She Wants Him To Change

Q: My girlfriend and I have been having some problems lately. I am a third-degree black belt working at a Karate dojo where I instruct various classes of different age groups. I get paid what might be considered a meager salary, but I also get free tuition (valued at $200/month). The thing is, I am very content working at the dojo and even though I may not be making enough money to buy lavish things or take my girlfriend out to fancy dinners, I am happy. But she worries about the future for us. She fears that we won't have enough money to have a wedding and to buy a house. She keeps bringing up the fact that I should maybe go back to school or learn a trade. But my trade is karate, I always tell her! Do I stop what makes me happy to earn more money, or do we sit down and figure out a budget that works with our income? -Eric, 29

Dr. Anna: You have to dig a bit deeper here to where the conflict is coming from: you each are valuing different things. It sounds like you value karate and working at a job you love. It sounds like she values money and symbols of wealth like a fancy wedding or a house. What is going to make you happy and what is going to make her happy seem to be two very different things. If you leave this job you love in order to make more money, you risk building up a lot of resentment towards her. If she really values making a lot of money but is not getting that out of your partnership, she is going to end up resentful as well. You two need to have a heart to heart about what is really important to each of you and figure out whether there is a way to meet both of your needs in this relationship.

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