When I mention my boyfriend and likely future-husband-to-be is unemployed, my commenters frequently point out that I’m an idiot for dating him. “He’s pulling you down,” wrote Erin on a post I wrote over the weekend. Maybe I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life by falling for him, but I don’t think that’s the case. Here’s why:
I never knew what I wanted in a relationship until I met *Derek (names changed to protect the innocent.) I had dated a few guys before off and on, but everything felt fake, like I had to be something I’m not to be with them. Derek was different. We met performing in a local community theater. He was shy yet extremely handsome. His smile melted my heart from day one. As I got to know Derek, I discovered he was perhaps the sweetest man on earth. He cared so much for others and lacked all selfishness which was so common in my family and in myself. He made me realize that no matter how much money I had or didn’t, I could always be happy just cuddling up to him and watching our favorite TV show. For better or worse, wealth started to matter less when I met him.
That said, despite the fact that he’s unemployed, he’s not in a terrible financial state. At 30, he hasn’t saved a dime for retirement and he’s whittling away his $10k in savings during his unemployment. Yes, he pays for our date nights on occasion even though he shouldn’t. I’m investing my money so at least any savings I have will go towards our future, and the faster he runs out, the faster he will move to get his life in order.
Also, many 30 year olds still have student debt to pay off. If I were to decide that I needed to go off and find someone else to date who I would actually want to marry (and who could put up with my own mental illness / depression et al), what’s to say they wouldn’t be in a worse financial state? Derek has $0 in debt and, from the long-term view, he’s an only child from a family that is incredibly frugal. That’s not to say we’re going to become multi-millionaires one day due to an inheritance, or that I wish that day to come sooner than it has to, but there will be some money down the road to makeup for the weight I may pull up front.
He’s also going to get a job. The problem is he’s depressed and he needs to see a therapist to work out his issues. I want to help him get to a point where he can get a job. It’s frustrating but only because he gets upset when I try to help him until a lot of time has gone by and finally he’ll admit he needs help. I think that’s just a guy thing anyway. What I know is that I need to take care of myself. I’ve made it very clear to him that we won’t get married until he has a career (not just an hourly job) of something that he actually wants to do with his life.
If that ends up taking many years, then I guess I have a choice to make – do I stay and give up on the idea of having a family or do I go and try to find someone else. I know everyone in a relationship filled with love says this, but I can’t imagine finding anyone else who so perfectly completes me. I feel completely at home in his arms. And that, to me, is worth more than his retirement savings account balance.