My boyfriend and I have been together for 18 months. He is 37 and I am 46. He was separated when we met and is now nearing the end of a very expensive divorce. He is from India and I am American.
We met and got together on the West Coast and last summer he had to move to the East Coast for a new job. His visa is dependent on his employment status so there was little choice in taking the job, as it was not only a big step up, but also a very secure position in his IT field. We did not want to be apart, so last August we made the move across country together.
I have been out of work for some time due to a back injury, so we agreed that at least until I was able to retrain for a new job through Vocational Rehab, that he would be the breadwinner and I would take care of us at home. This has actually worked out for the most part, as we both are primarily comfortable with more traditional gender roles in the relationship. He is a brilliant man, very high maintenance and complex, an artist, and an engineer. Together we are sort of the classic masculine/feminine archetype. He loves to go out and conquer the world and I am comfortable being very grounded in homemaking.
Although he makes a very good salary, because of the financial strain of his divorce, we live on an extremely tight budget. He provides me with enough monthly resources to cover our food and gas and and not a lot more. We have one car, his car, which we share. I am going to begin retraining for VocRehab in the next few months, but in the meantime I am not working outside the house. I have learned to cook and eat only Indian food, because it's the only thing he is content with. I take care of our home entirely, he does not lift a finger. I iron his shirts and pants for work every day and see to it basically that all his needs are met. When we arrived here, with only boxes and no furniture, I gradually, over the course of 3-4 months managed to almost completely furnish our apartment with thrift store furniture, linens, dishes, and other household items. I stripped, sanded, and refinished dressers for the bedroom and decorated the entire space with beautiful secondhand fabrics and curtains I made myself. We do not have a bed. We are still sleeping on two 3 inch foam mattresses on the floor because he feels he can't afford the expense at this point. This is a challenge for me with the back injury, but I have accepted it.
I love this man, and I can really manage to deal with most of what I have described, but here is my issue. When we argue, which lately has been frequently because he is working such long hours, he will blurt out in anger at some point, "Well, just get the f* out of my house then!" This just rubs me the wrong way. I feel that this is my home, even though I do not contribute financially, in every other way I am the one who has created and now maintains this home for us both. I cater to his every whim, lovingly for the most part, because he works so hard and I value his contribution to us. I am friend and lover and mother all rolled into one. And here I am in a new place, in 10 degree weather with snow, having left all my friends and family behind to be with him in love and devotion, and he says this to me as if I am some transient person he brought in off the street. I'm pissed, and insulted, and I am seriously questioning if this is the situation I really want to be in. The emotions run deep here for me, and I don't want to be a self-righteous. I really just want to get some clear perspective on all of it. I would like to hear some reasonable input. Thank you!
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I wouldn't put up with his attitude. Being he expects you to cook and eat his food, he should be able to bend and eat American food too. Relationships are a two way street. Tell him to either shape up or you are leaving. If you decide to leave see if you can get some financial help from the family for somebody to either bring a U-Haul or send you the money to to get one so you can take some of the furniture with you. I'm kind of thinking this is a case of leaping before you looked.
You are not "friend, lover and mother" rolled into one. You are used, abused and debased rolled into one. It is clear that he has moved on and is manipulating you out of the house and out of his life.
Unless you take a realistic view of your circumstances and take charge of your own life, you will find yourself out of his life and out on the street very shortly. You must find the resources to pack up, move out and find your own life. He certainly has moved on; his "long work hours" may actually his excuse for the time he is looking around for a new slave.
Your boyfriend is an Indian man. In India, women are treated worse than second-class citizens. They're more like slaves to men.
You seemed perfectly comfortable with this role when you moved across the country just to keep house for him. You take care of everything having to do with the home, just like every good Indian housewife. You even agreed to cook and eat Indian food and to sleep on the floor, the preferred way of sleeping for many Indians. Basically, you led him to believe you would be completely subservient and in every way the model of the perfect Indian housewife.
But now you seem to have your own desires, beliefs and opinions. What's up with that? An Indian husband would be perfectly within his rights to kick you out on the street for challenging him.
You both need a crash course in culture. Start by explaining to him that we're in America, and America women are equal partners in a relationship even if they don't bring home any money. He probably already kind of knew this, but was confused by you behaving so much like an Indian woman.
Second, Google how Indian women are treated. It's BAD. If you had done this simple thing to begin with, you might have had second thoughts.
Unfortunately, you're in this situation now and you have no money of your own. Even if you are able to re-train through voc rehab you may find you cannot hold down the first job they try to fit you for. Getting disability may take years if you ever get it.
The fact is, you may be stuck for now. The proper time to "seriously question if this is a situation you really want to be in" is before you jump in with both feet. There is not much incentive for him to change, and unfortunately, he knows it.
Where are you honestly going to go? Even if you go back across the country to live with a friend or family member they can't support you financially. Buckle down (for now) and be content with a home with food and heat. I hear the beds in homeless shelters are particularly uncomfortable.
Bummer. I see several factors here. The basic male-female thing, and the "role" thing, and the myth that current American relationships are now equal...Really? You can have the kind of relationship you have here or anywhere, regardless of origin. The world is in flux as far as relationships, and it still boils down to two individual people. I speak as someone once married to a foreigner and someone single for many years. (At this point no longer interested in any of it.)
On a personal level, you both seem to prefer a "traditional" arrangement, but he's just getting out of a marriage. Most people are not truly ready for another committed relationship for about 5 years, not matter what they do/say. There will be confusion and only time clears it up. No discussions, no arguments, nothing but time will help. As well, you guys are at the 18 month mark.
Some of the fizz/sizzle has settled down to the mundane. I don't know when in this story your back injury happened or what you were doing workwise/income wise, or how early you were in your relationship when you had to chose whether or not to move with him. My guess was when it was hot and heavy.
People who say "you can just get out of my house" are fighting unfairly. It can just be what they were raised with, or it can be the beginning salvo to literally get you out of their house. Not trying to scare you here, but having had several relationships I recognize the possibility. I had a very unstable childhood, and as a result never wanted to be in that vulnerable a position again, so I never moved in with anyone, and only one partner sort of moved in with me.He was foreign, had his own small home, but had brought 2 brothers to go to university and preferred to sleep at my house, but we still had independence.
I was also a few years older than him. When it came time to think of the end result of our relationship, I realized that never having had children he would want them eventually, and I was getting past the age where that was a good idea for me. So eventually we parted amicably. You don't mention children. Or where his wife is/is from. If he doesn't have any, being only 37, won't he want them? How long has he been in this country? Is he only going to stay conditionally per employment, indefinitely?
To find out where this man's thinking is at, when "my house" comes up again, try this to get clearer: Tell him the facts: that at both of your ages, you know that moving is a very expensive and time/energy consuming enterprise. It is not to be joked about, or used as a tactic of a momentary argument to gain an advantage.
When you regain employment, it will take several months to have the means to move. Depending on the state you are in, the fact that you have lived together for a while may encumber him somewhat legally.
Ask him if living with you is a little heavy duty after his divorce. You are behaving as a wife, and that may not be comfortable to him. There is nothing wrong with being a roomie with privileges either. Relaxing re that aspect may help.
My daughter left a man she was going to marry precisely because
he said "my house" once too often. She had had a period of unsettled housing situations and felt he was either ignoring that and/or using it to exert psychological leverage unfairly. She got a room and left. Now they are back together. My take is he is a self indulgent self centered. She's got sense, she'll handle it. But she also has health/employment issues, and I think that's his issue.
He thought he was ready for marriage but when it came to real "in sickness and in health", not so much. I think you may have something similar going on. Scaring him. When you were first together, were you working and helpful to him?
One of the things I wasn't aware of re my husband until I was older: as a foreigner, he was actually afraid a lot of the time. Afraid he couldn't survive...he did, but I wish I had known the fuller picture. There may be some fear going on.
I suggest some gradual, feeling based conversations. You may have learned to fix things the way he wanted, and he may have thought that's what he wants [to feel secure], but by now, he's probably figured out that just because you fix a mean chapati or parathi, he still might be feeling overwhelmed. Regardless of culture, it still boils down to people, feelings, fears, and so on.
I am sure you have a lot of fear going on yourself. I don't know how severe your injury is/is now, prognosis, etc...but getting retrained is new and by definition stressful, as well as having to look again. Possibly you could both take advantage of his being from India and import just a few cute clothes to sell on etsy/ebay...or jewelry. I love Bollywood movies myself, and wouldn't be surprised if we get Bollywood fever here.
Good luck. My ex and I didn't make it but in retrospect, it was all
just human stuff, not so much cultural.
Abigal has some very good advice regarding the differences in culture and the attitudes Indian men have toward women. There is a lot in the news now about rapes in India, and the awful sexist attitude blaming the women. This should give you some idea of cultural attitudes. You have gone out of your way to "take care of him", and have accommodated him in virtually every way. If he does not value this, then perhaps it is better to find this out now, and cut your loses. He is not likely to respect you more as time goes on, if he does not respect your contribution now.
You might also find out if you have any legal rights in this common law relationship. Here where I live in Saskatchewan, Canada, if a couple co-habits for two years as man and wife (as you have done for 18 months), they are considered to have the same rights and responsibilities as if they were legally married. The fact that he was already married to someone else would mean nothing here. You would be entitled to a share of his property and assets, savings, etc. Since he may not have much, this may not figure much into the problem, but you should find out.
If you are not ready to chuck the whole business, perhaps you and he could go for counseling; if he won't go, go on your own, as it will help you clarify what you want to do.
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