resent Him

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My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years. We’ve decided to rent a place together. We have been living together for 4 months. He rented a room in a house previously and I rented a small house with my two children. Now we are renting a small house together. With his child support, truck payment, etc…. it leaves him only $600 to contribute to the household. That leaves me to contribute the rest, which is about $3000. That is just rent, food, utilities. I work two jobs and he works one. He says he wants to help but is unable. He is trying to find some extra jobs, on the side, but not very hard. He doesn’t cook or clean either. He is the nicest, most wonderful man I know. He treats me nice, he never expects anything from me. I am starting to resent him though. I don’t know if I am right or wrong to feel resentful. Even if he made more money he says he won’t pay half because, in all fairness, I get child support and he shouldn’t have to pay half. He says he will pay a third. I can’t help feeling he is treating me like a roommate and not his woman. If he is a real man shouldn’t he want to work together to build a life? He tells me everyday how much he loves me, he brings me flowers when he can. He never yells at me or criticizes me. Should I just keep paying and just let him pay what he can? He never goes out or spends foolishly on himself. He really doesn’t have enough.

Money is a big topic on this blog.

We’ve talked about how some women take advantage of good-hearted low-earning boyfriends.

We’ve talked about how some women expect men to make more money, even if they make a good living independently.

We’ve talked about how some women refuse to even reach for a check.

These are all arguments I’ve made for equality. In this day and age, with women earning more college degrees and masters degrees, it’s anachronistic to expect men to ALWAYS pay and ALWAYS earn more.

But Lisa’s question really cuts to the heart of women’s issues around money. What happens if you’re dating a man without skills, without ambition, and without the desire to be a better provider?

This is not about who earns more. This is about two things: what’s fair and what you’re comfortable with.

This is my client’s worst nightmare — even though I can’t see any of my clients dating a man with a truck payment and $600 to spare each month. So let me begin, Lisa, by expressing my admiration and sympathy to you. You fell in love with a man based on what’s in his heart and not in his wallet, and that says a lot about your character.

The question is whether it’s enough.

My answer to you will be a gender-blind one, because that’s the way we need to begin to look at financial issues. This is not about who earns more. This is about two things: what’s fair and what you’re comfortable with.

Objectively, this arrangement isn’t fair. But then, in a gender-blind society, who said things had to be fair? I made about four times what my wife made when we met. Would it have been fair for me to ask her to split our rent in half? No, it would not. We split it based on our means to pay. I could have resented the fact that I made four times more than her, but I chose not to. I wasn’t with her for her money or ability to split costs. I was with her because of how I felt in her presence.

These days, my wife doesn’t work at all. She stays at home with the kids, goes to Mommy and Me classes, swimming classes, MyGym and Disneyland, all of which I pay for. Do I resent her? Not one bit. This is what she wants to do, and I’m fortunate to have the means to allow her to do it. This is the bargain we struck as a couple. This is the bargain any woman can strike with a man, as long as she doesn’t resent him for earning less or being a stay at home dad.

I’m guessing every reader here had the same initial reaction to your email, “Lisa, you poor girl! Dump him!” I can see where that impulse comes from, but I don’t think it’s acknowledging your deep feelings for your boyfriend. You’ve spent two years with him. You say that he’s the “nicest, most wonderful man” you know.

In order to salvage this relationship, a few things have to happen.

First, you need to have an authentic conversation with him. You need to start by acknowledging how much you love and appreciate him. Then you need to acknowledge that you’ve been feeling a little bit of resentment. You’re not proud of it, but you’re owning it.

Next, you can break it down for him. You contribute five times more to the household than he does, even though you only make X dollars more. Even though you appreciate his pre-existing payments, that’s imbalanced and is a serious burden for you to carry alone. Get his acknowledgement of this fact.

What you’d like to do is sit down and do a budget of how much each of you makes and would like to pay the rent and bills proportionately, whatever that means. This would include how much money you make from child support and would exclude how much he pays in child support. We’re talking about take home pay only.

There’s nothing wrong with marrying a poor guy if you have the means to support him. There IS something wrong with marrying a poor guy who doesn’t have a sense of fairness and appreciation for your efforts.

If it still comes out to $600 for him and $3000 for you, you can suggest a work around. He can sell his truck and buy something cheaper, if that’s possible. You can go to Mint.com and look at how to better balance your budget. But the one thing that is going to have to change is how much he contributes to the household in non-monetary ways. He’s gotta do 50% of the cooking and 50% of the cleaning at a bare minimum to ease your burden as the primary breadwinner.

Make it clear that you don’t resent him because he makes less than you. Not everyone can have a high paying job. The reason this feeling is building up inside is that you feel taken for granted. And if the roles were reversed and he was paying $3000/month AND doing all the cooking and cleaning, he’d probably feel resentful, too, no?

His reaction to this conversation will tell you whether you have a relationship worth preserving. There’s nothing wrong with marrying a poor guy if you have the means to support him. There IS something wrong with marrying a poor guy who doesn’t have a sense of fairness and appreciation for your efforts.

Please come back and let us know how that conversation goes.

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Comments:

  1. 201
    Jeremy

    Adrian, I wouldn’t smack you down for bringing up divorce, I just think that divorce should be the last option after all else was considered, not the 1st or 2nd thing suggested.  “Help me, doc, I’ve tried NOTHING and I’m all out of ideas!”

     

    I agree with the rest of your post, though.  I wrote above that so much of my wife’s psychology, all the extra emotional labour she takes on, is because she’s trying to be my “equal.”  She looks at what I do and judges herself negatively, feels shame, tries to compensate by building invulnerability armor – control, perfect, numb.  I try so hard to tell her that she is enough.  More than enough.  I don’t need her to match me, I need her to complement me – and she does.  I don’t want her to do more, I want her to be happy and to help me be happy.  But being happy requires one to overcome one’s invulnerability armor, the armor protecting us from shame – to throw out the numbing, the control.  Not so easy, because the shame lurks beneath.

     

    I wonder sometimes how I would feel if I married a woman who earned much more than I did, whose mind worked faster than mine, who was better than me in all the ways I consider to be masculine?  Who tries to value me as a man for my comfort qualities and dad potential, but who (I fear) perceives me as less than.  As not enough.  How would I erect barriers against my shame, how would I protect my pride?  And how would I deal with the fallout when I try to lower the barriers and get slapped down for again not being enough?  Would that be better or worse than being the woman in that situation, the one who feels all the work is on her?  Close call, I think.  The solution, if there is one, is for each partner to understand the shame of the other, the barriers each one create.  The barriers that can perhaps be overcome through love and mutual care, but not through anger and blame.

  2. 202
    S.

    @ Jeremy #198

    Your post resonated with me and I’m not even married.  But I think it goes to what long-term relationships are about. Even non-romantic relationships.  They’re about compromise and what you can live with. (Yes, love too, but also this other stuff that most don’t discuss much.)

    It is hard, so hard, when we’re so exhausted, when we’ve done so much – ALWAYS done so much, always watched the world and others, wondering how they do so little. We take pride in what we do, the burdens we carry that others can’t…and then feel taken advantage of. Because while we might think that others will look at us and learn how they should behave, instead others look at us and become accustomed to having things done for them by us – the exact opposite of what we intended.

    It is so hard.  And I get tired of spelling it out.  All day at work and then I can’t imagine doing the same at home too.  Only way I’ve dealt with it is by just pouring some of my own love and care on me.  Going somewhere where I’m taken care of.  Whether it’s visiting my mom more often, getting a pedicure or acupuncture, just going somewhere where I don’t have to direct someone what to do.

    Like you, I’m not sure of the answers.  Mrs. Happy is doing so much it seems weird to praise someone who seems to be doing so little in comparison.  But we haven’t heard Mr. Happy’s side which is a fair point.

    If you slap someone down when they make an effort, don’t expect further efforts. You may be frustrated that she never cooks, but if you want her to cook you gotta praise the hell out of the effort to encourage more effort – as painful as the praise may be to you, it’s an investment in the future! If you want to grow a garden, EW, you gotta plant some seeds, water them, and sometimes feed them bullshit

    This could be why I’m not in a relationship. I’m just not about bullshit.  But that said, I’m not about toughlove, either. And there seems to be very little space in between.

    I hope Mrs. Happy and folks like her get a break.  Maybe they have the patience to grow a garden.  I will say I never thought that’s what marriage would be.  I thought one would get a true partner, true help.  Whatever people figure out, I hope they are happy.

    Good point about therapy.  Like in depression or with meditation, it’s when you have the least bit of energy is when you need to get more help.  It’s counter-intuitive.  You just want to stay in and rest.  That’s not gonna do it, though.  Sometimes just trying to make that effort to change-even while exhausted–is exactly the shift needed.  Not directing this to anyone specific, it seems to be true of many circumstances.

    how would I deal with the fallout when I try to lower the barriers and get slapped down for again not being enough?

    Sigh.  You are being quite compassionate  to folks who try which I respect.  The difficulty is deciding who I want.  I know how I am.  When I get slapped down for not being enough–and I do–eventually I get up.  Again and again and again.  There is no survival for me otherwise.  That’s who I want to be.  The question is is that who I want my husband to be, and if he has to be in that way?  Maybe his way of survival is softer, but just as tenacious?  I dunno.  I think I do want someone to be the one to get up again and again just so I can somehow rest.  Your question requires someone very tired to put that exhaustion aside to see the shame and vulnerability of another.  I don’t understand why a person won’t get up.  Why they don’t keep trying.  But maybe they are but it’s so difficult to see it as trying.  A couple has to be able to genuinely see and feel that in their partner.

    TLDR:  It’s complicated.

  3. 203
    Jeremy

    @S., “why don’t they keep trying?” Some do, some don’t. I do. But getting kicked in the balls is different than getting kicked in the leg. You get kicked in the leg it hurts and you walk it off. You get kicked in the balls and you roll around and vomit. We are just more sensitive in some spots than others.

    Some men step up and do what needs to be done, ego notwithstanding. Some men think they do, but have an inkling that their wife’s list of “what needs to be done” does not resemble their own. Often, men stop playing the game when they discover they can’t win. When they discover that no matter what they do, they’ll never be good enough. Because while they can think of 2-3 things they might do better, their wife has a list of F-ing 33 with another 66 by bedtime. That is overwhelming, a total non-starter. A gap of 33 or 66 or 99 can not be bridged. Start from the start. Start with the basics. Decide what is important and what isn’t, ’cause I guarantee that not all those 33 things objectively needed to be done (unlike the dinner that should have been).

    It is indeed complicated. The only way to resolve complicated problems is to break them down into manageable bites. And someone needs to step the F up and do that. I wouldn’t ask anyone to do what I’ve not done myself.

  4. 204
    Mrs Happy

    Adrian,
    you don’t leave a marriage which involves young children because you’re disappointed with your spouse, or they can’t think or plan as well as you can. Not a single marriage would stand the distance. Someone is always better at every job, and disappointment is part of marriage.
    You are right, he tried to rectify his mistake. It just gets old when 10 years in, a person repeatedly can’t see the obvious, and has to be repeatedly told. It’s like dealing with an intellectually retarded person, without the sympathy I’d have for such an individual, and it’s annoying because all the things he can’t see to do, I then have to do, and I’m already overburdened.

    Each night, after I’ve shopped for ingredients, menu planned, cooked dinner, served it, cajoled the kids into eating (this last alone a 90 min thankless negotiating/screaming task), my husband cleans up the plates/dishes. Each night he leaves the leftover meat (e.g. chicken casserole last night) out on the dinner table, while he does all the other plate clearing, dishwasher stacking, etc. So, meat, which should be refrigerated ASAP to minimise bacterial growth and future gastro infections, (I can feel CB shuddering from here) is left for 30+ minutes at (warm) room temperatures. I repeatedly remind him not to do this. I remind him multiple times a week, and have for 10 years. Would this annoy you? To have to state the obvious this often?
    Why don’t I do the clean up job myself, you ask? Because it’s all he does housework-wise of an evening, it’s 1 task to my 20 that evening so far, and I don’t want to be one of those women who do everything because I can do it faster or better, because then I’ll be doing every single task except mow the lawn, catch the spiders, and get the big snakes out of the pool. And I don’t want to do every task, I want to do 50% of the tasks. (I do about 90%.)
    It truly seems bleeding obvious to me, the meat should be the first thing put away. But he doesn’t notice it. It truly seemed obvious to me, our tired hungry daughter would need dinner on arrival, but he doesn’t think that through. The number of things which do not even flit through my husband’s mind truly astound me. And I didn’t appreciate any of this until after we married, because we didn’t live together until then.

    There are limited alternatives. 1. Find a smarter husband – well, sure, and I’ve dated one man smarter than me, but didn’t like the rest of the package. Anyway too late, I had kids with this one. 2. Don’t get irritated by the tasks not done. Please tell me how not to be irritated by idiocy. I’ve spent 40 years on this planet astounded at idiocy. Moving along. 3. Hire someone else to do most tasks I don’t want to do and he doesn’t see. Yes I usually have a housekeeper but am between help at present. 4. Break up with him and leave my children fatherless and be a single mum because I’m often incredulous at the lack of just basic thinking. You’ve got to be kidding, there’s no way I’ll subject my children to that disadvantage just because my husband is less organised than me.
    Yes he tried to rectify his error, and in doing so actually worsened things – him crashing pots prevented the kids getting to sleep. (This too is obvious to me – i.e. don’t noisily crash pans while over-excited kids are trying to sleep.) He is a really nice person who is always trying, and just often getting it wrong, he bumbles along, a lovely, generous, kind man and great father, who I love, but who is incredibly frustrating to live with.

    Look, I’m a difficult partner because I see these errors he makes dozens of times a week, and I sometimes remark on them, so I’m not a fun, easy, no worries spouse. I just don’t know how to be okay, fun, easy, with giving my children food poisoning.
    I don’t think I’m the more important one in the marital relationship. But Adrian you make a good point when you generally infer that I’m not a pleasant partner when I’m this angered by situations. Should try not to show him my anger, should I hide from my spouse how I really feel, should I suppress emotions? I don’t know. Any advice from the group here on that one is welcomed.

    He asked in the email how to help. My 33-point list was me telling him how to help. It was not intended to smack him down, as you said. Usually I tell him exactly how to help, but it rarely changes the bigger picture, so the 33-point list was just me telling him, in another way, this is what it takes to run this family for only a 9 hour period, and I do this all day every day, and want you to do half of it.
    Adrian, I think I focused on what he didn’t rather than did do, because I don’t care as much about effort as I do about outcomes.

    The money thing is a whole other can of worms, and pertains to Evan’s blog mainly in that Evan tells women to consider marrying men who make less. Those women would be wise to consider such men make less often because they are less quick, less able generally, to plan, research, organise, evaluate, perform, think, work, achieve, than the said woman. Those women will need to be okay with what that realistically looks like when you run a household together. Thankfully my husband is not amotivated, selfish or lazy, features I suspect occur frequently in the group of men who make very little money.

    Adrian I think you and Evan are right and counselling is a good idea. It is of course yet another thing I’ll have to do, but I know you’re right.
    I feel like I should change my name, but it wouldn’t be fair to regular contributors who aren’t reading this section.

  5. 205
    Marika

    Hey Jer Jer

    There are definitely those people who you can’t please and nothing is ever done right. But, surely,  surely making food for a tired, hungry little girl, so she doesn’t go to bed starving, is a no- brainer? I don’t get the sense Mrs Happy is a everything-has-to-be-folded perfectly type. So even a gluten-free toastie would probably have sufficed. Anyway, it wasn’t even for her – it was for his daughter.

    Does a person ever stop trying when it comes to feeding their child?

    Ehhh. It’s making me angry just thinking about it..

  6. 206
    Emily, to

    Jeremy,

    Decide what is important and what isn’t, ’cause I guarantee that not all those 33 things objectively needed to be done (unlike the dinner that should have been).

    I agree. I know mothers are very busy and I’m not in any way undermining what they do, but there are people who create work for themselves. It’s a badge of honor and identity for them to be constantly busy. Being at a child’s weekly soccer games? Probably important. Sitting through the thrice-weekly soccer practices? Not necessary.  (I knew a woman who attended all four of her child’s weekly soccer events and complained about it.)

  7. 207
    S.

    @ Jeremy

    But why is one the balls and one the leg? Just because someone keeps getting up doesn’t mean they weren’t kicked in the balls.  Sometimes you vomit, roll, over, vomit some more, clean it up, and then get up again.  Lather, rinse. Repeat.  I certainly have been kicked in all my sensitive parts this lifetime.  And I happen to be rather sensitive.  And I have not toughened up, thus the dislike of toughlove.  I get up anyway.  It’s get up or die, in my case.  And somehow my body keeps on living, so I figured I’d get the rest of me to as well.

    But do I need to be with someone like that?  Ah, there’s the question.  It’s just so hard to pick us both up time and time again.  I just barely have the strength sometimes for me.  Some women also have that for a child.  We can’t always do that for the life partner too.   And I love me some sweet kind men, I do.  But they gotta pick themselves up.  I’m not even saying all the time!  But sometimes, goodness.  All of our balls hurt sometimes.

    Because while they can think of 2-3 things they might do better, their wife has a list of F-ing 33 with another 66 by bedtime. That is overwhelming,

    That is overwhelming.  But didn’t they decide it together?  And sometimes life is overwhelming and you didn’t decide on it.  Someone gets sick, you have a child with exceptional needs and while that is diagnosed, a parent also has dementia.  This is life.  It is sometimes overwhelming.  You don’t just give up because the list is long, goodness.  You sit down together and divide it up.  I thought folks who married were compatible and before marrying figured out how to communicate and problem solve.  Evan has a point there about marrying the wrong man.

    And yes!  Both need to step the F up and figure it out.  And there are gentle, respectful ways to do that.  But both need to acknowledge there are issues and figure out some solutions.  Otherwise, it just sounds really miserable.

    And about the inkling?  It’s not a game to win or lose. It’s about a harmonious partnership for the rest of this family’s life.  A person can’t just shrug and say they can’t win.  What did they think marriage would be about?  Winning?  What did they think their responsibilities would be?  People need to compare lists, before, during, and after marriage.  I’m not feeling that generous, but I suspect the partner who is probably doing less doesn’t want to know more than an inkling because they don’t really want to do more because as you said, they don’t feel it’s necessary.  I’m not sure how to reconcile this.  With roommates, yes, sometimes I let go of my standards of cleaning for instance, since I didn’t want to be cleaning up after them forever.  But for a marriage?  You have to be able to live with one another’s flaws.

    put effort and time and mental bandwidth

    It’s not what someone actually does, sometimes it’s about sharing the emotional labor.  I’m not quite sure how you spell that out for someone step by step that you’ve been living with for years.   You somehow figured stuff out and I have to hand it to you for that.  You don’t explicitly say it often but you must really love your wife. 🙂

  8. 208
    Jeremy

    S, “why is one the balls and one the leg?”  Good question.  My wife has occasionally complained to me about some aspect of my being or behaviour.  One day I was rude.  One day I had bad breath.  One day I didn’t help out enough with the kids.  The complaints stung, but I got over them – behave better, floss and mouthwash, take the kids and send her to the spa.  But it would be an entirely different animal if she complained to me that she thought I was too stupid, useless, and that she made more money in a few hours of vacation than I did in a week of work.  That would be a kick in the balls, a direct blow to my self-esteem as a man and husband, rather than just a bit of constructive criticism.  I might still get up after such a kick, but it’d be harder.  Much harder.

     

    Mrs Happy, am I only CB when I annoy you?  Is that my superpower today?  I get your frustration.  You’d think by now he’d have learned, at least learned to put the meat away.  I wonder what’s on his mind instead?  What’s he thinking about?  I’d put the meat away because I fear gastro, as you know.  But then, I also fear large spiders and would likely jump on a plane to Canada if I saw one of your hand-sized Aussie monsters, or large snakes in a pool.  Is he just happy-go-lucky confident because he doesn’t think of the future like we do?  That’s tough because it doesn’t change.  I sometimes envy people like that, wonder if I’d be happier lobotomized….

  9. 209
    Jeremy

    Oh, and S., I DO really love my wife.  She is so very worthy of love.  But while that certainly helped me figure it out, the other thing that did was patience.  I am a patient person, it’s what I do for a living, it’s how beautiful systems get built, how complex plans come to fruition.

     

    When I built my reef aquarium (a hobby of mine), you start by doing your research.  The ecosystem, the plumbing, the electrical, the lighting, the biology.  You build the tank and stand, mix the water, test the salinity and pH and temperature.  Add the sand, cultivate the bacteria and then the plankton.  Add the invertebrates.  Add the fishes in the correct order so as to allow the weaker, smaller ones to establish themselves before adding the aggressive ones.  Monitor, dose, and if you do it right you end up with a glorious ecosystem that will fascinate you for years.  Glorious and happy-making….a job done right.  Patience.

  10. 210
    Adrian

    Hi Mrs. Happy,

    For the record I actually agree with you.

    After reading your comment twice I notice that you list many practical reasons to stay with your husband, but not once did you say because you are in love with him… It sounds like you love him but you are NOT in love with him.

    I’m curious if you are more like the women you tell us about than you realize? You know the women you always mention who are “only” with their husbands because they don’t want to lose their life style.

    I get it, kids are important and you want them to have a father, but what good is them having a father around when simultaneously they are watching their mother slowly deteriorate?

    I mean right now if you found out that he was cheating or if he wanted a divorce which would be more hurt: your ego or your heart? Would your first thought be, “I’m losing the man I love” Or “I don’t want to be a single mom/I don’t want my kids to be without a father/what will people think?”

    Only you can answer these questions, but for me I can’t see staying in a relationship like that. I mean if you have been telling him the same things for 10 years, I doubt he will change…

    I say just count down until your youngest is 18 THEN divorce him and find yourself a hot young pool boy! (^_^)

     

  11. 211
    Mrs Happy

    CB,

    CB is a term of endearment.  I wasn’t annoyed with you – surely you realise that.  I can return to J.  You already noted I dropped the ‘dear’ – even tho my fingers itch to type it at the start of every post to anyone specific – to increase your comfort.

    The income comment would hurt you (and many men) because you place your value to your family in how much you can financially support them.  It is not unknown to my husband how much I earn on a workday, let alone a day off, since we share accounts, and he does some of my invoicing; I wasn’t telling him anything new.  The income comment was mainly to reinforce that I don’t see my primary role as a homemaker or mental list load bearer.  If he earned all/most of the money, I’d happily do the 60 mental load tasks without whining much, as well as most of the childcare and housework, because those would be my contributions.  Marriages with more traditional role divisions are happier marriages, as your research would have told you, and the sense of more equal contributions is probably a big part of why that is so.  A married man earning my salary would do about 1% of the childcare, housework and home/family mental load that I do; his main contribution would be just the salary, because he would have a wife to do the rest.  I don’t get a wife.

     

    Adrian,

    to answer your questions, though I’m reluctant to bore the readership with more personal details so think I should stop soon:

    I don’t talk about my tender feelings for my husband over the internet because they’re not for public consumption (plus I was having a whinge, so negativity was trumping tenderness).   I love him but am not in giddy love with him, because giddy love wears off over time.

    I don’t need a partner for maintenance of our comfortable lifestyle, or status, as I have both even without him.  (I’d be richer lifelong if we divorced now, because we’d halve our current asset pool, then I’d have a few decades of high earning all for myself.)

    Of course my husband won’t change; that’s marriage – putting up with a spouse’s annoying traits for the greater benefit.

    Hot young pool boys do absolutely nothing for me because their IQ is low, and if it’s just about sex, men in their 20’s are less talented in bed than older men.

    If my husband and I split up, I’d deteriorate faster, and be more overwhelmed, because he does do some things which make my life easier, e.g. this morning we all cycled to the local netball courts, and he pumped up and oiled all the bike tyres and chains etc, before we set off, then he cycled back home to pick up a forgotten netball, then when my 6 y o went on strike half way home too tired to scoot any more, and lay on the ground refusing to move, crying about being hungry, my husband cycled home, got a car, made a cheese sandwich, drove back, fed our son, and drove tired complaining boy home, while I cycled back with our daughter.  One quick example of one quick family outing which would’ve been much, much, harder as a single mum, mainly because in typing this I realise my children are complete marshmallows with no grit.

    I wouldn’t break up with him if he cheated on me.  I think.  Because we have kids.

    If he wanted a divorce, in my current state of mind, my first thought would probably be, oh great, more things to organise and do.

    Adrian, once you marry and have kids your attitude to what you’ll put up with in a relationship will change.  This happens to most people.

     

  12. 212
    Jeremy

    We all love to intuit  Adrian, but the key to successful intuiting is to put one’s self into not only the other’s situation, but also their personality. Idealists have difficulty doing this, especially with rationals. Young people have difficulty doing this, especially with people of more experience, age, and responsibility.

     

    Idealists have the hardest time with marriage of all the types except dopaminergic explorers. Their ideas of how things ‘should’ be are often impossible to reconcile with reality. Their maturity comes when they realize that their problem is with their ‘shoulds’ and not with the world.  We all have some element of this in our psyche. That was not directed at Mrs Happy.

  13. 213
    Jeremy

    I have way over-posted to this thread, because I so feel for you and want to help, Mrs Happy.  I have one final thought that I hope you will read.

     

    Of all the advice I can muster, the one key point is this – hire a new housekeeper/nanny ASAP.  Let that be your singular focus, above all else right now.  Let nothing else stand in your way.  Because once all the crap is delegated away from you, once you have emotional breathing space, your equilibrium will restore itself.  Any conversations and decisions you make with/about your husband before that will be heavily coloured by the bleakness you now feel.  To have any hope for mutually successful resolution, that conversation will have to focus equally on each of you loving yourself and loving each other.  If it’s just about each loving oneself, it will fail.

     

    I employ a full-time nanny and part-time cleaner, even though my wife is home much of the time.  I catered the food for my upcoming Passover seders, even though my wife was willing (and asked!) to cook.  Because I know that if she does all that work, she will have no bandwidth for happiness, for love, for me.  I will then get “grumpy” and she will wonder why the F   I should be grumpy since she did all the work.  A problem you can solve with money isn’t a problem, it’s an expense.

     

    Tonight my people will ask the question “Why is this night different from all other nights?”  Then we will answer that question.  For you, I’d modify the question slightly – “Why should this night be different from all previous nights?”  And then do what you’ve been doing all your life my friend, my personality-sister, solve the problem.

  14. 214
    Emily, to

    Hi Mrs. Happy,

    Don’t worry about posting about your issue too much. I think we are all learning from your posts.

    Adrian, once you marry and have kids your attitude to what you’ll put up with in a relationship will change.  This happens to most people.

    When I read Adrian’s response to you, this was my first thought: But she has kids. It’s hard for those of us who don’t have kids to understand because our first thought to most situations that seem destined to stay the way they are is: Just leave. But you’d be ripping up the fabric of four peoples’ lives.

     I love him but am not in giddy love with him, because giddy love wears off over time.

    Who is giddily in love after a couple of years? That wears off for everyone.

    Hot young pool boys do absolutely nothing for me because their IQ is low, and if it’s just about sex, men in their 20’s are less talented in bed than older men.

    When Adrian suggested the pool boy for you, I thought: I don’t think that’s Mrs. Happy’s thing. But I will disagree that older men are better. I remember being in my 20s and hooking up with a man in his early 40s to see if there was a difference. There wasn’t.

  15. 215
    Adrian

    Hi Mrs. Happy, Jeremy, and Emily

    Mrs. Happy said, “I don’t talk about my tender feelings for my husband over the internet because they’re not for public consumption

    I respect that, so the last thing I’ll say on the subject is this… You may want to ask yourself why you felt okay to go on and on with multiple paragraphs in multiple post about your husbands faults “publicly” but yet feel saying how much you love him is something the public shouldn’t know…

    Emily said, “It’s hard for those of us who don’t have kids to understand because our first thought to most situations that seem destined to stay the way they are is: Just leave. But you’d be ripping up the fabric of four peoples’ lives.

    You’re right of course Emily. But I will say this, I remember being over my friends house when we were small when they had fights or when they were not talking, or when their was just general tension in the air. Years later they divorced when they youngest went to college. The kids were upset that the parents divorced while the parents were both (in my opinion) damaged from forcing themselves to stay together for the kids…

    So… Yay! They sacrificed their mental and emotional well being and the kids got the great example of living in an environment of unhappiness. I guess everyone won!…

    Placing your children’s happiness before your own is the MOST “selfish” thing that people treat as “selfless”. There is a difference between making sacrifices for their happiness and just completely abandoning your own happiness for theirs.

    I’m not talking about your or Mrs. Happy Emily, but that mentality just triggers me. It’s like the people who fight and condemn others for having abortions but where are those same people when that single mother is struggling to feed, cloth, and support that child?

    Jeremy said, ” Idealists have difficulty doing this, especially with rationals.

    I would like to know if I am an idealist or rational, or explore, or guardian. Any sites with good test you would recommend?

    Is there a book you used to understand how each type acts in relationships?

  16. 216
    Emily, to

    Big Adrian,
    Placing your children’s happiness before your own is the MOST “selfish” thing that people treat as “selfless”. There is a difference between making sacrifices for their happiness and just completely abandoning your own happiness for theirs.
    I see what you’re saying and I agree with it. While someone abandoning his/her own happiness for his kids’ happiness triggers you, someone prioritizing his own needs over his kids’ needs triggers me. I had a father who did that, an uncle who did that. It was first and foremost all about them and then their romantic relationships. Kids were third on the list, if that. So I do have respect for someone who is thinking of the impact their actions have on their children.
    I would like to know if I am an idealist or rational, or explore, or guardian. Any sites with good test you would recommend?
    I wonder what you are. I’m an idealist with a big chunk of explorer. You have to have some of the rational or guardian in you but maybe a little bit of idealist. And given your sexual proclivities, maybe a little bit of explorer.  🙂

  17. 217
    Jeremy

    You aren’t a type Adrian  you are a unique individual.  Types don’t really exist ,which is why I don’t like recommending books about them. The books make it sound like these types are things that people are, rather than heuristics to help us think.

     

    I find the types useful because I notice that some people tend to focus on things and experiences (the concrete) , while others focus more on ideas (the abstract).  Of those who focus on ideas, there are those who focus on ideas that give them a sense of meaning and identity, and there are those who focus on what works in the real world. And then there are those who do both … And are usually deeply conflicted about that.

     

    But personality tests are profoundly useless because they rely on us to report ourselves accurately, to know ourselves. How many people, even here on this blog, believe themselves to be rational but really are totally mired in how they believe the world ‘should’ be in their limited model, their tunnel vision? Rational or idealist? The last person to know is themselves.

     

    My comment above simply meant that a person who focuses on shoulds can’t easily imagine the perspective of the person who doesn’t care one whit about what ‘should ‘ be, but only on what IS.

  18. 218
    Adrian

    Hi Emily,

    You said, “someone prioritizing his own needs over his kids’ needs triggers me.

    I COMPLETELY agree with you on this. That is why there has to be balance but it seems like people DO step-up and criticize parents who put their needs before their children but NO ONE steps up and says anything about parents sacrificing their own happiness for their children-it’s actually applauded.

    Plus I operate under the motto of “don’t know love, can’t show love.” I truly believe that a person who doesn’t know how to love themselves, how to treat themselves right and how to walk away when they are being mistreated, that person (to me) will NOT be able to show “healthy” love to another person.

    Obviously parents should focus on their children’s well-being and happiness but again I must ask, “can a miserable unhappy person raise children in a healthy happy environment?”

    Emily would you want to date someone who came from such an environment where they genuinely believed that such an environment was normal and YOU were the one with a problem (or an idealist) because you saw their or their parents behavior as abnormal? Just look at all the push back Evan gets when he says healthy relationships don’t require work… People see him as abnormal because they are use to having to work hard to be happy in relationships (different from putting in effort)…. You know the saying, “relationships require work.”

    …   …   …

    You said,”And given your sexual proclivities, maybe a little bit of explorer.

    You’re silly and you know it (^_^).

    Besides the new cool girl on the block/blog with the hip new nickname Mariks seems more of an explorer than me…. Sorry Marika but I’ve got to pass the sexual teasing buck onto you (^_^).

  19. 219
    Lynx

    @Emily, to: “It was first and foremost all about them and then their romantic relationships. Kids were third on the list, if that.” 

    Am I your mom?! That’s exactly what my kids have experienced with their father.

    @Adrian: I understand why you consider it to be a twisted kind of selfish for an unhappy couple to stay together for the kids, looking at it objectively. But real families are more complicated.

    My parents ostensibly stayed together for my sibling and I, but in truth, if they had divorced, I don’t think they would have been any happier and we all would have taken a financial hit. After we left home, their relationship improved. While they were never a great love story, they trusted the other would be there through thick and thin. There is something to be said for loyalty in an indifferent world.

    I did not separate from my kids’ father until they were in their early teens, and was their single, full-time mom throughout their high school years (they spent, at most, one week a year with their father — his choice, but the kids were fine with it). Despite everything, I wouldn’t have separated sooner because single parenting is really, really hard. And I had far more advantages compared to many single moms.

    Probably the hardest part is feeling you must be the best role model you can be, ALL the time. You must ALWAYS be patient, consistent, set appropriate boundaries, delegate appropriate responsibility, follow through with appropriate consequences because they are biologically wired to rebel against their parents.

    When another parent is there, even if they’re not the most engaged parent ever, you still get a reprieve every so often. When you have reached the absolute end of your patience, there’s someone to take the baton from you for a while.

    That went long. Suffice it to say – divorcing with kids is not a straightforward decision.

  20. 220
    Emily, to

    Big A, 
    NO ONE steps up and says anything about parents sacrificing their own happiness for their children-it’s actually applauded.
    You’re right, and not to sound sexist, but it’s particularly applauded when women sacrifice.
    Emily would you want to date someone who came from such an environment where they genuinely believed that such an environment was normal and YOU were the one with a problem (or an idealist) because you saw their or their parents behavior as abnormal?
    I don’t understand what you’re asking me. But I am an idealist. I looked for the Brady Bunch in the family of every childhood friend I had. It doesn’t exist.
    Besides the new cool girl on the block/blog with the hip new nickname Mariks seems more of an explorer than me
    Oh, yeah. I hear Mariks is down for anything.   🙂 Her doppelganger Marika? Much more conservative.  🙂

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