KB in New York writes:
I am divorced, with a beautiful six-year-old daughter, and I recently lost my job. I have been using much of my time wisely – finishing up my schooling and searching for new employment. However, the man I have been dating for almost a year and a half seems to be struggling with his own “demons” (not yet ex-wife, and a fondness for gambling). I am concerned that with all I have going on in my own life, I might be staying in a relationship that is bound for doom – or is there a silver lining?
Things may seem a bit gray and stormy now, but the sun will shine on your life once again. Don’t pressure yourself into rushing to judgments or decisions- just continue to evaluate things as they unfold.
Your boyfriend’s demons seem to be very connected. The more stress he encounters with the almost-ex, the more he is inclined to gamble. His gambling is honestly the bigger issue of the two. Eventually, his divorce issues will settle into history, but the gambling is a sickness that will remain. There are many times when he has his gambling more or less under control, but when things become stressful for him, it is his first avenue of escape.
Sometimes, this activity pays off and soothes him. Other times, he walks away more stressed-out, over his losses. While he isn’t going to risk the house, his habits have caused a bit of financial disruption in his life. This is definitely something you need to be aware of, because it does affect the relationship he shares with you.
Your relationship isn’t bound for doom and failure, but there are some issues that need to be addressed. You currently do find a level of safety and familiarity in your relationship, so there is no reason to make any drastic decisions at this point.
As complicated as it is, it does bring to you a sense of balance even though there are problems. However, you do need to talk to the man and express your concerns. Now isn’t the time for ultimatums or demands – particularly where his gambling is concerned – but it is the time to clearly lay out how you want the future to unfold for you and your daughter.
Because your life has its own stresses and complications outside of your relationship, you have the perfect opportunity to step back just a bit, focus on your own stuff, and not be such a pillar of support to your boyfriend. One of these days, he will have to learn how to be a bit more proactive in taking control of his life and issues. He is a good man, he just has a bit more self-imposed baggage than he needs to be carrying around.
As your life comes together with a new job and a bit of self-transformation, your guy will be more open to improving himself. When things are clicking into place for you this fall, he will take a longer, harder look at himself and his actions. This includes his gambling addiction. Because he doesn’t want to be without you, he will be open to getting help. This is a challenge that he can face and overcome, but you need to help him with this problem by being gentle but clear that his gambling has impeded the progress of this relationship. In order to protect stability for your daughter and yourself, you are and should remain cautious. Not only will he understand your position and concerns, he will willingly jump through any hoops you request.
Many things are going to change for you from now through October, as you are on a bit of a healing path for yourself. So, while you can continue building a more stable relationship with this man, I’m not sure that in your heart this is really what you want. In the end, the success or ending of this romance isn’t at the mercy of fate or your guy – the outcome will be decided by you.