Welcome to the forum Chad.
That was quite an introduction. I do enjoy an interesting life-story, and yours was well…very interesting to say the least. If you ever want to become a ‘drama-queen’ you sure have a lot of material to work with.
I was also late bloomer when it comes to my education. I was 45 years old when I got my bachelors degree in accounting. It took me 24 years at four community colleges to finish my first semester and just three years complete my degree when I went back to school full time in January of 2003. My partner was also instrumental in helping me finish my degree. While I did have some money from my parent’s estate to help pay for my education, I would not have been able to swing it without the financial help of my partner. Learning how to accept this gift from him turned out to be an extremely important life lesson for me. My partner makes good money and we could easily make ends meet on his salary alone while I went to school, but somehow in the back of mind it made me uncomfortable; like I was using him somehow. The fact that he is seven years my junior made it even more difficult for me. My partner loves me and wanted to see me achieve my goal, but my pride and desire to maintain my independence put a strain on our relationship. Until I went back to school we had kept our finances separate and I kept insisting that we keep close track of ‘how much I owed him’ for my education so I could pay him back. In my mind I was telling him “I will not abuse your generosity” but in his mind I was saying “Once I am finished with school who knows what will happen, I may decided to move on, but don’t worry, I will pay you back.”
Sometimes people we love actually do want to see us succeed. When a gift is offered from someone we love, accept it with grace and sincerely use the gift for its intended purpose. Show him through your works that his gift is bearing fruit, but don’t keep reminding him that you will pay him back. It sets the tone that the gift was a monetary transaction rather than an expression of love and commitment.
My partner was smart enough to see what was going on in my head. He sat me down one evening during my first semester back at school and told me he wanted to combine our finances; he was tired of calculating who owes who what anymore. We decided that everything we own was “ours,” and that my educational costs were an investment in “our” future together.
I got my degree and have been working for 18 months now. I still only make a third of what my partner makes, but I no longer feel like I am financially indebted to him. What I feel now is a determination to make my degree work for “us.”