I am a confused 28-year-old. I want to know whether I should stay or leave my boyfriend. The relationship started off on a lie about his age and profession. On the night of our first sexual encounter he confessed that he was younger than me by five years. I was shocked at first but got past our age difference and decided to continue the relationship.
He makes me happy and the sex is great. We've been together for the past three years. Financially things are very slow. I know we are not the only couple in this world facing financial difficulties, but he hardly ever takes me out because he is always broke. Whenever we do go out, I pay. He takes care of the bills and he ensures that food is in the house, but sometimes I would like to eat out and have a little fun.
Life has become very lacklustre and boring for me. I only get his undivided attention when we are making love. He is now pressuring me for a baby and he wants to get married, but he can hardly take care of me much less a child. I want stability and I don't have that currently. Do you think it will gradually come as we grow together? I am scared to enter in a matrimonial bond and live an unhappy life. It also scares me to start over. Money is not everything, but I know if I were to get ill now he couldn't help.
We don't fuss and that is a good thing, but what bothers me is that he hardly wants to acknowledge the problems we face. When they come up, he brushes them off and makes jokes.
It is always a good thing to pause and do a comprehensive assessment of the relationship, especially if you are about to make an important decision like marriage or starting a family. This assessment must be void of emotional considerations and must encompass an intelligent and detailed audit of the relationship. The trust component in a relationship is critical and should not be overlooked.
So he lied to you about his age and his profession. Obviously he was thinking that had he told you the truth you may not have considered giving him a chance. Although this action seems harmless, the ends can't justify the means. Coming clean at the outset of the relationship is always best, as it gives the other person an opportunity to make an informed decision based on the facts presented.
You have decided to overlook the "little lie" and continue the relationship, which in effect means you have ignored this first red flag. The positive spin to this, however, is that he was the one forthcoming with the undisclosed information. There should have been a serious discussion with your boyfriend at the time of the disclosure indicating your displeasure and disappointment with his withholding such critical information, and what your expectations are regarding the way forward. Be mindful that small lies have a way of progressing into big lies. How can you be sure that he will always be honest in his dealings with you?
A relationship is not just all about the passion, as you have discovered. Here is probably where the age difference is playing out. At 23 he may not understand and appreciate what is involved in a committed relationship, and so excels at the physical while paying little or no attention to your emotional needs. Many young men believe that once they can deliver sexually, the woman should be satisfied in the relationship. The woman on the other hand needs emotional fulfilment even more than the sexual pleasure, unless of course the relationship is a casual one with no strings attached.
Let's hope for your sake that on calendar events like your birthday, Christmas and Valentine's Day, you are specially treated. If not, you would want to include that on your audit list and underline with red ink.
It seems that more work should to be done on the relationship before a child comes into the picture. The fact that you are bored indicates that the relationship is not growing and will die if there is no attempt to resuscitate it soon. Don't believe for one moment that marriage and a baby will change the attitude and behaviour of your boyfriend, who is still very young and immature.
Stability will only come about if the couple is committed to the relationship process and each person is equally contributing time and effort to the success of the relationship. There must be a mutual agreement that each partner will provide the other with the emotional support that is required for the love flame to keep on burning.
It is commendable that there are no interpersonal conflicts at this time, but the conflict does exist on the intra-personal level, that is, within you, which explains your state of confusion and distress. Containing your anger is an unproductive way of addressing conflicts. It simply means that you have transferred the conflict from the external to the internal plane. And soon the tension will become overwhelming and you will either descend into a state of depression as there is communication breakdown in the relationship, or you will begin to have constant arguments with him, which will ultimately lead to more emotional pain and distress.
So as you do a pros and cons assessment of the relationship, do what is necessary for your personal happiness. This may include seeking couple's counselling.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.