Sioni in San Diego writes:
I’m in a relationship with someone, and we’ve been living together for two years now. My problem is that he had baggage when I met him. He has two small kids that he adores, but he is manipulated by his ex, who is still hoping that they’ll get back together as a family. Also, he has an elderly mother who is hard to deal with, as I found out when I spent time helping her care for her husband before he passed away. Actually, she even stayed with us for three months after this, and made us all unhappy.
I also own the home that we’re living in, and I am financially stable. My boyfriend, although he has a good career and is making good money, seems unstable financially, and sometimes emotionally as well. I need your advice if this relationship is worth the sacrifice. I’m beginning to get confused about the whole thing.
I can’t make the final decisions for you, but it does seem as if your current relationship is not the one that will carry you through your final days.
Your boyfriend has made his choice in women — he has no intention of leaving you in order to get back with his ex-wife. However, he doesn’t know how to firmly stand up to his ex and her manipulations, because he fears that there would be negative consequences that would harm his relationship with his kids. He is always going to have to deal with the woman, and more often than not, how he deals with her will not be to your liking. If other areas of your relationship with him were stronger, this wouldn’t be such a big issue for you.
His mother is, was, and will always be a pain in your butt. There is no getting around it. The older she gets, the less sunny her disposition will be. I don’t see the two of you achieving a positive mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship. You simply tolerate each other. Be warned, this woman will expect you to care for her as she ages. It is, in her eyes, your duty because you are with her son. And, you would do it, too.
As for your boyfriend’s emotional stability, he has problems, but he does try to handle them to the best of his ability. He doesn’t necessarily understand what all of his issues are, or the impact they have on you. As for his financial issues … well, the man knows you have him covered. His life is better and easier in many ways because he has you. You are the stronger, more responsible party, particularly when it comes to dealing with the daily life issues.
All of these influences, and several others, have influenced your relationship with this man. You may want to love him, but you do not love him the way you once did. Many things need to change, and your personal relationship with him needs to be healed, or this relationship will not withstand the test of time.
You know what you have now, and you can see how your future will likely unfold, if you choose to stay in this relationship. You don’t like what you see, but your fear of winding up alone is currently what keeps you bound. Eventually, because you will continue to try to improve this relationship and your happiness in it, you will lose the confusion and come to the conclusion that this is not how you want to live your life.
Some relationships aren’t meant to last forever. They can — if you allow them to. It will be a while before you have your own answers. Until then, try and make the best of what you have while learning to live your life a little more for you. That isn’t selfish — it’s survival.
Best of luck to you,