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Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Should I break up with him?


I have changed the story substantially to protect my identity but the advice will apply to my situation.

I met a guy during my first year. He was in his first year of medical school and I was in my first year of accounting. We hit it off right away. We shared similar tastes in food, in movies, in hobbies, we even took the same third-lang in secondary school. We’ve been dating for more than 8 years now. We don’t fight, we always spend time together. Everything is better than I have ever imagined when it’s just the two of us.

Recently we’ve been talking about marriage. It would have been a no-brainer for me to marry him were it not for this weird philosophy that he has about our responsibilities as spouses. He believes strongly that he is marrying me and not my family and likewise I am marrying him and not his family.

According to him, I will be exempted of all my obligations to his family if I so want to be, and he should be given the same privilege. This, apparently, isn’t just his idea. His whole family thinks this way, even his parents. His mom sat me down once to tell me that while I am always welcome, I will not be expected to do anything and she hopes I don’t expect her son to do the same. One detail. Both his parents are doctors and they own and run a specialist clinic together.


My dad is a taxi driver and my mom is a homemaker.

My mom and dad have been giving me pressure to soldier on with the marriage and they have indicated to me that they plan to ask for an obscene 5-figure amount in dowry and more than half of the banquet seats. His parents have also spoken to me and they said they will not be participating in any tradition, and all costs for the marriage will be borne 50/50.

It’s probably worth noting that my boyfriend’s family do not celebrate any festivals (not Christmas, not CNY) and they are passionate atheists. I am pretty indifferent about my family’s traditions but I don’t know if I’m willing to get into a fight with my parents over what will come across as blatant disrespect. I also feel uneasy that my boyfriend does not believe in helping out with my duties to my family. One reason I want to marry is the fact that there are many challenges in life that are just easier to take on with help, most of these challenges involve my responsibilities to my family. I have a brother who is unfortunately autistic, and another brother who has a juvenile record and recently got a baby but refuses to work. He had this baby with a girl out of wedlock and now all of them are living in my parents’ three-bedroom apartment. Most of the money I earn helps pay for all the problems that keep happening in my family. I don’t like that I can’t catch a break either. But it doesn’t feel right to renegade on my family even when they are clearly suffocating.

I was fortunate enough to have had financial aid through the very elite schools that I grew up in. My friends are all from upper middle class families and I have spoken to them. Apparently they were quite uniform in their inability to support me on this issue because they also believe that it would be difficult for them to want to marry someone if they didn’t first have assurances that their lives wouldn’t be made more difficult post-marriage. In other words, most of them took the side of my boyfriend.

Am I the weird one to be expecting my future husband to share my burdens, however heavy they are? If I go through with this, I’m afraid of how ugly things can get with my boyfriend’s family being of a completely different culture to mine. But if I do not, I don’t know there is a guy out there that exists that I get along with while still being willing to support me.


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