Paying The Rent

Things have been so good lately. Since deciding to try an ethically nonmonogamous lifestyle, I have been experiencing a whirlwind of life changing experiences. One of the biggest benefits of this choice is that it is allowing me to see and really appreciate Spouse again. Once I decided he didn’t have to be everything to me, I began to enjoy what he is to me. But the not fun truth about my relationship with him is that it is still healing from some hard years.

One of the difficulties in our relationship has always been his relationship to time, tasks, deadlines and everyday life duties. He doesn’t really understand or care about them. He avoids them until the last minute, does them late or not at all.

Case in point, the first night Spouse and I really talked was Halloween. We ran into one another at a coffee shop where we were both avoiding Halloween festivities. I learned later that, in typical Spouse fashion, he was at the coffee shop finishing his application to medical school, which was due at midnight that night.

A few months later he had to follow up that application with “secondary” applications to each program who asked for one. He also held off on this until the last minute. In fact, we decided to take a road trip to California to celebrate his graduation that year and I remember we had to stop at Starbucks every few hours so he could submit an application because he hasn’t gotten it together enough to get them in in advance, even though this trip was anticipated.

At the time, this didn’t bother me. In fact, I thought it was very cute. Here was this brilliant guy who could read and comprehend things at a speed and in a manner that I had not come across before, nor since for that matter. Yet, he couldn’t seem to do things like get applications in on time. It was endearing and made me smile.

But in time, after the honeymoon phase of our relationship faded and we had already gotten married and combined our whole lives, including finances, this facet of Spouse was not so cute anymore. It began to wear on our relationship in a real way and yielded many a fight. His inability and unwillingness to deal with everyday realities and responsibilities began to feel hurtful. I managed EVERYTHING because I didn’t trust him at all to get things done.

At first I made the mistake of trying to manage him completely, but over time, I learned to choose my battles by just managing him when the issue at hand directly affected me. For example, when it came time to apply for residency positions, I jumped in. After all, how he handled this application would directly decide where the two of us would be moving and whether or not we had a good say in it.

The scores were no problem. He got the highest score on his board exam out of his whole class. But then there were myriad applications, interviews, vaccinations, fees, etc., to manage in order to get to residency. Together we created a to-do list of timelines for these various things, a timeline which he didn’t follow at all. This process is extremely taxing for any couple or person, but especially for one where each person functions so differently than the other.

The resentment this kind of thing caused me to feel continued to grow and was a bit part of our eventual split. I felt constantly disappointed in him because I had chosen to attach myself to him and I didn’t feel he was holding up his end of the bargain. He never did anything for our family without being asked, whether it be cleaning, caring for the dogs or paying bills, he seemed never to consider or own his part of what living a life meant.

It’s a dynamic we both played into. Because I didn’t trust him (and he proved he could not be trusted, even with simple tasks), I didn’t give him responsibility. Because he knew I would take care of anything, he didn’t think to step up. We would have a fight about it nearly monthly and he would promise to do better, to do more, and then, nothing. We would try “honey do” lists or “family planning” sessions to deal with business. But the truth is, I enabled him completely and I regret it deeply.

Fast forward to now. We don’t live together and that is the biggest relief. In fact, neither of us thinks we’ll ever live together again. The things that matter to each of us in day to day life are just too different to share a space and finances.

But we are still in the process of uncoupling assets. Both our names are on the lease at the apartment he lives in, for example. Which is why when I got an email yesterday that we were late on rent, I just about lost my mind. As has been typical for us, I reminded him twice to pay the rent, and he just didn’t do it. Finally, on the third reminder, he did. But by that time we were late. We incurred a fee and my credit is also on the line.

So I’m running around trying to get myself packed and set for my business trip this week, including organizing our dog’s care for the week, when I get the email that we are late on rent. I was furious. It was a reminder that I married and chose to couple my whole life with a man child. It’s so frustrating because he is a capable and intelligent person, yet somehow, these very basic tasks of life functioning completely elude him.

I know that some of things I demanded of him when we were together were more subjective; how clean a bathroom should be at any given time, for example. But some things, like whether or not one should pay rent on time, are not so subjective. Particularly when it actually affects both partners. A late rent payment affects credit. I am disappointed in myself for having trusted him with even this simple task and I am disappointed that he could not accomplish it.

I ended up crying pretty hard about it. It just brought up so much hurt for me. I know we are on our way to taking this aspect of our relationship away by totally uncoupling our lives in all practical matters, but it’s going to take time. At least until the end of this lease. And that fact is going to make it very difficult for us to repair our relationship.

He was extremely apologetic and got the rent in eventually, but that didn’t really matter. I have forgiven too easily for too long. I’m not planning to hold a grudge on this particular instance, but I am planning to expedite the uncoupling process because I cannot grow to truly love him again with this much hurt and resentment towards him.

I feel so grateful to have learned that Spouse can be my lover and best friend and someone I feel committed to for now and I believe the rest of my life. But that doesn’t have to look how it did for the last few years.

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