I really like the guy I’m dating, and he’s following his passion in music but he’s financially unstable and he makes significantly less than I do. How do I deal with the financial situation of someone I’m dating?
It’s hard for me to come to terms with the fact that there might be a point in our relationship where I may need to be the financial pillar. I can definitely support myself but supporting someone else is scary. He does live on his own with a handful of housemates so he’s independent. But typically artists/musicians don’t make a lot. Financial situations can change over time so I feel like what I’m scared of now may not follow me into the future.
Dear Financially Freaked,
What a great opportunity you have to use your words! I know, I know, I’m being snarky, but really: Don’t leave this to chance. Talk to him.
Does he have a plan for paying the bills while he’s investing in his passion? Do you share similar lifestyle expectations? What’s his relationship with money? Has he planned for a side job that will help the two of you make ends meet? Is he realistic about finances, or does he believe that money is something that other people worry about?
If you don’t mind living on the cheap together while he noodles with his music, awesome! If you hope for a lifestyle he likely won’t be able to afford, not so awesome.
I don’t mean to scare the pants off of you, but you’ve got a valid fear here. If you end up being financially accountable for the two of you, that responsibility comes with problems far beyond daily living expenses. Having a dependent is tricky because it often adds unlovely dynamics to a partnership. To complicate things further, if you’ve established a pattern of supporting him over time, this has legal implications for you if you break up. Whether you’re married or not (in common law states), it’s possible that you’ll be supporting him for years, possibly decades after a split.
I’m not saying that this is just a musician thing; this could happen if you were supporting an out-of-work greeting-card writer, or fireworks salesman, or accountant. Regardless of his profession or his passion, this is something you want to talk all the way through with him.
All that said, I know plenty of musicians who are making a living at being musicians (studio session guys, music teachers, singers, sound techs, etc.). And you’re right—out of all of these people, only one of them has made a super-comfortable living at it, and it wasn’t an easy road along the way. But my musician friends pay their rents and mortgages. They buy braces for little Beth’s teeth, and some of them are even saving for retirement.
Whomever you partner with, musician or fireworks salesman or accountant, don’t leave this stuff to chance. Talk about it, and decide together who’s accountable for which parts of your finances so you don’t end up as the sole pillar of support by default. This whole not-a-lot-of-money-in-music thing is not a surprise, or an accident—it’s predictable, and can be planned for in advance.
My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years. We have 2 kids and one on the way. We are great friends and genuinely love each other. But the longer we’re together we’re realizing how opposite we are. Our differences often leave me feeling pressured and him feeling unloved.
Ever read 5 Love Languages book? I like words of affirmation and receiving gifts. He likes acts of service and quality time.
We read “When Your Sex Drives Don’t Match” and I’m a “Disinterested Lover” Meaning sex isn’t a priority, but when it does happen is fairly enjoyable. He’s a “Dependent Lover” meaning he likes to use sex as stress relief and an escape from the day.
During sex, I like romance, while he enjoys lighter, more playful sex, trying new things, positions, experiences, etc. A hiccup in the “system” can ruin the mood for me.
Because he likes acts of service, he goes out of his way to love me the way I want to be loved: Flowers, candles and small jewelry. Telling me he loves me and complimenting me.
He says I don’t return the same “service” type of love, and that leaves him feeling unappreciated. And I feel like I’m doing it wrong. Help?
Books are great, aren’t they? They give us useful ways of relating to each other, they uncover blind spots, and they definitely help us see other people’s points of view. I think books are so great I even wrote one. However, the things you’ve discovered in these books are not immutable qualities or hard-and-fast rules. This is not science. These are not unchangeable differences you are stuck with or must overcome. And your sex dynamic? Yeah, that’s the exact dynamic I’m working with in 90% of the couples’ counseling I do, which makes you…normal. Yep, totally normal.
So let’s back down from, “he’s this one way and I’m that one way,” and instead look at how knowing each other’s preferences and defaults can help you be great for and with each other instead of set you further apart.
The five love languages book was designed to help readers be more effective with their partners. What does that mean? Well, if your love language is gifts and his love language is acts of service, then don’t do gifts for him; do acts of service instead. He’s the one in charge of gifts because if he enacted acts of service for you, it would be lost on you—it wouldn’t hit your radar, right?
I’m not trying to pigeon-hole the genders here, but I have never met a man who didn’t have acts of service connected to feeling loved. I’m not saying those guys aren’t out there—I’m just saying I’ve never met them. And I have literally asked thousands of men the question, “What makes you feel loved by a woman?”
You might think, “acts of service, ugh,” and I get it—most of us are already doing a lot in our partnerships and in our lives in general. Acts of service can be draining, so pay attention to which acts are easiest for you and give you the most points with him. I used to iron my husband’s shirts while I watched All My Children on VHS after work. (Yes, I’m that old.) It was soothing, semi-mindless, and helped me unwind, and it made him feel loved and cared for. What acts of service do you like doing or that cost you little that he might love a lot?
This is a two-way street; what gifts can he give you that mean the world to you but don’t break the bank or totally stump him? Red roses on Fridays? A new pair of earrings? A piece of fancy chocolate? Or perhaps something completely different? What would do it for you? He won’t know unless you talk with him about it.
Now let’s talk about sex. And when I say, “let’s talk,” I really mean you two talk. Since sex is more like an occasional treat for you and a needed meal for him, make sure he’s fed, but you don’t have to do all the cooking. In other words, take it easy on yourself. Make deals around time of day or days of the week, learn what he needs during times you don’t want to make an effort and see where you both can comfortably compromise, and shoot for a balance of both romantic and experimental. Maybe when the creative, new stuff happens, it’s at a time when you’re rested enough that it’s not taking anything out of you to enjoy your intimate time together, and/or maybe when you’ve already had your needs attended to in the ways you need from your partner.
You two have preferences that aren’t the same because you’re unique humans, and this by no means spells out hopelessness.