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I have problems with my girlfriend taking forever to get stuff done. To the point where it really causes problems in our relationship.

  • She took forever to get her passport (we almost missed a massive holiday if I didn't literally drag her to a passport station)
  • She took forever to get her drivers license (this caused problems because she had to start a new job and somehow get to work without a drivers license even though we have a car we can share. I was promised a drivers in Jan (after 6 months of waiting and fighting!), I think she got it in like May or something)
  • (There are more minor problems like this as well, point is that it has built up a lot)
  • Now she is taking forever to get a car.

This car one is literally breaking our relationship now. She started working so she wasn't able to get credit for 3 months. Fine, I told her to at least look for a car so that when the 3 months ends she knows exactly what she want. She did nothing whatsoever, and more than that, when I bring it up I am the rude one trying to control her life.

Now it has been 4.5 months in total and still no car. The best she has done was one single visit to the dealership this weekend. Now the fight has become "a car is a big deal, have you ever bought something so big!?!?". To which my point: you had 3 months of doing nothing which you could've used to look around and figure out what you want.

All I can do is set deadlines, like telling her she must Uber from now on. Or like telling her I am going to leave her if she doesn't get her drivers. But this, and all the fighting, is literally breaking our relationship apart. I don't know what to do anymore and I don't know if the problem is really me and I should just shut up and wait for her to do stuff whenever she wants to.

Telling her to Uber is obviously a massive waste of money and extremely inconvenient and almost impossible to go and find a car while driving around with Uber.

How can I convey that she needs to do stuff that I find it's very important to do?

  • Hi Frank and welcome to IPS. I sympathize with situation, it sounds really frustrating. Currently your question is a bit too broad, though, to be a good fit for the QA format. I saw CaldeiraG submitted an edit to make it a bit more on topic. If you agree with it, you can accept the edit, or you can edit yourself. – Belle Dec 10 '19 at 9:19
  • I see it got accepted already. But thank you! It is my first time here :) – Frank Dec 10 '19 at 13:14
  • Do you think that your girlfriend actually wants to get these tasks done (e.g. get passport to go on a holiday)? In other words, is she procrastinating because she has trouble doing the things she wants to do, or is she using procrastination to avoid stuff she doesn't want to do? – DaveG Dec 11 '19 at 21:13
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It sounds like your girlfriend is a strong procrastinator like me whereas my wife is more of a planner like you seem to be. Since I've been happily married for a couple of years now it means that it can work.

what is important to you?

What you need to do first is decide for yourself which things would be actual deal breakers for you, and which things you're probably able to live with. Things like driving her around, helping her decide which car to get, helping her make a general planning for the next few weeks to make sure all the important stuff gets done, etc...

The talk

The next thing you need to do is find a calm moment and sit her down for an important talk. Make sure you both take the time to do this so that you can both listen to each other and really talk things through. (So don't do this just before bed time, or when you're going some place in an hour).

Start by explaining how her behaviour makes you feel. Make sure to use I statements. This is hard! Especially since you have to try not to blame her. Tell her that you really do love her but are scared that this relationship isn't going to last if you keep feeling the way you do.

Then allow her to explain her side. Ask her how she feels. Make sure not to argue with any of her feelings, no matter how trivial they may seem to you!. Try to really understand what she's feeling and why she's behaving the way she does. Perhaps she's been under a lot of stress lately and her only coping mechanism is to postpone any decissions or hard things despite knowing that it could make things worse in the long run.

Once both of you have explained your feelings try to work together to find a way around the major issues. Perhaps you could make a calander where you put in the important times for major things when she has to do those things. Something like "friday evening januari 24: decide what is important to have in my car", "saturday 25: go to car dealer to find a car", or recurring things like which rooms to clean on each weekend.

Find solutions

My wife has made us a shared calendar with a plan for which rooms to clean and which clothing to wash each weekend. That way we both know which chores are expected to do that weekend but we can decide ourselves at what time to do those. Whenever there are other things planned for the weekend (like birthday parties for example) we can clearly see if there's still time left to postpone a chore, or if it really has to be done right now.

Make sure your girlfriend agrees with the dates you're putting in or if she doesn't, allow her to choose a different time, or even to change the date right then, as long as she always picks a new date when she is going to do it. Show her (mostly with body language, and kind words) that you don't mind helping her plan the important stuff, but that she has to do it.

By having such a plan and knowing things will get done in time it means neither of you is going to (or better, neither is allowed to!) complain about things if they're not expected to be done yet. The only thing you're allowed to do, when she's not starting a job when it's planned at that time, is to ask if she needs help doing that task.

Quick note here: I actually mean a moment when to start doing a chore, not a deadline by which is must be done. The deadline would cause me a lot of stress knowing that I'm going to postpone it up till the last possible moment, whereas the former prevents me from stressing about not starting it yet because I know I don't have to untill that moment. For example: I'm free to play video games saterday morning and my wife is not allowed to complain about not cleaning the house yet because I prefer doing it in the afternoon, or on sunday.

Decide

After you had the talk and you've tried to find solutions to your deal-breakers, there will be a moment where you have to decide if she really is the one for you. We can't decide this for you. Try to be really honest with yourself when making the decission on whether or not you want to continue the relationship. Don't expect things to change when they have not changed after talking it through with your girlfriend. If you already know it isn't going to work then it's better to end it sooner rather than later, so that you both can find someone else instead.

All that said, I do expect that it's possible to fix your current relationship. As long as both you and your girlfriend are willing to work on making things better. Try to compensate for each others weaknesses instead of fighting over differences. There is a reason that you've been together all this time right?

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  • In the case of passport you have a deadline. There are things that will always have a deadline. By picking up a date for holiday you agree to a deadline and, automatically, a moment when to start the thing that need to be done. Same with starting a job. I don't think it was a slavery so choosing a starting time for a job was her choice. Which pulled other "when to start" into existence. OP seems to be more of a person who want people to stick to their guns rather than planner. IF you say A and you know it means you have to say B in 30 seconds he expect it to follow. – SZCZERZO KŁY Dec 10 '19 at 11:27
  • @SZCZERZOKŁY Ofcourse there is a deadline. What I meant was that in the plan you pick a time before the deadline, and commit to starting at that time. If that time arrives you are free to postpone it as long as you can pick a new specific time before the deadline where it will happen. If there is no such time you have to do it right now instead. I tried to specify this explicitely in my answer to prevent miscomunication like "you had 3 months to do it!" where there was no time specified in those 3 months when she committed to do it. – Imus Dec 10 '19 at 13:09
  • Thank you for this answer! Appreciate the logical solutions to the problems :) – Frank Dec 20 '19 at 5:05
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I do not know if this is advice that will help you, but what your wife is doing sounds exactly like what I have done all my life. Has she ever been evaluated for ADHD? I would suggest you google for that and if, as you are reading about the characteristics of people who have undiagnosed ADHD (especially as adults) you encourage her to read as well.

I know at least two marriages which were good in every way except that one of them had undiagnosed ADHD and it ripped their marriages apart. My husband and I came close to splitting up. He was perpetually frustrated because it seemed like I did not care about getting important things done. I would forget (or procrastinate) to get licenses renewed, appointments made, chores done and what made him even angrier is that I spent way too much time playing computer games when I should have been getting things done.

Then, at age 50, I was diagnosed with severe ADHD and after some research and a couple of months of counseling we have both come to understand why I cannot get things done and how to cope with my limits. He has learned how he can help me get things done in a way that doesn't trigger my anxieties.

It may be that your girlfriend is just lazy or sloppy or careless or ungrateful (these are all the labels which were applied to me growing up, by people who didn't understand me any better than I understood myself at that time.) Or she may have ADHD.

There are checklists on-line; I have never found them to be very accurate for adult undiagnosed. The reason is because a large part of them involved the idea of fidgeting and being restless. Kids with ADHD do this; adults have learned to cope. So adults end up with a much lower score than they ought to have in these tests.

Take a look at https://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adhd-attention-deficit-disorder-in-adults.htm, https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adhd-ways-to-tell#1 and if this sounds like her, I would suggest that at would greatly benefit both of you to book an appointment with a psychologist to take the official ADHD test.

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  • Thank you for the information on this! I will definitely look at it :) – Frank Dec 20 '19 at 5:04

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