1/16/2000 Advice Column
The problem is that I have it much more together than he does. I am on the career track, and I am universally acknowledged to have lots of "earning potential"-- I am going to work hard and earn money. He is the antithesis of this; he's not against work, per se, but he's not corporate. He wants to ocean kayak and rock climb and ski and lead tours to Latin America. We joked early on that he would be the house-husband and I would earn all the money.
He also has a very significant amount of debt-- twenty thousand dollars. When his previous relationship of 5.5 years broke up (VERY acrimoniously), his girlfriend shoveled her credit card debt onto him, arguing that she had supported him and he deserved to assume debt she had undertaken. Despite the fact that he had no idea she was getting herself into debt, he accepted the debt load, because it seemed the honorable way to end things and to get her out of his hair. Now, of course, he has no chance of paying it back and might go bankrupt.
I love him. Everyone loves him, but more than one of my family members has come to me to express doubts about him. At first I shrugged off all the criticisms, saying, "If I love him, and I do, we will make things work."
Now I am considering breaking things off. He is the sweetest, kindest, gentlest person; he would be the most wonderful father I can think of; he is attractive, decent, and devoted to me. In other areas, we have nothing in common: he is outdoorsy, adventuresome, confident and arbitrary, while I am bookish, ambitious, tentative, and reserved.
My question to you is: Is it possible to wish someone well, to want him to be happy, and yet to know on a deep level that it just isn't going to work? Part of me wants to hold on to him, just because he is so special. The other part sees fights in the future, conflicts over money and attention.
Perhaps I have answered my own question. I don't know. It is cathartic simply to write about this. Thank you for your time.
The fact is, a man who earns a lot of money will of course be a good provider, but not necessarily the best husband. You say you make good money and can make lots more in the future. So why do you worry about what he makes? Are you looking for a mate or a meal ticket? It doesn't sound like he's intimidated by your earning potential.
Frankly, none of your objections to him would matter to me. A man who is kind, loving and gentle, sweet and devoted to you, should not be thrown away lightly, no matter what your friends and family think. After all, they're not the ones who will have to live with him, you are. A man who makes a lot of money and is devoted to his work won't be devoted to you in the same way, I promise you.
Also, the fact that he is adventurous, outdoorsy and confident can't hurt. You don't need a clone of yourself to marry. You need someone who will appreciate what you are, but who can bring something different to the relationship. Maybe he'd even get you to look around and enjoy the world in a different way. And perhaps you could encourage him to be more financially responsible.
However, it is true that some men are wonderful and yet we can't live with them or marry them. If you are really going to resent the fact that you make more or have a better credit rating than he has, then give him a break and let him find someone who will appreciate his special qualities.
Don't be surprised, though, if you wind up regretting letting this one get away.
Most couples who experiment with swinging find that it's a one-time thrill. They try it and then decide to live without it. Couples who do successfully "open" their marriages are very secure in their love for each other. They must be able to participate in all kinds of sex acts with others and never have it affect their relationship.
They also have very definite ground rules for what goes and what doesn't. For example, it's okay to have sex with someone else with your partner watching, but not if your partner's not there. Couples who live in open marriages don't feel jealous because they replace those jealous feelings with feelings of happiness that their mate is having so much pleasure.
If that sounds like something you'd have trouble with, don't experiment with outside sex in your marriage. The fact that you felt jealous, hurt and upset with just seeing your wife kiss another man should tell you that you aren't going to be happy if she has sex with another man.
You are having normal male possessive feelings. You feel guilty because it was probably your suggestion in the first place, and your fantasy to see her with another guy. But now that there is a chance this will move beyond fantasy to reality, you are having second thoughts and feeling jealous.
Tell your wife how you feel. Cancel turning your fantasy into reality. This kind of experiment is not for you.
just a fool in love in CA
The problem is that you let her sweet talk you into taking her back after she's spent time with her roommate over your objections. Since she's been able to have you both for so long and get away with it, and since she's always been able to talk her way back into your heart, she has learned that you'll put up with whatever she does.
Once you've taught someone that they can walk all over you and get away with it, you have no future except to get treated badly over and over again. By putting up with her bad behavior you're destroying your self-esteem. You can't feel very good about yourself when you're being played for such a sucker.
Of course she should have spent her birthday with you, and all those other days too. And if you keep taking her back, your heart will get broken over and over again. As long as she lives with her ex, they'll continue to torture you with outings where you're not included. It's time to take care of yourself. Insist that things change or don't take her back. Tell her you're going to find someone else, and start taking steps to do just that. Better to go through the pain of a real breakup than to commit yourself to endless heartbreak .
Stick to your guns and get your self-respect back.
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