I am in a really strange situation. I come from a very well off family who hold very traditional ideas about gender roles and money. The man I love is broke. Not just broke, but on the verge of bankruptcy. We have been together for 7 months and are very much in love and want to get married, but my parents have forbidden it claiming that he needs to be able to stand on his own two feet before he can be a secure life partner. To be fair, he has not had a job in the time we have been together (but I have been helping him send out resumes) and he has moved in with me (not just to save on rent, but I don’t charge him). They have told me that marrying him would jeapordize my inheritance as they would not want me “wasting” my money on “a lazy freeloader”. I am so upset and don’t know what to do. I love him so much and I know they have some valid points, but I also think they are being unreasonably harsh. What do you suggest I do?
Living On Love
Dear Living on Love:
Darling, you are romantic, and I applaud you for it; now it is time to be realistic. You two may very well be in love, and you can live on it alone, but you’ll likely be hungry, cold and without shelter. It’s beautiful to appreciate romance, but to romanticize hardships people are working very hard not to face (or sadly, continue to face) is a dangerous road to go down. The man you love is broke. OK, that happens. I am not one to judge someone being down and out; I have been broke and hungry in my life and it’s not a good place to be.
That is my point.
My concern is how concerned he is about this. Not having a job or money is very stressful and depressing for most people, but based solely on the statements in your letter it seems your guy is OK with you paying the rent and sending out his resumes. Again, that’s not a judgement, but are you OK with this? While your parents execution may not be in-line with the way others might handle things, I am guessing they love you very much and their concern is less about gender roles and more about protecting their daughter, well beyond your assets. I certainly would not tell you to end a relationship, but I would ask you to really think about how comfortable you are, right now, as things are. Can you live as you are for another 50 years or are you in the early stages of love thinking about how it will all come together when this man (who has not had so much as a job at Starbucks in 7 months) finally wakes up, washes up, makes a job of looking for a job, lands one and puts in his 50%? You cannot make someone want a better life for themselves, nor can you force someone to be ambitious or want to add value (financially, emotionally and through physical efforts) into a partnership. What you can do, love, is wait for things to be in a place where you are truly happy and comfortable before you take any further steps. If that is now, tell your parents this is your decision and accept their right not to financially support you. If you’re living on love (and hope), perhaps wait a bit more time and see if the changes you are counting on come into fruition.