He is an extremely talented artist and works in commercial art full time, does overtime, takes on the occasional free lance work when he gets it and regularly sells paintings that he works on at night. He works a lot of hours but still doesn't make a lot of money and he is frugal. The last 2 years he has had some medical expenses not covered by insurance and whatever extra he makes goes to pay those bills and his student loans.
I enjoy feeling special to him when he takes me out to dinner, but I feel bad for him financially so I offer to contribute and he often accepts. And then I feel not so special. If he does take me out I reciprocate with a home cooked meal. I make a similar amount of money, and also have big bills to do with maintaining a country property so neither of us have much money, but I think he has even less.
We have been together for 3 years and this is the first year he gets 2 weeks of paid vacation, but he is afraid of taking more than 2 days off at a time because he's afraid they will fire him and hire someone else.
We have both worked a lot in the last 6 months. It's been a year since we went away together and this past week we finally took a little trip. We had 3 days, 2 nights. We took my car because his clunker is less reliable than my clunker. He paid the gas. We camped to save money. We split the camping fee. I am a great camper. I know how to be comfortable and enjoy the outdoors and I'm a fabulous camp cook. Still it is hard to be romantic in a tent at night wrapped up in many layers due to the cold so we were not physically intimate.
We did an exhausting hike up a mountain that had amazing views. It was an ordeal. The next day we painted outside. A gorgeous view of a mountain and a lake. His artistry inspires me, and has rekindled my own art. He is encouraging in just the right way. It was fun. On the way home we stopped at a BBQ and I offered to contribute and he accepted so I paid my own way.
Emotions came up while we were hiking and I tried to talk to him and he told me to drink more water. So I also felt emotionally lonely. I had a lot on my mind but I didn't seem to get much out of sharing with him and so I didn't feel as close to him as I would have liked.
So even though I had a good time, I feel unromanced. It's like we are nice companions, good friends, but not especially close.
At the end of the trip I expressed my feelings about wanting more intimacy with him but he didn't know what to say or do.
Later he called to apologize. He said I am the bright spot in his life and he felt sad that he was not making me happy. He admitted that the drink water/emotions comment was a stupid thing to say. He offered to take me out to a fancy restaurant I have been wanting to go to for over a year. I accepted.
But I don't know what to think. He is a good, hard-working honest man with a kind heart. He is a bit dense about emotions, but he tries. I've let him know romance is important to me. He doesn't have to take me out to fancy places or hotels on holidays if he is broke, but then it doesn't cost much to express your love for someone, to write a card, to give some flowers, but he is working all the time so he doesn't have much mental space for romantic thinking either.
Any relationship needs some kind of investment in time and money and he seems kind of impoverished in both. How can this ultimately be fulfilling for me or for us?
I'm not sure what to think. Open to feedback. Thanks for reading all this.
[This message edited by InnerLight at 11:04 AM, June 24th (Monday)]
The romance part, he just may not "get". Three years is a solid amount of time, you say he treats you well, is honest, etc.
It's ok to ask but is it possible he just doesn't know how or feels uncomfortable or awkward because that isn't who he is?
And yeah if you're cooking for him it's fair he pays when you go out to eat IMO.
If you aren't able to sort these issues out, what about couples counseling? Some have sliding scale fees or free like from family therapists at universities who want and need the client experience. Most are supervised by seasoned professionals in the field.
Hope some of this helps.
He sounds like an overall good guy.
Why not take turns paying when you go out, and take turns cooking when you stay in?
This is what SO and I do as well, that way when we go out and he pays I feel special and when I pay he feels special. If we each just pay our own share of every meal neither would feel special and it would feel like I was basically just taking myself out.
Give him a tangible idea of the little inexpensive and thoughtful things you enjoy rather than just ask for them.
I like this idea too. You have to give him an idea of what you think of as romantic. The best way I have found to do this is to show SO what I like by doing it for him. Typically, he will be grateful and reciprocate. If your at the store and see his favorite snack food buy them then tell him "I saw these at the store and knew they were your favorite". One of my love languages is physical touch so I love back and foot rubs. I typically will start rubbing SO feet or back just so he will reciprocate so I can feel emotionally close to him.
He said I am the bright spot in his life and he felt sad that he was not making me happy. He admitted that the drink water/emotions comment was a stupid thing to say. He offered to take me out to a fancy restaurant I have been wanting to go to for over a year. I accepted.
I know we always say "don't settle" but that doesn't really mean we get everything we want in one person....we do have to make some sacrifices and compromises when we decide to go long-term with someone.
I completely understand about the financial aspect of this and how it is important for you to feel special by him going out of his way and doing something romantic once in a while, or covering the bill from time to time....my new guy is not very stable financially at this point, and there are weeks where he doesn't have enough to take us to McDonald's, so my solution is we just don't go. We eat at home, we do things together that don't cost money, we spend quality time together, but we don't do anything that costs money. It doesn't feel right to either of us to have me paying for everything (plus I can't anyway, I'm as broke as he is) so we watch a lot of movies from the library and grill out.
My guy also isn't great with flowers or love letters or stuff like that, but he is romantic with his words and with the way he helps me around my house, and that works well for me and does make me feel special. If I ask him to do something, he will. If I ask him to discuss something that is bothering me, he is very good at that also. So I get enough "feeling special" from those actions.
I think the time thing would bother me the most with your guy. I need time with my partner, that is more important than anything else at this point.
Have you discussed moving in together? That would probably help financially, if you two are at that point, and might free up his time a bit so you have more time with him to bond and do things together....
but I feel bad for him financially so I offer to contribute and he often accepts
[This message edited by NaiveAgain at 6:41 PM, June 24th (Monday)]
On the surface, this seems like a Languages of Love situation
I am fluent in Affirmations where he is not. We've worked this out in some ways, but it falls through some times.
Do you subscribe to "traditional" gender roles that you feel he should pay?
If you aren't able to sort these issues out, what about couples counseling?
You have to give him an idea of what you think of as romantic. The best way I have found to do this is to show SO what I like by doing it for him. Typically, he will be grateful and reciprocate. If your at the store and see his favorite snack food buy them then tell him "I saw these at the store and knew they were your favorite".
He does sound like a good guy, and it seems to me like you have overall been happy with him by your posts on here over the past few years, is that correct?
He may love his art, but if he cannot support himself doing it, he has to be realistic and find another job that pays the bills.....
I can't tell if he is just being a dufus-ey guy by being lame re: romance, or if I have just chosen another emotionally distant man to be with which is my pattern. Believe it or not, he is the most emotionally present and nicest guy I have been with. My X was way more emotionally distant.
Sigh. I'm just in a funk about this. Thanks for all your responses.
Are you just hanging on so that you are not utterly alone or do you really, really see something that can fulfill you in this relationship?
I don't feel very trusting in myself to go forward for the right reasons.
It seems that by you saying this
It's like we are nice companions, good friends, but not especially close.
or if I have just chosen another emotionally distant man to be with which is my pattern.
That deep down you already know the answer to your question about this relationship.
I think the money issues bug you more than they would if he were more emotionally available to you. I think if you felt that you were getting more out this relationship the money wouldn't matter as much. Maybe you feel like you are the one always giving, and not receiving as much in return...you're the one being thoughtful, being romantic, thinking of creative inexpensive dates and gifts, offering money, etc.
Maybe what you're sensing is that you want a man who is more giving...with his time, with his emotions, with himself.
[This message edited by phillygirl at 4:13 AM, June 25th (Tuesday)]
There is no doubt in my mind that I have emotional intimacy with my guy, and I deal with the financial crap because I am totally fulfilled emotionally. We both feel the close bond, and we value the way we can talk about anything, anytime, with each other. In fact, after we have been apart for a small amount of time and that bond is a bit more distant, he will notice it himself and work to bring us back together by cuddling or talking or something.....
It feels really nice to receive this gift. I feel like he listened to me and is trying to make things work with me. I know this doesn't resolve everything. I know we don't have the level of emotional connection that I really want, but it does make me feel closer to receive this sweet gesture.
Thinking back on our too short trip, I know that I really loved that we painted together outside, that he is so supportive of my creativity, and that I will see him create a gorgeous landscape painting from the photos. These aspects of our relationship are some of the special parts.
What kind of relationship can we create together from here and will it be enough for me?
I will think on this and probably consult my IC too and let this simmer over the next weeks. We will see what happens...
I still really don't get the finances thing. If you make the same amount of money, it seems weird to me that you would want him to spend more, but to each their own.
I've been working a lot these last 6 months myself and now that the pace is more normal I'm more aware of what we've created...and the shortcomings.
I think working things out so that things are monetarily equitable as in he buys a $50 dinner so I buy the next $50 dinner is boring and unromantic. I think we are both more turned on by my putting time and money into my appearance so I look and feel especially gorgeous and he feels particularly manly being seen by all with an amazing woman on his arm and paying the bill. Life in the bedroom is way better in the second scenario for me.
I take responsibility for dousing the romance myself by feeling sorry for him and offering to contribute too often. This is a very unromantic scenario.
I think we are both more turned on by my putting time and money into my appearance so I look and feel especially gorgeous and he feels particularly manly being seen by all with an amazing woman on his arm and paying the bill. Life in the bedroom is way better in the second scenario for me.
A joint savings account to save up together for a trip to Denali Alaska would be romantic and bigger and something to look forward to.
(today a female client gave me flowers and a card to express appreciation for me beyond paying me - that's 2 of these flowers/cards in a row after hardly ever receiving these - odd! and lovely)