This post is part of our “Penny For Your Thoughts” column where readers can write into Penny for answers to their toughest dilemmas on money and relationships.
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My girlfriend Amie was injured two years ago while working at her job in a greenhouse. She’s now considered partially handicapped at 26 and receives a disability check (which isn’t even half of what she made when she worked).
We’d been together about a year when all of this happened. I invited her to move into my place to help her out as she recovered and to help her stabilize financially. Things were okay at first, but after about six months of living together after she got hurt, Amie became depressed and withdrawn due to her injury and inability to work. I’ve tried everything to bring her out of it – from trying to exercise together to going to doctors appointments with her and trying to get her into physical therapy. I’ve even offered to pay for professional counseling. After all this, she still refuses to snap out of this “depression” and get on with her life.
I’m ready to have my life back and our relationship seems over. I hate going home after work because she’s there and she’s miserable. And paying for everything while she stays home and does nothing is driving me nuts. I’m not sure what to do next.
Not to sound callous, but since I offered to let her move in and help financially when all this first happened, am I stuck with her?
Where do I start?
Part of the issue here may be your quotes around “depression.” It sounds like she is genuinely depressed, and honestly, I probably would be too if at the ripe old age of 26 I was told that I was disabled. That said, this isn’t really about her depression or the fact that she’s not holding up her end of the bargain financially. It’s that your relationship is over. If you were madly in love with her, her emotional state and the financial inequities would be issues that you would be willing to work through.
At this point, you don’t owe her anything other than your friendly support. It’s not fair to you to have to shoulder her burdens for her, and it’s not fair to her to go without at least the opportunity to find a partner that will love her and be there for her through thick and thin.
You need to talk to Amie directly – there’s no getting around this! You should have an honest conversation and talk about how you feel – that neither of you is getting anything out of the relationship anymore and you should move on separately. Because, really, that’s where this is going. Don’t bring up financial issues or where she’s going to live. If you’ve got a good relationship with her parents, friends, or any relatives that live in town, you could offer to talk to them for her and ask if she could stay with them for a while. If she has a social worker that handled her disability process, you can also talk to them to let them know what’s going on with her life and where she’ll be, and to see if there are job training opportunities she could qualify for, or self-help groups for the recently disabled that she could attend.
If Amie is going to make it as a functional adult in the world, she will have to learn to take care of herself, which it sounds like she hasn’t been doing much of lately. She may rise to the occasion or crumble under the pressure. But as much as you may be rooting for her, she’s the one who’s going to have to make that choice. Just as you have to make the choice that’s right for you – which appears to be moving on from Amie.
Readers, a penny for your thoughts! How do you deal with supporting someone who won’t help themselves? How much can one partner lean on the other financially?
Today’s letter-writer won a $20 Amazon gift card! Congratulations!
Do you have a question about relationships and money? Write to Penny [at] moneycrashers [dot] com and win a $20 Amazon Gift Card if your question gets chosen! And one commenter on this post will win a $15 Amazon Gift Card!
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