If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
DEAR HARRIETTE: A year ago, I got engaged to my boyfriend of three years. I’m in my first year of master’s studies, and he works in the service industry. He is heavily in debt from student loans. I am at a point where I do not know if getting married is the right decision. I am realizing that being with him (for the time being) won’t give me the financial freedom that I was accustomed to with my parents. I believe in my fiance, but sometimes I question when he will take the next step in his career. I don’t want him working service jobs for the rest of his life. Am I wrong for wanting to call off the engagement until we are both in a better position financially? — Second Thoughts
DEAR SECOND THOUGHTS: For a marriage to work in the long term, the two of you have to be on the same page regarding values and goals. That doesn’t mean that you need to want to do the same things; it does mean that you need to talk about the future and agree on a path forward that makes both of you feel comfortable and in alignment. You have been together long enough to have a good sense of each other’s patterns, of your relationship to risk, of your level of ambition and of your dreams for your life.
What do you know about your fiance? Think about it. Be practical, not idealistic. Now focus the lens on yourself. What do you know about your own mind and what you want and need? Compare those two lists. Where are the points of intersection? Where are the points of divergence?
Talk about what you have discovered about yourselves. Be honest as you consider who you are as people and what you want in life. Be mindful not to judge each other. Just talk. This is important for you because as of now, you have been judging the type of work that he is doing. You don’t like that he works in the service industry. What does he like about it? Why is this his choice? If he were to stay in this field, what benefits would it bring him — and you? Is he stable in his work, even if it isn’t high paying? Can it be complementary to what you do? Think hard about how you can make things work as they are. Be honest with each other about whether you are willing to stretch to grow together.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine suggested that the reason I am having issues in my dating life is because of my physical appearance. He immediately backtracked with “I think you’re beautiful,” but it was too late. My ego and feelings were already completely shot. I don’t know how I can continue to be friends with someone who pretty much told me that my physical appearance (something that is largely out of my control) is the reason I am being treated poorly in relationships. Am I overreacting? Should I have appreciated the honesty? — Harsh Words
DEAR HARSH WORDS:
Before you write him off, tell him that his words hurt your feelings. Ask him what he meant. Though hard to hear, his insights could be valuable. What does he see? What about your physical presentation does he find off-putting? If it’s only about how your physical body and face look, that’s subjective and could mean that your physi- cal appearance isn’t appealing to him personally. That’s perfectly fair and means you look for someone who wants more than certain physical attributes. If it’s your grooming, that’s something that can be addressed. Listen to learn what he really means, and decide if you care to refine your presentation in response to his comments.