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Unequal partnership with unwilling partner


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It does sound alike quite a lot adding up on you - and you sound frustrated now ( after 3 yrs of it).

At this point, does not sound like you really want to continue this anymore.  Is more a negative than much positive.

Yes, a relationship should be more-less split with 'giving' and responsibilities. Sounds like she isn't too 'willing'.  In a lot of areas 😕 .

For one, if she wanted to end her job, she really should have had another one lined up.  Not, walk away and leave YOU to do it all.

Second, as I am seeing it, you have some issue's as to why you are in therapy now? ( and why she brought this up re: your depression?).  I kinda wonder about her as well.. like why does she seem to have no drive? ( lacking in 'ability' to give much with the intimacy dep't and say/show love).

As for driving, yeah, not everyone drives, but they do find a way around that. I know a few who don't drive or have a car. My friends mom, growing up, the father was only one who drove.  My friend actually remained in the city and never got her licence, much like her mom.  My son took a few yrs ( mid 20's but he did eventually work on getting it). And a local friend's gf does not drive- but at least she works! She walks to work sometimes when he's working then occasionally he picks her up, but they manage to work that out.

 

" I don’t think I’m wired to be jealous of the time a partner spends with their friends - to the contrary I love it when they have an active life outside the relationship."

~ As for this, yes is very important to have a life outside your relationship.  So, if she doesn't get that you want/need to hang out with your friends w/out her, is up to her to understand. But, not expect you to bring her along all the time. ( again, as I mentioned, she has no real drive to do much for herself?)

 

IMO, You have been very patient and you have given plenty at this point.  And do you feel it's to the point, is like no use even bringing anything up anymore, as things are now spiraling downwards?

There's just too much stress on you now, isn't there?  So, if she is NOT willing to pick up & give a little more, then you admit to her this isn't working. Don't stick around in pitty, when someone won't 'give a little'.

As you are seeing now, after this time, this experience is draining you 😕 .  Figure it out and act.

For your own sake.

 

Edited by SooSad33
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1 hour ago, fahrenheit said:

Basically I’ve been scared to ask for much more in a relationship other than simple kindness… and a partner who won’t abandon me.

It’s all quite deep-rooted psychological stuff that I only realised about a year ago through fairly intense therapy sessions.

We learn as we go. As Maya Angelou loved to say, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." Now it's just a matter of gathering up a little courage to take those first steps.

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3 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

But since you created this situation in the beginning, how is it that you can reasonably expect her to "change"?  What you wanted in the beginning isn't what you want now, but you can hardly blame her for that.

This sounds correct. I have probably made the mistake of thinking change was possible - although if I’m being generous wouldn’t I acknowledge that sometimes people can / do change? 

Yes, I chose someone with whom there was limited compatibility at the outset. This was not intentional, it was subconscious. I would make better choices now.

Equally however, there is a moral question around the idea of relationship equality that I think probably stands, and it is not “unreasonable” per se to expect a partner (in general) to have the maturity to want to aim towards a mutually supportive relationship dynamic.

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1 hour ago, fahrenheit said:

Yes… I agree with you. I had a very loveless childhood and this has always affected my choice of romantic partner.

Basically I’ve been scared to ask for much more in a relationship other than simple kindness… and a partner who won’t abandon me.

It’s all quite deep-rooted psychological stuff that I only realised about a year ago through fairly intense therapy sessions.

And yes, as such it is certainly partly my own fault for choosing someone who wasn’t a better match to begin with.

Are you able to change that? You know the problem. 

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2 minutes ago, fahrenheit said:

This sounds correct. I have probably made the mistake of thinking change was possible - although if I’m being generous wouldn’t I acknowledge that sometimes people can / do change? 

Yes, I chose someone with whom there was limited compatibility at the outset. This was not intentional, it was subconscious. I would make better choices now.

Equally however, there is a moral question around the idea of relationship equality that I think probably stands, and it is not “unreasonable” per se to expect a partner (in general) to have the maturity to want to aim towards a mutually supportive relationship dynamic.

But she would have to want to change, have reason to change and be willing to change.  She would also have to understand that YOU decided what you needed in a relationship changed and be on board with that.

My ex husband married me with the belief that I would become a wife who would defer to him in all things because he believed that's how marriages work.  He didn't share this belief with me before the wedding because he thought it was obvious; wives defer to their husbands and that's the way it is.  He thought it was perfectly reasonable for me to accommodate him in this belief even though I'd never behaved in a deferential way to him in the three years we'd dated.  When I didn't behave in a deferential manner he was genuinely astonished.  In my mind he'd changed, and in his mind I wasn't being reasonable.  Obviously, since I refer to him as my ex husband we weren't able to reconcile our differences.

I would recommend you have an honest talk with her regarding how your relationship goals and needs changed.  Tell her what you wanted in the beginning has now evolved. She may or may not be receptive to your changed needs, but at least you two can try to have a conversation and see what compromises you could agree to.

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1 hour ago, boltnrun said:

But she would have to want to change, have reason to change and be willing to change.  She would also have to understand that YOU decided what you needed in a relationship changed and be on board with that.

My ex husband married me with the belief that I would become a wife who would defer to him in all things because he believed that's how marriages work.  He didn't share this belief with me before the wedding because he thought it was obvious; wives defer to their husbands and that's the way it is.  He thought it was perfectly reasonable for me to accommodate him in this belief even though I'd never behaved in a deferential way to him in the three years we'd dated.  When I didn't behave in a deferential manner he was genuinely astonished.  In my mind he'd changed, and in his mind I wasn't being reasonable.  Obviously, since I refer to him as my ex husband we weren't able to reconcile our differences.

I would recommend you have an honest talk with her regarding how your relationship goals and needs changed.  Tell her what you wanted in the beginning has now evolved. She may or may not be receptive to your changed needs, but at least you two can try to have a conversation and see what compromises you could agree to.

I appreciate your thoughts. I can’t help but think your situation there sounds quite different though. Your husband sounds like he precisely didn’t want equality with you, whereas I really want my partner to be my equal, not a dependant. 

What I do share with your husband is a feeling that some things just feel like common sense, i.e. I think being mutually supportive (or at least willingness in this respect) is just common sense, not something that should require explicitly stating at the outset.

But now I’m beginning to see that perhaps this is wrong, actually. It makes me lose a little faith in humanity / common decency, but yes… I can see how one might need to be explicit and up-front about these things these days. Quite eye opening.

Notwithstanding that I chose her, and I suppose in part I must have known she was like this on some level, if what some here have said is correct.

Edited by fahrenheit
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I think she will be confused because what you wanted at the beginning of the relationship has changed. You feared abandonment and chose a woman who you believed would never abandon you because she depended on you (whether you did this subconsciously or not is somewhat irrelevant). And now you want an "equal" partner. BTW, her not driving and not working doesn't necessarily mean she's "unequal" if it's been the status quo for three years. What was acceptable for the past three years no longer is. It's not common sense if you've accepted it for three years. 

That's why I recommended an honest and transparent conversation. Perhaps you'd like to have your therapist present? And maybe if your partner understands what led you to this point she would be willing to make some changes.

My husband actually liked it when I didn't have a car and suffered through a period where I was afraid to go out alone (after the L.A. riots). He loved that I depended on him for everything. However he also took it as an opportunity to chastise me for "not contributing" even though I was raising our child. He hated  when I went back to work because it meant I would be more independent. I think you can understand why I was confused.

Talk to her. Don't list what you want or expect her to "change" but rather talk about what led to your relationship needs  evolving. She might be more understanding than you think.

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2 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

I think she will be confused because what you wanted at the beginning of the relationship has changed. You feared abandonment and chose a woman who you believed would never abandon you because she depended on you (whether you did this subconsciously or not is somewhat irrelevant). And now you want an "equal" partner. BTW, her not driving and not working doesn't necessarily mean she's "unequal" if it's been the status quo for three years. What was acceptable for the past three years no longer is. It's not common sense if you've accepted it for three years. 

That's why I recommended an honest and transparent conversation. Perhaps you'd like to have your therapist present? And maybe if your partner understands what led you to this point she would be willing to make some changes.

My husband actually liked it when I didn't have a car and suffered through a period where I was afraid to go out alone (after the L.A. riots). He loved that I depended on him for everything. However he also took it as an opportunity to chastise me for "not contributing" even though I was raising our child. He hated  when I went back to work because it meant I would be more independent. I think you can understand why I was confused.

Talk to her. Don't list what you want or expect her to "change" but rather talk about what led to your relationship needs  evolving. She might be more understanding than you think.

This is good advice, thank you very much 🙂

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People can change. I've changed because of marriage and motherhood and relocating - all starting in my early 40s.  But I wanted to change what I changed. And very often it's not easy and a work in progress -requires a continuing commitment.  I am very direct with myself when I feel a pity party or like complaining and if it's something I can change but choose not to I'm honest with myself about that.  

She's passive.  She benefits a lot from being passive because it brings her pleasure to have everything done for her while she pretends to run a business.  You accommodate it.  Till now anyway.  I really don't think her enjoyment at being passive will change anytime soon.  Just like I am Type A and I have modified a lot of my behaviors and chosen different reactions but I would wither away if I had too much unstructured free time, I would balk at having to hire people and delegate to people to clean the house or shop for me or drive me around.  It's just not..... me.  Just like for your girlfriend going out and getting a job and working her tail off and feeling productive from taking initiative - that's not her.  

I have a friend whose been with the same guy since the late 80s.  For awhile they were engaged but never married.  Excuses galore.  Then they became unengaged.  Then she told me about 7 or 8 years ago they'd marry mostly for insurance purposes.  Never happened.  But when we were closer friends she told me how I found my husband only because of "luck" - it's a mindset.  It's really hard to change an ingrained mindset and the reactions to that mindset.  

 

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On 1/9/2022 at 7:33 AM, fahrenheit said:

Fair points. I guess I’m the type to try to give people a chance for as long as absolutely possible. 

But eventually, tactful discussions have descended into bitterness… over a year or two of hoping it would grow into a mutually supportive relationship.

And hanging onto this desire keeps us from facing making a difficult decisions.

If you were to admit to yourself that these things make you two incompatible for the future, you might have to make a difficult decision.  So, in the meantime time keeps flying by with you waiting for her to be someone she is not.

Old overused adage, Dr Phil " we treat people how to treat us"  So yes, you continue to enable these behaviors because really challenging this brings to the forefront the very things you'd rather not see.

We need to learn to accept people standing in front of us, exactly how they are.   It's not as if this is one little quirk that irks you.  It's her overall intrinsic temperament and values that are not in alignment with yours.

If nothing changed, do you want a lifetime of this?   You might have a "come to Jesus" moment with her and some adjustment.  But if a sense of equity and fairness doesn't come naturally to her, is all the retraining she might need to fit into your life as you view it be worth it?

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A lot of good points here. If she isn't willing to budge/change to be more fair, then wouldn't that be a deal breaker? Why should YOU have to adjust your life more to accommodate her? Sounds out of balance=resentment. I guess you are going to have to have a discussion with her.

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