Dear Annie: My boyfriend and I are in love, and we’ve been together for five years and have lived together for the past three years. He moved in with me after his divorce. Now, from that divorce, his credit was horrible. So, since living together, I pay all of the household bills and occasionally help him with his bills because he is “trying to get his credit straightened out.”
Herein lies the problem. I had no issue with this when it began, and it was actually my idea to help him in this way, but it has now been three years and counting. He still claims he never has any money to help, yet we make the same amount of money. How is this possible? He seems to have money for alcohol, cigarettes and anything else he wants. What started out as a loving favor now feels like a nightmare. I try to communicate my feelings to him, but he always makes it emotionally devastating for him and manages to end the conversation or change the subject.
I now feel taken advantage of and see no end in sight. I have great credit and carry very little debt, but he somehow cannot seem to get his act together, and it is starting to change how I feel about him, mainly because I feel walked on, unappreciated and taken advantage of. Am I wrong to feel this way? Should I continue to help the man I love? I do not want to hurt him, but this is starting to take a serious toll on my finances, as I cannot get ahead this way. I do not want to ask him to leave because he has nowhere to go, and I feel responsible for him and I still love him. Help me decide what to do. — Feeling Stuck
Dear Feeling Stuck: It sure sounds like you’re being taken advantage of, so you’re definitely not wrong to feel that way. At the risk of sounding cheesy: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” In other words, rather than simply giving him money, sit down with him and help him assess his finances, create a strategy to get out of debt, boost his credit, etc. You should also explain to him how this imbalance makes you feel — unappreciated, taken advantage of, used.
It’s possible that he was never taught how to be financially literate, and he is embarrassed. Or maybe he’s lazy and wants to get money out of you. Neither is acceptable in a partnership, but having these conversations with him will help you get to the bottom of it and find a solution.
Dear Annie: I enjoy your column and find most of your suggestions very thoughtful and helpful. I find your response to “Let Me Finish, Please,” whose mother-in-law frequently talks over her when she is responding to a question from her husband, to be a reasonable option. I’d like to offer another because some mother-/daughter in-law relationships can be very tricky.
It might be received much better if the message came from the mother-in-law’s son rather than her daughter in-law. If he were to say, “Excuse me, Mom, but I do want to hear from ‘Mary,'” each time she talks over “Mary,” she may catch on. If not, he could be the one to say, “Hey, Mom. I’ve noticed that sometimes you have a tendency to talk over ‘Mary.’ I’m sure you don’t intend to and would want me to let you know.” I know for 100% certain that if I had that type of direct conversation with my mother-in-law, she wouldn’t believe me and would be very offended, but she might listen to her son. Plus, “Mary” will feel supported by her husband on the issue. — Getting a Word in
Dear Getting a Word in: I couldn’t agree with you more; thank you for this suggestion. Even if this mother- and daughter-in-law are close, you’re right that this sort of a comment may land better coming from her son instead of from his bride.
“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]