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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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I have been with my boyfriend for just over a year now and

Customer Question

Hi. I have been with my boyfriend for just over a year now and he is unemployed for the last 5 months. He quit his overseas job and returned to our home country. He took his time and had a rest. Then, he started looking for jobs. He told me that he was stressed in his job very much and that there were not any advancements left that he could do in his career there. So basically, that is why he had quit. Then, he has proposed and we can not get engaged as it means our families getting together. The thing is my father does not want us to get engaged before he gets a job. I understand that but now, this has all turned into a mess. My father does not tell me anything but talks to my mother about my relationshiop, which in turn means my mother talking to me voicing both my father's and her opinions. They think that my boyfriend is just taking my time by doing nothing (eventhough there are some interviews that he had, there are not any final job offers yet so this means he does not have a job and for my parents this means, he is not doing anything or he is not doing enough), he is a fool and that I should basically break up with him. I do not know what to do. I just want to be there for my boyfriend when he needs me the most and I love him. What I think that is worth noting is my boyfriend is a well- educated guy who has been working in multinationals for the 9 years of his whole work life so far. He is not a forever unemployed man. We are not getting engaged and we decided to wait until he gets a job. Now, the problem is that my parents think he had his time enough to look for a job and could not find one so why continue my relationship with him? The last thing I heard my mother say is that their(my parents') friends who know my boyfriend ask how he is doing in his job search to my parents and that this effects my parents' reputation badly since their friends think they have very high values. How can they let their daughter continue her relationship with an unemployed man who is just wasting her time? If they have high values, this should mean their daughter should be going out with an employed man. Nobody wants an unemployed boyfriend. I do want him to get a job, to be able to take care of me when we do get married but he was not unemployed when we started dating over a year ago. Wouldn’t it be lame to just call it quits now because he is unemployed?
This is getting on me very much lately and I feel this pressure coming my way to call it quits with my boyfriend. I do not have the means to move to a new house. Another solution could be putting a distance between me and my mother at home. Even if I try to keep my relations distant with my mother, she is at home all the time so basically, when I come home from work, she starts talking, talking and talking. Even if I ask her to stop, she does not and yells at me. I am growing very tired. I am afraid it will come to a point where I do not feel very well at all let alone be there when my signficant other needs me the most. I am all hopeless and started losing faith in being just happy.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 6 years ago.

Good question.

This is a complex question and I took time to read it well.

You are in love with a man who you desire be your husband. You have family who has strong opinions about his worth and his work ethic. It is causing you to question yourself and your relationship. This is the issue.

The emotional rule here is actually very clear. This man will be your husband and you his wife. The future marital relationship is a lot like an image of two people slow dancing together. There are only two dancing; all others are audience members and are not in the act of dancing. If anyone tries to break in, or if anyone or anything comes between you both, the dance is over.

Here you have a problem that is resolvable via a perspective change. Yes, you are your father's daughter and also you have a family. Your father and family have a right to an opinion. However, you are an adult and they do not have the right of control. You are "dancing" with your boyfriend, (soon to be more) and parents try to cut in. The proper response is to gently remind them that you appreciate the concern but that you will make this choice. It is really that simple. No it will not be easy for you to establish your adulthood with them as it is clear that they still see you as their little girl. But:

You cannot be forced via an emotional pressure to see things as others wish you to. They can try but you will need to resist and establish yourself as the choice making person.

I would advise that you seek a therapist to gain some perspective into this issue. There is just too much control and emotion in this situation for you to be able to see this clearly. Families can be incredibly frustrating and influential, both good and bad. Here however, it is a bad influence as your adulthood is being questioned or even taken away. This is your life, not anyone else's

The key question that you need to talk about with a therapist is: What do you really want, apart from what your family wants...I think by doing so you will see this for what it is and you will resolve this issue.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thanks for your answer. It is clear that you gave it a thought and this is why I am consulting justanswer, not a therapist.

What I want is very clear. I want my future with this man whom I think is the fit for me mentally, physically and most important of all, I love him with all my heart. I know that parents can have good and bad influences over their children and that they want the best for their children but this is what I question in my case. Do they really want me to be happy? Don't they like my boyfriend and just see his unemployment as a reason to tell me this or is it just that he is unemployed, which they tell me it is? Even if they tell me that they just don't like his unemployment, it is like they hate him all the time!

I am afraid this case started to affect my relationship with my boyfriend. I cry for no reason at all and he thinks he has done something that broke my heart. What should I do to just be me? I want to be happy with this man and I want my parents to give me advice when I do need it and just be happy because I am. The thing is , I am afraid that if we go on to the next level and get engaged, my mother will find something new to yell at me about my relationship. So even if I am happy with my man, it seems like my parents will always have something to worry about or to nag about.

Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 6 years ago.

There is no easy answer, although an answer is clear. A choice has to be made by you.

It isn't your fault that you want what you want. It also isn't your fault that your parents are giving you such a difficult time. You are in a bargaining phase of decision making. You would like (and I understand why) to have both your parents and your boyfriend without risk of conflict. However, that may not happen. You cannot predict what your family will say or what your mother might do if you become engaged.

But, one thing is still clear. You are an adult and so is your boyfriend and your parents. You must make a choice. This choice will put you back into your old self in a short while (because the stress of the choice is where you lost yourself) but it will not be an easy choice to make, but no one can make it but you. The stage you are going through is called moratorium, a time of agonizing decision. We all go through it and it does not last forever, it just feels that way. From doing so you will grow and establish your identity as a full adult. It is pain, but it is like childbirth; worth it.

I feel for you. I have been in difficulties of the same magnitude. It is not a simple thing but it does pay off in the end. Ask all the advice you can from trusted people and then, act. My very, very best to you...hang in there. Steve