Part Two of leftover questions from my online Ellie chat, “50 Ways to Stay Together” (April 22):
My fiancé is more casual than I am about work and life. I’m on a career path and work long hours. He leaves the office at 5pm.
We’ve been together since the last year of high school. I tutored him to get enough marks to get into college.
When he stopped school with just one degree, I insisted he work two jobs then so I could get my post-grad degree.
Now I want to buy a house and start a family but he’s unwilling to work harder.
I’m losing feelings for him, because he’s just not pulling his weight. How can I convince him?
You can’t change his basic life perspective through criticism and pressure, for not thinking and acting exactly like you.
He’s already worked two jobs to support your ambitions.
If his “casual” style provides balance to your constant drive, it can be healthy for both of you.
You’ll have a better chance at staying together long-term if you can accept the benefits of his more relaxed approach, and discuss future plans without making demands.
My husband had a great job but he pulled a stunt at work that gave him a bad reputation in his industry. (Not illegal, but not totally ethical either).
He hasn’t worked in three years.
We had good savings so we were fine until a few months ago. My parents are affluent and gave me a stipend to boost my earnings, so I wouldn’t be worried. But I am.
His public embarrassment - albeit his own fault – makes it hard to recover his confidence and zest for work.
Play to your husband’s strengths. Without re-entering his exact field, consider some joint projects you and he could do together as a small business start-up.
Or, if he’s better on his own, encourage him to talk about his ideas and things he’d like to try.
Since you’re not in dire financial straits, don’t make this about pushing him to earn immediately, but about using his abilities in a way that gets him engaged.
It may take a few false starts, or he may feel anxious about being in the public eye again, but just keep encouraging him.
My wife’s talking about separating and says the problem is my pot habit, which she’s known about since we first dated.
She earns well, my business is still growing, but we’re getting by.
She keeps blaming pot for my business not doing better, and says it makes me moody. I feel much more moody and negative when I’m not smoking!
She admits that she still loves me. And I love her. How can we get past this bad patch and just be happy together?
The love you share is why you’re still together. But dependence on pot-smoking is the “elephant in the room” because you disagree about it’s impact. It could divide you further.
Your need for pot to control your moods, is what she sees as the dominant factor controlling your efforts and behaviour.
Maybe it doesn’t affect your business, maybe it does. But she firmly believes pot has come between you. It’s become a deal-breaker for her.
I urge you to talk to an addiction counselor and be open about the frequency of your habit and how it affects you. Then both of you should get counselling to deal with that information.
My colleague and I worked closely on projects. When my husband left me, he helped me personally, too.
We ended up having a two-year affair. Then his wife passed away.
We both felt guilty, distanced, but never discussed a breakup. We still talked at work.
After six months he started dating others… I was devastated.
Now he’s come back to me. I still love him, but wonder if we’ve lost what we once had.
Hurt and Angry
All the circumstances are different. Now, you’re both unattached, but he’s a still-recent widower with changes in his life, such as the impact on his other family members (kids, in-laws, etc.).
You could try to start a new relationship based on present reality.
Unless, in the past, it was the “affair” that held the excitement and attraction for you both.
You’ll know soon enough if that’s what was essential, and is now gone, or you’re together in a new and different way.
Tip of the day:
Criticism and pressure divide couples rather than create compromises and deeper bonds.