First off, I just want to say that I read your advice letters a lot and I love them. I am one who does not really go to family or friends for advice because they can be well….Biased.
So, I am hoping you could give me some well needed advice. I am 20 years old and I have been dating my boyfriend for two years now. We have a great relationship, honestly I couldn’t ask for a better person to be with.
So, with saying that, one might ask well, what is the problem, then? Well, my boyfriend has made some poor decisions when he was younger that followed him into his adult years. Unfortunately, circumstances led to him turning to less than legit ways to support himself, along with getting in trouble with the law. Not that I am making excuses, but I just wanted to point that out.
Fast forward, he has turned his life around and is doing a lot better for himself. He says a lot of this is because of the support I give him. However, needless to say, it has been hard for him to find a steady job because of his record. He has been diligent about finding employment, but it just hasn’t worked out yet. Now, this so far has not affected our relationship. I am low-maintenance and a five dollar matinee or cuddling in front of the TV is a good time to me.
But, I do want to pursue a much serious relationship in a few years, and possibly a marriage. I currently have a job that pays great, so that’s not the issue, but I have been raised in a dual income household and a family where traditional views like the man is supposed to work and support the woman, bring home the bacon, etc.. Like I said, this is not a problem now because I’m still at home, but if we were to be married I’m scared of how things will work out.
I don’t want finances to be an issue within our relationship. What kind of advice can you give me with this? – Can A Woman Be The Bread-Winner
Dear Ms. Can A Woman Be The Bread-Winner,
Stop right here. You are already thinking about how you can take care of a man. No ma’am. You are already speaking into existence a situation of where you are the bread-winner, and you are the primary source of income. Uhm, hell to the no! And, there’s nothing wrong with women being the bread-winner in the family. Hell, I know plenty of women who are making money. But, you don’t want to carry someone who is not willing to carry themselves. You don’t want to get caught up in a situation and you’re the sole provider. Don’t resign yourself so soon to this situation or condition.
Now, Sweetie, you’re 20 years old and talking about marriage? You haven’t really lived life, yet. You’re a young woman, living at home, earning money, and probably saving your money and spending it on you, and living in luxury. Here you are talking about marriage before you’ve had the opportunity to live on your own, uhm, well, get back to me once you’ve lived a good year on your own and you’ve had to pay all your own expenses without the support of your parents, then we can talk.
I love how these young folks think life is grand, and they have the grandiose ideas of marriage and how things will be wonderful and full of bliss. Reality will bite you in the a**, and once you have to pay bills, combine incomes, and live on a budget, life will get you together real quick. It’s not as easy as you may think it is. Paying rent/mortgage, your car note, food, utilities, and other personal finances will deplete your income rather quickly. It’s not easy to save money, and especially since your boyfriend doesn’t earn a lot of money, or his employment is oftentimes sketchy. You don’t want to become the sole provider and income earner in your home, then other issues will arise, such as emotional, mental, and physical abuse to one another. You will begin to take out your frustrations on one another, and before you know it your relationship will be over.
Look, I’m not knocking your dreams of wanting to marry your boyfriend, one day. But, this is a bit pre-mature. Yes, you should be concerned that he has a record which prevents him from gaining employment in some career fields, and his potential for earning income will be less than yours. However, I know many people who have records and have been quite successful in other areas, and other career fields and had the potential to earn a considerable income. The point here is that his future and his destiny is up to him. He has to want to stay legit, continue to do the right thing, and become assertive and build himself with educational resources (like going to school and earning a degree, building contacts and resource networks).
It won’t be easy, and he will get frustrated along the way, but, he has to stay the course, remain positive, and continue to assert himself even when he feels like giving up. It’s great you are a source of inspiration and encouragement for him, but in return you also need to be inspired and encouraged. Don’t invest all your energy and time in someone who is not investing back into you.
Also, I do suggest that you learn how to be independent before you move from one dependent situation and into another. You mentioned that you live with your parents, and though you may feel you are independent. However, you have the luxury of living in your parents home, probably rent free, utility free, and you get to save your money and spend it casually. Sweetie, that is not independence. You are still dependent on your family. And, you haven’t learned how to be independent yet. And, you didn’t mention if you were school. I strongly encourage you to get into school, and work on getting a degree. Yes, you may have a nice little job, but add that extra umph to your credentials. Don’t settle here. Go for more.
You see, there is so much more you can be doing and thinking about other than marriage, and worrying about whether or not if your boyfriend will be able to take care of you. How about you take care of yourself. Learn how to be self-sufficient, so that you won’t ever have to worry about someone else taking care of you. Don’t ever put yourself in a situation where you are reliant upon someone else for your well-being. No ma’am!
What happens if he loses his job, or he is not earning enough to take care of the household, then what? What happens if he decides to up and walk out on you and leave you with everything, then what? What happens when children come into the picture and it’s not longer just you and him, but you have other mouths to feed, then what?
Slow down. Continue to date, have fun, and be supportive of one another. But, it’s not just all about supporting him. You need some maturity, growing up, and encouragement as well. You’re a young woman with a full life ahead of you. You deserve to have fun, spending time with friends and loved ones, traveling the world, and getting your education. You shouldn’t be burdened and worried about marriage with someone whom their destiny is of their own doing, especially if he has a record, and his employment is not steady. Let him continue to prove himself, and show you what he is willing to do, and how far he can push himself. That is not your burden to bear. – Terrance Dean
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