When dating gets political
Hi! I'd like to share a little dating dilemma on here, with the hope that perhaps someone out there has had a similar experience and can offer some advice. If not, then I guess at least it makes for an interesting story. :)
I'm Australian and dating a Georgian. We met whilst both working overseas. A romance ensued and it quickly turned into a year. He is kind, compassionate, intelligent, relaxed, generous (ahem...more on this below), adventurous, and overall, a great boyfriend, someone I'm happy with and would like to marry one day. He loves kids which is a bonus. And being Georgian, I don't need to worry about him never getting around to proposing! He really spoils me and treats me well, and my family like him.
Of course no relationship is perfect, and now we're at the one-year mark, I'm starting to notice things that could potentially become a problem in the long run. Some things really don't matter; no big deal if I can't make khajapuri, he still loves that I've tried. Other things you would think might be an issue, aren't at all (for instance, he doesn't expect me to always be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen wearing an apron). The potential deal breaker, sadly, but not uncommonly, is money and how it's spent.
I've heard that money is the most common thing for couples to fight over, so I realise that it's not an issue that is restricted to intercultural relationships. But this one is a bit tricky. During a trip back to Georgia recently, my boyfriend expressed concern about his family's financial woes, and then proceeded to tell me that it was so dire that he has given them his entire savings. I masked my shock, and said I thought it was a very kind gesture. After all, who am I to say that he shouldn't help his father/mother/sister/grandmother? I couldn't disagree. And we don't have a joint bank account - we haven't even moved in together yet. But obviously I feel concerned. Would he have done that using a joint bank account? What about if we had a child? It's very possible his family will always be in a need given the state of the Georgian economy, so where should the line be drawn? And how do I know whether he did the right thing or not? What would I do in the same situation, and how will I ever know (because my own family are not in need)?! And...were his actions the result of his generous personality, or does the whole population behave this way because the country lacks formal social security networks? (I don't know.)
I want to raise it with him but I'm trying to work out how best to do this. Do I ask, "sweetie, I'm wondering whether or not your country's soviet past might affect our future joint savings?" Somehow this makes me feel like we're in a social science tutorial, not an adult relationship. So do I ask straight out, "darling, tell me, because I'm very confused! Are you a...communist?! I thought...well, I don't know what to think!" The second one wouldn't go down very well...so perhaps I just say, "I know your family's going through a hard time. But doesn't giving them everything you have seem a bit extreme?"
It's harder to talk about than I realised. Because the fact of the matter is, despite being raised with completely opposite cultural expectations around money spending/saving (me = work hard, get rich; him = work hard, stay poor), I still feel like it's hard to explain my western capitalist upbringing without feeling somewhat ashamed and hypocritical. He may have 'wasted' his savings, but he was happy to do so, and he feels a sense of increased responsibility. I waste money on clothes and stuff I don't need, and it doesn't make me or anyone else happy. He doesn't have any debt; I do (consumer debt, what's more). So who is actually better off?? Doesn't money just come and go anyway?
Or, I have this attitude, will money just keep going, going going?