He ain't heavy, he's my soulmate
November 23, 2012 11:51 PM Subscribe
I'm the one who works and he is financially dependent on me. How can I make him never, ever feel like a burden?
posted by dean winchester to Human Relations (25 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
In light of some recent questions where the asker is the dependent one in a relationship, I want to know from those with experience: What NOT to do?
Details: We've been together since 1998. He had been employed in the same physically-grueling type of job for 25 years. His back pain was killing him and getting worse every day. He got laid off in '09, but the industry where he had always worked was laying off, certainly not hiring. For the better part of a year, he sent off resumes and applications to any place that looked like it MIGHT be a good fit, if you squinted. He would go to interviews in his spiffy suits and, the minute they saw how old he was (in his 50s), the interview would effectively shut down.
I didn't like what it was doing to him, how the whole thing made him feel so worthless, so I crunched the numbers on my salary at the time and figured out a way to make my salary alone take care of us. I told him that if he wanted to retire and just step out of the rat race completely, that I could make it work. It was difficult at first, but so far I have. Since then, I've gotten a better job, so we're even more stable. I was happy to do this for him, I feel proud that I was able to do this and grateful that our circumstances were such that I could suggest it and follow through.
The thing is, his family is horrible. Some of his friends are horrible or tease him about it. Even though we've told his family together what the arrangement is, and I've taken them aside to REPEAT what the arrangement is, they continue to make him feel lousy for "dropping out" and "giving up." They can't seem to wrap their heads around it that I make enough to care for our family of three, that I would WANT to and that this doesn't bother me. Every get-together, they ask him if he's "found anything" and seem to have grown more suspicious of me in general, like I'm hiding/planning something. They ask if make enough to buy us a house (we rent). Since I don't, this is taken as "not enough, then... if YOU worked too, you could have a house..."
He comes away from these get-togethers feeling like a failure. For about a month after, he plots ways to bring money in, business ideas, certifications he could go pursue... I support him in all endeavors he tries to put his hand to, but I know it's because of them and that, with his terrible chronic pain, he's otherwise happy and relieved to be retired.
Here are some of the things I currently do:
- I don't ask him "what have you done today?" (He does plenty without being asked.) I ask "how was your day?" instead.
- I say "WE got paid today" on payday
- And I say "OUR money" when I'm referring to what's in the bank
- I discuss any big purchases (anything over $100 around here counts as a "big" purchase) with him before making them
- I never whine about anything to do with work, because he reads this as "ugh, but she has to do it alone", which isn't my intention.
- I respect his time as much as I would want mine respected. I never make assumptions that he's "home all day" so he could, for example, wait there all day for a package. This is a recent one I've fixed when I realized I was doing it. He's a grown man, he goes to the library and out for lunch and to museums, so I assume I need to double-check that his time is available as much as my own.
What else can I be doing, or make sure I'm NOT doing? Anyone with this kind of experience: what did you have done to you in that situation that made you feel like crap, something the other person might not have even realized they did? What do you wish that the other person/s had done to make you feel better about the situation, and to neutralize negative family BS? I'm trying to be mindful, I love him dearly and I would never want him to feel some of the emotions I read in questions here where the situation is reversed.