Saturday, January 26, 2013

Loving with Boundaries

The entry below is Dr. Joyce's response to a reader who has been divorced for five years, after a 23-year marriage.  She has been dating a man for a little over a year. He has asked her to allow him to move in with her until he ‘gets himself together.’  He knows that moving in with her goes against her values about ‘shacking up.’  However, he presses forward with his request; she acquiesces and is now regretting her decision. Two weeks later, he has not saved any money, claims he has nowhere to go, and is still trying to ‘get himself together.’ She asks Dr. Joyce what she should do.

You already know what you need to do!  As a matter of fact, you have known what you needed to do from the onset. However, you decided to relinquish your power and your authority to someone who has none of his own…your ‘boyfriend.’  He doesn’t have anywhere to go? That’s not your problem!  Where is his family?  Where are his friends?  As a matter of fact, where is he?!
Your boyfriend didn’t just discover that he did not have himself together over the year that you and he have been dating; he probably hasn’t been together all along.  Do you know what he means by ‘getting himself together?’  Has he ever been together?  Or was it easier to close your eyes and open your heart?  You get clothes together to wear, your thoughts together for better decision-making, ingredients of a recipe together for a great meal, family members together for a reunion, and other things together with an expected end in mind. Your ‘boyfriend’ seems to have no clear end in mind. It seems as if you had no idea then and you still have no idea as to what he meant by ‘getting himself together.’
Had your ‘boyfriend’ truly had his life together from the onset, he would have been prepared for the rainy days of life.  Your ‘boyfriend’ seems to have played you like a fiddle and sold you a bill of goods with no value; and you bought it! Letting him move into the home that you worked hard to maintain after your divorce has allowed you to be his convenience and not his priority. 
And it did not matter to your ‘boyfriend’ how you felt about ‘shacking up.’  But why should it have mattered to him? It seems as if it didn’t matter to you either; you went against your beliefs, threw your values out the window, and you allowed yourself to be hoodwinked by following your heart and not your common sense.  Either you stand for something or you will fall for anything.  Shacking up is just like a marriage; it is easy getting in, but hell getting out.  You made your home his home, without clarity, boundaries, and a time limit for his stay.  
It is time for you to face reality. Your boyfriend seems to be a liability and not an asset. You wouldn’t leave your money in a bank that doesn’t yield a return. Why are you letting this man remain in your home without a return or benefits to you and your household?  What you are getting from him in your home can be gotten by you for free with him staying somewhere else. If your boyfriend can’t help himself, he most certainly can’t help you!  You might as well have stayed married!
It is past time for you to love yourself more than you love your boyfriend and most certainly more than he seems to loves you. Make yourself your own priority. Sure you were lonely after ending a twenty-three year marriage and being by yourself for five years  Subconsciously, you probably thought things would work out once your boyfriend ‘got himself together.’  You rationalized the reasons that you should take him in and closed your eyes to the facts that slapped you in the face (including your feelings about shacking up) and took him in your home anyhow.
Stop picking up, trying to fix up, shacking up, trying to stand up, and taking in people like your boyfriend, who don’t seem to be willing to pick themselves up, fix themselves up, and learn to stand up without leaning on others.  Your ‘boyfriend’ is sucking up your air, eating your food, taxing on your electric and gas bills, and living rent free.  If you are looking for him to change, you will probably be waiting a long time.  Why should he buy the cow, when he can get the milk free?    
Forgive yourself for the error of your ways. Now is not the time for you to cry over spilled milk.  It is time for you to clean it up by cleaning out your home. When you are truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, you will kick your boyfriend out, allowing him to fend for himself and be accountable for his current state…whatever that might be.  He will find somewhere to go.
Don’t allow anyone to take up space in your mind, your heart, your spirit, and especially your home, rent free!  After a twenty-three year marriage and five years of being single, you are the ultimate determiner of when and how you want to live with a man again.  Until you are ready to do so, you have permission to end his stay by standing your ground and giving him five days to move out.  You have a choice and your voice is your choice. You can still love him; but unless you deal with the situation, you will probably come to loathe him!