Sunday, July 12, 2009

The thing about LOVE...

Dear Brooke,

I'm a 37 year old Jewish woman and I come from a fairly "traditional" family. Dad was a doctor, mom stayed home and raised the kids, never really had her own career-really focused her life on raising two daughters. She did a great job, we all turned out well, got good educations, good jobs, and are relatively well adjusted.

I went through a divorce 5 years ago from my Jewish husband and shed the life that I always thought I was supposed to have. It was a pretty traditional marriage in the sense that he expected me to do more around the house, etc. but the interesting part is that I was also the primary breadwinner. I had a well paying marketing job which I didn't love, and he was following his passion to start a charter school from the ground. This was tough for me, and felt really stressful. As we started to think about having kids, it became clear that this relationship was not going to work.

So now its 5 years later, I've done a lot of work on myself. I have now been in a relationship with a French man for a year. He's not Jewish, but that hasn't really been an issue. I'm starting to stress out about a number of things right now because we've started to talk about having a family. My stress is leading to fear, and I feel myself getting uptight and resentful about some of the same things that I focused on in my marriage. The main difference between my relationship now and my relationship with my ex husband is that I really do love him. But, my boyfriend does not have a career and is making no money. It has been fine for the past year because I make enough money to pay for us both for a variety of things but when I think about potentially raising a family with this man, I feel the stress of being the primary bread winner and the mom.

I know that love is all you really need. My problem is I'm struggling with that. I can't imagine breaking up with him over this. But at the same time, if I want to have a family, I sort of have to start in the next year or so.... agh. very confusing. I want to believe he'll step up and change and be able to hold a job. But do I go into this and just assume I'll be the primary (and maybe only) breadwinner in the family, or do I walk away knowing that this is one of my issues that I just know is going to be a problem down the road....

What would you do?

Anxious and Confused, but in Love,
Hopeful Hannah

Dear Hopeful Hannah, you gorgeous woman,

There are so many things I want to say and know more about, especially the comment you made about your mom that she “never really had her own career"…

But when it comes down to it, what are we really talking about here? Love.

This is the way I believe it will go… You hope for something to happen (for him to get or keep a job, etc. and you get to stay home with your kids, etc). It doesn’t. You have sadness which turns into resentment (which you said you already have a little of -bad sign). Resentment turns into lack of respect. And lack of respect ultimately chips away at the love that you convinced yourself would make everything last forever.

My hopeful darling...although it is very romantic and beautiful to think that love will conquer all, the thing about love is that…it just doesn’t…conquer all that is. Love includes so many things… respect being one of them. You didn’t have the love with your ex husband that you wanted and that you truly deserve. That doesn’t mean that love is all you’re looking for! I ask you to think bigger than that. You are still on the lookout for everything you deserve- the big picture- love...and respect. Not perfection, but what’s right for you- to be with a person you are proud of and who will work with you to create the life you want.

It sounds to me like you weren’t happy with the way things went with your ex, so you are searching for something that feels NOTHING like that… interestingly enough, you have found yourself in a very similar situation on some level. Though a different religion, and different feelings, you are still with a man who lets you rule the roost. Seems like you keep looking for someone to take care of you, but continue to find yourself taking care of for thought...

On the other end of the spectrum… if you do in fact have interest in being in a relationship where you are the bread winner and your husband/boyfriend/father of your children is a stay at home dad… all the power to you!! There is a new book out called “The Daddy Shift” (J.Smith) which I recommend if you are headed in that direction. It’s a progressive and beautiful way to live if it’s right for you. But, if it’s not, then it seems to me you have a lot to think about…

Love is amazing and wonderful and confusing and and and… Love is SO strong that it can make us believe that it can beat any challenge, or make everything confusing seem clear. Unfortunately, it’s a trick. Love is not all you need. Relationships are like houses. Love is in fact the foundation...but there’s a whole lot more to build on top of it.

With respect,

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