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Should I get a life selfishly or stay and count my blessings?

(51 Posts)
countrydreamer Thu 25-Aug-11 01:21:37

I feel trapped by my partner and resentful. I think every day about splitting up.

We've been together about 13 years. He has no savings, earns only £12k with no prospect of improvement, he lives in my house, and is a millstone round my neck. I don't love him, I am fond of him. We have good companionship and shared interests. I have never fancied him, he's not goodlooking. I am 51, he is 58. Having seen my parents in their 80s, I want to get a life now before I get ill and old, and I really don't want to spend years looking after him as we both get decrepit.

I have inherited enough money to give up full time work and to travel in a campervan which I really really want to do whilst I am still middleaged/youngish and fit, but he can't afford the time off. I cannot afford to pay for his travel and also to compensate him for lost earnings. I could go on my own but he'd be really upset and I don't want to carry on paying for all the bills of the house whilst he lives there and I'm away travelling, and he can't afford them on his own. Twice I have paid his debts and given him a financial cushion, about £30K each time. He knows I won't stand for it another time.

Every day at work I think about splitting up. In the evening, I slide back into my rut..If we split, he'd have no money and no home. He would probably find another woman to live on, as, despite his lack of good looks, he is very obliging and brilliant at maintenance and single men are in short supply at that age. I'd be on my own for the rest of my life, I am a loner, have no surviving family. I am seriously considering giving him some capital to live on to assuage my guilt if I chuck him out. Legally, he has no claim to my £.

He likes the nice lifestyle I provide, so he won't leave volontarily. I would feel relieved if he did. Should I get a life and risk future loneliness now, should I go off for a year on my own leaving him in the house, or stay, sacrifice the travel and carry on working to subsidise him, and try not to carp, but count my blessings. Thanks

Cocoflower Thu 25-Aug-11 04:07:46

Its interesting how much you talk about money in this scenario. That is not a criticism but rather, very telling.

You don't seem to mention how he uniquely improves your life and how you will miss that- i.e " I love the way he makes me laugh, and I would miss that bit"

I think the only thing stopping you is guilt and fear of loneliness. Are those really blessings?

LittleHousebytheRiver Thu 25-Aug-11 08:15:24

cd you cannot seriously propose carrying on this appalling relationship just because he would be very upset if you ended it! Of course he would be, he has a comfortable meal ticket and a cash machine ie you!

You need to get tough and see it through. The dream trip is an ideal way out. You tell him you are planning to let the house out and leave next spring (or whenever), and you see this relationship has run its course so you will not be asking him to share the adventure. Then you give him a date to leave and STICK TO IT!
No caving in when he cries, gets depressed and gives up work, or threatens suicide. Or woos you with flowers and presents and romantic proposals.

Where is Bibi Blocksberg? She managed to rid her life of a man like this and she is doing fine AFAIK. Life is SO MUCH BETTER on your own than with a parasite clinging to you. And we only get one life.

worldgonecrazy Thu 25-Aug-11 08:19:00

One life - live it. You know what you want to do, but you think that you are also responsible for someone else's happiness, when the truth is that ALL grown adults are responsible for their own happiness.

Make sure you send us lots of postcards.

aquos Thu 25-Aug-11 08:32:10

How about a compromise for now. Rather than go the whole hog and throw the baby out with the bath water I would test the water and see how things went.

So you want to travel, can afford to and he can't? Explain that to him, how important it is to you, yes, he may well be upset, but if you present it in such a way that he senses this is non negotiable then I'm sure he will acquiesce.

Whilst on your travels one of two things will happen. You will either miss him and realise that you do have a future together or you will emotionally move further apart and realise that on your return you need to end the relationship.

If you have the time and the finances to give yourself this thinking space it's definitely what I would do.

KristinaM Thu 25-Aug-11 08:42:40

Why havw you been with this man since your late 30s? Surely it hant been guilt and fear of loneliness that has kept you together all this time? Has your relationship alwyas been this unequal?

Why does he earn so little? Does he work part time and run the house? How has he run up 60£k of debts if you pay the bills for the house ? Has he, for example, done major repair or renovation work to your house?

I think there is a back story here.......

deepheat Thu 25-Aug-11 09:14:59

Have to agree with Kristina. For such a long-term relationship it is an odd set-up. The temptation is to slag him off as a parasite as someone above has one, but it can hardly be that simple after this length of time.

Someone asked why you mention money so much. The reasons that I take from your post are a) that it is the clear imbalance in your relationship and this is increasingly frustrating you and your ambitions, and b) that it would be the cause of your guilt if you ended the relationship.

It does sound like you may have encouraged his financial dependance on you over the past decade or so. You say he has no prospects of an increased income but surely this can't have been the case for 13 years?

I don't necessarily agree that not being able to do something you want to do is a good reason for ending a relationship (Its my lifetime's ambition to go to the Ashes in Australia and I know I can afford it but for various reasons related to my wife it will never happen - doesn't mean I want to leave her or don't love her). By the same token I also don't believe that guilt or fear are good reasons for staying in a relationship.

You appear concerned about how he would cope financially if you left but although you have obviously taken on some of his liability, it appears as though there is an acknowledgement in your relationship that your finances are separate (even if you did cover his debts, it was still you giving him the money rather than both of your money covering his debt if that makes sense). In that respect, the financial situation doesn't actually change so much if you were to leave. Yes, it would be harder for him but he would need to survive on the money he works for, which is not an unreasonable thing to ask of an adult.

The reality is that you don't sound happy and that's no way to live. Only you can fully know how much of your unhappiness is down to your partner and only you can know the likelihood that the situation will change. Good luck with it.

ameliagrey Thu 25-Aug-11 09:53:34

Well what do you get out of his company? Great DIY on your home? Great conversation? Sex?

You sure get something- otherwise why have you kept this going? As some kind of Mother Theresa giving a home to a lost soul?

This is madness and you know it.

He doesn't give you what you want, you appear to despise him on the one hand yet feel responsible for him ( like a mother-figure) on the other.

If you want to end it, then you have to give him notice, as youwould a lodger- because that is what he is.

Give him 3 months to find another job, home, woman...whatever- it's not up to you to sort that out.

Then change the locks and go off in your camper van.

countrydreamer Thu 25-Aug-11 10:16:51

Thanks for all yr replies.
KristinaM, deepheat, I've found out that he's always been hopeless with money, he was a spendaholic on expensive depreciating equipment for his business, (has not overspent in the last year since I threatened to end it if he ran up debt again). I paid for him to go to an advisor last year to sort out his business finances, that helped, but he is dyslexic so never reads to educate himself, doesn't seem to want to learn how to budget his private finances, nor to save.
Yes I have provided a good lifestyle, isn't that what partners are supposed to do, the higher earner pays the greater bills, but I didn't know he was running up debt. I have always felt sorry for him. He lost someone tragically in his life when a young adult.
now he's running his business a bit better and personally he's doing nothing wrong so i feel I have no good excuse to end it, but I still want to. He is a good companion, he does a lot of practical things for me, even cooks, so he's a dream partner in many ways. I 'm not always tactful, I carp at him, he says I make him feel insecure, inferior and a convenience. It's true he is only a convenient companion to me. It's probably just companionship and convenience for him as well, he hates being on his own.

It's not his fault I find him so unattractive. I'm not sexy either, I've never been able to attract a man I fancied. Pls don't say I'll find anyone else, I'm too insecure and reclusive and I don't want the hassle anyway.

Huge guilt if I chuck him out, I feel he doesn't deserve to be made homeless, he'd probably get back into serious debt and have a very poor old age. On the other hand is it selfish of him to hold me back, to expect me to not get the best experiences out of life now I can. Should I keep him and look after him for the next 20/30 years just because I can afford to if I don't go off on my own. I'd rather not. I know I'm lucky. Some of you probably want to spit with rage. but it's how I feel. Very very confused.

countrydreamer Thu 25-Aug-11 10:26:32

Thanks aquos, I've been wondering about a halfway house as well, but it would still be crunch time at the end, which is why I want to know if people think I am totally selfish and awful if I end it, this or next year.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 25-Aug-11 10:46:24

Being unhappy is reason enough to leave, if things can't be improved to your satisfaction or you no longer even want to try.

You don't need permission to leave.

You don't have to make financial offerings to allow yourself to leave.

Whether you feel you need to give him money for your own emotional reasons is an issue for you to examine. Why this guilt? Will money really assuage it, or is the guilt a general burden you carry? eg. do you apologise a lot for stuff that's not your fault?

KristinaM Thu 25-Aug-11 10:48:26

I dont think you should stay in the reationshuiip out of gulit. But i also dont think its right to give him notice and throw him out!

Aftre a 13 year marriage/relatoonhsip, doesnt he have soem rights too? If this was the other way around, and a woman came onto mn sayimg her dh was throwing her out aftre 13 years, there woudl be outrage

Why dont you sell the house and give him half of the increase invalue of the house over the last 13 years. After all, if you were married, he would be entitled to half the total value in the house. Coiples who cohabit are always sayimg that marriage is justva piece of paper and it doesnt make them any less committed to each other..i assume you live in england as if you lived in scotland he WOULD have legal rights as a common law spouse

So sell the house and go your own seperate ways. Or use your capital to buy him out. You cant help that yout relationhsip is over but at least treat your dh/dp decently

Dignified Thu 25-Aug-11 11:09:13

You dont have to be in a relationship with him if you dont want to , theres no reason to feel guilty about that . Concerns about him being homeless are not valid and are not your problem , hes an adult and presumably he would do what adults do and simply rent somewhere .

I also would not be giving him half the house proceeds or any cash to compensate him . This is your money and money you will need in your retirement , hes not entitled to it , your not married , and it sounds like hes had enough anyway .

The fact you are feeling guilty and responsible for him are reason enough to end this relationship , its not normal to feel responsible for another adult like this .

ameliagrey Thu 25-Aug-11 11:44:12

You both seem co-dependent in an unhealthy way.

You are not his mother but you are behaving as if you are- is that because you have no children?

Your sense of responsibility for him is excessive. he is an adult. There is plenty of help out ther for dyslexics- I know- I work with them.

You are protecting him from life as if he were a child not a 58 yr old man.

You have also condoned/ supported his lack of drive and irresponsible attitudes to money by bailing him out.

The things that make you continue this relationship- his ability to cook and do DIY are sad but also unethical- you are using him yet you don't care for him as a lover.

Do you sleep in the same bed? Do you have sex? presumably not.

I think you need to go for counselling, to help with your self esteem which is clearly lacking, and also to help you get a perspective on how this relationship is bad for both of you. neither of you can grow, as human beings, you are stuck in this house out of fear and a mispaced sense of duty.

Sorry-sad I know this is harsh but you need a wake up.

countrydreamer Thu 25-Aug-11 12:26:25

Eek, thanks, everyone,
ameliagrey yes we do sleep in same bed, reluctantly in my case. No sex, I don't want it so I don't want to take any medication/creams etc to improve physical problems of menopause. is that selfish? but I don't find him attractive even with my eyes shut.
Yes I'm still with him because I'm sorry for him. Is that so abnormal? I've been so lucky, he hasn't. I agree he is probably not entirely happy either, but he has a nice life, lives in a nice house, has renewed his hobbies, and it can't be too bad for either of us as we are still together and we do get along very well as companions most of the time. I just resent the money side and the restrictions on my liberty. After all life is short. When I'm 58 I may be in a wheelchair or dead or trapped into looking after him if he develops an illness. And then everyone would say i was heartless if I went off round the world and stuck him in a home.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 25-Aug-11 12:33:39

Yes I'm still with him because I'm sorry for him. Is that so abnormal?

It's certainly not healthy. For either of you.

steamedtreaclesponge Thu 25-Aug-11 12:34:49

Just leave! He's a grown-up, you're not responsible for him. Being with someone because you're sorry for them is not a good reason. Would you want someone to stay with you because you pitied them?

Life is too short to spend it with someone you resent. It sounds like there aren't any children to complicate things so I would go for it. Get away and do the things you want to do before you get too old.

ameliagrey Thu 25-Aug-11 13:56:22


ameliagrey yes we do sleep in same bed, reluctantly in my case. No sex, I don't want it so I don't want to take any medication/creams etc to improve physical problems of menopause. is that selfish? but I don't find him attractive even with my eyes shut.

* It depends on what he wants surely. Soes he want sex and is he constantly being rejected? if so, you are being selfish as some woman will want him.*

Yes I'm still with him because I'm sorry for him. Is that so abnormal?

* Yes it is abnormal to the extent that this burden of responsibility is pinning you down to a way of life you don't want.*

I've been so lucky, he hasn't.

Luck is subjective. One person's "luck" is another person's bloody hard work and making things happen.

You have enabled him to be who he is- treatig him like a child and actually- making him dependent on you.

I agree he is probably not entirely happy either, but he has a nice life, lives in a nice house, has renewed his hobbies, and it can't be too bad for either of us as we are still together and we do get along very well as companions most of the time.

If a nice life means some home comforts which come to him cheaply that's fair enough. But if a nice life means a loving partner, sex, shared goals and a more equal relationship- then no, he doesn't have that.

I just resent the money side and the restrictions on my liberty.

There is only one person here in charge of your money- you. Same for your lack of liberty

After all life is short. When I'm 58 I may be in a wheelchair or dead or trapped into looking after him if he develops an illness. And then everyone would say i was heartless if I went off round the world and stuck him in a home.

what would you do if, when youare 58 he turns round and buggers off with someone else? You seem to ignore the fact that he may not want this life forever any more than you do.

It's a half life you both have. If you want to compromise, fine, but then don't moan about it. it's your choice.

lifechanger Thu 25-Aug-11 14:27:52

I think you are being reasonable.You have given this man a great deal. He's an adult.

However, are you sure that the motorhome thing isn't an extreme dream based on a powerful response to your present, trapped position? Why don't you take a month off, alone, in a van and see how you feel after that?

countrydreamer Thu 25-Aug-11 14:47:26

thanks for your thoughts.
but hang on, I don't think I have made him what he is, and when I bailed him out the second time I told him it was the last time and he knows I meant it, and I did insist that he went to an advisor for several months last year, (cost me a few £thousand) to sort his business out and it did work quite well. That was the most constructive thing I thought I could do for him.

]I guess he might well think I will always provide, but he knows his position is precarious and he has never ever saved in his life, apart from this year when I have found him 2 savings accounts and helped him start a direct debit, yes exactly like treating a child. it was the only way.

As for the personal side, well he is still here, so that is his choice to accept it or not. I have asked him what he feels about it. I think his drive is lower now due to prostate problems anyway.

I agree the relationship is unequal. If he wants to leave then he is free to. It would save me a packet and be a relief.

Last time I started a new job, I had to fill in an occupational health form which asked to declare if I'd ever had counselling. That puts me off going for counselling.

countrydreamer Thu 25-Aug-11 15:09:00

lifechanger - a test is probably a good idea thank you

lifechanger Thu 25-Aug-11 15:38:08

I bought a lovely little campervan and had a brilliant time in it for a few years. But the novelty wore off and I did find it a bit isolating - everyone in vans are in couples/groups. I never lived in it though!

Have you thought about living in a canal boat? That's a gorgeous lifestyle - slower but beautiful and more comfortable I think, also more sociable as there are lots of singles in canal boats.

lifechanger Thu 25-Aug-11 15:41:08

And people on the cut look after each other. It can be a bit alternative but there are lots of mainstream people as well. I have friends who are teachers, socialworkers, care workers, charity workers and engineers who live in their boats. You don't have to have a mooring but if not, then you have to move a parish every couple of weeks or so (I think), although for many that's just up 10 miles and back again. Or you can travel across the country - the links are great. Big woodburning stoves - I've honestly never been cold in a canal boat, and have stayed with friends in the winter on a number of occasions.

lifechanger Thu 25-Aug-11 15:43:05

Ok, I'm on a roll now. One of my friends is aspergers and it really suits him because he doesn't have to be sociable if he doesn't want to - just unties and goes to a more isolated spot - but when he feels more friendly, he moors in the places where there are more people.

lifechanger Thu 25-Aug-11 15:44:58

You can tell I like canal boats!

<geek emoticon>

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