Relationship Issues Keep Repeating

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am a 47 yr old woman who is in a primary relationship with a 66yr old man. He is a very kind, loving person and we have been together for 3 years. So what could be the problem?

My partner used (unbeknownst to me) his entire life savings for a down payment to buy us a house. I am eternally grateful for him for creating this for us. Although he purchased a house, I have made it into our home and spent many thousands myself renovating it.

He is now broke, and only has seasonal work so has no money for anything other than living expenses. We never go out.

I feel trapped. Please forgive me, but I feel like I have been tricked, and I do not want a life with another broke man: I supported my first husband for many years of our 10 yr marriage. My relationship after that one also lost his job and was never able to regain his finances in the 4 yrs we were together and had no interest in becoming more successful. He was content living ‘day to day’ and had no interest in getting ahead whereas I have (had) a lot of drive and ambition.

Now I am with yet another broke man and feel awful because he is a good man and very kind. I also feel resentful because it was foolish of him to use his entire life savings and now at 66, he has nothing other than this house we live in.

I feel like I have failed myself, and him.

My deepest life wish and desire: although I have a career (not a j.o.b.) I would give anything to be able to quit and not have to work. I want more than anything to have an old fashioned relationship where I take care of the home and the man, and the man takes care of the finances. This is my biggest wish. Yet I feel like I would be called a ‘gold digger’. I am not interested in a man just for his money: I want a man who is successful enough that his partner wouldn’t have to work.

I hate myself for having this wish. I am tormented because one moment I feel I should be grateful to have a kind man who was willing to spend his savings to get us a home, and the next moment I feel stuck with yet another broke guy and see my golden years being impoverished. He will get a young woman to take care of him in his old age, but what would I get?

He also has a bad habit of checking out other women all the time, so my self esteem has been negatively affected by this.

Please know I hold myself accountable for choosing this man, and being in the situation I am in. No one forced me into this.

I feel terrible. Please, please help. Should I just be grateful I have a kind man and forget my dreams, or should I move on? I am losing sleep, not happy and feel miserable. I am also feeling that he deserves to be with a woman who loves him as he is, broke or not.

A: Before you make a decision, I hope you will consider finding a therapist to help you with this. You’re right. You have a pattern but I’m not sure it’s the pattern you are identifying. It looks to me like you try to live your dream of being an “old-fashioned woman” in that you turn over financial decisions to your partner until there’s a problem you can no longer ignore. I have to wonder how you didn’t know that buying a home meant using up savings.

I don’t know the answer to your “should I stay or leave.” I do know that you’ve repeated the same relationship three times and unless you get some new perspective on it, you’ll probably do it again. Meanwhile, you may give up a relationship that has lots of positives in it because you have some idea that jumping out of the relationship is the answer.

And, by the way, it’s not who your guy looks at that’s important. What’s important is that he goes home with you. If he is obnoxious about it, by all means talk to him. He may not understand that you experience his behavior as a rejection.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Relationship Issues Keep Repeating. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/04/25/relationship-issues-keep-repeating/