Change it up

Joey Garcia

My four-year relationship has had its good and bad moments, and maybe that’s what is so confusing. I keep a stable job and make more money than my boyfriend. I take care of all the bills. He works part time at the moment. Financially, it’s hurting us and putting a strain on our relationship. We love each other, but he has lots of emotional baggage, including two kids that live with their respective moms. Should I stick around and see if he changes or move on?

That depends on the kind of life you want. If you stay, you will always have someone to blame for not providing the financial stability you desire. This discontent will continue to feed the ongoing stress in your relationship. That tension will eventually explode into an argument. Shortly after the yelling and threats subside, the fear of loss kicks in to motivate one of you to reach out to the other and smooth everything over. Maybe he promises to find a full-time job. Or you convince yourself the love you share is worth the financial and emotional challenges of your commitment to him. For a while, everything looks rosy. But at some point, the tension-building-argument-soothing cycle begins anew and occurs more often.

On the other hand, if you end the relationship, you might be lonely. There could be unexpected bouts of crying and the heavy weight of longing. You might suffer through moments of nostalgia, remembering all the sweet things about the relationship. The past difficulties will appear to shrink as you focus on what you miss about your man. You could become depressed and regretful that you chose to move on. You might even manipulate yourself into believing that you will never find love again.

Between these two scenarios is another possibility: You could change. Accept the current monetary constraints and strive to live below your income. Be the primary provider without a second thought. Require your boyfriend to contribute significantly to the household in other ways. If he brings in part-time income, he is available for full-time care of household chores (grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.). If you don’t trust him to handle this workload or if he refuses, be glad. It’s evidence that the problem between you is not financial. The real problem, then, is a lack of honesty. And that brings me to this: Does working part time protect him from being fully financially responsible for his two children? It’s an ugly question but one you must confront. If he is avoiding responsibility for his children, he needs therapy. If he won’t go, he won’t change. And that’s probably the answer you knew was true all along.

My roommate’s brother is staying with us for a few weeks. I agreed, because I thought it would be fun. But he’s a pig. My roommate thinks it’s funny, but I’m over it. How can I get him to pay me for the food he’s taken or to clean up after himself?

You can’t. His sister validates and encourages his inconsiderate behavior by labeling it funny. Try talking to your roommate when her brother is not around. Provide evidence (grocery-store receipt, photos of his messes), and ask for her help. If you have house rules, create a contract for the brother to sign that includes the rules and consequences for failing to honor them. Include the date he is scheduled to leave. Check your apartment lease for stipulations on houseguests, too. And in the future, get these details in writing before a houseguest appears.

Dear readers:

Have you ever fallen for someone you met online but never met in person? Let’s talk about it. Call (916) 498-1234, ext. 3206; or email

Meditation of the week
“Frank Sinatra Saved My Life” is the title of a short story I wrote that will be performed as part of the Stories on Stage series on Friday, May 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the Sacramento Poetry Center (1719 25th Street). What song heals you?

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