- 5 years ago
Well, I’m feeling super confused and really need some advice. This post is going to be a novel so I’m bolding the parts that are most important.
Short version: I’m living abroad largely because of my relationship, and recently found out my SO hasn’t given much thought to the future. I need to figure out how to deal with this without putting too much pressure on him and causing my relationship to implode in a big fiery mess of sadness and resentment.
I joined this site because I realized that I really love my SO and would like to marry him someday, which was a bit of a revelation for me because I never thought I would want to get married. My SO on the contrary has always known he wants to get married someday, that he wants kids, etc. We’ve been together for over two years and living together for nearly the same length of time. We met while I was on my semester abroad in Europe finishing my undergrad degree and since I originally only planned to stay one semester, neither of us thought it would be a serious thing. Obviously, that’s not how it ended up. Within a week he wanted to know that we were exclusive, he asked me to stay another semester when I was nearing the end of my trip. At this point in time, I knew I had strong feelings for him but still had no expectations about the relationship. However, I felt I would have regretted it if I had gone home and ended things like that. Plus, I was enjoying my stay and was learning a lot.
After this extension we had to talk seriously about what was going to happen as SO had finished his master’s degree and was going to start looking for a job. Obviously we talked a lot about our relationship and what it would mean for me to stay here. He knew it was a huge deal for me. In the US, I was planning on a career in law – I wanted a challenging career that would push me and that had a strong earning potential. Attempting such a career in this country would have meant essentially restarting my college education as law studies begin at the undergraduate level here, contrary to the US. Because I had been working part time as an English teacher during my stay and enjoyed it, I decided that could be a potential career for me if I stayed. Here, that requires a masters degree and passing a fairly competitive exam (30% pass rate). When he changed cities, so did I. I started my masters and preparation for this exam which I will be taking next month.
Here’s my problem: I feel that I am, in a way, sacrificing some of my career potential with this change. I believe teaching is extremely important and I may well love it once I really start. But it will never be the same kind of challenge or give me the same potential for advancement that I would have had with a career in law (or business). Sometimes it bothers me to think that my SO has so much more potential for advancing in his career. Additionally, and here’s where things get serious for me, I made these choices largely because of our relationship, because we are happy and because I feel that we have serious long term potential. Recently, I started talking about this with my SO. It came up for the first time when he was talking about how he wants to buy a house together in the near future and I mentioned that I would prefer to be married before making a huge purchase like that. I saw that surprised him, but didn’t worry because he also knew that I wasn’t crazy about the idea of marriage. Later he made some really promising remarks, even mentioning something in passing about perhaps getting engaged next year. He said that the idea of marriage didn’t scare him but the idea of planning a wedding didn’t really appeal to him.
Eventually, this topic was brought up again and the results were less than promising. “Do you think we have long term potential/can you imagine us eventually getting married.” – “I don’t know…I haven’t thought about it.”
This was hard for me because, God help me, I don’t know how you can encourage your SO to change countries, career paths, and uproot their life when you haven’t thought VERY seriously about where your relationship is going. Honestly, I was surprised and hurt. I encouraged him to think about it which turned out badly because my SO is one of those men who, when approaching a problem that requires some reflection, will immediately start trying to find all the weak areas (its kind of his job, but his mentality as well). What this means in this context is: he started looking for the flaws in our relationship. Some of this stuff was silly like…I like riding bikes and you don’t. Others were more serious…you’re shy and I’m more social. When I called him on his tendency to focus on only negative things he laughed and said I know him better than he knows himself. He told me he’s been very happy with me but doesn’t know how he can make some kind of guarantee that it will always be like that. He says he hasn’t seriously started thinking about marriage because his friends aren’t married and his brother is only getting married next year after dating his Fiance for something like 9 years.
I have had to make hard decisions for this relationship. I started making those decisions simply on some faint hope or emotion but after two years I can’t continue doing that. I haven’t seen my family in almost a year and a half. I am stressed about this exam that I may not pass, about starting a new career that I may not love, about having such a hard time making close friends here in this new city. This is my SO’s country and he hasn’t had to alter his life or career plans in any major way due to our relationship. And now when I feel that I need at the very least some reassurance that we’re on a similar page in our relationship…I’m disappointed and worried by the answers I’m getting. How do I approach this without putting too much pressure on him and throwing in his face the fact that I’ve had to make sacrifices, etc?