Struggling with myself

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2008
Struggling with myself
29
Fri, 09-24-2010 - 7:59pm

I'm just going to preface by saying it's me still having trouble dealing with one key aspect of the relationship..."Responsibility" to the other person...What does that mean exactly? For instance we know that my SO has all these "responsibilities" to ex and skids...but when you really get down to it, what are his "responsibilities" to me in the relationship?

I think I continue to struggle with this b/c what I used to think about (in terms of responsibilities) in a marriage or long-term relationship seem to have dramatically changed since my divorce...and definitely have changed again since my relationship with SO began 5 years ago (largely due to his financial struggle). I guess part of what I'm getting at (although, I feel very convoluted in trying to express it), is that having been married (and having the document that says I was married), didn't help when it came to ensuring that my ex felt any kind of responsibility toward me (i.e. moral, financial, etc.). Additionally, since SO had his affair obviously, that same document that he had to say he was married didn't really help with the responsibility to his ex either (although, we all know that now they are divorced he is certainly legally responsible for keeping much of his ex's financial lifestyle in tact and that of the children as well).

I have to say that the "responsibility or obligation" he kind of has to me (if he even does) doesn't seem to really "rate"in a scenario like that-Does this make any sense???? If that "legal" sign (i.e. the marriage or the certificate itself) aren't the things to ensure the responsibility, what are? I definitely go back and forth about whether it is really worth it to bother with another marriage (ever again), yet struggle with probably wanting him to care enough to honor whatever responsibility, obligation, commitment, etc. there is...Boy, my head is really messed up tonight....so, so, sorry!!!

SO tells me I can't have it both ways...wanting to be completely financially independent (largely to continue to protect myself, yet wanting him to be the type of man who could financially support me (if the need should ever arise due to hardship, illness, disability, whatever), currently, he absolutely wouldn't be able to do that...I seriously worry whether he will ever be able to do that...Am I being unrealistic to believe that has importance...

I know Pam has said to me before to look at whether I could be happy by taking all the "things" away...money included and for the record I am not just solely referring to the money in this post...I am also referring to the (for lack of a better word right now) moral obligation of the relationship, and if we can never control the other person's actions (which is definitely true) how can one ensure that a partner has any responsibility or obligation to us at all?

I'm really sorry for the rambling of thoughts and I'm really not sure if they make sense...

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-23-2009
Sat, 09-25-2010 - 9:35am

Hi there,



Each person has needs in a relationship that need to be expressed. If you tell your partner what you need, and it's a reasonable request, if he cares, he will make an effort to fulfill that need. If he doesn't care, he will ignore the request.



You have to think about whether or not on a daily basis, you are more often content, or frustrated and upset, etc. If you are more often upset, then it means that the relationship is not the right one for you. Sometimes counseling works if two people are commited to give it their best shot. It doesn't work if he isn't willing.



If you're saying he had an affair while with you, that would be a dealbreaker for me. I dont give second chances to cheaters. It shows that they are willing to hurt you on the deepest level. That person is not worth my time. You have one life to live. You deserve happiness. If you need to leave this relationship to find a decent man to build a life with, then do so. You are in charge of your life, and you're the only one who can decide what changes need to be made to make it the best life possible. Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2008
Sat, 09-25-2010 - 10:39am

worth my time. You have one life to live. You deserve happiness. If you need to leave this relationship to find a decent man to build a life with, then do so. You are in charge of your life, and you're the only one who can decide what changes need to be made to make it the best life>



No, his affair was in his first marriage...I did have an ex husband that cheated on me (as well), but no my SO has not cheated on me (I have lingering trust issues from before)...





I like how you put that in pretty simple terms...and I can honestly say that he does do this...I just wonder how that comes into play with the marriage piece...(especially considering the problems in both our pasts), however there is also a big financial component which includes very large amounts of CS/alimony...

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 09-25-2010 - 12:11pm

I know there was another post on here where I was talking about whether marriage is necessary for commitment & I think that ties in here. I think if a couple is committed it doesn't matter whether they are married or not, although some people want to get married because it's important to them or as a public declaration that they are together, and if people aren't committed, that piece of paper isn't going to make a difference one way or another.

I would say that if I was with some in a committed relationship, whether married or not, I would say their responsibility to me would be 1) to be honest, which would include not cheatinag, because that is very dishonest behavior and 2) to consider my needs and wants as important. Not to say that the other person can always do whatever you want, but at least you would like to think that you are important in a relationship. Like I have read other people's posts where they are just dating and they say something like "I really don't want you to keep having contact w/ your ex GF" and then the BF is like "well I'm going to anyway even though it bothers you." That's a really simple example but it shows that in that kind of a relationship the partner's needs aren't very important.

Financially when I was married to 2nd DH, we combined all our money, which I wish now I hadn't done. It ended up being a much bigger burden on me esp. because he ended up getting hurt at work & was out of work almost 2 yrs. We didn't even have the ex issues because he was a widower. On the other hand, he had 100% responsibility for his DD w/ no child support. Now if I were w/ someone, since I don't really want to get married again, yes I would keep my money separate and I wouldn't expect that my BF would support me either--you really can't have it both ways. But if it were a situation where the other person lost his job or was sick, yes then if we were living together, I wouldn't kick the person out of the house or hold it against him if he couldn't pay his share of the bills. You do have to give somewhat and realize the relationship is worth more than the money and somehow it will all even out in the end. I'm wondering if I would get into a situation where the guy had to pay out a lot of money to his ex & kids. I guess you either have to accept that he only has X amt. of money left over or not be w/ him. It's like saying would you date a guy who only made X amt. of money, because in effect, his "take home pay" is what he has after paying his c.s. & alimony. Would I date a guy who only made $20,000/yr? The answer is probably no. To some people that might sound superficial and it's not like I make a huge amt. of money but I don't want to have to support the guy either. And I think it causes a lot of problems w/ male egos where the woman makes significantly more money. I know that even if we split all the dates and I paid for myself, he wouldn't be able to go out as much, wouldn't be able to go on vacations, etc. and I think eventually it would cause trouble in the relationship. So for me it would be just easier to realize from the beginning that for me, yes I do want a guy who makes at least what I do and that would include maybe a guy who made more, but all his income is going out the door. If I knew it was a couple of years, yes, I could put up w/ that, but if it was like indefinite alimony, I think it would bother me, esp. since w/ 2 divorces, I never got alimony.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2008
Sat, 09-25-2010 - 1:31pm

make a difference one way or another.>



I'm really struggling with this...I mean it's seven years after my divorce and I've already been with SO for five years.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2010
Sat, 09-25-2010 - 5:02pm

DH and I have been married for 10 years. We don't have joint finances other than the house being in both our names. We have one joint savings that we both pay into to pay

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 09-25-2010 - 8:37pm

When you say that he doesn't contribute to the mortgage, do you mean that he lives in your house & doesn't pay anything? I don't think I could have that kind of a situation. I might not expect the guy to pay 1/2 of the expenses if he lived in my house, but if he had his own apt, he would have to be paying rent. it's the principal that if he is living in my house and not paying anything, then I would be supporting him and that's not acceptable. I don't want someone living off of me--if it's like in your BF's situation where maybe he gave up too much in the divorce, well, that's his problem, isn't it? It's funny--I just went out w/ my girlfriend who's divorced. She doesn't have a BF either so we were commiserating about that. Now she makes over $100,000/yr and she was saying that she wants a professional guy & she does not want to be paying for any dates, ever. Now I'm not like that. I do think the guy should pay at first, but I wouldn't think it's fair for him to pay all the time just cause he's the guy. When I was dating 2nd DH, he paid more, but every so often I would insist on buying him dinner.

I think the possibility of his ex bringing him back to court to get more money is kind of remote. If they had this agreement that alimony was supposed to end she would need some reason to get a modification--it's called a "change of circumstances." So maybe if she was working at the time of the divorce, but through no fault of her own, she got laid off, that would be a change of circumstances. But from what you say, she still doesn't work & lives off her parents--so what possible reason could she have to continue the alimony besides "I don't feel like working."

I'm single again so if I had a situation of illness, job loss, etc. I wouldn't have anyone to rely on anyway. I just finally mailed in my application for disability insurance because since I'm over 50, I think what would happen if I got sick & couldn't work? There is no one else to help. You can't get social security disability unless the illness lasts a year and you can't work at any job, plus the amt. of SSDI is very low. Now here's another $350 or so a month I'll have to spend but the peace of mind is worth it because otherwise, I'd lose my house.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2008
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 9:12am

Tiptoe-thank you for this post...this does make me feel somewhat better...I think part of it is I'm getting too caught up in what either society says a relationship "should" look like or what was instilled as in me as a child...

How did you arrive at your model? Do you have kids?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2008
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 9:26am

No definitely not, I wouldn't tolerate that either...He pays for our cell phones, car insurance, and for groceries (also misc. things that come up). We did have him paying for these items plus rent about 2 years ago and that was going fine, except the car he was driving at the time ended up needing extensive repairs and we decided that the age/miles of the car didn't really make sense to repair it (and b/c he commutes long distances to work), that it would probably be better to get a new car. That car payment is approximately what he was paying in rent, so obviously he can't do both. The car is in my name title, reg, insur, but he pays for all of that as well (car payment, insurance, any car needs like oil change, tires, etc.)

No it's the opposite, she wasn't working at the time of the divorce, but now is (barely), she makes next to nothing, but she now has health insurance which is one of the only reasons I think she does work, the health insurance is something her parents can't/won't provide for her...I know it's irrational thinking on my part, but I just don't trust that things would finally go in his favor-KWIM? Glad to hear you say though, you don't forsee that happening...

Yes, although, I'm only 36, I've been contributing to disability insurance through an additional plan offered at work (the cost is pretty cheap), I don't think it's a huge benefit, but it's something else I will look into further down the line...

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2010
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 9:55am

I arrived at this system after my first marriage, and I never could figure out how you would balance a check book with two people writing checks on the account and two registers, ect. In my first marriage we kept all the finances combined and the results were frustrating, and so when I met DH I suggested that we keep everything separate. When we bought the house he suggested the account for taxes and insurance.

Yes, we have kids. I have two DDs (15 and 12) from my first marriage and we have our DS (10). The thing with marriages (as with parenting) is that with very few exceptions there are no hard and fast rules. Don't worry so much about what society says your relationship "should" look like, as long as it works for you and your partner and it is healthy its "good".

And it can be very hard to overcome the messages we receive as children about how marriages should look, work, ect.

Edited 9/26/2010 9:58 am ET by tiptoeingaround






Edited 9/26/2010 10:01 am ET by tiptoeingaround
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2008
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 10:25am

Yeah, I agree with the whole managing the checkbook stuff...while that wasn't a big issue in my first marriage, it certainly was for my SO in his...additionally since he has the CS/alimony to deal with a separate system would be far better in my mind (as well).

You also make a good point about being okay what is working for us and not let something else/anyone else dictate what it should look like...thank you for that...Deep down I know the relationship is working and is healthy, just managing these issues can get overwhelming...

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