Feeling inferior


#1

My boyfriend was feeling down, and I finally got to the bottom of his problem. He feels that he doesn’t deserve me.

There is a lot of imbalance in our places in life right now, but I feel we can overcome it.
[LIST]
*]I’m doing my Master’s degree, he didn’t finish college.
*]I’m a lecturer at a university, he’s a machinist in a print factory.
*]I earn twice his salary, and when I finish my degree I’ll earn close to three times his salary.
*]He was in an invalid marriage before.
*]He has two daughters from that marriage.
*]He can’t afford to buy me a ring.
[/LIST]

Basically, he feels that if he were really the right man for me, why didn’t God send him to me first, instead of his first wife? He also feels guilty because he wouldn’t take back his first invalid marriage because it gave him his daughters, who he loves more than anything in the world. He thinks his having a past isn’t fair to me. Also, how can he feel right dating me when the man is supposed to be the provider, and he earns less than me?

It doesn’t help that his friends joke that love must be blind if I’m dating him.

I’m dating him for his honesty, his values, his generosity. I’m dating him because I admire how hard he works for his children. He doesn’t plan to work in a factory forever - he wants to run his own business, and he’s on his way to doing so. I admire that. I love him because I feel that I can be the best woman possible with his support. I believe that with me behind him, his dreams would come true too. I’m dating him because he makes me happy, he makes me smile, and I think he’s wonderful.

So how can I let him know that he does deserve me? I’ve already told him what I told you above, but he sees the other side of the argument, all the objections to us being together. He imagines what my parents must think, what my friends must think. When other people say that he’s lucky to date me, it makes him feel bad, not proud. He fears that one day, I’ll wake up and realize what a mistake I’m making.

Thoughts?


#2

Maybe you should upstage his dilemma.

I think you need to show him some vulnerability / show some distress so that he saves you (as if you were a damsel in distress )

We men have been ingrained to be the providers, this was the definition that we were taught as our ideal duty and fulfillment. Anything short of that makes us feel less like a man, or less fulfilled. Let him adopt a role of a night in shining armor… then he will feel worthy.

It is not your fault, it is the social context that teaches men that way.

Therefore the solution would be to make him feel that he is needed (instead of being a burden).
To make him the protector (instead of the protected)
To make him the provider ( not necessarily financially… maybe as an emotional support, or even sexually)

I think you get the idea… make a vulnerability for him to provide for.

In short, perhaps adopting an attitude of a damsel in distress will help him identify his worthiness. Besides, I think you will like the idea too, because it will get you pampered more… and it might actually boost up the romance between you two… let him court you, and then “merit” you all over again!

If it doesn’t change, he might bring out the “worrisome mother” part of you and the romance will disappear.


#3

I respectfully disagree… I don’t think you should pretend you are something that you are not… Ask him this: “Do you love me and value my thoughts and dreams?” when he says YES then say, “Well, I love you and I can’t think of anyone better to spend my life with. Money for rings and things may be nice, but it means more to me to see how you take care of your daughters… that is money better spent!” Then tell him you dream of seeing him with your children as well some day… and explain that if God forgives his past, then who are you to not.


#4

I agree completely with this. Great post!


#5

IBeing a guy, I understand the thoughts of ABii, but I whole-heartedly agree with BlestOne.

You are obviously a very smart lady, and for that you should not apologize. Continue to explain to him that other men, who perhaps make more money than him, or perhaps have more power than him, are not him. More than likely, they have different values, perhaps they would not spend the time with you that “you” deserve.

Ask him why he loves you. Ask him if he respects you. And explain to him that this is why you love him, because he loves you for who you are, and you love him for who “he” is.

God be with you all.


#6

Basically, he feels that if he were really the right man for me, why didn’t God send him to me first, instead of his first wife? He also feels guilty because he wouldn’t take back his first invalid marriage because it gave him his daughters, who he loves more than anything in the world. He thinks his having a past isn’t fair to me.

Get a copy of Rascal Flatt’s “God Bless The Broken Road (That Led Me Straight to You)” and play it for him.

He may not have recognized you for the jewel you are if he had met your first. And his treatment of his children is something you find attractive that he wouldn’t have if he hadn’t been married. You see a side of him you wouldn’t have seen if you had come across first.

Good luck.


#7

Hi JW!:slight_smile:

I think that when we feel inferior in life, or insecure, we are not happy where we are with ourselves. He looks at you with your job, and so forth, and thinks that he should be doing better–but really, he probably has his own thoughts of insecurity independent of you. I think it is important to convey to him that we are important in the eyes of God. That his worth is not about what he does for a living, but who he is in Christ. The rest will fall into place, I truly believe that. :slight_smile:


#8

I am a man who has been on your side of the coin, before, so I know what you are going through, and feel your pain. It is very difficult when we have hearts that can see the beauty in another person, but that person seems to only see him/herself by the world’s standards.

I really want to commend you for not being a “gold digger,” and for not choosing a man based on who SOCIETY says you should have, but instead viewing the inner person, and following your OWN heart. He may not realize that even though he may not make much money, he has a treasure more valuable than what many men ever get. He has you and your heart.

Does Sirach 25:21 still apply, today? I know that many of us men(myself included) approach relationships as if it does.(at least with that attitude, even if we never read that verse.) That must be very frustrating for women who are well off financially and doing well with their careers. I wish I could give you a quick fix answer to this one, but other than maybe trying to help him find a better job, I’m not really sure. From that angle, I feel his pain, too.

When you say that his last marriage was, “invalid,” are you saying that he got an official annulment? I’m assuming that is what you mean, but could you please clarify? I say this, because if he has NOT gotten an official annulment, then he needs to pursue and attain one to licitly continue in this relationship.

I wish you and him the best. God can make all good things happen. Trust in the Lord.


#9

Thanks, everyone, for replying.

When you say that his last marriage was, “invalid,” are you saying that he got an official annulment?

Yes, he did. When I first met him, his annulment wasn’t granted yet (is granted the right word?), and I was sorely disappointed that I’d met such a wonderful man who wasn’t available. He wouldn’t have approached me if it hadn’t been annulled.

I think that when we feel inferior in life, or insecure, we are not happy where we are with ourselves. He looks at you with your job, and so forth, and thinks that he should be doing better–but really, he probably has his own thoughts of insecurity independent of you. I think it is important to convey to him that we are important in the eyes of God. That his worth is not about what he does for a living, but who he is in Christ. The rest will fall into place, I truly believe that.

Thanks, Whatevergirl. You’re probably right - I think he felt bad about his situation before, and now that he’s dating me it’s even harder because he feels that people constantly compare us and find him lacking. I’ll tell him what you said.

He may not have recognized you for the jewel you are if he had met you first. And his treatment of his children is something you find attractive that he wouldn’t have if he hadn’t been married. You see a side of him you wouldn’t have seen if you had come across first.

Liberanosamalo, you’re absolutely right. One of the main reasons I fell in love with him in the first place is his positive and loving attitude, even in adversity. If he hadn’t had children, I may never have noticed him at all. When I see the glow in his eyes when he talks about his daughters, I fall in love with him all over again, and I want to see that glow about our future children as well as for his children and as many grandchildren as God sees fit to gift us with.

You are obviously a very smart lady, and for that you should not apologize. Continue to explain to him that other men, who perhaps make more money than him, or perhaps have more power than him, are not him. More than likely, they have different values, perhaps they would not spend the time with you that “you” deserve.

Yes, ChinaDad, I agree with you. I have met financially successful men, and found that all too often, they cared only about worldly success and having the right car. I’m not suggesting that all men with money have their priorities wrong, but I’d rather marry the man with his priorities in the right place and no money in the bank than wait for a cash-laden husband who may never give me the love and respect I need.

explain that if God forgives his past, then who are you to not

BlestOne - You’re absolutely right. I’ve told him once, and I guess I’ll just keep telling him!

Therefore the solution would be to make him feel that he is needed (instead of being a burden).
To make him the protector (instead of the protected)
To make him the provider ( not necessarily financially… maybe as an emotional support, or even sexually)

ABiii: Not sure I’m willing to go THAT far! :eek: We’re not married yet, or even engaged.

If it doesn’t change, he might bring out the “worrisome mother” part of you and the romance will disappear.

But you’ve hit the nail on the head here. I don’t want to feel like I’m the mother and he’s the child. I don’t think that’s a risk right now - he’s very strong-willed - but in the long term, I wonder whether, if he doesn’t get the success I believe he will, he’ll end up acting inferior and weak. I don’t want that to happen.

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. If you have anything else to add, keep it coming. I’ll try to apply the advice you gave me.


#10

That you can see that he is a wonderful and devoted father is one of the most important features that you can look for in a potential husband. In a way it is nice that you even have the opportunity to actually witness that before marrying him. Maybe he underestimates just how attractive it is to see a man who is tender and caring with his young children.


#11

That you can see that he is a wonderful and devoted father is one of the most important features that you can look for in a potential husband. In a way it is nice that you even have the opportunity to actually witness that before marrying him. Maybe he underestimates just how attractive it is to see a man who is tender and caring with his young children.

I’d say the fact that he is such a loving father is one of the biggest reasons why I fell in love with him. I know that most women wait until after marriage to see for themselves that their man is good with kids, but it feels like such a great gift to be able to see my boyfriend as a father now.

Of course, the prospect of being a stepmother is really intimidating - what if I’m not nearly as good a mother as he is a father? My BF told me that the only acceptable reason for divorce, in his mind, is if a parent is abusive or neglectful of their children. I don’t think I’d ever be that, but I still get scared sometimes at the thought of learning to be both a wife and a mother at the same time! But everyone gets the jitters, I suspect. I think it’s a good sign that my biggest fears about my relationship with him are about the ways I could fail, not about his perceived shortcomings.


#12

Self-esteem issues take a lot, a lot of energy to deal with, and if you don’t deal with them the whole infection gets even worse. One of the main things is your going to have to shift his focus off of his perceived short-comings and redirect them to his strengths. After all, if you didn’t see something in his strengths, and his short-comings weren’t too significant you wouldn’t be with him.

You aren’t choosing him to be your replacement at work, your choosing him to be a partner in a family and as a spouse. That he is not working on his masters may be important in the former respect, but in the former its pretty insignificant.

He seems to me that you can think of him as a protector and provider. Financially, he isn’t going to cause you to starve. As far as the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions, I am sure you see him filling roles in each, and see something in him that is attractive in respect to the relationship you have and want.

I am sure you can even see him, being a safety net in any awkward times as a new parent. He may even help you intellectually. A masters degree could be intimidating, but it’s rather a specialized intellectual pursuit. I can jump from a physics class to a history class, and the instructors can both be intriguing in completely different ways. A mathematician does not think in general the same way as a historian. You may actual like and find it stimulating to being able to get out of the department, and talk to someone with a different perspective than your colleagues. Finding a machinist and an entrepreneur may be a happy accident for you, because his perspective can bring new ideas for your work.

Granted I wouldn’t exactly agree you should manufacture a vulnerability, but if you can use it, try it as ABiii. The major effort should be spent in redirecting him from what he hears is important to what makes him attractive. I don’t think it’s the best to make the foundational reasons for a relationship to be tied to negatives, but flip them to make them into positives.

Who wants a vision of what not to do? People want a vision helps them see what they should do. Tell him what you want to do with your relationship, and tell him what makes him different than all the others.


#13

I think it is good that you are feeling that fear. It shows that you are taking those responsibilities seriously and are not romanticizing how wonderful it would be. Being a mom is hard work, but there is no job more rewarding. There is also no better way to understand the sacrificial nature of love than to be a parent. I’m glad that God put you in these girls’ lives.


#14

Thanks, Jman, that’s a really good perspective to look at it from. I hadn’t really thought of that. Finding a spouse is like a job interview, but you’re not looking for exactly the same things.

He may even help you intellectually. A masters degree could be intimidating, but it’s rather a specialized intellectual pursuit. I can jump from a physics class to a history class, and the instructors can both be intriguing in completely different ways. A mathematician does not think in general the same way as a historian. You may actual like and find it stimulating to being able to get out of the department, and talk to someone with a different perspective than your colleagues. Finding a machinist and an entrepreneur may be a happy accident for you, because his perspective can bring new ideas for your work.

Wow, that’s also really true. I like being able to discuss different things all the time. When I’m talking with my colleagues, it gets boring really quickly. Although I admit, it’s not so much a happy accident that I’m dating a future entrepreneur. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a business, and I’ve always felt I should look for a partner with similar interests.

Granted I wouldn’t exactly agree you should manufacture a vulnerability, but if you can use it, try it as ABiii. The major effort should be spent in redirecting him from what he hears is important to what makes him attractive. I don’t think it’s the best to make the foundational reasons for a relationship to be tied to negatives, but flip them to make them into positives.

Who wants a vision of what not to do? People want a vision helps them see what they should do. Tell him what you want to do with your relationship, and tell him what makes him different than all the others.

Thanks again. Your advice is all really good.

I feel as if I can handle this now. Everybody has given me great advice. If anybody feels they can add to it, more is always welcome, but I’ve got enough to be going on with now. I’m feeling much more serene this week than last. It must have to do with finishing my last paper until mid-January!


#15

Hi JW–I would like to encourage you to think of a few things though too…in prep for getting married…if you choose to stay at home with your own children, that you may have with your soon to be husband…would he be able to take care of the family? It’s an important concern, because once a baby comes…it can be difficult for both parents, to see the child go to daycare. Have you talked about having children, and who might stay home in the beginning while they are young?

I have friends where the wife makes exceedingly more than the husband…and I have had times in my own marriage where my career was soaring, and my dh was getting laid off. Men sometimes view themselves and their worth through how they are as providers. My career doesn’t do that for me–I view it very differently, and you probably do, as well. But men, as the ‘hunters’ of the family–historically speaking–have this built in instinct, which is why your soon to be husband is struggling with that, I think. But, that being said…when my friends have had children, and have had careers – their husbands who made far less, would stay at home with their children. Some women would have stay at home careers–or their companies allowed for them to stay at home. These issues are very important to nail down as much as you possibly can, before marriage–because they will come up. And, it’s best to minimize any surprises or reactions, if you take a proactive approach now…

Nothing wrong with a woman making far more than her husband–sometimes that is just the way it goes in life, but it can get a little sticky when babies come into the picture…and the wife wants to stay at home, and the husband cannot provide the same lifestyle or even meet the day to day needs, if the wife were to leave her job.

Sorry, it’s the practical side (my husband has rubbed off on me) coming out–just want to make sure you have some frank discussions on some of these issues, so a transition some day will be smoother. I wish you a long and happy life with this man…you both sound like a very dear couple.:hug1: :blessyou:


#16

Whatevergirl, talking about money is the hardest conversation I’ve had with him so far. He has a lot of pride, and it’s hard for him to see my concerns as me looking for solutions, not pointing out problems.:frowning:

We both know that I want to be able to stay home with the children, and we both know that probably won’t be completely possible. We’re trying to figure out compromises that would work for us.

As a university lecturer, I only teach nine hours a week, but my particular university has a lot of office hours and other duties, so I’m doing more like 30 hours a week at work. However, I know of other people in similar jobs to mine whose nine hours of teaching work out to 12 hours a week outside the home. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get such a job.

Another possibility is teaching at an online university. I’m comfortable with the environment, and then I could work from home. Once again, the number of hours per week would be similar.

A third possibility we’ve discussed is trying to delay having children until we’ve saved up a little nest egg - I can save a fair amount of money in just one year. If I weren’t paying for my master’s degree, I could save up enough to live on for a year between now and the estimated wedding date. Then with him supporting us, I could probably stay home with the kids until they were old enough to go to school.

One other thing to consider is the entrepreneur aspect of things. I really want him to have the chance to have his own business, like he’s always dreamed. If he runs a business that enjoys a fair degree of success, we may be able to have more flexibility about raising the children - kids at work, us working together, taking turns watching the kids. We’d both like that. But my parents’ business took five years to get off the ground, and in those five years we didn’t see much of them. It could easily end up that he’d be spending 60 hours a week at his own business, while I’d also be working outside the home to support the family and his failing business. I do have a degree in small business management (as well as the one I’m earning in education) but knowledge is only half the battle.

The first two ideas I’ve discussed with him, but the conversations were really awkward. The last two ideas are just floating around in my head. I’m planning to discuss them with him soon. I know he has these worries too, I think he’s just been blaming himself and deciding he’s not worthy of me, instead of looking for solutions. Or maybe he has lots of solutions, we just haven’t discussed them yet. It’s so hard to talk about money. We will talk about it, though, because I don’t think it’s right to get married until we’ve figured stuff like this out.


#17

If this is something you want, and it sounds as though it may be, I suggest you have this conversation. How I would suggest you phrase it is that, “We are going to be a team, a partnership, “one” with one another. So, I want to play a part on “our” team, and here are my thoughts on how “we” can do this” (start this business, run the business).

Ask him, what do you want to do (business wise)? What do you think the financial requirements are going to be? How do you envision it being run? Tell him, “Here’s how I can help (be part of the team)… How about if “we”?” My guess is that the two of you have different strengths and weaknesses.

I don’t recall what you say he does, but (just for example) maybe he’s a mechanic. I doubt you could find the spark plugs is most of the newer cars (no offense), and bookwork is not most mechanic’s thing. Suggest to him that you each use your strengths as a team - “together”. And together, you will handle success and failure together as a team.

I can tell by your concerns and caring that you will not make him feel degraded or less of a man as you have this discussion, but keep stressing that “the two of you” are to be a team, and that the two of you are “we”. Keep stressing those points to him and I think he will get it, but it may take him some time to get used to those ideas.

Lastly, you both need to keep your eyes on Jesus. When things look down, look up.


#18

Worrying can be a good thing, it can keep you on the look out for possible problems ahead, but if taken too far, it’ll get you in a rut where nothing productive happens. You’ve got no traction, spinning your wheels, with no ground covered to show of it.

What I see is that you need to try to do two different things. The first thing is your going to have to try to build him up. Deflect him from overly negative thinking. As I alluded to before, some negative thinking is warranted, in good measure a good thing. When it doesn’t really match up with an actual assessment, it’s time to drop it. Causally through him hints at what you think he does well, and his strengths. If he wants to start a business, I’m guessing he’s rather cleaver; often times that doesn’t translate into any desire for a post BS degree, but he could be on par with any of your colleagues.

Now the other thing I think you should do. I think you should set meetings dates, where you both sit down and assess what anything worthy of being on the table. You should be assessing and addressing the state of your financial, business, family and relationship affairs both in the short term and long term. If he’s looking to start a business, your going to have a hard time separating family from business. In my opinion you ought to be set down and objectively assess both the constraints and opportunities on all fronts.

If you both know what your thinking you help a lot of stress. If he’s seriously wanting to start a business, even if it’s premature now, you can start prepping for it now. You’ve got options with teaching, be it full time, part time, or not at all. You need to have some since what you are going to do once children come. He won’t have to set around thinking, “oh man, what is she going to think.” If he all ready knows, and tossed it around long ago, that stress goes away. I think you said your parents started a business, you should know that it’s a lot of work, every little place where you can cut out stress and wasting time the better. It comes with a lot of risk, and is not for the faint of heart. The more visibility you have the better.

So that’s my advice. Build him up to avoid wasteful time, worrying about a negative assessment that isn’t really there. Visibility helps you plan to avoid problems, and more wasting of time. Communication is key, if it means a weekly meeting on the state of affairs… well that’s what I’d propose.


#19

I really like this idea. Have you considered being a relationship counsellor? Really! It’s good.

We only see each other once a week, so for us the meetings would be farther apart, but I am definitely going to apply this idea. Setting up a regular pattern of communication is such a good idea, especially before life-changing events like marriage, having children, or starting a business. Thanks a lot for your wonderful suggestion.


#20

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