Dear Anne: I have been with my boyfriend “Scott” for almost 11 years. We’ve been together since high school. We had a baby when we were young and I have worked since I was of legal age, only taking a break for maternity leave. Scott didn’t start working until our daughter was 2 years old. He worked for a small company where he ran his own store, and he was the only one there. They didn’t pay him for work weekends and paid him late almost every month, and he earned a very low salary considering he was in charge. He ended up quitting his job and then came back a year later for a few months.
Since then, he has not looked for a job. When he quit the second time, he said it was because he didn’t like the job, and I told him he had to look for another job right away. It’s been three years since. Now he says he quit working so he could be a stay-at-home dad so we wouldn’t have to pay for childcare. We barely made ends meet with just my income.
Now I want to go to college and I need it to step up. He agreed to get a part-time job while I’m in school, and I’ll continue to work weekends. He doesn’t have a license, so we’re going to buy him a bike. He must renew his identity card before he is ready to work. I can’t get him to apply for jobs. I even offered to fill out applications for him, but he refuses to give me his email address, so I can’t even start an application. I ask him why, and he says he doesn’t feel ready to do this. We have a whole plan to prepare him, and applying a week before getting his ID won’t make a big difference.
He will not communicate how he feels. He always shuts down when it comes to talking about his feelings. I need him to work or we can’t pay our rent. Even if I break up with him, it won’t give me more income to keep my apartment while I’m in school.
How can I motivate him to work and get him to communicate with me? I start school at the beginning of the summer, so we are limited in time! — Dealing with a failed dad
Dear dealing with a dud: First, give yourself a pat on the back. Wanting to enroll in college, work to support yourself and your family, raise your daughter, and keep the house in order at the same time shows how hardworking and ambitious a woman you are.
Start by organizing the logistics. Sit down with Scott and discuss how to make this work, covering everything from your schedules to childcare to a basic monthly budget. He may feel overwhelmed and unprepared because he doesn’t understand what everyday life will be like. But anxiety aside, tell him there’s no way he can continue to act like another child you have to take care of.
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