Boyfriend with learning disability
I am a 26 year old woman and I have been dating my boyfriend (29 years old) for a little over a year; we are mostly very happy together. We never fight, and when we do, even if he knows I am wrong, he will drop everything to comfort me and make things better. If I have had a bad day- even if his day was worse- he will do whatever he can to make me happy. He loves me very much, and he shows me that every day. We currently live together and our relationship is definitely getting more serious, so of course we have talked occasionally about marriage. While in many ways, he is absolutely perfect and would make a wonderful father/husband, I am a little hesitant... My biggest reservation has to do with a learning disability that he was diagnosed with at a very young age. Unfortunately, his doctors and parents told him while he was growing up that he would never be able to read a book from start to finish, he would never test well, he would never be able to go to college or pursue higher education, he would never be able to understand or converse about certain topics, etc. I went to an Ivy League university for undergrad and grad school, I currently own/manage my own company, and I can say that yes, I have noticed intellectual differences between us. He often asks me for help with spelling and diction when writing emails, or asks my advice when he's unsure of things, but none of this has ever bothered me too much. What does bother me is that I worry he won't be able to live life like a real adult- NOT because of his "disability," but because of what he was taught his disability means. To this day, his mother believes (and openly tells me) that there are things he simply won't be able to do/won't be able to understand. I don't believe that is true for a second, but unfortunately my boyfriend believes it. He goes to his mother for everything, and because she believes he is incapable of doing things/understanding things on his own, she enables him. She sends out his packages, reviews his spending on his credit cards, budgets his paychecks, etc. He gets nervous going through airports or traveling places on his own. When we travel together, I fill out his immigration/customs forms because he says he doesn't understand them, and can't write legibly. He has no work aspirations- as long as he takes home a decent paycheck, he doesn't really care about moving up/improving his employment. His mother never charged him rent while he was living with her, so the first real bills he has ever had to pay are ours, which makes me incredibly nervous. Basically- if we continue down this road, and eventually do get married, I don't want to feel like his keeper or babysitter; I want to feel like a partner. I don't believe this disability should be taking a toll on his life like this, but his family is convinced there is no way around it. These intellectual differences used to bother me, but I have seen who he is during the 1 year + that we have been together; we have had wonderful conversations, met interesting people, and had many adventures together. He is a great and kind-hearted man who I love very much. But when it comes to day-to-day living, or having a family, I get nervous that the messages that were ingrained in him since he was little will really take their toll the older and more serious we get. Should I stick it out and hope that these issues won't matter, or will things only get worse as we move through life?
You haven't mentioned if these "disabilities" have been diagnosed by anyone other than his mother. He could be autistic (of some kind), learning disabled, language impaired, dyslexic, ADD, just t name a few. OR he could have been raised by a woman who parents like a helicopter and sees him as a helpless baby.
He really needs a professional exam by someone who works in this area for the adult patient.
You say a little about HIS talents, what else does he bring to the table besides adoring you, cheering you up and going on adventures with you? Is he handy around the house? A good cook? potentially a nurturing father? great entertainer? musical? artistic?
Sounds like a lot of "smothering" has taken place all these years and some habits formed. They bother you a little now, but you know, that kind of irritation can grow as the years pass.
It's good that you are taking a look at this now.
Thank you for your response. I think I mentioned in my post that doctors initially diagnosed him when he was younger, after many series of tests. To be honest, neither he nor his mother remembers exactly what this "disability" is called. I suggested several times that he get re-rested now that he is an adult, but he adamantly doesn't want to. He has completely succumbed to his "diagnosis," and of course his mother clearly hasn't helped.
As for what he brings to the relationship- he is genuine, kind, compassionate, and loving. He is extremely honest, open, and thoughtful. These qualities are much more than I can say about any of my previous boyfriends, and I think say a lot more about him than his hobbies.
But other than that- he is very committed to his health; he does not drink or do drugs. He eats very health-consciously and works out every day. He has had a lot of experience working in the trades, so he is very handy around the house (which I LOVE), but basically he just makes me feel safe and loved, which I think is what matters. I know without a doubt that he would be an incredible father, but as I said, I am less sure of what kind of husband he would be because of these issues.....
You are very right- small grievances can easily turn into big ones as time passes, which is exactly my concern.
I'll tell you a story about a guy I know pretty well who was told from a young age by his parents/doctors etc, he would never be able to achieve anything or very little because of a profound learning disability. His parents 'supported' him until he was nearly 20.
He did pretty well, in fact, he went on to work for several global companies in sales despite his disability. He also married young and fathered 2 daughters. His wife and kids were immensely proud of his achievements.
When I got around to asking him the secret, he replied, no secret...he had a loving supportive wife who just accepted him for who he was and that's all he needed to prove to the world that he could do it. He said he needed a strong woman by his side. To her, he was normal...she just accepted him and got on with the job of being his wife, regardless.
Ackproblems, If you have reservations about this man and your future together, regardless of his good & bad points, then it is a doubt.
When we don't have doubt, we go with our heart but when we have doubt, we should listen to our instinct. We should listen to what our 'gut' tells us.
Hi i am kinda where you could find yourself. Im 44 & got attatched to a guy 54 with an underlying mental illness which has gone undiagnosed all his life. This has caused me a lot of stress as im the only adult & take on every emotional duty. The diff between your man & mine is honesty & support. I dont get this i get punishment for not reading him right, i suspected something wasnt right from the beginning but couldn't pin it down till 2yrs later. What im saying is you are prepared for problems plus your man doesnt suffer anything that would affect your child & that child is all that will matter so go for it.
Ackproblems (- lol),
Why am I getting 'whiffs' of Munchausen-by-Proxy here?
I mean, seriously? A mother- MO...THER!.. can't remember the name of the very condition that so marrs her own baby's life in so many ways?
What a load of rubbish, who does she think she'd kidding. Even if told only the once (hardly!) and then only verbally (pff!) it would have been burned indelibly into her brain!
INDELIBLY, I TELL YOU [waves pitchfork in air].
And she fits the profile, doesn't she (I should cocoa!).
Still, it's not hard these days, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, to submit a letter to ones GP practise requesting sight of ones medical records.
And yet your bf refuses "adamantly"?
Methinks a part of his mind already suspects it was always a load of tosh. But his own behaviour, at least, is forgiveable because - what person would want to find out that his one-and-only mother had been so intent on kittenifying him for purely selfish reasons, that she effectively chose to hobble him. (And that his father too readily sat back and accepted the situation.) And, having long got used to such self-identification and all the side-bonuses, benefits and advantages it brings, what person would not only want to give those up but, worse, have to face suddenly doubling, tripling, possibly QUADRUPLING in one fell swoop his present and future daily workload by no longer having the excuse not to switch permanently to dealing daily with the full adult in-tray? And when (his perception) he doesn't strictly have to?
"He has completely succumbed to his "diagnosis," and of course his mother clearly hasn't helped."
What I've just said is what you suspect, isn't it, which is why you put the word diagnosis in quote marks.
Key phrase: HAVE TO. I suggest you INSIST he get a hold of his records to show you this diagnosis in B&W before you'll agree to becoming his fiance, let alone his wife, because I reckon there be issues in them there hills somewhere, arrrr....
If the story is true - or is a lie but hers alone (i.e. which he himself has no inkling or suspicion about) - he'll have NO problems getting hold of that for you. Small price to pay for an "I do" or one said with all confidence as opposed to not, eh.
But me, I think somewhere in his mind, he knows. And that he's been slowly-but-steadily bracing for it. And that he accordingly thought to ensure that any woman he fell in-love with had better be a very all-round capable type. LIKE TOI! Because someone's going to have to teach him (or fill-in for him where necessary). And that, actually, is a highly clever and sensible move of his.
ALREADY not quite the idiot she claims he is, look.
But what about you, though? Looking on the bright rather than just the pessimistic side - could this in fact be a perfect match on the future-situational side if you stop to consider what a perfect candidate he'd be for the job of full-time House-husband given how you have considerably more earning power and ambition? That would be happily ironic, wouldn't it, because here's you worrying you'd have to be his childminder and babysitter whereas he could end up being YOURS (to your child's/children's).
You'd have to make sure he didn't re-enact the helicopter-ing, though. Or the distinct opposite (as a secret, one-fingered, self-disassociating salute to his mum), whether or not this baloney had already been proven true or remained forevermore a niggling inkling in his head. Other than that fine-tuning, though (and, possibly, counselling to catch him before his kid turned the age he'd been at the time it "happened" as provides a sudden dawning-on) you might well, in fact, have the perfect ingredients for a very smoothly working, future family life, right?