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Sick of being a caregiver

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  September 26, 2011 08:41 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith,

"Jack" and I have been together for years. We are in our mid-twenties and met during college. We were on and off a couple of times during school but have been going strong for five years. He is the love of my life, best friend, confidant and savior, and I couldn't imagine being with anyone else. A few years ago, he battled with addiction and depression. After that, he dealt with some family tragedies. But I stayed by his side and helped him get through it. I was his lifeline and his bank during that time, never once complaining.

Fast forward to a couple years later. I moved to live with him and to be near his family. It's a daily struggle for me because it's a long commute to Boston. My work hours are intense. He is employed, but he doesn't make much money and he's unhappy with the work. But for some reason he has zero motivation to do anything about it. He has random bills that have collected around the house that would take seconds to take care of, but he just can't seem to get the motivation to just get it done.

I'm tired and frustrated and over being his caregiver. When I do end up snapping, his response is "No one asks you to do it!" and he's right, but I feel like I have to. I guess my question is: When is enough, enough? Should I get out now before I end up resenting the entire thing and the stress that it puts on me? I have never ever insisted on being taken care of, but I do expect to be a team.

– The Caregiver, Outside of Boston


A: You said it best: "I have never ever insisted on being taken care of, but I do expect to be a team." Your guy doesn't want to be a team. He wants to be helped.

I understand that life has been rough for him, but some guys would have gone out of their way to rally after tragedy and to make sure that you weren't sacrificing too much. Again, your guy just sat there.

My advice is to step back and consider this statement: "He is the love of my life, best friend, confidant and savior, and I couldn't imagine being with anyone else." Is that true? He might be your best friend based on how long you've been dating, but your five years of commitment have involved some truly awful stuff. You say that you want him to change, but what do you mean by that? Hasn't he always been this guy? Can he really become another person?

Decide what you need to be happy (write it down in list form) and be honest with yourself about whether he can ever be the right partner. For the record, based on what you've told us, I don't think he can. He's never going to jump to pay bills. He hasn't asked, "What will make life easier for you?" Your lives have always been about him. And that's just not good enough.

Readers? Should she stay or go? How do you get someone who's dealing with depression, addiction, and family tragedy to rally? Is there anything to save here? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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