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Thanks for this. Yeah, this is the kind of information I wanted from those who've gone through more of life than I have.

I'm gathering my partner is not going to like keeping finances separate, at least not if/when there comes a time when she wants me to spend more of what I have on her or foot more of our bills.

But I think it's the easiest thing to do, even with me paying most of our joint expenses. I'd rather pay more and have peace of mind with what I have available for my own saving and financial planning.

Assuming we stick together, we'll likely need further discussions on this b/c she'll need to make sure she's saving for her own retirement; I'm not going to hit 65 and happily keep working because of something frivolous like her wanting to travel more than work in her late 40's and 50's.



She's coming around, I think. I have seen some changes in her behavior. And when she saw I was serious about what I could afford and what I had, her housing expectations got a lot more reasonable.

Still, she has trouble distinguishing between "wants" and "needs" sometimes. I think - like TX Mom said - she's never really had to make tough financial choices in life, because she was on her own and could earn enough to do what she wanted. So when we met, despite having worked for 15 years, she never bought any property, and had very little saved. That was fine for her... but now, having started a family and stopped working... it's a problem for her.
You have no choice but to pay most of things.
 

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So she lived a life of freedom in her 20’s and 30’s until she met you when she was around 40 and decided it was time to settle down because she wanted a child? I would be putting off marriage for a long time until you see how financial responsible she can really be. My exH and I were very young when we got married and our money was combined from the beginning. That was a mistake I wouldn’t fully appreciate the consequences of for decades. I trusted him completely and paid a very heavy price. Live and learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
... I would be putting off marriage for a long time until you see how financial responsible she can really be. ...
Yes, I should have done that.

But we didn't have a long time... we met at 39.

I was also open to having one more kid... I don't know why. I kinda felt like it was the right thing to do. And I'm happy I did, although it's been tough.

To be fair to her, she was working all that time, and just didn't make much as a teacher. She did blow A LOT of money traveling during this time though.

And when we met, she had her own place, tastefully, but not opulently furnished, and a decent but not expensive car. She spent more on her apartment than I would have, if I was making her salary, but I had no reason to suspect her spending habits would change if we were together.

Also, when I met my ex-wife, her life was more akin to a trainwreck, and so my current partner seemed like a model of financial prudence by comparison.
 

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Keep your credit completely separate from hers. Nothing joint. And don’t allow her access to your checking account or savings account or use your money for her investments. Use separate banks — not just separate accounts. I’m telling you all of what I should have done and didn’t. My excuse is that we were very young when our lives together started. The two of you aren’t. Be smarter than I was.

She chose to be a teacher knowing that they traditionally don’t make tons of money. She chose to spend her money traveling for the 15 years she worked and then had very little to show for it. But you came along and agreed to moving in together and a baby. You can see why she might think all her problems were solved. I hope I’m wrong about her motives and everything works out. But you will need to be very careful. I would put marriage to her way off into the future.
 

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So, we'd split: electric, gas, water, internet, & groceries/toiletries basically. Her share of all that comes to about $1000/month.
This would be fair if you didn't have kids who came to stay. And even though they are staying every other weekend, my guess is those weekends can be expensive. Kids are just expensive.

Anyway, I don't think this is your issue.

First: has she been checked out for postpartum depression? It's something you should consider.

Second, Given that you both want this relationship to work, you really should go into couples counseling. We all lose our cool sometimes, but lashing out at your partner on a regular basis is not okay. That definitely needs to be addressed because it's decaying your bond and it's damaging to your child.

Third, while you are in counseling, you should also take a budgeting course. Yes, I know, you already know how to budget. But you don't know how to budget with her, and she probably feels like you are super judgmental. You two have different financial priorities, and you two need to find a compromise.

Also, I should mention that most teachers I know are not really worried about retirement because they have a sweet pension. It's one of the very few advantages of working in education. When I was working in the schools, at least 20% of my paycheck was going into my pension. And it's not like we can opt-out. (And side note: if the two of you were married while she was working, you would be entitled to some of that pension.)

She needs to understand where you are coming from, and you need to understand where she is coming from.
 

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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.
not trying to be difficult but the best way is not to do it. Get a legit roommate if you want but leave the boyfriend relationship separate. Trying to turn a boyfriend into a roommate with benefits often doesn’t end well
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 · (Edited)
This would be fair if you didn't have kids who came to stay. And even though they are staying every other weekend, my guess is those weekends can be expensive. Kids are just expensive.

Anyway, I don't think this is your issue.

First: has she been checked out for postpartum depression? It's something you should consider.

Second, Given that you both want this relationship to work, you really should go into couples counseling. We all lose our cool sometimes, but lashing out at your partner on a regular basis is not okay. That definitely needs to be addressed because it's decaying your bond and it's damaging to your child.

Third, while you are in counseling, you should also take a budgeting course. Yes, I know, you already know how to budget. But you don't know how to budget with her, and she probably feels like you are super judgmental. You two have different financial priorities, and you two need to find a compromise.

Also, I should mention that most teachers I know are not really worried about retirement because they have a sweet pension. It's one of the very few advantages of working in education. When I was working in the schools, at least 20% of my paycheck was going into my pension. And it's not like we can opt-out. (And side note: if the two of you were married while she was working, you would be entitled to some of that pension.)

She needs to understand where you are coming from, and you need to understand where she is coming from.
My other kids don't really add much in terms of the utilities. I mean, they may use a bit more electricity due to TV and video games, and we might spend another $30 in food on the weekends they're with us. Some of that we all eat, so it's almost negligible. If we all go out to eat, that gets expensive, but I always pay for that anyway. I also buy all their clothes, toys, etc.

No, she never got checked for post-partum depression. I don't think she was (or is) depressed in a clinical sense, although I think she may have had adjustment issues with motherhood. She is not shy or quiet about her unhappiness; my understanding is that depressed people bear a lot more of their pain and frustration silently; they don't scream and yell at their partners about it, right?

But we had some of the same issues before our baby was born, they simply got more heated for a time over the last year.

My intuition tells me her attitude - specifically her argumentative behavior - stems from the fact that she's unhappy with our overall situation. She's unhappy with the demands of motherhood, and unhappy we don't have the money to afford a more glamorous lifestyle for her, i.e. a nanny to help in the house, and more vacation time for her.

BUT... instead of coming to grips with the situation and accepting it for what it is right now, she's made it my fault, and constantly lets me know this is not what she wanted, and I'm not meeting her standards, mostly with snide comments here and there denigrating our situation, the house, the time she has, and my personal habits and hobbies. And sometimes more angry and pointed behavior.

I had started to resolve (to myself) that we are just not going to be happy with eachother long term. We want different things in life and have different attitudes toward what's realistic and important. she looks at what I want and openly disparages it as boring and monotonous, and I look at what she wants as wasteful and shallow (but I've largely kept that to myself).

I had hoped that we could bridge the gap here through love, compromise, and understanding but after seeing how nasty she gets when she presents a demand and my response is anything other than "sure!" I just don't think that's possible. And life's too short to spend it constantly fighting battles over how we should spend our time and money, especially into retirement when it's a finite quantity. Is she going to prioritize vacation time over saving money for our kid? I expect money I set aside for my kids from my prior marriage will get a lot of scrutiny, even if it's less than the money our son together gets.

counseling - We have tentatively agreed that we should get counseling, but it's been almost impossible to find a counselor that can meet us when we're free, even remotely. We put the baby down and it's 7:30-8PM, and no one is still working then.

And we don't have relatives nearby that can help regularly. So it's been tough. We're more alone in this than we should be. I've even reached out to counselors I know to help find a solution here and they said we're in a "nationwide mental health crisis" and everyone they knew was booked & not seeing new clients.

For me, counseling may not resolve the issues, but help me see if they're possible of resolution. For me, fairness and honesty are the biggest issues... it's when I feel the other person is not being up front about what they want, and their complaints aren't made in good faith that I start to question the long term viability of a relationship. Like if she says "I really just want XYZ," and she gets that, and is still not content or happy with it, I start to question whether I have a partner or a bottomless pit I have to fill, you know?

Lastly, I don't think she has much of a pension. She worked in one district only for a few years, after college, prior to her 30's. And she had graduated from undergrad really late; so this was maybe 5-6 years of work.

After that, she taught abroad at two different private schools in Europe. I understand from her those paid better than teaching jobs in the US, and the tax treatment was more favorable, so she retained more of her salary. However, she didn't put any of this into retirement and it didn't go toward any pension eligibility or 401K. and this didn't translate into more money saved... as I said above, for her, more money saved = more money to spend traveling.

She started earning toward a pension again, when she moved back to the US in like 2015, but again it was in different districts... not sure how that works.
 

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She started earning toward a pension again, when she moved back to the US in like 2015, but again it was in different districts... not sure how that works.
These are things that should be discussed. Ask her, "What are your plans for retirement?" "Do you have a pension?" "Do you have a 401K?" Tell her what you have set up for yourself and talk together about your expectations. It sounds like the two of you are coming from entirely different perspectives and she doesn't want to change how she does things. Rather, she wants you to change how you do things. Frankly, she sounds spoiled. She wants what she wants when she wants it and the future be damned.
 

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No, she never got checked for post-partum depression. I don't think she was (or is) depressed in a clinical sense, although I think she may have had adjustment issues with motherhood. She is not shy or quiet about her unhappiness; my understanding is that depressed people bear a lot more of their pain and frustration silently; they don't scream and yell at their partners about it, right?
Nope. Anger is definitely a characteristic of depression.


 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
update: closed on the house today, and the total monthly payment (which I feel like the mortgage lender hid the ball on me) is going to be several hundred dollars more than they lead me to believe and much higher than the number the broker and I discussed what I wanted to hit as my total out-of-pocket monthly payment.

I'm feeling a swirl of emotions right now... this is definitely going to make us (well... me) house poor for the foreseeable future. I'll be able to afford it, but my savings are gone & the monthly spending money goes down to much less (and I still have a wad of CC debt to pay off).

It was a bad decision, and I'm mad I didn't put my foot down and tell her we were staying put and she could leave if she didn't like it. Our r/s has been improved but still tense at times, and it's not like that statement would've really made things worse in any meaningful way... she's going to be unhappy anyway in a week or two when she wants to go to breakfast or brunch instead of cooking, and I say no, we can't do that until I get my debt under control, and probably even more so when it dawns on her that I'm not kidding around, I'm really not going to have spending money like I did before now.

On top of that, when we discussed how we'd furnish the new house, she threw a fit when I said I wanted to wall off the small dining area to make a home office (my employer lets me work remotely 100% of the time if I want, and my partner is always happier when I don't go in the office). She said she needed that room for a playroom for our baby, and started immediately ranting about how I should either just put a desk in our bedroom and work there, or in my older kids' bedroom "since they're not really living here." It's not just the desk though... I have a home library with a few hundred books I've been adding to over the years, file cabinets with all our documents, files, etc., and it's where I go to do the bills and write, and decompress.

The last comment about my other kids not really living with us I ignored at the time, but it's bothering me more now, when I take it all in... like I've bought the more expensive house she wanted, paid for everything, down payment was 100% me, and I'll be paying the mortgage which is solely in my name, and she's going to strut around like she owns the place? And tell me my other kids don't have a home in MY house? It's true their primary residence is at their mom's house, but they're still with us ~35% of the time, every other weekend, Thursdays during the school year, and for 3 day weekends & holidays. It adds up.

I can ignore it and move on, but her attitude is just so confrontational and it's constantly like that. We disagree on something, and there's no way to have a cordial discussion or for her to offer a meaningful compromise...

I'm kinda venting, but I'm also afraid I just made a lousy situation much worse, and there's not going to be any easy way out, at least for the foreseeable future. I may have to turn around and sell the house, and go back to renting, or downgrade.
 

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Well that kind of changes everything dude. Not sure if that was unclear or if I just didn’t read your OP closely enough.

If you’re living in a house that will remain yours if you split up, then the mortgage is yours to pay. I wouldn’t contribute to a mortgage for a house that I had no equity in.

In this case, split all of the household expenses (other than the mortgage) and child-related expenses and leave it at that.
while she may not want to contribute to a house she will have no equity in - she would still be paying rent if she didn’t live with you.

what would her rent be if she lived somewhere else? Have her pay you that. No vacations until she is back to work. And no eating out. If she is at home - she should be cooking most every night to save on expenses.

sacrifices are usually made when one parent wants to stay home with no income.

she should pay half of the utilities and grocery bills too. She would pay that if she was living somewhere else.

have you asked her about returning to work sooner than the two year mark? Be careful - she may get pregnant again to avoid getting back to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 ·
while she may not want to contribute to a house she will have no equity in - she would still be paying rent if she didn’t live with you.

what would her rent be if she lived somewhere else? Have her pay you that. No vacations until she is back to work. And no eating out. If she is at home - she should be cooking most every night to save on expenses.

sacrifices are usually made when one parent wants to stay home with no income.

she should pay half of the utilities and grocery bills too. She would pay that if she was living somewhere else.
So all this above - her being a SAHM to our child and my kids from my prior marriage - she frames as her sacrifice. And I really don't ask her to do much for my kids. I pick them up and take them to school. And I usually cook for them, and I always put them to sleep. They're with us every other weekend, one night a week during the school year, and on holidays. SO it's not much of a burden for her.

I have a lot of trouble knowing what to say to that... in my mind, if you're going to frame a relationship as a sacrifice to the other person because "you gave up your fun single life for them" ... you should not be in the relationship. You should have stayed single.

It's even more frustrating when I remember suggesting we call off living together after several fruitless months of being unable to find a place we agreed on, and she said if we didn't live together she was through. I Actually called her out on that and said maybe that was the right decision for both of us (then she dialed it back... while still pushing me to find a place, and claimed she wasn't being difficult.

have you asked her about returning to work sooner than the two year mark? Be careful - she may get pregnant again to avoid getting back to work.
I'm guessing she'll come to that conclusion on her own when she gets frustrated she can't indulge herself with impulse buys of things every other day.

I don't want to be the one asking her to do it, although, either way my assumption - just based on how she frames our entire relationship and motherhood as a sacrifice she made for me - that she'll claim I forced her to go back to work. Along with a bunch of nonsense about how she wanted to stay with our baby.
 

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So she spent all her money during her single 20’s and 30’s and then, around 40, decided to have a child. Now she wants you to provide all she missed out on by not settling down sooner. That’s not likely to work long-term. Don’t marry her.
 

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Honestly, I see a lot of blame shifting going on here. She told you what she was like. From what you are saying, she was very clear.

You didn't have to sign the mortgage paperwork. You didn't have to buy a new house. When you saw that the payments were higher, you could have said no. In all of this, you could have said no, yet you decided to have a baby with her and give in to all her demands. Now you are blaming it all on her. If things are going to improve for you, you have got to own your decisions.

You are now in a situation where you won't be able to make ends meet if she moves out, because you will have all the current expenses, plus child support. Sure you could sell your newly purchased home, but that's going to cost you around 50K, based on what I see in my area. It could be more if your house is over 500K.

I recommend that you learn how to have a healthy relationship, because that is a vital skill, in your situation. You are also modeling dysfunction to all of your children.

Pick up "What Makes Love Last?" by John Gottman. Put into practice what he teaches. I suggest reading it aloud with your girlfriend. After that, keep reading his books. They are full of great information and tools for having a healthy relationship.

Lead the way to a better relationship. Encourage her. Be kind to her. But do not keep bowing to her pressure. Come to agreement together. I know you can't do that right now, but that is something that the two of you need to learn in order for your relationship to work and for your family to be healthy.
 

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One of you had to first bring up the idea of having a child. Not everyone who’s nearing 40 would agree to that. So either you mentioned it first or she did. If it was you, then I can see why she’s saying she had a child for you. But if it was her, then she’s rewriting history and trying to make you feel guilty (and give her whatever she wants).
 

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So all this above - her being a SAHM to our child and my kids from my prior marriage - she frames as her sacrifice. And I really don't ask her to do much for my kids. I pick them up and take them to school. And I usually cook for them, and I always put them to sleep. They're with us every other weekend, one night a week during the school year, and on holidays. SO it's not much of a burden for her.

I have a lot of trouble knowing what to say to that... in my mind, if you're going to frame a relationship as a sacrifice to the other person because "you gave up your fun single life for them" ... you should not be in the relationship. You should have stayed single.

It's even more frustrating when I remember suggesting we call off living together after several fruitless months of being unable to find a place we agreed on, and she said if we didn't live together she was through. I Actually called her out on that and said maybe that was the right decision for both of us (then she dialed it back... while still pushing me to find a place, and claimed she wasn't being difficult.


I'm guessing she'll come to that conclusion on her own when she gets frustrated she can't indulge herself with impulse buys of things every other day.

I don't want to be the one asking her to do it, although, either way my assumption - just based on how she frames our entire relationship and motherhood as a sacrifice she made for me - that she'll claim I forced her to go back to work. Along with a bunch of nonsense about how she wanted to stay with our baby.
this sounds like you are reluctant to tell her how you feel. If you can’t - then you really don’t have an honest relationship.
 
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