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Hi All,

I'm at a bit of an impasse here, both in terms of what is fair and what I should do. I looked over the "financial problems in marriage" section, but didn't find anything helpful.

What I'm looking for are fair suggestions I can make on how my partner and I can share our financial burden after she goes back to work.

here is our situation:
  • engaged but not married, and with no plans to get married.
  • One child together (approx. 1 year old).
  • If we pooled our earnings, I'd bring home about 69% of our income, she 31% of it. I make a little more than twice what she makes, and she's likely at the top of her profession in terms of income, and may even make less than what she was making when she goes back to work.
She's been out of work since a month before the baby was born last year, and our plans are for her to be a stay at home mom for another year, until our baby is 2.

When we agreed to live together, our discussions about splitting $$$ were less cordial than I would have liked. We worked out that she'd pay about 1/6 of our rent, and split all other expenses in half. And she'd pay her own car and personal expenses. We ended up arguing a lot over what sort of place we'd rent together, and it made a difficult job impossible and lead me to miss out on some properties I could have easily bought myself, leading me to have second thoughts on the whole enterprise. But then a month later she was pregnant, and so I was not able to call it off w/out being a total heel... and that arrangement didn't last very long before her money ran out and I was paying everything, which over the last year, I've been racking up a lot of cc debt to keep up with bills.

Going forward, I'm thinking we just pay bills propotionally, according to take home pay. This still puts more of a burden on me (I'd carry our child on my health insurance), but I can manage it. And we put a 1 year "moratorium" on travel or big purchases to pay off the cc debt that I've been racking up. And she helps me with that.

I'm curious how other co-habiting couples here - married or not - manage this. And what works and what doesn't.
If you're not planning on getting M, remember she can leave anytime. And why not.
You could too.
Plan on your future supporting your child. Bear in mind if no M no sense of permanence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
So to respond to a couple repeated comments:

We didn't plan on having a kid together. We talked about it and were open to it. And then It happened much quicker than we expected.

I proposed to her after we learned she was pregnant, but while she said yes, she was initially not really very enthusiastic, and never wanted to set a date or anything. since then she's occasionally mentioned that we'll get married eventually.

after some of our conflicts of the passed year, I resolved that I'm not getting married until I see a lot more stability from her, and us, and some more shared goals on what we want from life.

YES, I admit this situation is not great. It's stable though, and we are generally happy, and things have been improving; and with a 1 yr old, we're through the hardest part of raising a child.

She claims she went through a lot of changes rapidly... becoming a "step mom" to my kid(s), moving in together, and becoming a full time mom, and that's affected her by a lot.

I am making an allowance for that, even though personally I try to bear burdens like that internally and not take them out on my partner...:confused:

In terms of long term goals, she's expressed a desire to travel more and live abroad at some point. Just looking at our finances and the brutal way things are going for us Americans right now, I think she's being really unrealistic and wishes it was still 2019, and yet those days are just not coming back for her.

I've seen how she reacts to being told no, she sulks and throws a fit and takes it out on me. And then I don't have a partner and it sucks. And I don't want to spend the rest of my life fighting these battles every time we have a spare $5K and I say we put it in our kid's college fund and our retirement accounts or pay down debt, and she says "let's go to Acapulco for a week"

And on top of all that, I have kids from a prior marriage who I have joint (but not primary) custody of. And while she's generally been a good "step mom" and they love her, she's also complained about them sometimes in ways I don't agree with, and that will likely be another source of conflict in the future when she expects me to take care of our child only, and I want to divide things equally between all my kids.

So YES this situation isn't ideal.

I want everything to work out, but life's too short to stay in an unhappy relationship, and so I'm hoping the brain trust here can suggest a fair way to split the finances to protect myself (and her) if we split, but also accommodate the likelihood it works out and we eventually get married and/or spend the rest of our lives together.
 

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So to respond to a couple repeated comments:

We didn't plan on having a kid together. We talked about it and were open to it. And then It happened much quicker than we expected.

I proposed to her after we learned she was pregnant, but while she said yes, she was initially not really very enthusiastic, and never wanted to set a date or anything. since then she's occasionally mentioned that we'll get married eventually.

after some of our conflicts of the passed year, I resolved that I'm not getting married until I see a lot more stability from her, and us, and some more shared goals on what we want from life.

YES, I admit this situation is not great. It's stable though, and we are generally happy, and things have been improving; and with a 1 yr old, we're through the hardest part of raising a child.

She claims she went through a lot of changes rapidly... becoming a "step mom" to my kid(s), moving in together, and becoming a full time mom, and that's affected her by a lot.

I am making an allowance for that, even though personally I try to bear burdens like that internally and not take them out on my partner...:confused:

In terms of long term goals, she's expressed a desire to travel more and live abroad at some point. Just looking at our finances and the brutal way things are going for us Americans right now, I think she's being really unrealistic and wishes it was still 2019, and yet those days are just not coming back for her.

I've seen how she reacts to being told no, she sulks and throws a fit and takes it out on me. And then I don't have a partner and it sucks. And I don't want to spend the rest of my life fighting these battles every time we have a spare $5K and I say we put it in our kid's college fund and our retirement accounts or pay down debt, and she says "let's go to Acapulco for a week"

And on top of all that, I have kids from a prior marriage who I have joint (but not primary) custody of. And while she's generally been a good "step mom" and they love her, she's also complained about them sometimes in ways I don't agree with, and that will likely be another source of conflict in the future when she expects me to take care of our child only, and I want to divide things equally between all my kids.

So YES this situation isn't ideal.

I want everything to work out, but life's too short to stay in an unhappy relationship, and so I'm hoping the brain trust here can suggest a fair way to split the finances to protect myself (and her) if we split, but also accommodate the likelihood it works out and we eventually get married and/or spend the rest of our lives together.
Sounds like she'll not be the one for you in the long run. Maybe plan a separate life.
 

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I've seen how she reacts to being told no, she sulks and throws a fit and takes it out on me. And then I don't have a partner and it sucks. And I don't want to spend the rest of my life fighting these battles every time we have a spare $5K and I say we put it in our kid's college fund and our retirement accounts or pay down debt, and she says "let's go to Acapulco for a week"
I'm very serious about money and financial security (long story, childhood issues, blah blah). So I don't blame you ONE bit for being hesitant to combine your finances and gamble your financial future on someone who doesn't have the same attitudes about money you do. Especially if she has a tendency to act like a child, about money and other things, then yeah, absolutely, protect yourself.
I want everything to work out, but life's too short to stay in an unhappy relationship, and so I'm hoping the brain trust here can suggest a fair way to split the finances to protect myself (and her) if we split, but also accommodate the likelihood it works out and we eventually get married and/or spend the rest of our lives together.
I don't know what it's called, but it sounds like you need something like a pre-pre-nuptial agreement. I bet an attorney could help you, and it would be worth the money. How she reacts to that will also tell you a LOT.
 

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So to respond to a couple repeated comments:

We didn't plan on having a kid together. We talked about it and were open to it. And then It happened much quicker than we expected.

I proposed to her after we learned she was pregnant, but while she said yes, she was initially not really very enthusiastic, and never wanted to set a date or anything. since then she's occasionally mentioned that we'll get married eventually.

after some of our conflicts of the passed year, I resolved that I'm not getting married until I see a lot more stability from her, and us, and some more shared goals on what we want from life.

YES, I admit this situation is not great. It's stable though, and we are generally happy, and things have been improving; and with a 1 yr old, we're through the hardest part of raising a child.

She claims she went through a lot of changes rapidly... becoming a "step mom" to my kid(s), moving in together, and becoming a full time mom, and that's affected her by a lot.

I am making an allowance for that, even though personally I try to bear burdens like that internally and not take them out on my partner...:confused:

In terms of long term goals, she's expressed a desire to travel more and live abroad at some point. Just looking at our finances and the brutal way things are going for us Americans right now, I think she's being really unrealistic and wishes it was still 2019, and yet those days are just not coming back for her.

I've seen how she reacts to being told no, she sulks and throws a fit and takes it out on me. And then I don't have a partner and it sucks. And I don't want to spend the rest of my life fighting these battles every time we have a spare $5K and I say we put it in our kid's college fund and our retirement accounts or pay down debt, and she says "let's go to Acapulco for a week"

And on top of all that, I have kids from a prior marriage who I have joint (but not primary) custody of. And while she's generally been a good "step mom" and they love her, she's also complained about them sometimes in ways I don't agree with, and that will likely be another source of conflict in the future when she expects me to take care of our child only, and I want to divide things equally between all my kids.

So YES this situation isn't ideal.

I want everything to work out, but life's too short to stay in an unhappy relationship, and so I'm hoping the brain trust here can suggest a fair way to split the finances to protect myself (and her) if we split, but also accommodate the likelihood it works out and we eventually get married and/or spend the rest of our lives together.
Well, this is a complete different scenario than what in your OP led to believe. Now I understand your reluctance.

The way things are going in your relationship are prime conditions for eventually things not working out.

One thing. Never, ever let her impose her will about her child against your other kids. This is a typical response from many women (the wicked stepmother) trying to get everything for her child and screw the husband's other children.

You need to find a way in which you protect yourself economically, but at the same time maintaining and doing what needs to done in order for the family being run smoothly from a financial perspective; which should include her earnings as part of one pot to run the household, while she keeping a small percentage as her petty cash. Unless, she's not working and stay home to take care of things, then she should contribute as much as possible to the household budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Sounds like she'll not be the one for you in the long run. Maybe plan a separate life.
I've come to grips with that. While I do hope it works out, I'm also trying to be realistic.

Keeping our finances separate seems the most reasonable option.

I just want something fair, or that most people consider fair.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I'm very serious about money and financial security (long story, childhood issues, blah blah). So I don't blame you ONE bit for being hesitant to combine your finances and gamble your financial future on someone who doesn't have the same attitudes about money you do. Especially if she has a tendency to act like a child, about money and other things, then yeah, absolutely, protect yourself.
Yeah, we did come from somewhat different backgrounds here. Her larger family had money and was very much "local gentry" in their area, but her nuclear family did not, so she doesn't have the individual means to provide the life she wants for herself.

Plus, she went into education which pays very poorly. (Note: I'm not attacking that, nor am I anti-teacher; I think they're WAY underpaid, but it is what it is, and that's a different issue altogether!)

I worked my through college and generally assume the worst about where our economy and society are going, and so don't like to put myself in a situation where I'm living in debt, and don't have savings to pay my bills in cash if needed.

I don't know what it's called, but it sounds like you need something like a pre-pre-nuptial agreement. I bet an attorney could help you, and it would be worth the money. How she reacts to that will also tell you a LOT.
Yeah, I plan to get one. It's just I don't have the money to pay for one right now...

She will not like it, and would not want to spend her own money on an attorney, but that's a bridge I'll have to cross down the road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
From the beginning, it was "our" money. Before we got married we had joint accounts, it was his idea. I was the one hesitant to combine, because even though I made more money then I knew he would out-earn me in time. He has, he makes about 3-4 times what I make (commission sales, it's variable). If it were up to me, it would still be separate, but he believed that it should be "our" money because we're a "team." As things wind down, I wish more and more we'd followed your model and kept those lines drawn. We're building a house, and when our son graduates and we sell, I figure since I've consistently earned between a quarter and a third, I should get about a quarter of the proceeds, but I'm in no position to make demands because I voluntarily combined our finances. We spent all my retirement on the down payment for the first house we bought together (my idea, I figured I'd put it back but we ended up combining it so he could invest it, it's HUGE now so he's set for retirement) so I'm going to be working pretty much forever. These are mistakes I made that I will have to (literally) pay for, but I made those poor choices with my eyes open, knowing the risk. It's a mess and needlessly complicated because I was stupid.

My advice is to draw those lines clearly now, preferably in writing. You're doing the right thing by being frank with her about the nature of your relationship with her. A lot of women don't educate themselves and learn about money. The kind thing to do for her is to prepare her properly for the future. If you explain and she doesn't listen, then that is on her, but you will have done the right thing.
I take it you're divorced? Yes, I made some of those mistakes once before, but not too badly; I mean divorce is terribly destructive to one's finances in any case, but I didn't go into debt to pay for mine, and while I pay the max in child support, it at least can't go higher. And I still have a couple decades before retirement so at least I can "dig out" and in theory catch back up.

Either way, I plan to keep our finances separate or as separate as possible, b/c I know I can't really afford to make that mistake again.
 

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Her larger family had money and was very much "local gentry" in their area, but her nuclear family did not, so she doesn't have the individual means to provide the life she wants for herself.
Don't let her make excuses. I grew up with money, and I can make responsible choices. She's 40, not 22. She may get mad but tough, it's all fun and games until you start talking about money/security/independence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
Don't let her make excuses. I grew up with money, and I can make responsible choices. She's 40, not 22. She may get mad but tough, it's all fun and games until you start talking about money/security/independence.
I don't. Her family are wonderful people, but I see they all make some terrible financial decisions. While they still have some income generating assets, seems like they're spending that income prioritizing traveling (during a pandemic...) instead of shoring things up or investing to grow what they have. and some of their "peers" have done that, and are doing a lot better than them now, and they're struggling to keep up with the Joneses

For me, I just want to protect myself and ensure I can provide for my kids equally, and be able to retire as comfortably as possible. I also figure I'll be tasked with taking care of my parents and as the sole daughter, she'll have to take care of her mom.

She's come around a bit, but I can see she still doesn't like to think about any of this. To her money should be for fun... you save up a bit, then you spend. And if you need more? just save a bit more. But she hasn't accounted for the fact that you only have a finite time to work in life, and everything is getting more expensive, especially healthcare, which you need MORE of as you get older.

When I've mentioned college/education funds, retirement planning, and taking care of elderly parents, she acts like I've told her we're going to become pig farmers in Bulgaria or something.

For that reason, I'm not sure how to discuss some of this anymore without being blunt, and that causes problems on it's own, you know? I don't want financial planning to cause conflict on it's own, but I also am seeing that it's probably unavoidable with her.

I'm trying not to be too down on everything and making a good faith effort for our child together, so I'm hoping whatever financial arrangement we arrive at can provide a few years stability, not cause any long term issues for either of us, and allow us to potentially grow as a couple and work all this out.

She has told me she loves me, and wants to be together forever. and also that's what she expects, but is still coming to grips with how much her life has changed from 2019, when she was still single and contemplating teaching abroad again. The problem as I see it is she's not dealing with her feelings of loss and compromise, and weighing them fairly against what's she's gained in becoming a mom, and she's dragging me down with her by taking this out on me.

I have seen some improvement in her behavior and outlook, and like I said, am making allowances for how motherhood changes a woman emotionally. But still her behavior has made me wary... and I guess as I write this I'm still wary, and not sure how this will play out.
 

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She's come around a bit, but I can see she still doesn't like to think about any of this. To her money should be for fun... you save up a bit, then you spend.
I'm 10 years older than her, and was raised in a, ahem, "unique" environment. But I know I was always taught that it is unladylike and gauche to talk about money. To this day, I am uncomfortable with financial discussions. I have them, of course, because I'm a grownup, but I don't like it. That "spend it as soon as you make it" attitude is VERY typical of people from a wealthy background. I stopped taking money from my family and had a trial by fire to learn financial responsibility and independence, sounds like she didn't have that.
 

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I'm confused. She is now a stay at home mom, but you are expecting her to contribute financially? How can she help with expenses if she isn't making any money?

I'm assuming you don't own the house outright, but even if you did, you still have taxes and insurance to pay. It costs something to live in a house. If you are sharing expenses, then paying for living in the house should be part of that, whether she is contributing to equity or not isn't the point. She has the benefit of living in the house. However, at this point, it's moot, because she's a sahm.

Why is she a sahm if you two can't afford it?
 

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I've come to grips with that. While I do hope it works out, I'm also trying to be realistic.

Keeping our finances separate seems the most reasonable option.

I just want something fair, or that most people consider fair.
Remember, what's fair to you and children get priority. She's made her choices.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
I'm confused. She is now a stay at home mom, but you are expecting her to contribute financially? How can she help with expenses if she isn't making any money?

I'm assuming you don't own the house outright, but even if you did, you still have taxes and insurance to pay. It costs something to live in a house. If you are sharing expenses, then paying for living in the house should be part of that, whether she is contributing to equity or not isn't the point. She has the benefit of living in the house. However, at this point, it's moot, because she's a sahm.

Why is she a sahm if you two can't afford it?
Yeah, you are confused!

As I explained in my first post, she's a SAHM now, but our plan is that she'll go back to work in another year, when our kid is 2 years old.

I'm looking for suggestions on how we can or should manage our finances and split expenses AFTER she goes back to work.

To clarify: We can afford for her to continue to be a SAHM right now, but just barely, and likely will need to cut way back on expenses going forward to manage, given that the home purchase will exhaust most of my saved cash, and we won't have a "cushion" to pay off any excess debt or emergency expenses we incur.

(She's agreed in theory and said she understands, but we'll see how that goes... that's a different issue though.)
 

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I've come to grips with that. While I do hope it works out, I'm also trying to be realistic.

Keeping our finances separate seems the most reasonable option.

I just want something fair, or that most people consider fair.
Are u going to marry? If not, she may be the one to leave. She may just want to eject after realizing you want to be more financially restrictive to her. Wisely so.

Point is, she's also thinking about her future. If money stress gets to her she may bail on you.
 

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If all you are after are separate finances, something fair for you putting a roof over her head & less pouting about money it's time to talk to her.

What I said originally still stands. While she is a SAHM taking care of your shared kid, plus your kids / her "step-kids" & being responsible for the house, you pay everything. Period. If you don't want to pay all the bills & you want her to go back to work, you will end up paying for to have somebody else do all that child care.

When she does return to work as a teacher talk to her about what's fair. As others have said, it's unfair for you to expect her to contribute to the mortgage when she has no equity. Before you say she would have to pay rent somewhere, that is true, but it would be a smaller place for a single person so the other overhead for things like AC in TX would be much less in a small 1 BR then it is in a big house. She is the mother of your child so be a little generous.

As for the other bills fairness means she pays some & you pay some but she shouldn't pay half because she doesn't use half the house when it's the size it is because you chose it & it has to accommodate your other kids. Especially since you are the primary breadwinner, there should be a sliding scale.

Communication & budgeting together are the keys to making this work for both of you. She has to emotionally, intellectually & financially buy-in to the plan. You can't just cram it down her throat.
 

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If all you are after are separate finances, something fair for you putting a roof over her head & less pouting about money it's time to talk to her.

What I said originally still stands. While she is a SAHM taking care of your shared kid, plus your kids / her "step-kids" & being responsible for the house, you pay everything. Period. If you don't want to pay all the bills & you want her to go back to work, you will end up paying for to have somebody else do all that child care.

When she does return to work as a teacher talk to her about what's fair. As others have said, it's unfair for you to expect her to contribute to the mortgage when she has no equity. Before you say she would have to pay rent somewhere, that is true, but it would be a smaller place for a single person so the other overhead for things like AC in TX would be much less in a small 1 BR then it is in a big house. She is the mother of your child so be a little generous.

As for the other bills fairness means she pays some & you pay some but she shouldn't pay half because she doesn't use half the house when it's the size it is because you chose it & it has to accommodate your other kids. Especially since you are the primary breadwinner, there should be a sliding scale.

Communication & budgeting together are the keys to making this work for both of you. She has to emotionally, intellectually & financially buy-in to the plan. You can't just cram it down her throat.
I'm betting she won't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 · (Edited)
...
As for the other bills fairness means she pays some & you pay some but she shouldn't pay half because she doesn't use half the house when it's the size it is because you chose it & it has to accommodate your other kids. Especially since you are the primary breadwinner, there should be a sliding scale.
...
Well... I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but I didn't buy the house without allowing her input (WAAAAAY too much input, IMO) in the choice.

Because of that, I ended up with about $30K more house than I would have otherwise spent right now. Not a huge increase, and it's a good house, so it wasn't a bad deal for me, but I'll be paying for it...

I probably have come off more negative about this relationship than I actually am. I am hoping it works out and she seems to be to (she says she is). She has told me if needed she'll go back to work sooner, and also that she wants to help share the burden.

She may on her own volunteer to help pay the mortgage and all expenses. If not, I think me providing housing & then us splitting all the household costs 50/50 are fair, as well as her paying for her own car, cell phone, etc.

So, we'd split: electric, gas, water, internet, & groceries/toiletries basically. Her share of all that comes to about $1000/month.

If she balks at that, or tries to argue she should pay less, then I'm going to be upset.

Are u going to marry? If not, she may be the one to leave. She may just want to eject after realizing you want to be more financially restrictive to her. Wisely so.

Point is, she's also thinking about her future. If money stress gets to her she may bail on you.
I don't know. When I proposed to her, I was feeling a lot more romantic and committed than I am now.

It's not so much that times have been tougher than either of us expected, it's more how she's coped with them.

And some of the things she's said when she lashes out leave a mark, and while she tries to take them back and apologize, the damage has been done. We have a ways to go before it heals. I guess that's why I'm venting online too.

So, while I'd definitely be sad and disappointed if she bailed on me... I'd also consider how miserably she's made at least one of my weekends monthly this past year. And I'll move on and be fine.
 

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I'm curious how other co-habiting couples here - married or not - manage this. And what works and what doesn't.
Ugh.

You sound like a roommate instead of a supposed' domestic partner.' Jesus, just the fact that you call it an 'enterprise' really says it all.

Go find yourself a roommate you can nickel and dime to death and let her go to find someone who isn't so busy keeping score that he forgets it's an actual RELATIONSHIP. Sheesh.
 
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