Thank you for the comments! Writing and getting feedback has felt extremely helpful.
I feel much more clarity about what I am happy with, and what needs to change.
I definitely agree with you about the aspect of our financial agreements being something all parties have agreed to. That is, I am not forcing anything on Alec, but he has also agreed to this organisation. He actually points this out any time I get the feeling of "maybe we should separate our finances so that you could do whatever you want with yours and I control mine only" (happens maybe once a year; usually having to do with him feeling like changing cars; something that in our situation is NEVER a good idea and to which I have agreed to way too many times). That is actually a key to the clearer feeling I now have, that the whole system is something that both of us have felt works and has benefited us both; and if some aspect is no longer working for either, it needs to change.
that is a very good perspective! Right now there have been a lot more little things to take care of than there usually is (because of the potential moving), and I have been very stressed. Most of them are not really something that would be practical to delegate, but I notice it helps to just talk about the things that have needed doing. Just because I take most of the heavy lifting in shared financial things doesn't mean I can't get support from my partner in doing it.
I laughed at the carefully hoarded and invested two cents thing.
I agree that as long as everybody is happy there is no problem. I have actually had a similar extra with Alec as you say. It works quite well, except that our income could be a bit higher so that the extra wasn't spent so easily... Then again who wouldn't want more money?
It's just that bigger purchases are quite difficult to work into it so that it still remains useful, because it takes so many months to save up.
Basically, I've come to the conclusion that I have no trouble with the basic financial arrangements I have with Alec. If at some point we feel we need to change them (whether due to situation or what one of us wants), we'll look into it then, but at the moment it is mostly working fine.
There is just a specific aspect of incomes/employment. It has been generally the case that both of us have an income to contribute. There have been times for both of us when this has not been the case but ordinarily it has. We've had a bit different sources. Alec has been working, and I have been mainly studying. Thus, while I have often also worked, I have not often relied on working for supporting us (I've had student loans etc.). Also, while I have actually often earned almost the same as Alec during a year, it's been more varied; i.e. I would make less during term and more in the Summers etc.
However, I have very little student loan left, but have also two years before I graduate. I generally do not like working while studying (it tends to affect my studies adversely). We had hoped that by this time, Alec would have a steady income, and we'd have a bit more savings. Thus, we could go on without me having an income.
So we're now in a totally new situation, for both of us. Thus far, it has been the case that if there is a period of time when the other person is not contributing, we still manage with the other person's income and possibly savings.
From this comes a need for some new boundaries; to see our finances less as 'common' and more as 'both are responsible to contribute their share'. If, at some point, either of us has an income which can support both of us so that it is less crucial for the other one to work, that is fabulous. But in our current situation that is just not realistic, and having that view of 'common' was not working very well.
Basically, it is simply not realistic for me to earn enough for both of us while studying. That is, there is nothing I
can do to make sure we can stay in Wonderland. It might be realistic for Alec to make enough (just barely), if he got a full-time job. So, basically I was trying to maximise the odds for that. Asking him questions to the effect of "what if you can't get a job you would most like, what would you least hate doing?".
Well, those conversations truly were not making either of us happy. The truth is, he doesn't want to take some job he doesn't like just so that we can be here. He doesn't want to leave to Home Country (not unless it is more permanently, and in this situation it would be for a year or few only). But he also wants a job that he likes (at least to some extent). Basically, he wants to drive. Which is fine, except that our experience in this city has been that he was looking for a driving job for about half a year and couldn't get one (pretty much all jobs were looking for experience from here, not other country). This is one of the biggest reasons we are looking into moving to Dream City; it is a bigger place and will hold more potential work opportunities. Still, there is no way to tell if he will be able to get a driving job there either, and the uncertainty makes me super frightened.
So, because of the fear, I would pester him. But he reacted defensively (not surprisingly), and I would feel like shit about fighting. And I started to feel more profoundly uneasy about the whole thing.
I am fundamentally against pressuring anybody to do anything they don't want to, and yet here I was.
So, some boundaries are needed. If he doesn't want to take a specific job, that is his business. It is his decision. He will need to face the consequences of that (e.g. him not being able to stay here, or live as he would wish). I have neither a right or an ability to control his choices. And, in addition to something problematic, there is also something ethically questionable in me relying on him for my ability to stay here.
I will need to get a job which pays enough for me to support myself while studying (unless alternative funding materialises). Failing that, it may well be the case that I have to move back to Home Country. If, then, Alec happens to get a great job on his terms and has enough money to pay for my living, too, he will probably be happy to do that and I will be lucky in that I can stay. But it is not something I can rely on. And also, if he can't support himself here and I can, I will may not be able to support him, or at least we will have to live somewhere I can afford (i.e. with roommates).
I feel better about this. There's still all the uncertainty about our future. But I don't have to fear for our relationship in addition to that. Because I do see a perspective without proper boundaries as harmful; and I absolutely do not want to put either of us into the position of relying on him for our future. I'll rather make the boundary and say, both of us for their own.
I actually started right away by telling him I will no longer mention his job seeking. He can talk to me about that, or ask for help, if/when he wishes, but if he doesn't it is his choice and I will stay out of it.