I was recently browsing your forum after stumbling over a posted link on FA and really enjoyed your thoughtful and intelligent responses to the letters sent. I figured maybe you could give me some advice even though it isn't particularly furry related (though both myself and my mate are furs so that totally counts, right?) This is going to be a long one (plenty of backstory) so I'll apologize in advance.
I've been dating a guy for 2 years now. We met at school and took a little bit of time getting to know each other before we went official. We dated for a year and then he proposed. All well and good, I said yes and we've gone another year while trying to figure out wedding details. He's a perfect compliment to me so there's no rough waters there, luckily. The issue comes to my parents.
My parents are very strict, conservative Christian types, and my fiancé and I are more relaxed with our religious and political values. They have been gracious enough to let us both stay at their house while we go to school or work to save up for the next round of schooling. (My fiancé was kicked out of his house at the beginning of the fall semester of 2013 due to his mother stringing him along on his school finances. She said she would pay and he even chose a low cost in state school at $3,000 a semester, which I found extremely decent. But when the time came to move out and start classes whoops, turns out SOMEbody forgot to pay. It turned out to be a manipulative ploy that came out to be "Break up with your fiancé and I'll pay for school, or move out." He chose to move out and my parents took him in to their guest room in the basement.) He immediately got a full time job, is looking for a second job part time, and tutors students in math and biology between 8-12 hours a week. He's a hard worker, responsible and respectful to my parents. I finished the most recent batch of schooling and I am waiting on an acceptance letter to an exclusive medical program that will begin in July of 2014. I'm working part time at the local grocery store while trying to find a better job in my Phlebotomy field (without luck since October if you're curious).
The thing is, my parents have refused any sort of support if we move to the city where the school is located. If I move there alone and live there as a single woman, they'll cover all living expenses, my healthcare insurance, car insurance, cosign for school loans, my fiancé can live at the house rent free, etc. You get the idea. If I move up there married, they feel that by helping us at all (except for giving me the contents of my hope chest that I've been saving since I was 5), they'll be doing my husband's biblical husbandish duties and committing a sin. And if I move up unmarried, God have mercy on our souls because we'll be committing the worst sin by moving in together before marriage and we'll be ostracized from any and all support, even advice in times of crisis. I understand their point of view, but I don't want to live in a big city alone, working at a competitive and stressful school program while my fiancé stays with my parents. My brother lives hundreds of miles away, I don't have lot of free time to hang with any local friends, and my parents are not particularly supportive. My fiancé helps keep me grounded and focused, and our teamwork is relaxing and natural. My parents don't see it from my perspective; they think we just want to move in together for the jollies or to woo-hoo like wild animals or love-struck preteens.
I've attempted compromise and brought up marriage before moving out, but my idea of a small intimate wedding is according to them, horribly exclusionary and insulting to not only my parents but the hoards of family members that will want to come. I don't even speak to my extended family so I don't understand this logic. They want it to be a big gala affair "because I deserve it". I find it to be overzealous and extreme. Weddings are expensive! However, They want to pay for all the wedding expenses, but it has to be on their date (after I graduate) and their terms (they choose the guest list of at the least 60 people, they choose the food , and it has to be traditional- no male bridesmaids, white dress etc.). They completely ignore what I want in my wedding. I could go on but I hope you have an idea.
I guess my question is complicated. I don't know what to do. I love my parents, but they are almost destructively controlling. Even looking at the binder filled with wedding plans or apartment searching by the school can send me into a panic attack (and I'm NOT prone to those at all). My fiancé is willing to work hard to support both of us and has even said if the wedding stuff becomes too much he's fine with never getting married as long as we're committed to each other (and there is no doubt that we are). He wants me to get through this school program and after I graduate, he's going to go back to school for either teaching, engineering or healthcare.
I want to do what is best logically for both of us for us to succeed in the future but I also want to listen to what my heart is saying. I don't want to ostracize my family or just seem like I'm acting like a rebellious teenager. But it's hard when There is no compromise, no thought to how I feel on the issue or what I want to do. It's either the way they want it, justified by their strict religious rules, or borderline disowned. I love my parents, and I respect their opinion, even if I don't completely agree with it or them, but this is more than just disagreeing. I feel like I'm being forced or manipulated to choose the path they set, regardless of whether it's what I want for my life. But if I say anything I'm being blind, a sinner, ungrateful, short sighted, foolish etc. I get a "good luck fending for yourself in the real world without us, let the door hit you n the behind" if I try to explain my point of view.
I guess I'm trying to ask what you think, and maybe if there's a solid compromise solution that my many brainstorming sessions missed that perhaps you can see from your more objective perspective.
Thank you for taking the time to go through this detailed and complicated letter. I'm interested in your advice. Maybe it will help me to stop feeling like I'm banging my head against the wall or just continuously running in circles. I could use some perspective!
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Hi, Frustrated Feline,
I've read through your letter and have a question--or, really, just want to see if I have this correct.
If you move to a place near your school and your mate goes with you, but you aren't married, you will lose your parents’ support.
If you move to the school but are married, you will get what's in the dowry chest, but nothing else from your parents.
But if you move there by yourself (while your mate is allowed to live at their place), you get their full financial support, making school affordable but making you miserable because your mate is not with you.
Are they trying to get you both to stay near them? And so you will be punished if you move away? Or are they trying to split the two of you up? And, if that is true, why do they allow your mate to live in their home?
And why are you making a "compromise" to marry before you leave, when it sounds like you will still not get their support if you do that?
I do apologize for all the questions. I just want to make sure I have this all correct.
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Thanks for writing back! Sorry my original letter wasn't clear; it is a lot to explain. I'm glad you're asking for clarification, rather than running with unknowns.
You have the list correct. The support varies on my status as a single/married/cohabitating adult.
I don't believe it's trying to split us up so much as it is they are just terrified to live alone. They have been married for 28 years, but it's a very unhappy marriage. They hate spending time together, all they do is complain and yell at each other even out in public, but yet they can't stand being by themselves. They want all the family to stay close or in the area to offset that I think. My younger brother is a sophomore in Miami Florida and he gets a lot of guilt about choosing a college so far away. I stayed home and commuted to local colleges so I never had to deal with that aspect. I don't know what they could do to "punish" me besides threatening to pull my financial support if I do take that option. It's been brought up multiple times already in their stipulations regarding my stay at the apartment.
And I want to compromise so that they feel included, and not ostracized. I do care about them and I'd really love to see them at my wedding, even if I lose support over it. I suppose it's a version of me putting their needs before my own.
My mate and I have budgeted for moving out and it would be tight, extremely tight, like peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles tight, he feels confident that we could make it without any help from either of our parents. And while technically the numbers agree with him, I'll be in a full-time accelerated school program with almost zero free time to put toward working a job and everything would rely completely on him. I'm glad he's not a shirker when it comes to responsibilities, but he's supposed to find time to go back to school himself and I'm afraid that he'll never get that chance if he's working two jobs to help put me through school. I want to find an option that can work at least decently well for all parties. Unfortunately it seems that you can never make everybody happy
Thanks for responding
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Let me pose this question: would it be possible for you to go to school full time, have your mate work and live with you, and make ends meet without your parents' financial support? Do you have any grants, scholarships, tuition assistance to help make school work for you?
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Unfortunately the school program is exempt from federal aid and similar. It's about $20,000 due by the halfway mark of 6 months (it's 13.5 months long). I have to get loans to cover it, though the school does promote Sallie Mae on their site. My parents are considered making too much money for me to get a lot in aid unfortunately. It would be possible, but I'm afraid things would be so tight that if something happened (car accident, health problems etc.) we'd be in a lot of trouble to stay afloat.
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A difficult situation, indeed. First of all, my compliments to you and your mate for being such hard workers! You both sound like highly motivated and loving people. That’s terrific!
On the other side of it is the parents, both yours and your mate’s. Both his mom and your parents are, based on your story (admittedly, I don’t have their side of it) incredibly selfish and manipulative. His mom puts the demand that her son break up with you or else she won’t help pay for school (he chose you over mom, very admirable), and your parents, while they at first seem very generous in allowing your fiancé to live with them, apparently only do so because without other people around the silence in the house makes them go after each other’s throats. Appalling. Shameful. And not very Christian, if I do say so myself.
Given all of this, right now I would not recommend that you marry. Not because your mate isn’t right for you, but purely for financial reasons. You see, as soon as the two of you marry, his income becomes yours, making it much more difficult to get any financial assistance. It’s better that the two of you do not marry until your school and financial situations are resolved.
Your parents are committing financial and emotional extortion against you. Unfortunately, when it comes to calculating eligibility for loans on your FAFSA, the federal government doesn’t care if your parents refuse to pay. Until you are age 24, the government will consider your parents’ income toward applying for financial assistance. And, since you are 21, that’s a long time to hold off your education.
At this point, I would recommend that you go see your college financial advisor and explain your situation to them. I am not a financial counselor, but I think there might be ways to still apply for a Stafford loan.
Your parents’ behavior, and your fiancé’s mother’s behavior both border on abuse, in my opinion. They should be made to understand that what they are doing to you and him is seriously jeopardizing your relationship with your parents, as well as your education and your future. Their selfishness is inexcusable. Talk to them and explain that, while you love them, they are hurting you. If they cannot see this, I would go so far as to suggest all of you go into family counseling.
If they refuse counseling, if they are completely unshakable in their resolve to stand in the way of getting the education you want and to be with the man you love, then, if I were you, I would explain to them that I was going off to college, taking my supportive boyfriend with me, and they can sit alone in their house and fight each other.
Will it be hard? Certainly. You might have to go to school only part time while working a job, while your fiancé also works.
Pretty much every other option is going to make you miserable. If you call them on their threats and move out anyway, taking your wonderful mate with you, there is a chance they will change their minds and still support you financially. After all, even though your brother moved to a college far away, they help him, right?
There are a lot of things you can do to get by financially. Again, talk about this long and in great detail with a financial counselor at your school. Talk about it with your boyfriend. And, still, try hard to talk to your parents. Bring your pastor into the discussion, if that will help persuade your parents, or see if you can get them into family counseling. What they are doing is very harmful and they need to realize this.
If nothing can be done, then, well, you are 21 years old, you have a supportive man in your life, and you are behaving much more maturely than all three parents. I know it’s scary, but if you give in you will remain an emotional hostage to your parents for the rest of your life, and, I promise you, this will make for a very unhappy future.
It is time for you to put your foot down, then stand on your own two feet. My bet is you are smart enough and hard-working enough to succeed.
I Wish You the Best of Luck!
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