Relationships

what is 'grown up'? I'm tired!

I'm a pretty self sufficient woman. I'm also a bit of an over achiever so I lack perspective on what more reasonable people embody. I'm engaged to a man I adore. He fascinates, challenges, encourages, loves, snuggles, and adores me. He is a very kind, gentle man. Overall, our lives are pretty frickin' awesome and I'm often sublimely happy. But he's not as mature as I want him to be. That is a particular choice of words because I have no sense of how mature is 'enough', particularly since he is continuing to grow in wonderful ways.

 

The things that frustrate me are mostly the complete inability to see a problem that needs to be dealt with, and just deal with it. Even when I point things out (We're having an issue with X, can you Y?) and he agrees, it takes LOTS of reminders, prompting, sometimes step-by-step instruction. I learned this skill at 5 and 10 and 15. I had it mastered before I left for college. How can he, in his 30's, still totally suck at it? Is this a general thing most adults can't do? Most men? Most people who lived single lives until recently? Can you be a grown-up without this fundamental skill?

 

I know the most useful and kind response to my repeated disappointment and frustration is not to be angry, but to teach and see that he is growing....but it's so tiring. I have the weight of our household responsibilities, paying bills, the finances, the car, the travel planning, and most of the motivation/planning for any non-routine activities. I'm tired!

Re: what is 'grown up'? I'm tired!

  • image anssett:

    Can you be a grown-up without this fundamental skill?

    Yes, if you have someone else to do it for you.  I'm curious to know about pre-you.  Did he live on his own?  Or at home?  Or w/ roommates who picked it all up for him?
    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
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  • I'd say bare minimum acceptable standard. Messy but not horrifying house. Credit in shambles. Didn't own a car (we live in a very bus-friendly city). Family/friends/exes planned all the trips. The core stuff was there though. He got up and went to work every day and they loved him and kept promoting him. My new theory is he goes above and beyond at work without being asked, but just needs to translate that to our lives/house. He certainly wasn't marriage material when we met but he fell for me hard and starting changing his life to become someone worthy of me. He's changed a lot of behaviors, and even successfully quit smoking (his desire, not my ultimatum). I'm proud of the growth, just SO tired waiting for things to be more balanced.
  • I have a couple of different reactions to your situation.

    Firstly I feel sympathetic because when DH and I got together he was useless with money and a complete slob. I often felt like he was a 10yr old asking his Mum for pocket money, when he'd get all, "I want to buy..." It probably took us a couple of years to get the money thing really sorted where the budget wasn't too restrictive but allowed us to set and achieve financial goals. Now he's great with money.

    I was pretty messy too and one day I just thought, "I don't want to live like this" and basically dragged DH with me on a quest for a clutter free, clean home. Now he's awesome at keeping the house tidy and getting rid of any junk.

    With both these scenarios I had to take the lead. It was exhausting feeling like I was the "grown up" one, but we've grown together, and in many ways he's a better grown up than I am. I guess we each have strengths and weaknesses and I feel we balance each other. I'm great at the day in day out mundane tasks, and he's great at spending hours and hours in the blistering heat, building a deck.

    So it can be tough, but it can get better. I guess you have to decide if it doesn't get better are you ok with it? Are you ok with the man he is today?

    My second thought is that you seem a little condescending towards him with your, "he fell for me hard and starting changing his life to become someone worthy of me." and, "I'm proud of the growth" like he's a puppy or a project or something. Which makes me think you need to decide if you want a man who is a project that you can fix up. You might feel proud of the growth but are you proud of who is?

    lastly it does sound like you take on a lot of the responsibility. have you asked him about how he feels about it all, and what does he say? and if he took over say planning a vacation would you honestly be willing to let the reigns go? There's no right or wrong answer to that, I just know some people that when it comes down to it like to manage everything. They like to feel like they don't HAVE to, but they still like to do it.

     

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  • Ok, great, he's changed somewhat. But honestly, if youre looking for an equal partner, chances are he isn't the one. He's not going to do a complete 180.  Accept that and accept you'll be take g care of him on some level ( and really think of this in the context of kids! Kids won't change him either. Do you want him as another child?) or move on. 

     Seriously. This is WHO HE IS.  

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • You sound a bit controlling and like you said overachieving- meaning you are doing too much in the relationship and allowing/ letting him do to little.

    First I would try pulling back.  Stop doing so much.  Make him do it.  Stop nagging, and giving him lists.  Have a talk with him and tell him he will now be taking over X.  It helps if X is not on your high list of priorities.  For example keep paying the bills, finances etc.  But make him take on responsibility for the car, travel planning and household responsibilities that you don't care as much about.  So you don't go on a vacation because he doesn't plan one, well when he complains about it tell him we agreed you were going to do X, and because you didn't do X then oh well.  He gets pulled over in his car because he didn't renew his registration, say well you were in charge of that (just make sure its not your car)

    And like ECB said, accept this as who he is. if you don't want to be with someone like then than move on.  But I find that the more I give the less DH does and the less I do the more he does.  Although with kids we have both stepped up the plate, so I can say we both give 200%.  

  • I have a couple different reactions to this- in no particular order:

    - Do you have other friends or family members that fall into the "bare minimum acceptable standard" category? Any friends that have a house so messy you have to clear off a space to sit down, but you just love being around them? Any family members that will never be the holiday host or vacation planner you would be, but they bring the life of the party? Do you hang out with them frequently, or do they frustrate you to the point you spend most of your time with the more organized and responsible ones?

    I ask because there are differences that can restore and even fulfill you and differences that drain you.  If you generally find yourself drained by people that don't have the same standards as you, this might not be what you want to live with for the rest of your life.  

    - I can definitely be an overachiever and have pretty high standards for myself- but sometimes, stuff happens and I have to ease up on myself.  Sometimes I have a long day at work and I pick up McDonald's instead of cooking dinner, or sometimes I'm sick and the house doesn't get cleaned the way I'd like for a week or two.  When you're married, stuff like that's going to happen- to both of you.  Your version of letting things slip for a bit is going to look different from his version of letting things slip for a bit.  Can you live with his version?

    - When you look over your post and description of your fiance- is this the way you'd want to be described by your partner? I'm not saying you're being malicious or hurtful at all, I believe 100% that you love him and you both want the best for each other.  My question comes because it can be exhausting for you AND for him over time, if he's just not living his life on his own the way you want him to. In his shoes- it could be really hard to have his partner constantly frustrated with him because he still wasn't 'enough'. 

  • Thanks for the thoughtful comments, particularly VAgal. Writing this down helped me clarify how I'm feeling and I was able to articulate it much better to him tonight. I don't want to feel disappointed forever, and he certainly doesn't want to feel disappointing. Identifying that tendency in myself, in conjunction with his current growth trajectory, means we have a frame of reference now. I get to work on not being too controlling/demanding/overachieving in therapy and he gets to keep growing into the more responsible adult he wants to be. He's believed he would 'step up the plate' when I got pregnant, but now he knows I really need to see progress first so I feel safe enough to GET pregnant. Since he really wants us to have babies I think that'll help keep things going in the right direction.

     

    Our relationship was never obvious...to us or our friends. I thought he was going to be a fun fling, super light, no long term potential. But he realized I could be someone he wanted to marry from our friendship before we dated. He really did choose to change his lifestyle dramatically to 'be good enough for me' (his words). I was really worried about the lifestyle stuff, but I never got tired of talking to him and now it's 2 years later and he's living a very different life. We'll keep learning, growing, getting better at communicating, and I feel a lot better. Thanks for being sounding boards & taking the time to thoughtfully respond. 

  • image EastCoastBride:

    Ok, great, he's changed somewhat. But honestly, if youre looking for an equal partner, chances are he isn't the one. He's not going to do a complete 180.  Accept that and accept you'll be take g care of him on some level ( and really think of this in the context of kids! Kids won't change him either. Do you want him as another child?) or move on. 

     Seriously. This is WHO HE IS.  

    Yes, this. You are agreeing to marry him for who he is right now, not who you wish he'll be in the future. If you marry him hoping he'll change, you are going to be sorely disappointed. If this isn't the type of thing you want in a life partner, that is OKAY. Just be honest with yourself.  

  • I suggest maybe reading the book "secrets about men every woman should know" by Barbara DeAngelis. It sounds like your making the "women act like mothers and treat there men like children" mistake and the book gives some good pointers on how to stop doing that or assist with this "growing up" you feel he may need to do. Sorry in advance it feels like there are so many quotation marks in this post. LOL.
  • Sorry - A lot of men lack this skill. I think it's just a difference in how important they perceive things to be. Some men simply are NOT go-getters and will choose not to deal with things until they HAVE to. It's a vicious cycle that leads to nagging, which in turn leads to them doing less, which leads to nagging, and so on.

    My H does this. If I ask him to go to the store at 8pm because we've just run out of milk, he's all about it. But asking him to make a phone call to make sure he's set to graduate now that he's got all of his classes out of the way? Nope. Been asking for weeks, still no effort on his part. I know this will now delay his graduation until the spring, but that's his problem. For us, I acknowledged this character trait about him and weighed it against his better qualities. I decided that it is something I can live with. I married him, so I know what I'm in for.

    My advice is to understand that you are NOT going to change him, and he is likely NOT going to mature much in this facet. Decide if this is how you want to live for the rest of your life. I pay the bills, manage the mail, do most of the cleaning, budget, plan, and motivate. Yes, it can get overwhelming, but then I remember that I suck at running errands, doing dishes, yardwork, etc. He loves my friends and family, makes me laugh all the time, is generous to me, and doesn't argue at all when I make the decisions regarding such things as money, the house, and travel.
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  • I would look for a man who is already a grown-up.  Your fiance might be a great person, but that doesn't mean that he's a good partner for you or fit for marriage in general.  Also, from his perspective, I wouldn't be very happy in a relationship in which I knew my partner looked down on me and didn't see me as a capable adult.

    So yes, it sounds like he has some growing up to do (but might not ever do it), and both of you could probably find other people who are more compatible with you.  You need to decide if his immaturity is something you can live with for the rest of your life.  If it's not, he's not the right person for you.

  • Interesting responses. You don't seem to believe people can grow? Do none of you grow? 

     

    The main reason things got serious between us was his commitment to continuing to question himself, his life, etc and grow as a person.  That's a core value I hold very dear. I definitely need to keep growing to be less of a demanding over achiever (for myself, and everyone around me). I'm on that path. He needs to take up some real adult responsibility for the first time, and is working on it. Not as fast as demanding overachiever me wants...but...that doesn't make writing off everyone as stagnant the right answer. 

     

    I know an internet forum isn't a terribly complete picture of poster's true selves, but can you honestly say you're 100% happy with all aspects of yourself today and have no more growth left to do?

  • image anssett:

    I know an internet forum isn't a terribly complete picture of poster's true selves, but can you honestly say you're 100% happy with all aspects of yourself today and have no more growth left to do?

    No, but I know how to pay my bills and take care of other very basic tasks necessary to be an autonomous adult.

    You're the one who posted here indicating that you're not entirely happy with his maturity level.  Things might get better.  Or they might not- poke around the nest and the bump for a few days and you'll find numerous examples of women complaining about men who do not ever grow up.  No one is going to pat you on the head and tell you that if you just keep hoping that he will change someday, everything will be all right.

    Maybe your fiance will continue to make progress and get to a place where you feel responsibility for the basic tasks of running your household is more equally balanced.  We're just saying it's a pretty unwise idea to marry him before that actually happens.

  • My 25 year old daughter ended her engagement last year to a man just like this because she felt more like his mother than his fiance. Taking on a maternal role with her husband was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Is it what you want? Only you can answer that. I don't think you can expect him to continue to "grow-up" in his 30s.
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  • I love my husband dearly but one of his flaws is that he isn't very good at spotting a problem and taking the initiative to fix it.  I know he does this at work - he has a stressful job with a lot of responsibility, which he handles just fine.  But sometimes it seems like there's a switch that turns off when he gets home!  Our trees need to be trimmed, and I asked him to call a company several months ago, but he still hasn't done it.  I'll probably end up doing it.  But when I married him, I knew about this flaw!  He is an amazing person and a wonderful husband, so if I end up having to call the yard people sometimes, it's not a big deal to me.  I also think that, if it's important, people can grow.  I am a messy person!  I always have been.  My mom was always nagging at me to clean my room, whereas my brother's room was clean.  When I lived by myself, my house was messy!  (Not dirty!  Just cluttered.)  So when DH and I bought our new house, we agreed that we would work hard to keep it uncluttered and neat.  (He is very neat, so this was directed at me, lol.)  And for the most part, I am doing pretty well!  I will never be a "minimalist" but I have kept dirty clothes off the floor, dishes out of the sink, etc.  Not saying I have done a complete 180, but I am trying, and I think that shows growth. =)
  • My husband is kind of like yours OP.  I see a problem, I want to attack it.  He likes the path of least resistance, tries to avoid issues, etc.  It's annoying, no doubt about it.  But two things - 1.  That's simply the way he is, I'm ok with it and 2.  As long as said problem doesn't directly affect me, he can deal with it how he sees fit.  If the problme does impact me, I communicate that I need him to jump in and get involved.  And he does.  So it works for us.

    Based solely on how you have communicated here, you seem to have the potential to be controlling.  Are you willing to give up some responsibilities for him to take over?  If yes, are you going to hold him to your exceptional standards? 

    Additionally, you are very systematic.  Even in the way you describe your relationship and your feelings toward your FI.  There's nothing wrong with it necessarily, but not everyone approaches problems that way.  Likewise, it's not reasonable to expect him to handle every situation your way.

    I'd say encourage him to contribute, have reasonable expectations of him, and understand that this is the man he is.  You have to be ok with that if you plan to marry him.  While people can change, marriage doesn't magically fix them.  Communication, expressing your needs, setting expectations, and asking for help... that may start the process for change. 

    Best of luck to you! 

  • It's not that we're saying he can't/won't grow into a wonderful person. What PPs are saying is that you do not have the right to EXPECT him to continue growth in this direction. If you marry him, you have to accept him for who he is now - because that is what he is offering to you. 

    PPs are drawing off experience and tons of observations. As someone pointed out, there are numerous posts of freshly married women lamenting how their husbands don't do X. People ask if he did X before they got married. She says "No, but he was working on it."

    I agree with the PPs. If this is something that you can deal with - totally fine. If this is something that would be a deal breaker if he decides he no longer wants to grow beyond a certain "standard" that doesn't match your views...well, you need to consider it.

    Marriage isn't just about love, it's about partnership. Does he work as your partner now? Is this current relationship fulfilling?  

    Ignore the politics and enjoy life!
  • Try to divide everything you do in between both of you, sometimes it happens that we allow our partner not to take responsibility because we think or our mind set is like only we can handle the situation better.
  • We are all always growing and changing.
  • A lot about this relationship dynamic sounds unhealthy to me.  In both of your minds he is lazy, disorganized, bad with money.  You are put together, organized, on top of things.  He has to work and improve himself in order to earn your love and acceptance.  That's a completely toxic dynamic.  Of course you're resentful that he still isn't good enough and he feels belittled and childlike.

     Your husband should be a partner, not a project.  Sure, DH and I are constantly growing and changing.  We also each bring completely different things to the table.  I may do the cooking and laundry, he does the yard work and home repairs.  I may do more of the planning, he is more spontaneous and can always make me laugh.  We're both working equally hard to contribute to the marriage and our life, just in different ways.  So the question is, is he contributing a lot, you just don't value his contributions? Or are you carrying him and doing most of the work?  If its the second, why are you drawn to guys you need to fix or improve? 

    I think you both need individual counseling.  It sounds like something else (ADD, depression) may be going on with him and that you have some anxiety issues.

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  • It does not seem like the man you are willing to marry is showing signs that he is growing/willing to grow in the direction you are looking for in a relationship. Expecting him to change is just setting you up for failure. Sure, lots of people grow and change, but a lot of people stay the same too. That's why you have to pay attention to the actions of the person you are in a relationship with to understand what this person is capable of doing for themselves and for the relationship.
  • A few thoughts here...

    First, NO ONE is perfect and the grass always seems greener on the other side.  IMO, when choosing a partner it's important to keep a reasonable perspective.  I'm not suggesting that anyone should gloss over or ignore the "deal breaker" traits, but certainly keep in mind that if you were to move on to the next guy, he could be a great go-getter, but void of other admirable traits.  He could be stubborn...or controlling, and you could be constantly butting heads.  A laidback, easygoing, over-achieving multi-tasking go-getter is kind of a tall order.  You don't typically find those traits all in one package.  Read this forum, talk to the women in your life and you'll find out pretty quickly how unfulfilled and unhappy so many of them are because of serious problems with uncaring, emotionally stunted, stubborn men.  A man who treats you well, engages in discussions about the relationship, admits his faults and works to be a better human being is a GEM of a man, truly.

    And as women maybe we need to be honest with ourselves.  Again, take a look around and pay attention to how mothers raise their sons vs. how they raise their daughters (especially our parents' generation).  Boys are babied and frankly mothers are guilty of failing to teach male children basic tasks of self-sufficience.  Yet we've moved away from the stay-at-home mom culture, so women now more than ever are taking on ridiculous stress and responsibility as they work, take care of the house, keep the bills in order and raise the children.  

    In your case, it sounds like your fianc? was never really forced to take care of himself fully on his own, and his parents didn't give him the tools/education to handle his finances and household tasks appropriately.  

    All that said, I'm not suggesting it's our responsibility to just put up with it or to teach immature men how to be self sufficient adults.  I'm just trying to throw some perspective out there for anyone who is quick to throw the guy under the bus.  

    anssett, it sounds like your fiance and the relationship you have with him has redeeming, wonderful qualities.  You have a lot of questions to ask yourself before you marry him.  Totally recommend continuing the relationship with him and learning more.  It is awesome that you both are so self aware and able to have conversations with each other to assess the relationship and how you both are feeling.  IMO that is a hugely positive dynamic to have.  Let's just call it what it is - you're Type A.  :)  Have you ever dated a Type A guy and experienced what it might be like to be in a relationship with someone who is similar to you in that aspect?  Are you able to relinquish control?  Are you comfortable letting go of certain responsibilities to be handled by your partner?  

    Echoing what others have said, there is potential (with time and marriage) your fiance will eventually come to resent you if he feels 'beneath' you.  And you are likely to become resentful of him if he doesn't meet your standards.  Resentment is toxic, so be conscious of the potential for it.

    People do grow, but your core personality doesn't.  You have to decide whether his personality is one you can live with, while being realistic that whomever you end up marrying is going to have faults.  It's just a matter of finding the one whose faults are the most tolerable.  
  • I agree that it would be wise to be honest with yourself and figure this whole dynamic out, and your role in it, before marrying this man. 

    My H has a couple of lazy traits in his personality that I've learned to leave be, as long as they affect only aspects of his personal life. If he won't pursue something he could benefit from, I cannot pursue it for him, however pressing I find the matter.

    Everything else we've had to figure out together in order to preserve sanity and sentiment. Sometimes it's a matter of acquiring the right tools. For instance, neither he nor I have been taught to manage money wisely, the only substantial difference between us being that I am able to find/give myself the right tools to learn. I started reading about personal finance and eventually acquired a few basic skills that got us on the right track. Now, my H doesn't have the same kind of willpower to just find a solution to a given problem (and fast!) so what I learnt I had to explain to him, "instructing" him step by step. He is the kind of person that needs to be shown the way (sometimes), but thankfully he also understands the goal and works towards it when shown how. Like a partner. This is the kind of compromise I am willing to make for our sake, knowing who/how he is.

    If so many aspects of your life together frustrate you, you need to give yourself the time to deal with them one by one. Calmly and maturely, before making life altering decisions. From the way your FI will handle each one you'll know what kind of compromises you'll have to make. If he acts like a partner. From then on it's just a matter of putting everything on a scale. 

    I say this because my H and I have been together many many years before getting married. We did a lot of growing up (individually and together) while a multitude of situations, responsibilities, choices, hard times, crises, etc appeared in our lives and we dealt with each one. Now that we're married we stand on the most solid ground and we're able enjoy all the best things that marriage has to offer.

    edit - typos


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