Should I stay or should I go?

Postby sunrisewatcher » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:16 pm

I'd like some advice about how I should deal with the current crossroads in my relationship.
The way I got into the relationship, and my reasons for being in it, are unusual.

There's a long, full background here, but if you prefer, you can just skip forward to the red highlights.

Long history

My childhood - in case it's relevant. Parents hyper-vigilant; anxious; neurotic. My older sister was born with Down Syndrome and severe intellectual disability and given up for adoption. I had huge guilt issues about it, until recently when I figured out how to let it go. I definitely have trust issues, though.

About 5 years ago, my world was 'turned upside down' when, in the same month, I was both fired from my dream job, and learned that a very close friend (ex boyfriend) had very unexpectedly taken his own life. But, I recovered, put it behind me, and sorted out my life again.

Middle history

Now, I know we're not supposed to "discuss religion" here. But I can't get your help without explaining the situation. I will not make any religious statements or assertions here. I'll try to describe the situation impartially.

About 2 years ago, for no apparent reason, literally overnight, I stopped being an atheist and "realised" that "we are meant to be here". I still feel this way. I don't follow any religious or spiritual group. I don't know "what" God is or whether there is a "God". I just like nature and meditation more than I used to. Also, I think our decisions in life matter - we should try to figure out a good way to live and then live it. More on that below.

About 6 months after that (18 months ago), I "realised" that I hate living in the city, and really want to become a mother. (For various reasons to do with my family and upbringing, my expectations of country life were, in a word, unrealistic.). I also realised that my career was worthless to me. So, I decided I should start trying to find a country-dwelling man who wanted to get married and have children. As I was 32 years old at the time, I decided I should probably get started right away (get started dating, ha ha, not falling pregnant :lol: ).

Luckily, I had no debt, no mortgage, and I had my own savings. I gave up my job, nice apartment, 3-year-relationship, and my city. (As my boyfriend at the time wanted to stay in the city and had no farming skills, I "decided" he had become pretty useless to me.).

I decided to "husband hunt" full time for a couple of months, and see what I could find. (Sounds harsher than it felt!). I was open minded about whether this man would be a hippie organic farmer or a conventional farmer. I used internet dating to try to achieve this goal. The internet of course has no shortage of lonely farmers who want a girlfriend haha 8) . This was a period of long road trips, as you can imagine, and much catastrophising by friends and family.

So, living off my savings, I went on dates with three country guys. Cut a long story short, the first two didn't work out, and both situations were emotionally HARROWING for me. One time I was the dumper, the other time the dumpee. I didn't realise I was capable of such deep emotions. Ugh. My "escape from the city" was already proving tougher than I had expected. Neither of these guys were conventional farmers - they were just guys living in the country.

Having given up so much, and having had a few glimpses of how good country life can be, I was pretty determined to keep on going.

Recent history

The third date became my current boyfriend. We have now been together for one year. I have been spending a lot of time staying with him at his farm. (The rest of the time I stay at my parents' spare apartment in the city).

I am in love with him and he has many, many admirable qualities.

However, for numerous reasons that are not directly his fault, I struggle to feel comfortable or happy when I go out to the country to stay with him. Reality bites :oops:

Yes, the landscapes and stars are beautiful out there. But I've learned that -- city and country alike -- beautiful surroundings (natural or artificial) are not enough.

Farming communities are very different to cities.

I struggle with the lack of privacy in a small town. People borrow things without permission. People are overly familiar, they turn up uninvited, ask big favours without shame, etc. People don't lock their cars or houses. One "friend" proudly boasted that he used our lavatory while we were not home (and specified that it was for the more substantial use, not the lesser use) . Do I really want my future children to be brought up around these kinds of people?

You don't just date a farmer - you feel like you are also dating his family and the whole community. Everyone knows everything. And guess whose side they always take? That is what "tight knit" means.

I am an only child, raised in a reserved, British heritage type of family. Emotionally, my parents are very aloof; "hands off". My father is a doctor, and most of my career was spent as a lawyer. I am really struggling with small town life. And time is making it worse, not better.

As is often the case in farming, when it comes to assets and finances the lines between "mine", "yours", "business", "family", and "personal" become extremely blurred. The whole thing is, very transparently, built on trust. Intellectually, I recognise that this is the cold hard reality of human survival. This is man, closer to his natural state. Farming communities are more "real" than city communities - you gotta do a lotta things you don't like to do. But I'm a city girl, and it scares me.

My boyfriend has a strong sense of duty to his small town community, and spends a lot of time helping out his friends. I can see that some people repay the favours, but others are just users. He is so good natured, and eager to please, that he can't see it.

He thinks that being a good man means being respected (approved of) by other men. But I think that being a good man means protecting women and children AND being respected by your male peers. It's a balance of both.

The present

So, we come to the present.

I'm now 34, still unmarried, and still really want to get married and have children. I feel that it would be "stupid" to throw away my boyfriend and all his wonderful attributes. He's intelligent, kind, hard-working, positive, & has street smarts. He has incredible practical skills and owns horses for riding and lots of great machinery and equipment for farming and self-sufficiency. He owns a beautiful big tract of land out in the wilderness that we visit once or twice a week. I love it there. If we had children together, he could provide a very rare and precious childhood to them, which few other men can offer. I probably won't get another chance like this again.

On the other hand, I also feel it's getting a bit "stupid", continuing to go out there to visit him when I dislike it so much and can't really see any solution on the horizon.

There are other issues in the relationship
- I am freelancing online, but would love to get a proper job in the city. Would love to get my own place and not live under my parents' roof. My boyfriend doesn't want that, though, because he wants to be able to spend time with me.
- His "best friends" are this horrible couple that make my skin crawl. Very unethical in business. My boyfriend refuses to acknowledge it. As I have said, he is very biased in favour of his friends and community. He's loyal even to the people who rip him off -- provided they are local farmers, they have a lifetime gold pass to his good opinion.

Instead, I could end it, live in the city, get a city job, and date a city guy with a normal job, normal financial situation and normal friends. I could also put more time into my freelancing if I weren't spending so much time helping my boyfriend on the farm and dealing with constant time-consuming interruptions from other farmers. (Geez, those country people can talk!)

It's not as simple as "backing off" from the relationship, slowing things down, or "talk to him about it". He is really ready to get married and have children. He doesn't want to hear my reservations about his town, his time management, or his decisions. If I try to explain my fears, he says: "You hate it here. I don't like that. You're very welcome to stay here, if you like it. If you don't like it, you can leave."

I feel that I am all tangled up in knots. :(

What have we learned here?

I can respect these farmers, perhaps more than city people. But, I fear I can't, or don't want to, be one of them.

I've learned we are so privileged in the city - enjoying the psychological luxuries of Separateness and Privacy, Detachment and Freedom. I really love it.

This is the crux of my problem - I try to identify right, and then do right. This is one of my guiding principles. But at what cost to my happiness? Where should I draw the line?

Do I really "need" to marry my boyfriend, and commit to a lifetime of putting up with small town politics, and financial insecurity, purely because I believe that living off the land is the most noble and the correct way to live?


Can't I just respect the farmers, from a distance? But, wouldn't that make me a hypocrite, another thing that I hate?

It would seem that I have painted myself into quite a corner here, wouldn't it? :lol: It's getting real squashy here in this little corner :lol:

Maybe it's time to admit that I was wrong (my experiment in country living failed). Really, maybe all I'm looking for is a guy who is keen on children, homeschooling, organic gardening, and has a large backyard. Maybe that is the answer.

So, what should I do? Where should I start? How can I get more confidence in my decision, one way or the other? Thanks.
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#1

Postby Livetowin » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:58 pm

Having been married for 25 years (to present) and raised three kids and have a grandson, let me give you some perspective you don't currently benefit from having. Whatever frustrates you about him, his circumstances or yours, take that emotion and multiply it by 1000 if you get married.

By every definition that matters, marriage with reservations is a mistake. You can count over the various details of why you have those reservations but at the end of the day, they provide the weight that will significantly impact your concepts about the whole process should you take this on without resolve. Any one of these problems might seem minuscule and fixable on it's own merits, but collectively each of these create a far greater problem that will quickly become a weight most are not ready to carry early in a marriage. If someone asks you to hold a 100 pound concrete block over your head for five minutes, do you think looking at the individual granules that compose it's mass will make you feel better about keeping it up once you realize holding it for any length of time was a bad idea? Probably not, but your question is essentially the same as this.

Marriage is not a fix for existing problems or reserves. If the truth be told, marriage should ultimately be an afterthought for the two interested parties and more for your friends and family in the name of tradition and celebration. Commitment, loyalty, trustworthiness, and a strong understanding of each other's weaknesses and a realistic understanding of how those impact you should already be present before you tie the knot. But most importantly you have to know and understand how to forgive each other for being human. No one is perfect and marriage is not a perfect race. You also need to know yourself and whether that other person is fully aware of what they are doing as well. In other words, do both of you truly understand what you're getting into.

People evolve in marriages. Their identity may become more defined so their goals may change too. And as people change, sometimes it changes how they see their partner. This is where the truth of how honest you've been with yourself (and your partner) really shows up. Can the two of you evolve together? What if one of you has to take a back seat in their career so the other can advance? What if crisis and illness creates financial woes and all the two of you have is your belief in each other to pull through those murky waters?

Have you really examined the person who is in front of you or are you still attached to the idea of that person? Because whoever that person really is will bleed out quickly in a marriage. Can you remain under the same roof when their moods are bad or they display their weak moments that you deplore? When you need attention for yourself but you can't because the other needs it more for you, can you hang in there and get through the process because you believe enough in yourself and your partner to weather this event? I could go on and on. And by now you're likely thinking I must be in one hell of a bad marriage. LOL. I'm not. But everything I mentioned is simply part of the human condition.

You know how imperfect you are in your private moments. Well guess how fun a ride that is when you put another person in there 24/7? You better really love them, understand them, and essentially be willing to die for them (at least outside of the odd numbers days when you would rather kill them yourself). That might sound chaotic but that's the process of two people with identities wanting to exert their space. It's very challenging but can be very rewarding when the two of you understand who you are and KNOW that no matter how crazy life gets, the two of you have each other's back and wouldn't have it any other way.

The truth behind most failed marriages is one or both people did not know enough about themselves to understand what they were really asking for when they tied the knot. Once people lose the will , they no longer want to do the work, so it;s easier to quit and say, " They weren't who I thought they were." No sh*t Sherlock. You probably weren't who you thought you were either.

So if you really covet something in your single life be HONEST with yourself. Are you ready to let it go? Does it feel like a sacrifice to let it go? Do you and this other person understand that the commitment becomes the two you 24/7 and not just on the weekends or when you're in the mood? Anything you can answer that is "kinda, sorta" becomes "oh sh*t" in the marriage. So if that concrete block looks pretty heavy to you, it's probably because IT IS. Don't be ready to carry that weight until you understand what you're holding.
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#2

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Fri Jun 30, 2017 3:16 am

sunrisewatcher wrote:
What have we learned here?

Maybe it's time to admit that I was wrong (my experiment in country living failed). Really, maybe all I'm looking for is a guy who is keen on children, homeschooling, organic gardening, and has a large backyard. Maybe that is the answer.

So, what should I do? Where should I start? How can I get more confidence in my decision, one way or the other? Thanks.


Ugh!!!

Stick with me please...I'm not trying to beat up on you, but what you have learned or should have learned seems to be missing entirely.

You should have learned that HAPPINESS IS NOT a product of your external world. Happiness is not a farmer or a city guy, having a child or not, having this job or that job, this house or that apartment.

If you now go searching for your keen on children, homeschool, organic man, you will once again find misery rather than the answer, because the answer is internal rather than external.

You say you recently went spiritual. I suggest you start reading Seneca and some of the stoic philosophers. Learn about happiness derived from the self rather than from the material world. It will greatly help you to reduce your decision anxiety, because you will not be so externally driven.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:28 am

Should I stay or should I go?

I tracked down one of Senecas letters that applies. It can be a tough read as there are sometimes tangents, but an underlying message is that you can't escape yourself by changing your situation. No matter where you go, there you are.

https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Moral_ ... Letter_104

I would recommend you get out of the relationship, because you went into it for the wrong reasons. You are trying to escape yourself, trying to travel to a new destination, to change your surroundings, but this will do you no good.

I know you are in a hurry to find a man, get married and have a family, but this is just a symptom of that underlying problem, trying to escape from yourself, trying to use the external to cure the internal. In my opinion, you are not ready for a relationship. Take some time to yourself, figure out how to be happy with the internal and then you will be ready for a relationship.
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#4

Postby KarinaB » Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:58 am

Listen to your feelings - those reservations are telling you something. Whether or not you *should* be happy with him, you are not. It will not magically get better if you marry him and have a child, you will be even more frustrated and unhappy. Marriage and a child will be a distraction but you will lose yourself.
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#5

Postby sunrisewatcher » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:24 pm

Thank you livetowin, Richard@DecisionSkills, and Karina K.

All of you gave helpful advice, which it has taken me a few months to properly absorb.

Much appreciated. Thank you for taking the time.
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#6

Postby sunrisewatcher » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:12 am

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:Should I stay or should I go?

I tracked down one of Senecas letters that applies. It can be a tough read as there are sometimes tangents, but an underlying message is that you can't escape yourself by changing your situation. No matter where you go, there you are.

wiki/Moral_letters_to_Lucilius/Letter_104

I would recommend you get out of the relationship, because you went into it for the wrong reasons. You are trying to escape yourself, trying to travel to a new destination, to change your surroundings, but this will do you no good.

I know you are in a hurry to find a man, get married and have a family, but this is just a symptom of that underlying problem, trying to escape from yourself, trying to use the external to cure the internal. In my opinion, you are not ready for a relationship. Take some time to yourself, figure out how to be happy with the internal and then you will be ready for a relationship.


I did read the Seneca. Also, I am now taking some time out from dating.

Cheers.
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