Ask Amy: Musician needs couch time to be creative

August 15, 2012

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I are in our early 20s and have been together for three years. I work full time in a restaurant, receive little to no help from my parents, and live in a one-bedroom apartment that I struggle to afford. He lives with his parents rent-free and seldom works.

Before you write him off as a complete deadbeat, he is an extremely talented musician, and the primary reason he lives at home is so that he can spend pretty much all his time on his creative pursuits.

In truth, though, he practically lives with me, only returning to his parents’ place to eat and work on music while I’m at work.

I have been tolerant of this situation, because I love him and think we make a great partnership — we are also in a band together. However, as we get older, I worry: Am I becoming a substitute for his parents? Is he living off of me? Can I afford to support myself and another person? At what point will he admit that he needs a day job?

I’ve tried to address these issues but he always thinks that I’m judging him or trying to pressure him.

He defends himself by claiming that he writes all the songs in our band, and that we wouldn’t get as much done if he had to get a job.

I know I can’t make him get a job or officially move in with me, but how can I make him see things from my point of view? -- Girlfriend in a Conundrum

DEAR GIRLFRIEND: Not to put too fine a point on it, but even artists need to work — and working outside of music gives a musician not only money, but also material. Otherwise, your boyfriend’s music would be limited to anthems in praise of the comfy couch cushions and second helpings of Jell-O.

A story I read in LA Weekly noted the day jobs of some famous indie rockers. My favorite is Jack White (of the White Stripes), who was a furniture upholsterer (along with Meg White) while working on his music.

Your boyfriend is defending his choices. He is very clear about his inclinations and intentions. You need to decide whether you are willing to be the breadwinner and support him. Otherwise, cop to judging him and be as clear about your intentions as he is about his own.

And — please — don’t push for him to “officially” move in with you.

DEAR AMY: My husband’s sister always pushes him into doing things, like attending family functions, through guilt and relentless pushing. He has a job with a very difficult schedule and doesn’t know months in advance if he’s available for events and the like — and he will tell her that, but she still pushes him. She is relentless.

When I say something about this to him, he gets angry with me.

Conversely, if I want to plan for the two of us to do something in advance and he tells me he doesn’t know what his work schedule will be, if I continue to push, he blows up at me.

I really don’t know why his sister has more sway over what he does than me, his wife! -- Annoyed

DEAR ANNOYED: I feel very sorry for this guy. He gives a consistent (and truthful) answer to the two women in his life, and all he gets in return is more pushing.

If you know your husband can’t plan very far in advance because of his demanding work schedule, then your pushing won’t change the outcome, but will only remind him of his sister.

You should have a “fallback friend” who might be willing to attend events at the last minute if your husband can’t make it.

You are choosing to be annoyed about something that your husband cannot change — his schedule and his sister’s behavior.

DEAR AMY: “Angry” brought back so many memories from 55 years ago. My mother-in-law was an overbearing meddler, too, with a bad reputation in town.

Your advice was good, Amy, but this couple should do what we did — move 1,000 miles away. -- Peaceful

DEAR PEACEFUL: This seems like the nuclear option but I’m glad it worked for you.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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