When I met my girlfriend, she was taking a break from the workforce after burning out. I assumed this was temporary and thought it seemed reasonable. Three years later, I am very happy with her but have gained a clearer-eyed view. She’s taken a few jobs for months or weeks, but seems to run into a lot of personal conflicts; struggles with staying emotionally regulated throughout the workday; and has burned bridges, quit, and gone through long periods of staying home and not-really job searching. She lives off her savings from her pre-burnout, well-paid job, and I’m not paying her bills, so in some ways it’s none of my business. She’s an amazing person, and there are many other things I love about her.
But I’m stressed as hell about our future. We want to get married and have kids, and I don’t know how we can do that if she never holds a job for longer than a few months. I can’t support her financially when her savings run out. We’re both women in our 30s, if that’s relevant. I grew up in a home where one parent couldn’t keep a job and the other struggled with having to be a stable wage-earner, and I have no desire to relive that dynamic. I want to offer my partner unconditional love, support, and patience while she finds her way, but I don’t want to find myself five years from now in the very situation I hoped to avoid, wishing I’d paid attention sooner. Where’s the line here, Prudie, between none of my business and totally my business?
—Breadwinning for One