Dear Annie: I have been with my boyfriend “Scott” for almost 11 years. We have been together since high school. We had a baby when we were young, and I’ve worked since I was of legal age to do so, only taking a break for maternity leave. Scott didn’t start working until our daughter was 2. He worked for a small company where he ran his own location, and he was the only one there. They didn’t pay him for working weekends and paid him late almost every month, and he made a very low wage considering he was in charge. He ended up leaving the job and then came back a year later for a few months.
Since then, he has not sought employment. When he quit the second time, he said it was because he didn’t like the job, and I told him he needs to look for another job right away. It’s been three years since then. Now he says he stopped working so he could be a stay-at-home dad so we didn’t have to pay for child care. We have just barely been able to make ends meet with only my income.
Now I want to go to college and I need him to step up. He agreed to get a part-time job while I am in school, and I will continue to work on the weekends. He doesn’t have a license, so we will be buying him a bike. He needs to renew his ID before he will be ready to work. I can’t get him to apply for any jobs. I even offered to fill out applications for him, but he refuses to give me his email address, so I can’t even start an application. I ask him why, and he says he doesn’t feel ready to do that. We have a whole plan laid out to get him ready, and applying a week before we have his ID won’t make a big difference.
He won’t communicate how he’s feeling. He always just shuts down when it comes to talking about his feelings. I need him to work or we will not be able to pay our rent. Even if I break up with him, it won’t give me more income to keep my apartment while I’m in school.
How can I get him motivated to work and get him to communicate with me? I start school at the beginning of the summer, so we are on a time limit! — Dealing With a Dud of a Dad
Dear Dealing With a Dud: First off, give yourself a pat on the back. Wanting to enroll in college, working to support yourself and your family, raising your daughter and keeping the household in order all at the same time shows what a hardworking, ambitious woman you are.
Start by getting the logistics in order. Sit down with Scott and discuss how to make this work, covering everything from your schedules to child care to a basic monthly budget. He might be feeling overwhelmed and unprepared because he doesn’t understand what the day-to-day will look like. But anxiety aside, tell him that under no circumstances can he continue acting like another kid you have to take care of.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]