Love or Greed?

Q: I have been in a relationship with a woman for two and a half years. We don't live together because of financial constraints. She has a daughter, and we have a son together. When we met I was jobless and she supported me, even paying the hospital bills when our son was born. I eventually got a job and am now earning almost fifteen times more than she does. Since I got my job she has become very demanding and always reminds me that she got me when I was a beggar. I am now able to get our own house but she insists that she will not come to my house until I marry her. She wants to handle my check book, ATM cards, credit cards, etc. I try my best to provide for all my family needs. I feel disrespected and lonely, and sometimes feel that she's just after my cash. I love my family very much but am getting fed up with her behavior. Do I leave her? -- Hassan, 39

Dr. Susan: She supported you and now you can support her and the children. Great! I doubt that she's only after your cash, since she made all the sacrifices early on, not knowing how well your job hunt would eventually turn out. In order to safeguard the present and long-term interests of her and your children, she's perfectly within her rights to want to legalize your relationship. I suspect her demandingness is because she feels you're dragging your feet about marrying her and giving her that security. It doesn't sound to me as though you and she are able to communicate your true feelings to one another. Before you get totally "fed up," and before she gives up on you, why not try a couple of sessions of counseling to find out what the main issues are? Perhaps it's something as simple and common as that you and she come from different backgrounds and have different expectations around money. She may feel you're too controlling, and you may feel as though she doesn't trust you when she asks to take over the checkbook. I'm sure there is some compromise the two of you can work out, and I also bet that it would help her mood if you took the big marriage step and showed her you'll always be there for her.

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