This eternal conflict of mine has been in my mind for the past 4 years, puzzling back and forth to wondering if it would be more beneficial to marry my girlfriend or if I should break up with her to give her a chance of a better future. If you want to read more about my background history with my girlfriend, read the next few paragraphs below so you'll have a better idea of where this struggle is coming from. If not, just jump to "My relationship currently with my girlfriend".
Backstory with my girlfriend (Before dating)
I first met my girlfriend in a club scout gathering when we were little kids (Ages 7 and 8 respectively). Ever since then, we would occasionally see each other since we lived only 5 minutes away from one another! We were familiarizing with each other's behaviors and interests, having quite the connection of hanging down by the creek, playing with Pokemon figurines, playing video games and watching cartoons back in the day. When high school came around though, times were tough for my girlfriend with her having to deal with highly dramatic girls since she went to an all-girls school and narcissistic parents who were never there for her emotionally, which matured her pretty quickly and caused her to overall be depressed constantly. Whenever I came over or I messaged her online, she never hesitated in getting into contact with me because she knew I was one of the only things in life that made her happy from what she told me. Before, I didn't know that she was depressed and I was ignorant of it but that's simply my guy brain kicking in thinking she's fine as she was.
Backstory with my girlfriend (College and moving in together)
This was the time when we had a moment (ages 18 and 19 respectively), where we were intensely flirting with each other, sending more heart messages than I could count and just being around each other almost around the clock since we went to the same college together! That was when she asked me out and I said yes without hesitation! Everything went well for the first few months, until I started to put my interests above hers and that caused a lot of conflict in itself, which I will admit was my fault because I didn't know much about relationships at the time. After that was resolved, things went smoothly again for about three years, then a separation period began where I thought my girlfriend was being way overly clingy to me (this goes back to her being with narcissistic parents who were emotionally abusive) and I thought we needed a long break from each other in hopes she'd grow to be more emotionally independent. That was a terrible mistake on my end because I didn't communicate with her about why she felt the way she did and immediately jumped to conclusions without a second thought. It took me 5 months to realize this and soonish afterwards, we were back together again.
Four years since we dated; my girlfriend got her bachelor's degree in education and began her training as an elementary school teacher. She moved into her first place, which was a cute little apartment. Never in my life have I seen her so relieved that she was able to move away from her parents and living an independent life on her own. She told me how much she hated to be around people, from all the ones that used her, including her parents as a punching bag for emotional fighting. She gave me the keys to her place, knowing I wouldn't go behind her back in any way.
Fast forward to a year later, she upgraded to the house we currently live in and I hit rock bottom failing out of my degree and going into a deep depression from my failures. I felt like my worth towards my girlfriend was almost non-existent. I kept pushing her away, thinking she deserved better and went for a whole month without much of contact to her. I thought she was going to break up with me from ignoring her for so long, but despite that, she was very patient and waited for me to come back. She gave me the motivation and enthusiasm I needed to get back on my feet and find a job somewhere so I wasn't living in her home, mooching off of her since I didn't want to move back to my parent's house and I wasn't working at a job during that time. I recently got a job at a local car wash which provided great insurance and vacation days, at the price of a low income, pretty much that of minimum wage and things in the relationship have been going smoothly since then!
Girlfriend's diary entries
Something I didn't know about till I discovered it a few years ago was that she kept two journals about her life, in which I was greatly involved in them (she gave me permission to look at them). So many entries of when she adored my company and times when she was really frustrated at my immaturity. She was so passionate about it, like she hated it when I was making mistakes and praised me when I was doing good things! She wrote in her journal, non-stop for almost 9 years, which tells me I had made an impact in her life for the better. All the times she said she wanted to date me, how she imagined us on a honeymoon, having a child and growing old together like a fairy tale couple; oh how I cried looking at those words and the drawings she made of us together like that. I never knew that I meant this much to her, because no matter how many mistakes I made, she always forgave me for them, no matter the severity. She could have dumped me and looked for someone anew but none the less, she still wanted to be with me.
My relationship currently with my girlfriend
At this point, I've known my girlfriend for almost 19 years, meeting her in 1999 and have dated her since 2010. Almost 9 years in a relationship and the question of marriage hasn't popped up yet. I've been having low self-esteem issues due to my girlfriend's financial successes and the completion of her degree while it felt like I've wasted 5 years of college, only to have an associate's degree in general sciences (for studying an art program, this made little sense). I've frustrated her quite a bit with my lack of intelligence due to a lack of motivation in wanting to learn new things. I've been trying to get back up on my feet, working at the car wash to start saving up money and help my girlfriend contribute towards the household but so far, it's been going alright. I often feel I'm disappointing her with how I'm only making 1/3 of what she does, making her the breadwinner obviously.
I can't figure her out. She's seen people who make much higher income than I do and are far more intelligent in academic/cultural studies and yet, she hasn't let go of me. I don't know if it's because I've been her supportive friend/boyfriend growing up, if it's because she's afraid of being alone and/or because she fell in love with me a long time ago and doesn't want to let go of that feeling. If I could gather the confidence I needed, I would most definitely marry her because that's common sense with how long we've known each other and love each other but I feel there are complications that are preventing this from happening. Below are what I believe the pros and cons would be if I were to marry her vs breaking up with her:
The idea of marriage with her sounds like a dream come true but I have to understand that reality will set in, whether if we like it or not. One of the complications I'm having with straight up asking her hand in marriage is not making a good enough income to provide for the both of us. Someday, my girlfriend wants to quit her teaching job as a elementary school teacher because it's mentally exhausting and she gets emotionally abused by staff members and parents all the time. She's been searching for a job replacement that makes enough to cover the mortgage payments and bills but hasn't had any success. If we're not financially prepared, things can escalate quickly and causes problems, especially if we want to have a child in the future. This uncertainty of making consistent money makes me question if whether we are prepared for such things.
The second problem is this is that I feel like I'm not qualified to be a husband. Emotionally stable/mature, financially prepared and a hard worker; all these qualities are important for a marriage to last in the role of a husband and I feel I've been failing to meet these requirements. No one wants to marry someone who is uncertain of themselves, let alone not knowing what they want to do in their future with a lack of ambitions. People like confidence and certainty as a way of knowing everything will be alright, no matter rain or sunshine. I feel like I have the body of a 27 year old as it should be and the mind of a 19 year old. I want my girlfriend to marry a man, not a child.
Breaking up with her:
I can certainly tell you that we both would hit rock bottom in depression after knowing each other for more than 2/3 of our life. If I did this, I would have to find a place to live which would take time since I'd either only have enough money to rent out a small apartment room or live in a townhouse with other people. If I did this though, this could give my girlfriend a chance to live with someone who's making equal, if not more of an income than she does, giving her a sense of security and relief if anything went wrong in her profession. It would mean a clean slate for her but at least she'd have the opportunity to have the life she always wanted; a secure and happy one. It depresses me thinking about this but once again, we have to keep in mind of reality for what would work best in each situation we're given. Would we still want to talk and hang out afterwards? I'm sure we would but it would get awkward after everything we've been through. I don't want to do it but at the same time, I don't want to doom her future based on my uncertainties when she may be able to find someone who can both hold their ground financially and emotionally while being able to help my girlfriend out as well.
My girlfriend hasn't once wanted to break up with me and I've been conflicted, thinking back and forth on what to do. Waiting 9 years for marriage is a long time and most women would have given up on their lover already, thinking they weren't committed or passionate enough to want more for them. I only have a year left to make this ultimate choice since my girlfriend mentioned this and I have to make sure I'm going to make the correct one. What do you think? I'm just curious what you all think of this. I did a question on this earlier but some people wanted a more, detailed explanation on the situation so that's what this MyTake is for.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!
P.S: I'm thinking this MyTake belongs in "Relationships" but it could go into "Marriages & Weddings" or "Break Up & Divorce" but I thought "Relationships" would be the proper section since this does talk about my relationship with my girlfriend and our future plans together.