Where to Start?
Hello, I'm new here and look forward to doing what I can to help others struggling in relationships.
Can I start by looking for advice? Please bear with me - I know this will be a long post, as there is so much I'm struggling with.
I', 47 was married for 17 years, and have been divorced for 6 (I left him because he was just never there for me, to a quite shocking extent). I have had a nunmber of relationships in the interim, none lasting past 6 months - I ended all of them. I guess I didn't know what I was looking for, and was exploring; and often found I was doing all the supporting, and men were only too happy to let me look after them; and frankly having spent 20 years raising my children, working in Special Educational Needs and having spent my entire marriage looking after my ex-husband, I could do with someone looking after me a little.
A year ago I met a man. He is a year younger than I, fabulously intelligent (he has a Doctorate in Psychology), handsome and enjoyable company. His is a very complicated situation. He has a daughter he adores, who is aged 2. She was the product of a brief but intense relationship. He adored his partner, who had left her husband to be with him, but she left him (to him) unexpectedly when she was 3 months pregnant with the child they'd agreed to have - a few months later it transpired she'd left him for a mutual colleague, who she now lives with. Once their baby was born, she refused him access and refused to put him on the birth certificate, although she did send the CSA after him for maintenance. He had to go to court to get his name on the birth certificate, after a paternity test had established she was his daughter. His daughter was 5 months old before he was allowed to see her for the first time. He has fought tooth and nail for access to his daughter, and now has her during the day two days a week, and a night. I've seen correspondence from hhis ex and she is horrifyingly hostile to him.
Yes, I wondered that too. What on earth had he done to her to make her flee while pregnant and be so hostile to him? Having known him for a year, I believe the answer is simply he's a complicated - though not unkind - man and she felt she'd made a mistake, and then wanted him to go away and pretend none of it had happened.
The first 6 months of our relationship were maddeninig and painful to me - he refused 'exclusivity', although didn't like it at all if another man showed interest in me. Finally, he said he wanted us to be exclusive.
All well and good? Errr, no, not that simple.
Once we'd agreed exclusivity he revealed something to me. He comes from a wealthy family and has been left a significant amount of money - so much so he never needed to work again. His is 'old' money, the kind of money that doesn't display itself - and has stayed wealthy by being incredibly tight-fisted, so you wouldn't know he was wealthy except by his manners. He shops at Aldi and I have to admit I've sometimes been ashamed to be seen out with him, his clothes are so battered. Anyway, I believe he revealed this to me because I am not at all materialistic. However, I am a single mother of 3 children (aged between 13 and 20) and my ex-husband has twice tried to force me into bankruptcy. I have clawed my way back twice, and am financially stable and have managed to hold onto my (very modest) house but I am stony broke. I have always made this clear. Ah, I hear you sigh. Lucky me. I've stumbled on a man who will take care of me.
No. He is the most parsimonious man I've ever met. He will not spend a penny on me - I've spent more on him. He is so tight I feel terrible most of the time about being so skint, like I'm a burden to him - because he is so obssessed with money. Recently he invited me on a trip to Stafford (a 3 hour round trip) - it turned out he was driving down there to pick up a second hand toilet he'd bought through ebay for his house, which he's doing up.
Last night, we were shopping in Tesco for food for him. He said 'If there's anything you need, just pick it up, I'll pay for it'. Gasp! So I picked up a chocolate tart which was half price. Fine. Then I picked up some chocolate eclairs reduced to 36p. 'Oh come on,' he said, 'I'm already paying for all this.' I hadn't put anything else in the trolley, everything else in it was for him and this was for us to share! I was so put out I said I'd pay for the sweet stuff. When we got to the till, I got out the money for it. Then he said 'Oh God, no, put it away - I was joking'. But he hadn't been. He'd meant it.
However, he's also revealed to me that he bought his ex a car (second hand, admittedly) and took them for a long holiday together to Canada to see her family (during which she announced she was leaving him). It hurts me that he did so much for her, but he will watch me struggling and working so hard and never offer to help. Not buy me a gift. Nothing. People laugh and expect him to buy me a new car (I gave up my car to pay for a Masters Degree to try to increase my income). No man I've ever been with has been less financially generous.
He's never married, because his brother did and his wife left him and fleeced him. He won't marry in case a woman fleeces him.
A few months ago, he suggested that one day we rent out our houses and get a big house in the country together. But what would it be like for me? It would be his big house, and I feel I'd be a lodger forever justifying every penny I dared spend.
So. Money is a huge problem.
Also, when I'm with him and his daughter, he increasingly leaves me to care for her, including at night suggesting I occupy the space between him and her bed, which is pulled up close to 'ours'. Is he just being lazy and wanting her to disturb me if she wakes rather than him? Or is he trying to establish me as her 'stepmother'? Trying to create the fantasy mum&dad&baby situation he'd hoped for with his ex?
I love children and being around her - but having spent 20 years rearing my own children, I don't really want to be responsible for someone else's child, who is so very young. I'm happy to be part of her life ... but not rear her.
And sex - I don't want to go into too much detail, but - it's fabulous, but it's too much! He won't leave me alone. A year in, and in the last 24 hours he's initiated (and we've had) sex 3 times. I don't like to refuse him as he sees sex very much as acceptance of him; and he's a generous lover. But it's wearing me out.
Emotionally he's also complicated. I work in Special Educational Needs and have realised he has Aspergers Syndrome and badly. It explains many of the maddening things about his behaviour, and I've realised some of the things he's done that have been fabulously hurtful have not been meant to hurt - he is just all at sea when it comes to emotional interaction. He really doesn't know how to do it. But I don't doubt he feels emotion. He says he wants us to be together for years - and in fact hopes this is the relationship that will last forever. He recently told me that he thinks he isn't good enough for me - that I'm so 'beautiful' and resilient that he doesn't feel he deserves me.
I'm always there for him - and he turns to me for support and advice for many things, from how to respond to his ex's savage correspondence, to how to parent his daughter, to how to decorate his house; however, if I look to him for support, I get an absolute blank. I challenged him on this once - he said he just doesn't know what to say.
A month ago he texted me that he had to tell me something. He had that day finished work for good - he'd accepted redundancy. He'd been trying to tell me for months, but had found it very hard as he felt I wouldn't want him anymore, that I'd lose respect for him. He also felt I would be angry and upset that I have to work so hard for so little, and he was able to walk away from work. He isn't lazy - he's physically doing up himself a house he bought and had to gut and begin again with. But - it feels odd. And I found it very very difficult that he could keep such a massive thing from me. It's left me with 'trust issues'.
He doesn't get on with men at all, he says they frighten him - all his friends are women, generally a bit older, mother figures.
I don't want to make out he does nothing for me - he keeps in regular contact on the days we can't see each other, and he can show moments of thoughtfulness. But I feel I give a great deal more support than I get, and I wonder sometimes if no wonder he feels he wants to stay in this relationship, because he has an unpaid servant who provides endless sex, looks after his daughter, doesn't ask him for a penny and supports him in everything.
He is an exceptionally attractive man, and has had a terrifying number of lovers. I think that's his Aspergers at work - as such an attractive man, women want him - but he doesn't have intense feelings generally, and is maddening to be in a relationship with; so relationships don't last. However, he seems to want to make a long-term commitment to me and I do love him - but I just don't know I can face a future where money is going to be such an issue, where he will watch me struggle and work so hard and never - despite having so much money himself - help me, where I'm going to be raising his daughter at an age I'd rather leave that kind of responsibility behind, remain emotionally unsupported and frankly physically exhausted.
And by the way, he'd love to have another child - to do it 'right' this time; however I'm 47 and too old to have more children physically, and don't anyway want to (although I suspect he's trying to get me pregnant). I worry he will one day leave me for a younger woman with a fertile womb.
But I also know that relationships are very difficult to establish at all and that love is very hard to find, so I don't want to give up on him.