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Let’s see if we can help Shelley with her situation. Shelley has been with her boyfriend for about 3 years, and they have a very loving, happy relationship. There’s just one problem: The boyfriend has been out of work for 2 of those 3 years, and Shelley is starting to look at the future of the relationship.
The boyfriend is looking for work, but the failed interviews are starting to pile up in his wake. It’s not as if he’s uneducated; he has an MBA (in what, we don’t know), but that education isn’t helping him find a job. He’s also at the end of his unemployment funding, so his parents have started helping to pay for his needs.
A couple of short-term temp jobs have come and gone. Meanwhile, Shelley has a stable career for herself, and used to work two jobs to make ends meet. Shelley insists that they have a fantastic relationship in every other way, and have even discussed marriage…but she’s growing frustrated with the lack of forward movement in her boyfriend’s life.
The breaking point has almost been reached. She’s considering giving him a 2-3 month deadline to find a job, or else the relationship is over.
I guess I’m old enough to remember the 70s, when the notion of a man asking a woman to get a job was still a relatively alien concept. That isn’t to say that women weren’t having careers by choice back then, but the “man goes to work, woman takes care of the house and kids” mindset was still attached to the American Dream.
Times are different now, in so many ways. Both halves of a couple are generally expected to have their own careers; on the other hand, you’re seeing more “househusbands” than ever before, turning that old gender stereotype on its head. Personally, I can admit that I still carry around the “let the man handle it” mindset, at least in regards to supporting the family and letting the wife stay home if she wants to.
There is no textbook situation anymore. Obviously, you have to live within your means (or safely outside your means, as many people do) and make decisions about the relationship dynamic between yourselves, based on the needs of your own unique situation. I’m not saying that Shelley’s ultimatum is wrong on principle; I just wonder if situations like these are driven less by sincere need, and more by the subconscious influence of what society considers a “traditional relationship.”
Let’s hear what you have to say about this, Rock-A-Holics!
Dump that dude. MBA & two years unemployed, sucked it up dude, and find something "beneath you". Sounds like he has no real world experience and expects the degree to open all the doors.
Someone should let her know, at the very least, that the labor force participation rate in the US is at its lowest point since *1978*. That being said, it might be time for the dude to start figuring out how to make some money under the table.
It depends on his/her goals
BJ is right about one major topic here: the relationship dynamic. It should be clearly defined between both halves what responsibility each want/needs. If Shelley wants her man to also have a career, then she should encourage him to keep up his efforts in a job hunt. If her boyfriend also wants this, then he should be diligent and show her that he is working towards that. If her boyfriend appears to be free-loading and his priorities seem to be focused on the entertainment in his life, then she will resent that and the relationship will fail. One possibility for the boyfriend is to consider supporting Shelley (emotionally, physically) in their household. It is still normal for a couple to have one person working, as long as the other person is also putting a good effort in support of the other aspects of the relationship/household. If the boyfriend is more interested in entertaining himself and playing and doesn't allocate much of what resources he does have towards the relationship, then she should consider moving on. But she should discuss that with him...
Don't let it create resentment
I'm in the exact same situation. Been with my guy almost 9 years. We're now 27 & 26. There have been multiple times he has been unemployed throughout this time while I've maintained a career with my current company for over 7 years. There have been times when I've told him if he didn't figure it out I was done, because the stress and the financial workload were just too much to bear alone. Especially since we had made a plan for our lives that we were not sticking to. We went ahead and got married a few years ago even though things were unstable. We thought it'd be a fresh start. And for the first 6 months, it was... And then it happened all over again. Now, we've been separated since July because I finally had enough of the empty promises and false hope and he is finally seeing the big picture. But it took me leaving, instead of just talking about it, for him to get it and do something about it. Now he's getting back on track towards the goals we set for our lives, it just took me leaving for him to get there. He started with fast food (at 26! Swallowed his pride and handled it!) just to get us on our feet and now he's working for a corporation. But because it took so long, I have a lot of resentment towards him that makes it hard for me to reconnect with him. It's poison to the relationship. Too little to late kind of thing. But we're still married so that means I haven't given up hope. Long story short, giving him a time frame isn't going to do it. Because until you actually do something about it, its just words. If you're fed up and it's something that is truly that important to you, then take a break. Tell him if he gets his act together you'll give it another go. But you have to let him know you're serious and that's its affecting you the way it is. Actions speak louder than words, on both ends. Wish you both the best!
it probably wont change
The ultimatum route may work, or it may just cut his nuts off even more. I'm sure he's already feeling crappy having to ask his parents for money and not being able to carry his weight. If you don't see yourself carrying him along with you, then let him know you need him to make something to keep you both afloat. If he doesn't by a certain time, then tell him you can't make it work financially. I've been with my guy for 7 years and he's been unemployed for 5. It works though because I work 2 jobs and make more than he did at any of his jobs. He takes care of our son and the house so I don't have to pay for daycare or break my back tryingto keep a tidy home. He cooks and cleans, and I'm perfectly content with him being unemployed.
it probably wont change
The ultimatum route may work, or it may just cut his nuts off even more. I'm sure he's already feeling bad having to ask his parents for money and not being able to carry his weight. If you don't see yourself carrying him along with you, then let him know you need him to make something to keep you both afloat. If he doesn't by a certain time, then tell him you can't make it work financially. I've been with my guy for 7 years and he's been unemployed for 5. It works though because I work 2 jobs and make more than he did at any of his jobs. He takes care of our son and the house so I don't have to pay for daycare or break my back tryingto keep a tidy home. He cooks and cleans, and I'm perfectly content with him being unemployed.
"Happy and loving relationship" my rear!
This ultimatum sounds like an excuse for her to get out of what is on paper a "happy and loving relationship". This dude is educated and busting his rear trying to get a job. If she is truly happy with the relationship and really wanted to stay with this guy, she wouldn't even be considering this ultimatum. Sounds to me like she needs to quit lying to herself and her boyfriend. If he somehow got a job within that time, she'd just find some other reason. Might even say the job he got isn't good enough.
RE: Don't let it create resentment
It's great to hear that you guys are making it work. As an outsider I will say that if you don't resolve the resentment you have with him by going to couple's therapy, it could do damage down the line. Take care and I wish you the best of luck! -