Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I am reaching out for some guidance or even tips as my partner and I try to navigate this mess of a world we live in. I feel like our relationship is the only thing that’s truly safe and positive right now — and seeing so many other young people and couples on social media struggling with the same issues is making me increasingly depressed about the future. We’re in our mid-20s and have had an amazing relationship for two years, but we’re overwhelmed.
I guess our biggest issue is finding affordable housing. We want to live together before getting married, which we both envision. Right now, we each live in separate apartments that are both too small for two people. We do not want to rent anymore, but Anchorage’s real estate market is crazy not to mention interest rates. It just doesn’t seem attainable. But renting a larger apartment or two-bedroom here would practically cost as much house. Seems like we’re stuck with where we’re at.
Meanwhile, we (or maybe I) feel like we’re falling behind because we haven’t moved in together, gotten engaged or set a date for a wedding. We’re aligned on practically everything in the big picture, including kids, but can’t seem to make progress to get there. That’s partially because we’re also really driven professionally. That’s the only way we’re going to get ahead and be able to afford a house and a life together, as well as we’re passionate about what we do. We both also volunteer and have friends and family here, too, and exercise is important — he runs and skis, I ski and go to the gym. It’s all great but takes up so much time. Sometimes it feels like weeks have passed without us truly connecting, even when we’re spending overnights together.
That’s a lot, I know. And I know this is probably me venting but I’m struggling. I hope you two can offer some insight into sorting things out or getting a clearer path to a future. Or just tell me everything is going to be all right. Thank you in advance for any words of advice.
First, the bad news: it doesn’t really get easier. The stressors are always there — they may change, but it’s always something. Welcome to adulting!
Now the good news: Take a deep breath and remember all of the positives in your life. A solid relationship with a strong partner and promising future; a career in an area you love with potential for growth; the ability to keep a roof over your head and food on the table; a foundation of family and friends; and a healthy lifestyle of taking care of yourselves and others. That’s amazing and hopefully that reminder gives you some peace.
I do realize that it’s easy to lose sight of the good when facing the constant negative buzz around us: the economy, wars, housing and rental availability, prices and rates — heck, just driving around Anchorage right now is freaking me out! And it certainly doesn’t help that a seemingly harmless visit to social media can quickly turn into a deep dive of doomscrolling with people melting down, making us feel even more lost, confused, upset and anxious. Just close the apps when that content comes up.
There are no easy answers here because you’re right, it is a lot. But know that you’re not alone and that you’re on the right path with a partner. And much of this situation and your future is under your control. Start by creating a timeline for saving to buy a home, when to get engaged, when to get married, and what things you can give up or incorporate with your boyfriend right now to give you more quality time together. Planning: I know, really romantic. But it’s all there and it’s all attainable for ambitious, big-picture folks like you. And always remember: you’ve got each other, and that is the most important thing — and that is romantic.
Wayne’s advice is right on track. You’re getting completely overwhelmed by the big picture — you’re stressing out about scaling Everest and you haven’t even left base camp. Reaching long-term goals takes time, commitment, dedication, and as Wayne said, planning. So start by making some short-term, achievable plans that can help you begin your ascent.
And I don’t mean, make separate plans for every little thing you wish to accomplish before you die; I mean, pick one thing that’s on your list — say, amending your living arrangements and moving in together — and put those professional heads together to tackle that goal.
If finances are a barrier, you need a savings plan and probably will have to make some sacrifices too. Consider weekly meal plans, shopping sale and generic-price items, reducing fuel usage by streamlining errands, and cutting back on streaming services and other monthly app fees. Gym memberships aren’t cheap; could you shift to home workouts? Could you consolidate each other’s cell phones on a family plan to save money? Sideline gigs like Uber and DoorDash are also steps to reaping extra funds.
These may seem like frustratingly small steps, but all together, can save you big bucks, especially if you’re both tackling it. Moving in together, when it happens, will feel like a huge victory and put you on more solid ground toward facing life’s next big challenges.