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Friday, August 17, 2012

437

Debt-Sharing and Mismatched Ambition

My husband is a generally wonderful partner, except for one issue. He refuses to pay one cent of my hefty school loans. I am a lawyer and owe about $100k. He feels I went to law school before we were married and therefore he is not responsible for them. We contribute jointly to household expenses and provide for our child, but anything extra he earns goes straight into his secret bank account, whereas every cent I earn goes toward the loans with little personal money left for me. Every time I want to take a trip or buy new appliances or whatnot, he says “if you didn’t have those loans, we could.” I cannot get him to understand that those loans are what enable me to earn $90k a year and therefore he benefits from them, too. I asked him if he’d rather I was a barista making $9/hour and he responded that at least I wouldn’t have the loans. Is he being a big jerk, or does he have a right to not want to be responsible for student debt I took on before we knew each other?

A good rule of thumb when giving advice: don’t assume what works for you will work for everyone else. Just because some marrieds pool their debts, that doesn’t mean everyone should. Lots of couples find it better to manage their money separately. And maybe they’re right? After all, my thoroughly scientific research proves beyond doubt that “financial problems” are the #1 reason for divorce.

Also, your husband’s being a big jerk.

Let’s put aside the general question of whether married people should keep one big pot of money. Let’s even table the legal question (which, being a lawyer, you understand better than me) about how much sense this makes when, if one of you kicks it, the other most likely inherits the dead one’s pile of gold or bills. 

Let’s focus on the being a big jerk.

It’s insensitive for your husband to resent the burden of your student loans while refusing to help you pay them. If marriage is a partnership, he’s being a shitty partner. If I refuse to help you carry your bags, I ought to at least stop moaning about how slowly you walk.

But maybe things are more complicated than your letter implies. Perhaps your husband explained, before you got married, that it was important for him to maintain a sense of financial autonomy. Maybe this fulfills some deep emotional need in him. Or maybe he thought your current arrangement would foster independence and mutual respect — the idea being that you stay together because you want to, not because you can’t afford to live apart. Perhaps you even agreed with all this, back then, when your loans weren’t such a millstone and you didn’t feel so much like the poor girl at the feast.

Still, if you ever did agree, you don’t anymore. Your husband’s actions are causing you pain, and you can’t even get him to listen. This makes him a jerk.

Good partners don’t decide their behavior towards their spouses on the basis of abstract rights: they understand the difference between marriage and moral philosophy.

Good partners don’t keep secret bank accounts from the people they love, unless — oh, I don’t know — they live inside an episode of White Collar. This isn’t because your husband has no right to confidentiality; it’s because secrecy is inimical to trust.

Bottom line: If my wife tells me that something I’m doing is hurting her, then I have the responsibility to listen and try to empathize — even if I disagree with her, even if I think I have the right to act as I please.

I don’t give a shit what married people do with their money. I hate it when people are jerks to those who depend on them. Whether you agreed to this arrangement or not, you’re no longer content to carry the burden of your educational loans by yourself. Your husband has the right not to help you, if he so chooses; but, if he loves you and he’s not an utter jerk, he has the obligation to show that he cares.

My husband and I have been waffling on the kid question for a long time and we are almost never on the same page. We are worried about our finances, about the economy, about taking care of his mom as she gets older, about raising a kid in this mess. He's worried he'll be like his dad. I'm worried about giving life to something that will hurt and get sick and eventually die. Sometimes we are both nihilistic and that's fun and sometimes someone is more nihilistic than the other, and that's fun too. A couple months ago I decided, yes, yes, I want to have a kid, for sure. But he's been more and more stressed out about our future. I want to say, things will happen when they happen, we'll figure it out together, and you don't have to be stuck in your head because we'll do it together. Every discussion we have about it ends with someone's head getting stuck in a raincloud of doom and the other person feeling miserable about it.

But, Married Dude, what if he doesn't want to have kids and I do? What do we do? In a couple years, I'm hitting my self imposed time limit for kids, where I decided, if I don't have a kid by this time, I guess I won't have a kid. Why is it so easy for other people to decide? Why are all my other friends so sure this is what they want to do? Why are we making it hard on ourselves?

Why does anyone decide to have kids? They’re noisy, expensive, and they DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN, ALRIGHT! They derail women’s careers and they blight perfectly good sex lives. My own handsome little boy is the most difficult individual I’ve ever met. Not a day goes by when he doesn’t make me confront my manifold failures as a father. I’ve never drunk so much in my life.

But, oh, how that little bugger fills my heart. You should see the smile on my face as I write.

The True Story of How We Decided to Have Kids: It was Hallowe’en and a beautiful toddler girl came to our door wearing a yellow chicken suit. She smiled and she stumbled and she sang her trick-or-treat song. Something shifted in the physics of our marriage that night, as if our bodies were suddenly locked in a new orbit, a gravitational dance both terminal and unexpected. You know when religious people talk about mystery? Well, I suddenly knew what they meant. It meant living in a fucking D.H. Lawrence novel.

What I’m saying is that there’s never any moment the accounting adds up. There’s no sweet spot when all the reasons not to have kids are suddenly outweighed by the reasons you should. If what distinguishes us from the gods is that we die, then having kids represents our best hope of immortality. But what sort of maniac wants to be immortal? The gods were assholes, after all.

In the end, most everyone I know got pregnant by accident or went on gut feeling.

And here’s your real problem. An ex-girlfriend of mine recently split up with her husband after he gave her an ultimatum: agree to have kids or we’re done. Too rough, right? My first instinct was to say, “Fuck that guy.” My second and third, too. But what if his mysterious moment was just like mine, only irrepressible and, worst of all, lonely? Is a mismatch in reproductive drives sufficient reason to split up? I hate to think so, but I’ve never felt that kind of longing. I’ve never had to choose between losing a lover and losing the dream of loving a child.

I dearly hope you never have to choose. For now, though, I think you should cut yourself some slack. You have a couple of years; most likely, you’ve got more. (That’s the good thing about self-imposed deadlines: they shift.) Meanwhile, keep talking. When you feel despair come down, remember your own wise words: “we’ll figure it out together.” The rainclouds will roll in; they’ll roll out. You’ll help each other — and one day you may find yourself no longer caring so much about the weather.

As for your friends, don’t give them another thought. Live your own life, not theirs. In any case, I doubt they’re as certain as they appear to be. Scratch the surface of a parent and you’ll find a mix of fear and breathless hope. None of us really know what we’re doing. We’re assholes, too.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for six months. He’s wonderful to be with, treats me well, makes me laugh, etc. We have a very strong relationship and I can see this developing into something more long term, eventually leading to marriage, house, kids – the whole shebang. Until recently, he was living with his parents, but thankfully just used money he inherited from his grandfather to purchase a condo. I know that he is financially responsible and has great credit.

The only “but” is his job. He’s 33, nine years older than me, and is college-educated but has worked in a full-time equivalent position for 11 years that is paid hourly and does not provide any benefits. I am two years employed at a non-profit organization making the same amount annually that he does ($30,000) but I am employed full-time and receive benefits. Something seems not right with that.

Don’t get me wrong, he is very hard-working, passionate, and enjoys his job. I just don’t see any ambition or desire in him now to look for a better working situation that would provide him more security and a basic level of health care. My worry is that money (specifically, a lack thereof) could become a problem in our relationship as we get more serious. I know that a lot of marriages are ended due to financial troubles and I don’t want to be a statistic in that regard.

My questions for you:

Am I worrying too much about his job? How can I express my concerns without sounding overbearing? Is it worth it to stay in the relationship with him to see if he will get more serious?

This is a complicated letter. But my advice is simple. Chill the fuck out. If you can’t chill out, leave.

Yes, you’re worrying too much about his job. You’re in your twenties, you’ve got your career on track, and while your boyfriend might not be a total dynamo, he’s also doing well. He graduated college, owns his own home, and seems like the definition of dependable. Whatever his faults, he’s great enough to make you fantasize about marriage and babies. Sure, it’s bad that he doesn’t have health insurance – but that’s hardly a personal failure. Millions of working people lack such basic social protections. I’m not going to tell you they’re unmarriageable.

If you stay together long term then, sure, the time will come to talk about money. (For instance, are you going to help pay one another’s debts?) The thing is, it seems like you’re still a loooong way from reaching that stage of your relationship. And if you try to have this conversation now, it’s going to be very hard not to sound overbearing.

Bottom line: I don’t even think we’re talking about dollars and cents. You’re bothered about something more basic. You’ve been together six months and you’re getting anxious about whether this guy is going to be a match for you in ten years. You’re worried that you’re going to outgrow him. And you’re beginning to think about getting out.

I understand. It’s good to want the best for yourself. And in wanting the best for ourselves, we can even be ambitious for other people, encouraging them to reach their full potential. But when we start wanting them to be something they’re not – well, that’s another thing altogether. If you really love this dude, try to relax and judge him on his own terms, not by the artificial standards of some future self.

Enjoy your boyfriend’s passion and ability to make you laugh. The world moves fast. In another six months, he might change his job or reveal a secret bank vault full of Nazi treasure. You might run off to the Cape Verde Islands; or, you might re-read this column and say, “What was I thinking?” But if time passes and you still feel the same, then I’d say it’s time to bail. He’s probably not right for you. You’re almost certainly not right for him.

Previously: Workplace Mistakes and Greenerish Grasses.

A Married Dude is one of several rotating Married Dudes who don't claim to know everything about marriage. Do you have a question for A Married Dude?

Photo by Andrea Slatter, via Shutterstock



437 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott

Your husband has a "secret bank account" and derides you for having expensive loans, every single time you want to spend money on a vacation or something for the house?

GET COUNSELING. Financial counseling, alone or jointly. A for-real financial counselor will be able to give you a better idea of your options for paying off the loans, and what would happen if the hubster was helping you. Then get MARRIAGE counseling because this guy sounds really weird.

pterodactgirl

@The Lady of Shalott If by "sounds really weird" you mean "sounds like an asshole"...

Judith Slutler

@The Lady of Shalott It really sounds like he is trying to punish her for some perceived irresponsibility, and it's gross. Money can be used as a medium of abuse, and you know... ... ...

carolita

@The Lady of Shalott Hmm. Well, I deliberately don't get married because I never want to mix financial situations with a man. But that's just me. And personally, if I ever WERE to get married? I'd totally have a secret bank account. As it is, I never tell my BF how much I make, or how much I have in the bank. We have a joint bank account into which we funnel our respective shares of the rent and utilities money and that's that. It never seemed unreasonable to me. I mean, my money is mine, not his. I worked hard for it. And my debt, as the case may be? When I have debt, I feel like I worked hard being stupid (or unlucky due to the economy) enough to end up with it, so I'm not sharing that either. I think the wife who has school loans should pay them off herself unless she's actually supporting her husband, which it doesn't sound like she is. Why shouldn't she pull her own weight in this relationship? Did she get married in order to try and shift her financial burden onto a man? That sounds very old-fashioned. Maybe her man is just trying to remind her that he didn't agree to help pay her back her loans, either directly or indirectly (by shouldering more of the common financial burdens than she does). That said, if he wants to stay married to her, they should BOTH go on a super draconian budget until she pays her loans off, so that he can't live high on the hog in front of her. He should live within HER means if he wants to be solidarious with his spouse. I make more than my BF, but I don't make him do stuff that he can't afford. I live pretty much within his means, and it seems fair. Helps me save money, too.

hotdog

@carolita I think the part that sets off alarm bells for me is not the "I don't want your debt to be mine" part (because, honestly-I have a lot of debt and I don't want it to be my partner's!), but the part where he is not acknowledging that he is part of a team, no longer a free agent. She's paying off school loans, not credit card debt that she spent frivolously-why not pay for their vacation out of his secret stash? It sounds like he's not that invested in seeing her happy...

Beatrix Kiddo

@carolita It actually sounds to me like she is supporting her husband-- at least, she said he benefits from her current, fairly-high income. But I do think you're right to know up front that you shouldn't get married if you don't want to share in earnings and debts with a partner.

Judith Slutler

@carolita Well, yeah, but whereas you've chosen a relationship model that consciously involves no mixed finances, these two have a kid together (which I personally believe changes the balance as to how much of a "team" people become financially) AND he seems to be consciously using her situation as something to hold over her head.

You seem to be handling things with your BF such that you take vacations and do activities that he can afford, which is fine. He is telling her that it's her fault they can't go on vacation together, which seems a lot more fucked.

carolita

@Emmanuelle Cunt I didn't read it that way. It seems like he's just constantly reminding her that she can't afford to do the stuff she wants to do, and he doesn't want to foot the bill for it. You have to remember, she's the one telling the story. I'd like to hear his side of it, in which she's possibly always trying to get him to lay out money for stuff she can't afford, then accusing him of not supporting her. I mean, she writes, "Every time I want to take a trip or buy new appliances or whatnot, he says “if you didn’t have those loans, we could.”" That seems like she's the one who wants to live beyond her means, not like he's saying, "hey, let's take a vacation, or buy a new sofa, but no, we can't, because you have debt." I think we're siding with her because she wrote the letter, but there may be more going on than she admits. I know it would be great if he'd spring for half her debt and get it over with, but men are not on the hook for that kind of thing anymore.

jarwithaheavylid

@carolita I think this would all make a fascinating discussion on the Billfold.

winslow

@carolita I'm trying, but cannot envision a scenario in which saying "If you didn't have those loans, we could do x" is anything but an asshole move. Even if he doesn't have to contribute financially to her education debt, he also doesn't have to be a dick about it. Also, as other commenters have said, he benefits from the education she bought. Possible analogy: If I purchase a car while single, and then I get married and we both use the car to get around, should I still be entirely responsible for making the payments?

pterodactgirl

@hotdog While I understand Carolita's saying that there are definitely two sides to this story, I read this the same way you did. The issue is not that he's unwilling to pay off her loans, but that their contributing "equally" to the running of the household is more important than being emotionally supportive of each other. The situation she describes sounds like one where he holds the fact that she has debt against her and uses it to punish her. Like A Married Dude says, "Your husband’s actions are causing you pain, and you can’t even get him to listen. This makes him a jerk."

PistolPackinMama

@The Lady of Shalott Jesus Christ. That dude made my skin crawl. Also, I am not a lawyer obvs. But is there a way to get this shit in writing so when she divorces him, he doesn't get alimony because she earns more?

Judith Slutler

@carolita I don't know, I feel like if this letter were gender-swapped, the situation would be just as bothersome to my mind. If I were him I sure as hell would consider myself on the hook for my (hypothetical) husband's debt, and be looking to find ways to help him pay it down so that it wouldn't be hanging over both our heads.

If he wanted to keep things this way, why not discuss that in a prenup? Why not ask himself if he is even ready to blend his household or have a child with someone who is struggling to pay down student debt?

Perhaps it's just the way I was raised - my parents have each supported the other through career changes that absolutely required comingled finances and a desire to each enable the other person to shine personally and professionally. I could not imagine treating a partner any differently, especially if we had a kid together.

PistolPackinMama

@PistolPackinMama ETA: I also am fascinated to hear how he'll handle it when she no longer has loan debt and decides to use her personal money to go to Turkey for a month without him (or whatever) because she has disposable income that he doesn't have. And she's saying "well, if you had a law degree we could, but we can't..." to whatever expenditure it is he wants to make.

"Well if you had made x-decision I wouldn't be here in my own room in elder care/assisted living while you are on a shared ward in the county."

Aunt Ada Doom

@jarwithaheavylid Yeah, I thought that LW3 was going to spark the "breadwinner" conversation, but LW1 seems to be going there, too. I think a lot about my own, my husbands, our families' expectations of marriage and roles. I think my parents' description of "Someone to take care of you." is true, but not in the ways that it was true for them. I mean, I'll never be my mom or his mom, only working because she wants (volunteer, part time, at my school to keep an eye on things), and that's OK. I have the better job for now, but we have the same level of education, so that could change. But would I ever feel secure if we relied on just him? We take care of each other, I guess is what I'm saying? In ways that don't have to just be about finances.

empathicalist

@Emmanuelle Cunt Agreed. He could easily support her without spending a dime, as well. If she doesn't have anything left over every month, then they need to re-budget, which will affect everyone in the household. Instead of negative feedback, constructive, supportive help in resolving the problem would be a better response.

harebell

@Emmanuelle Cunt

The other aspect to this is that both husband and wife would be better off financially if he helped her pay off her loans, and then, if they really need to have separate assets, she paid him back separately. Thanks to the magic of compounding interest rates, it would make a really big difference. I don't know how much the rate is on her student loans, but it is guaranteed to be significantly higher than the rate of return on his bank savings account - or cd, or whatever. So, by being inflexible, he is shooting them both in the foot financially for what seems to be an unknown emotional reason.

Jaya

@carolita I totally agree about the not getting married in order to not share financial burdens. But...they are married, and that comes with some stuff like the aforementioned taking on of debt if one of them kicks the bucket. If you decide to make that commitment, your partner's debt automatically and legally becomes yours, and if she dies he's the one who has to pay it anyway. If he didn't want that they didn't have to get married, but they did, and he should be able to recognize and deal with that.

PistolPackinMama

@Jaya I feel like it's so important to be financially independent. (My mom always said if you need to, you should also clear out all the accounts, put the money in your personal one, walk out the door and uses credit cards until he cancels them. Say in case of he ever lays a hand on you/ you find out he has gambling debt/ whatever. Which... my mom loves my dad. But she is pretty serious about needing to be able to walk.)

But *I* need to be independent is not the same as *you* did something wrong and will pay for it. (and pay and pay and pay)

bocadelperro

@Jaya "If you decide to make that commitment, your partner's debt automatically and legally becomes yours, and if she dies he's the one who has to pay it anyway." this. times one million.

ThundaCunt

@carolita RIGHT!! I am not understanding how this lady makes 90k a year and can't afford to buy a fridge or go to Florida on vacation if she chooses to??? I mean i guess if it's that big a deal to her she can pay less around the house to have more spending money. But she specifically said she acquired the debt before she met him....why are you even wanting him to pay that!?? IDK...on one hand I'm feeling she racked it up; she pays...on the other i just hate her for making 90k a year!! Yeah, she pays!!

Ophelia

@bocadelperro Yeah - I got married while my husband was in law school, and holy crap, are loans expensive. But we've taken a mutual, and aggressive stance towards paying them off, because:
1. The sooner we pay them off, the sooner we can start really saving for things like buying an apartment;
2. Even though he has these big loans, our JOINT income is still higher than it would be if he hadn't gone to law school.

But I think the bigger issue here is that we talked about it beforehand. I saw his student loan statements. I went into this knowing what was up, and we jointly created a plan.

Beatrix Kiddo

@harebell That's an excellent point-- it would help them both if he helped her pay off her debt, and then (if he's going to be a dick about it) she could pay him back. I don't really understand why he's being both stingy and short-sighted.

KatieWK

@carolita I’m sorry, but they are married and have a child together. The level of selfishness he exhibits in this relationship is perfectly fine for a relationship of two stable, mutually consenting adults with their own careers, who have a situation that works for them (basically what you describe with your boyfriend). But this man agreed to enter into a legally binding, presumably lifelong partnership with this woman and then had a kid with her. You’d think at some point before or between or even after making those two decisions, he’d acknowledge they come with a certain loss of autonomy; regardless of how people choose to live their marriage or raise a child (there are infinite ways to do both, obviously), it is really hard to do either of those things while being resentful of the idea that you might have to sacrifice or share the fruits of your labor, or see an investment in your partner/child as an investment in your own well-being, too. It’s not the particulars, which couples can negotiate however they choose, but his attitude that is troublesome.

Also, why are you bringing this weird, sexist “why isn’t she pulling her weight”/”men don’t have to bear that burden” thing into the discussion? She may want to live beyond her means, you may be right. But right now HE is the one with play money, while she contributes every extra cent to her loans (sounds responsible to me). She put herself through law school and works in a competitive field (likely full time, if she’s making $90k a year) while raising a kid. She doesn’t sound like a bored housewife who wants to buy toys. It sounds like she just wants the financial and emotional benefits of partnership that most people believe they’re going to get when they agree to, you know, marry a person. There’s a very anti-woman tone to your comments, as if any woman who has kids or is married is secretly yearning to give up responsibility and take the easy way out in life. Raising kids and maintaining a marriage are not easy tasks; though it’s possible that choosing them is for suckers, they’re still adult choices, not cop-outs.

bocadelperro

@Ophelia yeah, I have a lot of sympathy for LW1, because I too am in a marriage with a huge amount of income disparity. Mr. Delperro is a highly compensated STEM worker, and I am a (currently underemployed) humanities Ph.D. with 5 figures of debt (which is less than the national average for PhDs. Yay?) BUT, at my insistence, we did financial counseling as part of our marriage preparation, so we are paying down my debt in a plan we developed before we decided to do this.
I actually tried to get a pre-nup that would protect him from my debt in the event of a divorce, but I was told that was impossible (apparently in CA, you can protect assets in a divorce but not liabilities, go figure). So, yeah, LW1's spouse is fooling himself if he thinks that A: her debt is not his problem, and B: she can't touch his bank accounts.
That being said, they really should have talked about this before getting married, and ESPECIALLY before having a kid. But, you know, hindsight, etc. etc.

olivia

@PistolPackinMama YES, I desperately want that to happen. Although at this rate she's probably going to divorce him before they make it to retirement homes.

Bottom line: this guy's an asshole. A selfish, cruel and short-sighted asshole.

RationalHatter

@The Lady of Shalott "I'm trying, but cannot envision a scenario in which saying "If you didn't have those loans, we could do x" is anything but an asshole move." I find it pretty easy, primarily because I have a friend with a similar problem. She has a ton of law school debt, and just doesn't seem to have any motivation to live within her means, along with the expectation that her partner should finance this. He phrases it a bit more gently, but yeah, reminding her that her loans mean that certain things are not financially realistic happens pretty often. And I certainly don't think it's an asshole move.

GooglyEyeSeahorse

@bocadelperro I LOVE THIS DUDE! But one fine-tuning, for people with pre-marriage debt who are reading this comment thread and biting their nails.

Whether or not your legal partner becomes legally reponsible for your debt, whether alive n'married or EVEN after death, varies by state. In most US states, debt incurred BEFORE the marriage will never belong to the partner, because it never belonged to the marriage. In some states, the second party is not even liable for debt incurred during the marriage by the first party if the second party did not benefit.
So: the debt-inheritance thing usually does not apply to debts incurred before marriage. Not even with fire-breathing student loans.

Carrie Ann

@RationalHatter But I don't think the situations are the same, for a few reasons. 1) An appliance or vacations together are household expenses, in my opinion, if it's something they both want. And if Husband has the money in his secret savings account, he should certainly NOT be guilting her about not being able to make the purchase when they could if he would stop being an ass.

2) I don't know what your friend's financial arrangement is with her partner, but I would suggest that MOST married couples finances are joined (if not completely). So, sure, in that situation, reminding a spouse/partner that as a couple/family, you are not able to do some things due to your bills (including Spouse's loans) is fine. Rubbing it in in order to make him/her feel like shit, ESPECIALLY if you yourself have the money to finance the purchase, is pretty cruel.

This letter made me want to spit fire.

bocadelperro

@GooglyEyeSeahorse Thanks for this. Like I said, I live in CA, which is famous for it's SHARE EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME marriage laws, and I'm speaking from my own experience. But, I think it's super-healthy that the 'pin is talking about this stuff, and that people who know are chiming in.

apb
apb

@PistolPackinMama Financial independence is important, I agree. My parents have separate bank accounts, and have been married 37 years. But they don't have "secret" bank accounts - they know where each other stand, financially. And they share all financial burdens. My mom's still working and my dad's retired. Should she refuse to pay for groceries? Letter of LW1 husband's law, she should.

NeenerNeener

Everyone seems to be ignoring the part that I happen to think makes him the biggest jerkface - he's spouting nonsense, which shows that he has no respect for her because he won't have a fair discussion. Does he really think it would be better if she made $9/hr, because at least she wouldn't have the debt? I doubt it.
I have an ex that did this type of thing to me, and it blew my mind how his arguments didn't seem to make sense, he would never budge when presented with new facts. He wasn't always that way, just in the end. It wasn't about the argument for him, just that he didn't respect me or want to be with me anymore, but wouldn't admit it.
I'm not saying LW's husband feels the same, but not accepting logic doesn't seem like a good sign.

Maryaed

@RationalHatter Yeah, I agree here. I think they do need to talk about the dynamic, but a)with a 90K income why is so much of her income going to that debt, if they're going splitsies on the household and kid stuff? is it because she is otherwise living la Vida High Paid Lawyer? Really, there is NOTHING left over after that split? and b)He also is not getting the appliances and vacations, so it's not like he is not denying himself too. He is being moralistic and condescending, but not, I think, financially abusive.

And it isn't a secret bank account just because she doesn't know the balance--if she knows about it, it isn't secret. It's his savings account. What's so awful about his wanting to save? Perhaps he thinks she is not very good at it--since, apparently, she wants vacations she can't pay for even half of--and it's an emergency fund.

I detect shittiness on both sides, really.

carolita

@apb Being retired isn't the same as having huge debt you expect someone to share with you. But I'd assume your parents would revise their budget, and live withi. Their shared means. But back to the sharing of personal, contracted before marriage, debt, if your spouse is living in ease and can afford to say, hey, let me get that for you, well, lucky you. Even if he's the share everything type and really wants to assume part of your debt, lucky you, again. But I say the days are over when marriage was a solution to one's financial woes, whether you're Lily Barth or the patriarch from Downton Abby. The thing that set my alarm off was the mention of vacations and "nice things." Babe, when you're in debt there are no nice things or vacations. I haven't had a real vacation for twenty years, and I'm not blaming anyone but myself. I'd say the hubby of LW1 is fed up for more reasons than just her debt and is signaling he wants out. I make more than my bf but I don't rub his nose in it, and I'm quite happy to live within his means (since I also have a little debt to work off). Really, I have to envy those fortunate enough to have someone to help wipe their slate clean: it's not a given, and neither should it be. What if LW1 suddenly discovered her husband had a gambling addiction and had zero money after all? Would she help him pay it off? Or would it be a deal breaker? Because that kind of thing is also included in the "for better or for worse" part. Which I don't believe in to a huge extent, myself. Sounds too scammy to me, like it might even encourage bad behavior...

PistolPackinMama

@RationalHatter The difference, as far as I can see, is "a bit more gently." I mean... he probably knew he was marrying a profligate spender (if that is what she is, and I am not saying it is, just saying, if he thinks that, HE KNEW IT or SHOULD HAVE when they got hitched).

If that was his price of admission to the marriage, then handling it in a gentle way seems a lot more in line than behaving as if he is having to draw some post-marriage line.

And if he didn't know this is how it was going to be... where was his interest in open discussions about finances when they got married?

Ugh. The problem for me in all this isn't the way they handle debt, because people need to do what works. It's the feeling that this area of the marriage doesn't have a lot of respect and consideration attached to it.

And probably not realistic expectations for what financial partnership entails, from both of them, on some level.

randummy

@The Lady of Shalott
l
To the compound interest comment. That's excactly what I thought. Duh, does he not understand the magic of compound interest?

Pay it down.

Then I thought also the obvious. Money is symbolic here. There is something else going on. This is a "deeper issue".

And to that I end I just have to say, I read each comment and was like, that's true! Even when different ones seem to conflict with each other.

As for my own comment, I would say... people have issues. We figure them out. We work around them and thru them. Sometimes we can't get past them. But mostly in this instance I would say...

It's a complicated issue, there could be many things going on. Just try to do the best you can to communicate your feelings/where you're coming from -- while trying not to be too harsh & critical, sometimes it takes two to tango and you can slow things down by slowing your roll. Sometimes people overstep or poke and no one's perfect. Is he a jerk? Are you? How much of one is he, and how much are you? If you stay focused on doing the best you can, these answers will take care of themselves.

If somebody is making you feel bad, that's clearly not good. So mostly I just thought A Married Dude has a really good answer to it. Except he didn't touch on the pragmatic issue. Clearly this is not Billfold.

sutton

@GooglyEyeSeahorse Plus federal student loans discharge at the death of the borrower.

@The Lady of Shalott Most people are $150K in debt when they're out of law school. The payments can be around $1,500-2,000/month depending on what type of loans/interest rates/ etc. So $90K annually sounds like a lot, but when you consider that she might be paying $2,000 every month to her loans, that's ... yeah. She might even be paying more.

I'm wondering if she's in a major city, like DC or LA, where the cost of living with a kid is INSANE.

But uuggghhh, LW1, your husband sounds like the biggest juicebox ever. I'm sorry, I know you love him, but he's being an asshole. Guess what your loans also pay for? His bragging rights to his friends/family that he's married to a lawyer and the cache that comes with that, the usefulness of having a lawyer in the family, and having a smart, educated spouse.

eringthatsme@twitter

@The Lady of Shalott

Just here to add that:
1. Depending on what she's doing with her degree, her loans could be completely forgiven in a shorter amount of time if she's in public service-there are a lot of fields that do that. Yaay for people doing good things, boo for none of them being applicable for this lady with a masters in music :(
and 2. In this day and age, marrying someone with 100k of student loan debt isn't that unusual. Most of my friends who graduated from my degree program have well over 50k, as our school is shit with financial aid, and
3. HONESTLY That loan money is paying for their financial security, benefiting both of them. Maybe she went to school before they were dating, but the job she has is obviously beneficial to their standard of living. I guess I wouldn't feel so outraged if he wasn't being such a dick about it. I suppose he doesn't have an obligation to pay her loans. But if you love someone, you'd cut them a fucking break every now and then.

Lastly: I keep holding out for something big to change re: student loans. Something dramatic. Because this is not just a problem for our generation. It's a huge problem for us unemployed who aren't paying SS, who are putting off big purchases like cars, houses, etc, because we can't afford them, putting off marriage, constantly renting apartments, constantly in debt and living paycheck to paycheck, settling for unpaid internships as a last hope to advance somewhere, and it's fucking us over, sure, but everyone, older and younger, is going to be hurt by this.
I was hoping Occupy Wall Street would turn into a huge student riot. So, uh, if anyone wants to join me, i'm in my living room.

PistolPackinMama

@eringthatsme@twitter You know that thing where people say our generation is going to live less well than our parents?

Education, to me, is the thing that will guarantee that is going to happen. The number of professor friends I have who just say straight out "my kid will go to [perfectly good but middle of the road liberal arts school/ local state U] because that is what I can afford" is ALL OF THEM.

These are people with degrees from Tier I grad schools because they went to Tier I & IIa (if you see what I mean) undergrads. But the tuition on the state U campus is more than what I paid when I went to college in 1993. And I get inflation. BUT REALLY? The local liberal arts school is well beyond the pay grade of a single parent on starting prof salary.

If you went to college late, didn't start the job when you were 35, have older kids? And aren't married to a heart surgeon or successful IT startup seller? How will you send your kids to the schools you went to? And then how will they get a free ride to Chicago? Or a Tier I out of state land grant school for grad school?

You won't. Cupcake State students sometimes get free rides to Big Fancy State. But not usually.

When the generation of educators teaching college students now can't afford to send their own children to college? What about everyone else? Who earn the same but don't get tuition breaks for their kids?

AGH AHJ AHJA"LSKDJF:kjhaelkf.

I am in my living room, too. But I can be right over with a pitchfork and torch. Or we can stage a revolution from The Spinster Balcony.

[[ETA: Stopping before I strangle myself on my own froth and dribble, because we haven't EVEN gotten to people who are 1st gen college students. AJLHSDGfkjhdjkhgaekjfh]]

@carolita "I make more than my BF but don't make him do things that he can't afford." DING DING DING THIS IS THE GOLDEN PART.

carolita

@S. Elizabeth He also doesn't try to make me do the stuff he can't afford, and foot the bill for him. Though every now and then I'll volunteer to, if it's not too extravagant. ;)

carolita

@PistolPackinMama I have no more respect for college educations. In fact I've been reading the bio of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenna (Lonelyhearts), and see that Nat had no aptitude for school, cut class as a kid, and spent all his time educating himself way beyond his classmates' level, at the NY Public Library. He actually had to steal someone's identity in order to get into Brown, where he did dismally, as well. His parents were just desperate for him to have a degree. But he never made much use of institutions, except that he made two lifelong friends at Brown.

I personally treated my university years in Paris as an aid to my own self-education. For example, I did all the homework and classwork for my Latin (and Ancient Greek) class over the summer, before enrolling. Or I should say, attempting to enroll, because the class was full up when I tried to enroll. So I called the teacher at his home, and insisted he let me into his class, even if I couldn't get credits for it, because I needed the answers to all the exercises I'd done all summer while living extremely easily on my savings at less than $500 a month in a garret, studying French, Ancient Greek and Latin in the library every day till closing time. He let me in. And that's pretty much what university was for me in its entirety. I'm not saying everyone can do that, because universities full of students like me would be... well, it would be funny. But it's the attitude. Why does everyone need to go to fucking Harvard? That's all I'd like to know. You can tell me it's because you won't be able to make 300K a year in a fancy law firm in NYC later, but is that the motivation for taking Law or whatever? Has anyone ever canvassed just how many jobs making the kind of money you need to pay off your loans in your particular skill set are available each graduating year? Because I can't imagine there are enough out there to fund the $$$-eyed dreams of most of the people graduating with 100K in debt.

carolita

@ThundaCunt I asked my physical therapist what she thought about all this, because she's a Lithuanian immigrant who worked her ass off massaging people's tangled muscles all day long for the last twenty or thirty years to get a life in America and put her kid through college (he swam competitively to get scholarships, so no debt there). She's the most old-fashioned person I know, and the most hardworking (she also has a biscuit business on the side). Not to mention thrifty (grows her own veggies in her garden, wears nothing but flip flops, sweats and t-shirts). She and her husband worked their way from nothing (descriptions of their previous lives of poverty in Lithuania are mind boggling), together, and have a great marriage. He helps her and she helps him, whenever possible. So I asked her about this LW1's problem, and she just said: They're her debts, they're her problem. She wouldn't even discuss it further.

PistolPackinMama

@carolita

TL;DR-- I am proud to be a college educator, and I have a yes, but also deep no, reaction to that point of view.

God I cannot shut up.

carolita

@PistolPackinMama I should have edited that comment to say "no automatic respect" or "no broad, untargeted respect." My most beloved college professor used to have to be brought to class by students who knew where to find him (he'd always forget), and he'd arrive and say, "What are you all doing here? Why aren't you at the library?" He was the one who made me change my mind about dropping my studies. He was of the firm persuasion that one doesn't learn stuff from a person, but rather a way. Therefore, he sent us all to the library. Some people wasted that approach and just goofed off, but others, like me, totally took advantage of it. I spent a beautiful two years holed up in the National Library, reading manuscripts, digging up all sorts of things in the database, loving every minute of it. I used to want to be a college educator, myself, but I realized it was going to be just too competitive and bureaucratic and not worth it for me. Who knows, maybe I'll end up doing it yet, but at the time, it didn't appeal to me. I admire a good professor as much as I admire a good student, both of which I think are characterized by a certain independence of thought.
I also had plenty of teachers who were just phoning it in, so to speak. I had no respect for them at all.

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama I'm right here with you with a pitchfork of my own. We don't all need to go to Harvard, but 1) the option should be there for folks who can get in; and 2) we do need to have the option of going somewhere. I'd never be able to put a kid through college at a small regional SLAC on what I make. Even sending the kid where I teach would be difficult - no tuition benefits here - and we're a state school.

@carolita I do agree with you that it would help to know more about his perspective/what these appliances/vacations are. If it's "no, honey, we bought that washer and dryer three years ago and they're perfectly fine; we can't afford new ones," then I'd immediately label LW1 as whiny with aspirations beyond her means. If it's "well, I know our washer is held together with duct tape and your shirt was cleaner after you beat it against a rock, but YOU HAVE DEBT so have fun down at the river with our laundry," then I'd label him a juicebox. Even a little bit of remorse or shared frustration would go a long way here; instead, it just looks like he's mocking her.

carolita

@Xanthophyllippa Hell, at this point I'm mocking her, too. You don't go on vacation when you have debt! When did everyone think they could have everything? Does she think she should go on vacation ("trips") because HE doesn't have debt? Even by the logic that they should be sharing their debt, well, that means they BOTH have debt, which means they shouldn't go on vacation. (PS I edited out a bit because I realized I didn't actually find something I was ranting about in her letter. I must've been projecting, or seen it in a reply.)

PistolPackinMama

@carolita I... please tell me you got to have a lovely wooden desk in light with motes drifting through it as you consulted crumbly paper in the archive.

It takes a lot of courage to even imagine an Associate of Arts degree in business admin is possible, when the barriers to entering a college classroom begin with "does not know how to fill out financial aid paperwork and had father and babydaddy and maybe mom and teachers refusing to help imagine it."

I really, really appreciate your point of view. I do. And any good professor will thrill to have students like you, and make opportunities for them.

But I am also lucky to have the ones that know it's a good idea, even if they aren't sure why, or how, or what it will entail.

@carolita Hmmmm. Well, you know what? I think that if you're making 90K/year as an attorney and raising a kid and are making enough money to live comfortably -- comfortably enough for your husband to have CRAZY disposable income -- yeah, you should be able to go on a trip. Maybe not a fancy resort vacation, but buying a plane ticket to visit your family isn't unreasonable.

For the record, I'm in law school and while it sounds like this woman has more debt than I will, I do not plan on living in awful conditions or not visiting my family at Christmas or whatever other sacrifices you can dream up if I don't have to. So the idea that student debt = no fun ever is a little ridiculous. Like, really, sometimes you pay student loan debt off for 10-15 years... so you don't expect anyone with student loan debt from law school to go on a trip or vacation until they're 40? That is an absolutely unreasonable suggestion.

The problem here isn't "I have X dollars, and those X dollars cover my living expenses and debt, why can I not take a vacation?" The problem is that education results in two things: debt and earning power. This guy is benefiting from earning power, benefitting SO MUCH and not acknowledging it.

carolita

@PistolPackinMama Yes, I'm a total socialist. I got this education as the result of worming my way into the system in France, through thoroughly subversive means. I was the first in my family ever to get a college education, so I got two while I was at it. One for free in France. Maybe it was my immigrant ingenuity? I don't know. I figured out early from looking around me that the kids who did well in school got all the advantages, and that all it took was learning how to game the system. I remember telling my two little brothers (who didn't go to college because of their bad grades, one of whom only has a GED, though they're both super smart, high IQ's), that if they'd only do well for one year, they'd get put in SP classes, and practically never have to lift a finger again. Oh, yes, it was pretty much the exact same workload, only teachers never wanted a student to "flunk" out of SP, so they never dealt out a grade lower than 75, unless it was really too obvious of a cheat. I spent my entire education in the public school system coasting along like that, thinking the real education would come at college. But I went to Parson's, due to my artistic leanings, and the liberal arts degree that came with my art degree was so bogus I couldn't believe it. It was all softball, purely symbolic, stuff that they figured art students could easily handle, I guess. I was disgusted. That's why I did my second stint in France.

Anyway, that's just to say that I hear you when you talk about students totally unprepared for college. But I just can't figure out why we're creating such sheep-like students that need guiding to this point. I mean, even in France there were the students who were like, "tell me what to do so I can do it," who didn't want to think for themselves. I really don't believe in throwing away an education on students like this! For goodness sakes, they belong in assembly lines, not accumulating tens of thousands in debt asking their teachers for all the answers.

I really feel like the educational system needs an overhaul. There will always be a creme of the crop who make an art out of learning (whether it be in physics, carpentry, or literature), and there will also be the 75% of people who really can only do what they're told. If only there were well-paid jobs for the 75% of people who aren't destined to be at the top of their profession, things would be more fair. But instead, a lot of them only end up saddled with debt forever, making crappy money in the lowest rung of their professions. What can be done about this? Aside from communism? I have no idea. But I think something has to be done. Why should a job that only pays 30K cost 100K to get? This is a huge problem.

And yes, I'm a total socialist. TOTALLY. I thank god for France, for the free education I got there, and bless every centime they took out of my salary in taxes and "social expenses." That said, they solved the education expense problem with a merciless culling of students every year. Each year of my education my class was reduced by half. The half that was out of luck either got jobs in retail or found a private university to pay for.

Sharon Crawford@facebook

@The Lady of Shalott

Yep, the secret bank account is not acceptable. It's his Escape Money. He has it because he wants to be able to dump you when and if the spirit moves him.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth Yeah - it's the lack of acknowledgement that gets me. And maybe this is because I only know the one side, but if he were sighing, wrapping his arms around her, and saying, "we can't book a week in St. Tropez because it's expensive and I'm worried about your loans, but we could go splurge on Thai take-out tonight and watch a movie," that would be one thing. But rubbing her face in it like a dog who's made a mess is quite another, especially if splitting the costs evenly is letting him put some of his salary away for later.

I find this letter a hard one to think about. I wouldn't expect a spouse to take on my existing loans, but I also wouldn't expect them to try to make me feel lousy about having loans, either.

carolita

@Sharon Crawford@facebook Maybe he loves her but she's totally untrustable? Maybe she's unreliable, and has a history of instability? I totally believe in secret bank accounts. However, I think it's just a myth. If they do their taxes jointly, there's no way he could hide a bank account. Perhaps he's just paying into an IRA or something, for his retirement. He does, after all, make less than she does.

Xanthophyllippa

@carolita Ooo, I just now saw your response above, and I'm going to pick out one little bit of it to respond to because I think you're absolutely fascinating and want to let the rest stand alone. But if we're going to talk about college education more broadly - as in, "why do we educate?" - then I'd have to draw the distinction between students who are sheep and only want to be told what to do because they're lazy/uninterested/unappreciative and the ones who are sheep-like because they are dealing with so many other things in their lives that they simply can't put a lot of critical thought into every dimension of their education and stay sane. I get both these folks in my classes, and the former drive me batshit - I want to grab them by the throat, shake them, and demand, "do you KNOW how luck you are to be in college right now?" until they repent.

The latter are sometimes harder to spot, especially if they don't tell me up front that something's going down. Those students, I'll work with: the young woman who came in after four weeks of not turning in any work and told me that her dad was dying, her mother was mentally unsound, and she was working three jobs to pay for college? We set a minimum and agreed that if she met this minimum (which was still a shitload of work) within three weeks of the end of the semester, I'd change her incomplete to a B. It was clear that she appreciated the opportunity but wasn't able to take advantage of it fully right then, and she really needed to graduate and get herself a real job that would let her live closer to home and not have her up until 3 a.m. because job #3 didn't let out until midnight. Why folks seem like sheep is an important factor.

I'd like to think that if I'd had your brothers in my class, we'd have been able to work out a deal that played to their talents, still met the most important of the course goals, and let them out with a B that wouldn't blow their GPA. You'd have been bored stiff at the more basic stuff in my class, so I'd have jettisoned the set assignments and worked with you to find an assignment that would challenge you and have some tangible payoff (like a published essay or something). It sucks that you weren't in a school that could/would do that for you, because sometimes students just need to be allowed to run free from the herd (not to carry the sheep metaphor too far).

carolita

@Xanthophyllippa Haha, and I would have loved you for that. Unfortunately, I didn't have any teachers like you till my favorite guy in France, may he rest in peace, Francis Charpin (died of an aneurism a few months after I graduated). He was an innovator and very anti-establishment. I infuriated my department's faculty when I chose him as my director for my masters thesis. (it's like a mini-thesis).

My little brothers got educated their own way in the end, one of them by joining the Navy and learning (perhaps this time, properly taught and properly motivated) everything he needed to become a really good electrical engineer. He was a Seabee, and he's brilliant, with a genius IQ and happy in his career (was always taking stuff apart as a kid). And something else he did that makes me proud: he pretty much always dated older women and unashamedly learned a LOT from them, really appreciated them.

My other brother, though all he got was a GED, was reading Nietzsche before I was even required to in my university in France. He may not have a college degree, but he's an expert in his field, and very erudite. We're all pretty much self-educators. So, really, I think that if you can inspire a person to seek an education, they'll get that damned education by hook or by crook. It's just a matter of planting that seed, I think. But that's literally the hardest part. I have no idea how me and my brothers came to be so determined. I evoked the immigrant survival instinct earlier, so maybe it's got something to do with that?

Anyway, that brings me back to the "sheep." I do have sympathy for people with huge obstacles in their paths, whether psychic, practical or physical. I'm definitely not including them in the "sheep" I disparaged earlier. I know that people stay home and care for relatives or spouses (who may or may not appreciate it), are stifled for years or decades by attempting to be "good," or are floundering for years in low self-esteem, and I totally get it. I really do. These are people who I personally try to help. If I were a teacher, I'd be like you, understanding and flexible with them. I benefitted from teachers like you here and there. I benefitted from a lot of people with compassion over the years, and maybe even from people who barely knew me, who didn't even feel that much compassion, but simply felt they had nothing to lose by helping me. This is why I feel we all need to "give back." This is also why I'm a believer in socialism.

No, to be totally clear, I agree with you wholeheartedly, and the "sheep" I disparage are the spoiled or truly uninterested ones who, living a life of ease, go to college because they have nothing better to do, or because their parents made them go, and literally say things like, "I don't know what the professor wants. I wish (s)he'd tell me, so I could just do it." WTF? I actually heard those words. More than once, and in more than one country. I even heard them from a 55 year old woman who, fulfilling her "long time dream" had returned to college. I was like, "What did you come back for?" Same woman had the nerve to try and cheat off me during finals, thinking that as a 35 year old returnee, I'd be solidarious with her, or something. Noooo. You go back to school at 55 and you cheat? 20 years old or 55 years old, this is the most pathetic kind of student.

I totally think everyone who wants to learn ought to be able to do so, and without it being just for one's financial furthering. It's this terrible income inequality that's ruining things for everyone, it's the fetishization of prestigious universities, and even of a certain level of education, superficially (like, just get a Masters, so you can get a higher income, even if you don't actually desire a Masters). Education used to be an end in itself. Am I an old fool to be mourning that idea? Maybe when I'm living under a bridge in my old age, because I have no pension, and no marketable diploma, you can tell me I'm an old fool. But for now, I'll stand up for self-education, whether that be through a library or a university. I hope you never give up being a good educator!

Uumellmahaye

@Maryaed thanks for getting that song in my head... "living la vida (high paid lawyer) loca"

supernintendochalmers

@S. Elizabeth So agree with you. Most of America is in debt. It's almost default now for Americans to enter adulthood with five figures or more in student loans. Are we all supposed to live a life of strict discipline until that debt is paid off? And it's not like she spent 100k on a shopping spree-- her education is directly supporting their family. We can't know from the letter how monk-like the LW is living (is the vacation a small trip to see family or month in Hawaii?), but her husband shouldn't be pointing at her debt like it's a mistake she made when it enables their lifestyle.

loose lipped controller

@The Lady of Shalott I liked what A Married Dude wrote to the LW, but I LOVED this whole thread in the comments, everyone had such measured & thoughtful things to say. (Also, I don't know where the anti-juicebox movement started; everyone here is clearly still fine to use it & I am glad)

Also - I have debt. Huge amounts of stupid debt that made me not sleep for 3 nights when I finally added it all up. I've got a plan & I'm thinking I'll even be debt-free in a few years, if I keep my focus...

I don't have a boyfriend right now & if I meet someone while I'm on this personally-driven quest to be free of debt, I think I would have a hard time talking to them about it. I'd be too proud to even tell them I *had* debt, particularly if they didn't have any experience of what it's like to have this level of debt (though I'll tell all you lovely Hairpinners right now!).

I would feel incredibly, incredibly uncomfortable expecting my partner to address *my* debt in any way.

At the same time, fuck, I would love it if the person I loved would say "hey, let's figure this out together". Note: they didn't say "hey let me get that for you", "hey let me help you pay it off or X or Y or Z"... just "hey, let's talk about this together".

That's all I'd need to hear.

Killerpants

@sutton @GooglyEyeSeahorse Yes, thank you for clarifying about the sharing/transfer of debt inaccuracies. That was driving me nuts.

Slapfight

@all This one is so tough. I think she should be responsible for her own educational debt, but the husband shouldn't be such a jerk about it. If she's responsibly paying off her debt why can't he take them on vacation or buy an appliance they both use? I even understand about the secret account. I'd have one too because you never know if you'll need it. But he seems to have some weird punishment/martyr issues with the whole "if you didn't have this debt we could do x." And if she made $9 an hour and didn't have any debt, there'd still be no way she could pay for appliances or vacations. They really need marriage counseling.

sterling-silver-telephone-dialer

@winslow I don't think saying "If you didn't have these loans we could do X" is a jerk move at all, IF they are addresing her debt as a unit. Whether that be he is helping to pay her debts or just waiting for her to deal with what should be her financial priority before their shared quality of life (therefore HIS quality of life)can be augmented by things like vacations or appliances.I don't think its wrong to remind a spouse of financial priorities when you have to wait around for them to finish up commitment to have shared luxuries.

Poubelle

@carolita Are you seriously comparing student loan debt to a gambling addiction? SERIOUSLY? Going to law school and becoming a lawyer is not the remotely same thing. There is a difference (including a big legal difference) between student loan debt and credit card debt and mortgage debt and gambling debts. Not all debts are created equal.

Also, unless she's went to law school in France (doubtful) her situation is entirely different from yours. In the US, it is very rare indeed to finish law school debt-free. Or even undergrad, for that matter.

carolita

@Poubelle No, of course not. I'm not comparing student debt to a gambling addiction. I'm only posing that the person you love may enter into a marriage with different kinds of debt that you, as his of her spouse, have contractually gotten involved in. One kind of debt, until it's paid off, is just as debty as any other kind of debt.
Also, if you married a person and s/he confessed to having had a gambling addiction that left him/her saddled with debt, isn't it also your debt, now that you're married, according to the logic I'm seeing here? Even if s/he got that debt WHILE married to you, isn't it "for richer or for poorer, and for better or for worse"? Isn't that what one signs up for? Do you abandon the love of your life because of a gambling addiction? Because of bad financial management? Does one kind of debt incur bread and water punishment, and others not? Does one kind turn love into indifference or disdain? Madame Bovary couldn't have been written if spouses didn't share their spouse's debt. Debt is debt. If your debt results in good, that's a fine thing. But even a law degree is a gamble. Not everyone who graduates with a law degree gets that plumb job that will pay off the loans in a reasonable amount of time, as a look around you in these times will tell you. There are a lot of out of work lawyers.

And yes, I had one of my college educations for free in France, lucky me. I also had a couple of student loans from my previous education, which weren't that bad, since I chose a school with a manageable tuition. I was lucky to find one. I have other debt, too, which I fully embrace as part of the cost of my choices in life, and which I don't expect anyone to help me with, though I certainly wouldn't mind. (I can dream!) But more likely, I'll just manage it on a budget and the advice of my accountant. However, back to the kinds of debt that exist: Hmm. I don't personally see my credit card debt as any less onerous than my student debt was. And if my debt were affecting my life as a couple, I think my BF would want to work with me on that. I arranged things so that he could get out of his credit card debt (the result of a life event), by proposing that we move in together. He benefitted from that a lot, but I benefitted from having my first great relationship, so I don't put a price on it. I'd like to think he'd help me out with any debt I have, but personally, I wouldn't want him to.

Poubelle

@carolita One kind of debt, until it's paid off, is just as debty as any other kind of debt. Uh, what? Between the terms and the interest rate, no it's not. Hell, there's a difference between federal student loan debt and private. I would suggest taking a closer look at your credit card terms if you think it's just the same as student loan debt. (It's also not the same if you declare bankruptcy.) Will gambling debts be forgiven if you go into public service? Do you consider mortgages and car loans (debt people take on to own things that are kind of necessary) exactly the same too? Are you naive enough to think all gambling debt is above-the-table?

I suspect, though, it's all the same to you because you've been blessed enough in life to not deal with serious debt.

And your argument still makes no sense. Plenty of people leave their spouses over addictions, and throwing out unrelated hypotheticals doesn't do anything. People have limits to the "or worse" clause, and that's valid, especially since things like addictions (which, with gambling, is as much the problem as the debt) usually are NOT what they signed up for.

And I'm not sure what all the recent grad, out-of-work lawyers have to do with someone who has a job that pays them 4 times the national average, either. It clearly worked out for her (and for him). Yes, a law degree isn't a guarantee anymore. Since the LW doesn't give her age or class year, there's no way to know if that was true when she started law school and took on those loans. Law school being a reasonably solid investment is not that far in the past. (And it's still an okay investment if you're willing to bust your ass in class and network and go to a top-tier school, actually. It's no longer any kind of default when you're a liberal arts major with no direction who wants a professional career, but it's not a total waste of time and money, either.)

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I find that telling people to "chill the fuck out" tends to have the opposite effect in my world. I wish it didn't, because it's fun to say.

hahahaha, ja.

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose: "Chill the fuck out" was my New Years' Resolution for 2011. My one for 2012 was "Don't die." So far I'm doing a lot better this year than I was last year.

JadedStone

@ietapi my new year's resolution is, and has been for many years: eat more cheesecake

nyikint

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

You're harshing my mellow, bro.

laurel

@Jade: Mine are: drink more red wine and take more naps. I'm killing it on the first one.

whizz_dumb

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose: I know that "settle down" has the opposite effect on me. Not like it sounds cool like CTFO or anything but I usually react like, "NO I WILL NOT SETTLE DOWN MY BLOOD IS NOW BOILING". Unrelated: Hey. Are we married yet?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@whizz_dumb Yeah, it just adds pressure to the situation for me, and does nothing to diffuse my rage. I'm pretty sure we got married yesterday? I can't be sure; I got really drunk at my book club and may have married several people. But I was thinking of you the whole time!

whizz_dumb

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose That's all I ask. I decided to take your full last name so I'm now called Whizz on Top of that, Rose. Hope you're cool with that.

wee_ramekin

@whizz_dumb So....you're saying her first name is "I'm Right".

Hmmmm. I feel like this is a brotastic, yuk-filled sitcom in the making...

living internationally

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Two most aggravating words in existence: HAKUNA MATATA. It really does mean no worries - just thinking about the bajillion times it was said to me in Africa makes me need a drink

@lessis'more YES THERE ARE WORRIES. I AM BEING FUCKED OVER and nobody is fucking helping me and this sucks. Don't tell me I don't have worries, dammit.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth Oh man, yes. The last person who tried a line like that on me got an earful. I think she slunk away more depressed after telling me to smile than I had felt in the first place.

(Unrelated: keep an eye on your mailbox.)

@Xanthophyllippa Good Lord I haven't checked my mail in ages. (And before someone tells me that's irresponsible, I will tell you that my life is currently out of control insane...)

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@whizz_dumb Whizz on top of that, Rose sounds perfect. And yeah, I'm Right.

sarah girl

LW1, your situation makes my heart hurt. Your husband is acting as though you took out that loan purely to spite him! I'm not sure I understand why he's so vitriolic about it. Like Dude said, it's up to him whether he wants to financially contribute, but there's no reason for him to guilt trip you so heavily. So weird, and very sad.

wee_ramekin

@Sarah H. Co-signed.

I think it's perfectly valid and acceptable for him to not want to help her pay off her debt, but to constantly be bringing up her debt as the reason Why We Can't Have Nice Things™ is really...odd. It's like he's got this idea that taking out a loan to pay for law school is akin to having committed a crime when you were younger or something.

olivebee

@Sarah H. Yeah that made me so, so sad. I finished paying off my student loans a few months ago, and it was only because my husband (who doesn't have a cent of debt because of inheritance) was generous enough to use some of that inheritance to help me out. He offered to help me with my loans for a few years (since my job's salary is paltry, to say the least), but I stubbornly refused every single time because I wanted to be independent and pay off my own burden with my own money. 'Not his loans, not his job to pay them' is how I saw it. But then he sat me down and pointed out how much stress my loans were causing me. I didn't go out with friends, I never ate out, I couldn't afford vacations or nice things for the apartment. And he said that marriage is a partnership, so it is his responsibility to relieve my stress (financial or otherwise), and that the sooner those loans are gone, the sooner we could concentrate on living life and doing things. So I finally let him help me. Reading LW1's letter broke my heart. A Married Dude is right; her husband is not doing his duty as a husband to help relieve her pain - even if it's with something other than money (plus, he's just a big old asshole).

carolita

@olivebee Lucky you, but what if your husband didn't have an inheritance?

olivebee

@carolita Knowing him, he still would have offered (especially since he makes twice as much as me). I would NOT have accepted, but I know he would have offered.

Plus, my point is not that all husbands should pay their wives' student loans; it's that they SHOULD help ease their stress. Like instead of helping to pay the loans, maybe pay more of the rent or buy the household supplies, etc.

chevyvan

@Sarah H. My boyfriend and I both have some pretty heavy student load debt (and neither of us have $90K/year salaries), and it's ironically kind of a relief. Like, "Okay, you understand. I don't have to feel ashamed." If we do go forward and somehow join finances, it's going to be rough. But at least there won't be some kind of total power imbalance (not that I think he would pull that kind of crap on me anyway...sheesh).

WaityKatie

@wee_ramekin Agree. I feel a lot of feelings on this one, because I too have massive loans, and I've been told (mostly by random assholes on internet dating sites) that this fact makes me unmarriageable, repulsive, and subhuman. But I took out the loans, they're mine, and I plan to pay them. It's fine that he wants his money to be separate, but constantly abusing her about her debt and making stupid ass comments about how horrible she is for having it is NOT OK. Especially then kicking back and enjoying the fruits of the money she earns - even if they split everything 50/50 they're living in a better house than they would be if she made less money, taking better vacations, etc. He sounds like such an infuriating tool that there's a bit of steam coming out of my ears right now.

chevyvan

@olivebee Agreed about the stress thing. Like, the VERY LEAST this guy could do is not make his wife feel like a piece of sh*t. What's the point of being debt free if you're going to make life miserable for yourself and everyone around you?

ThundaCunt

@WaityKatie We are only getting one side, cuz I totally feel that this dude is being a huge ass because this LW isn't responsible with her money and by him making comments like that, he is trying to make her realize it? That's what I'm getting from it. I think maybe this issue, the letter, is extremely one sided because how wasnt this discussed before marriage?? How did you marry & procreate with a total DOUCHE!??

WaityKatie

@ThundaCunt Ok, fair point, but what we have from the letter is that this person's husband is judging her for being "irresponsible" because she decided to become a lawyer. Becoming a lawyer means student loan debt, so I guess she should have been "responsible" and just become a secretary instead. That is just a big load of offensive bullshit. People who judge others because they went to school and pursued the careers they wanted to pursue are assholes and I will burn them.

@WaityKatie Precisely. The issue isn't "omfg he won't subsidize my handbag collection!" but "omfg, he is being a dick about the level of education I have and the means by which I earned it." That is a dick move.

And this doesn't seem to be about money, this seems to be about financial independence and how this woman is getting the short end of the stick.

There are solutions to this that don't involve him paying student loans. Maybe calculate their incomes after she pays her loans that month, and then contribute to the household in equal proportions. So if she takes home $7K per month, and every month she pays $2K on her loans, her income FOR ALL PURPOSES, is $5K per month. Then calculate expenses.

And can we have a talk about how women pretty much have to go to grad school to have the same earning potential as men with bachelor's degrees? Like, awesome, this woman could make 80% of what her husband makes OR get crippled with loan debt.

Xanthophyllippa

@S. Elizabeth Or both! She could be crippled with loan debt and be working for a firm with a glass ceiling.

Beatrix Kiddo

LW1, DTMFA.

Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter

@Beatrix Kiddo Yeah, because there's nothing better than being a single mom with 100K in debt.

damselfish

@Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter A single mom making $90k. That's manageable even with $100k in debt.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter She's married to a douchebag and has the debt anyway. At least if she were divorced, she wouldn't have to be emotionally abused or spend money supporting him.

errata stigmata

@Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter maybe the D stands for... "dress-down"? Like, Tell the Motherfucker What's What and That He Needs to Be a Classy Grown-Up Already?

supernintendochalmers

@Beatrix Kiddo Literally just sassy-snapped at this comment. Yes, girl!

JadedStone

MY LOINS ACHE FOR THIS MARRIED DUDE.

Wait. That sounds wrong.

Bittersweet

@Jade Oh man...his response about kids to LW2 was one of the more beautiful things I've read in a while. "Something shifted in the physics of our marriage that night, as if our bodies were suddenly locked in a new orbit, a gravitational dance both terminal and unexpected." *swoon*

pterodactgirl

@Bittersweet Yes. His response to LW2 is a beautiful essay that could totally stand on its own. I love it.

jarwithaheavylid

@Jade Indeed. And if they use the same stock photo for the column, does that mean it is the same one of the set of rotating married dudes? Because this writing is stylistically similar to "Baggage, 'Bed Death,' and Suspected Infidelity Triangles."

angelene

@pterodactgirl Yes! Beautiful answer. Though his suggestion that she has all the time she wants to decide is a bit cavalier, given that she doesn't mention her age. That bit made me think "DUDE, FEMALE FERTILITY IS NOT AN INFINITE RESOURCE", but other than that he seems very wise.

anachronistique

Married Dude is a big Neal Caffrey fan, isn't he.

Lexa Lane

@anachronistique That was my reaction as well. Though I am too, so...not really complaining. :-P

trappedinabay

@anachronistique - Yay Neal Caffrey!!

Dancercise

This Dude knows where it's at.

frigwiggin

I like to imagine it's the baby answering the questions.

Nicole Cliffe

@frigwiggin I love carrroottttts.

sceps yarx

@frigwiggin stop buying me big battery powered things made of plastic!

TARDIStime

@frigwiggin
I did NOT think of a baby toy when reading this comment. My mind and the gutter are one.

apples and oranges

Maybe the dude in the last letter really likes his job! Maybe he hasn't wanted to leave and seek out something else because the job market blows!

hotdog

@kangerine The job market didn't blow 6 years ago, when he was 5 years in. It sounds like he's a settler, and perfectly happy, and she wants more. It's neither of their problems, they're just not compatible.

purefog

@kangerine Though it's hardly an answer to all of the last LW's voiced and unvoiced concerns, it is probably that if she marries the guy he can piggyback on her health insurance.

TheRisottoRacket

@kangerine The first thing I thought was, "oh, that sounds like he works as a cook!" because that's my field and that sounded about right salary and benefits wise (although most places will provide at least some benefits now at least to cover their asses). Although it may not be.

Whatever he's doing she should be happy it's something he cares about.

ThundaCunt

@kangerine Here's the thing, she said THEY MAKE THE SAME AMOUNT....sooo...where's the problem? Health insurance? Ok, if you get married, you carry him! If his job sucks, which he admittedly LOVES and has been doing awhile & he enjoys it, why doesnt your job suck too!??

Xanthophyllippa

@ThundaCunt I kept wondering if her insurance doesn't have spousal coverage. Because if she's worried about futures/marriage, why not carry him on her policy and try to make up the cost differential somehow?

(Or maybe he never gets sick and is made out of bubble wrap so even if he gets hit by a bus he's never hurt.)

Nicole Cliffe

What is up the ass of LW#1's husband, exactly?

Lustful Cockmonster

@Nicole Cliffe Yeah, he is pretty much the worst.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Nicole Cliffe Just to spite him, I'd refuse to share my lawyerly earnings with him and take myself on vacation if I had to pay all the debt myself, too.

But then again, it would probably be easier/less passive-aggressive to just get divorced.

bocadelperro

@Beatrix Kiddo seriously. I didn't even need to finish the letter before a big flashing sign that said DIVORCE! DIVORCE! started going off in my head. I hope for her sake that they live in a community property state.

yeah-elle

@Nicole Cliffe His secret stash of bullion and krugerrands, apparently.

Olivia2.0

@bocadelperro Right? I cannot imagine a world in which this letter writer did not read over her submission (DID SHE JUST NOT READ OVER HER SUBMISSION???) and go OH! HAI! SECRET BANK ACCOUNT. I'M OUT.

frigwiggin

@Olivia2.0 How secret can it be if she knows about it? Or doesn't he know that she knows? Are they both super-spies?

april

@Beatrix Kiddo Did I read this right - are they forgoing the purchase of household items because he's punishing her for loans? Because it sounds like he's willing to sacrifice the maintenance of their home that they live in with their child to be Smaug in human male form. Ugh.

KatieBarTheDoor

@Nicole Cliffe Yeah, guy's a jerk. I actually had a problem with my husband's student loans after we got married, but that was because he'd previously told me he didn't have any but then... did? So a few months after the wedding when he said "so, how should we start paying off my $$$ in student loans?" it was completely unexpected and I was righteously pissed. I can't figure out this lady's husband, though. Bad situation.

fondue with cheddar

@frigwiggin I'm guessing it's not a secret that he has it, it's that he thinks the balance and transaction history are none of her business.

There are red flags all over that mofo.

wee_ramekin

@april Well, to be fair, if he's the upcoming The Hobbit's Smaug in human male form, I'd keep him.

bitzyboozer

@frigwiggin I wondered if maybe LW meant a separate bank account, and the choice of wording was colored by her strong feelings about the situation. Because otherwise it makes no sense to me.

Cat named Virtute

@wee_ramekin All the points to you, Wee_ramekin.

rocknrollunicorn

@frigwiggin I'd say it still counts as secret if he is shady about the statements and never reveals what he might be using that money for. Even if you don't share finances as a married couple, being secretive about what you're doing with your money/your plans for it is a little strange. I can't imagine myself feeling okay with that.

JadedStone

@wee_ramekin CUMBERBATCH??? OH HELL YES.

I think it's they split the cost of the appliances? Or maybe since SHE wants the appliance SHE should buy it? Which is bullshit. STAB HIM IN THE EYE AND SET HIM ON FIRE.

sognodisonno

@Nicole Cliffe Yeah, he's thinking super short term. When she pays off her loans, what will the relationship and money sharing responsibilities look like? Will she start to buy nice things and not share with him? Go on fancy vacations alone and make him play babysitter? Make him pay for his part in any meal she buys groceries for or cooks?

What happens if he loses his job? They have a kid together, it's not like she can kick him out if he can't keep paying his part of the rent rent, but the way he's acting he'd deserve it. They're not roomates, they're spouses with shared responsibilities. What a spoiled child, makes me think of how often my 4 year old nephew says "Mine!" - hopefully he'll learn to grow out of it before marriage and child rearing comes into play.

Judith Slutler

@sognodisonno Ugh now you have me wondering if he hasn't got some career envy going on, too. "YOU might be a lawyer but I am debt-free, stick that in your pipe and smoke it wifey!"

themmases

@Emmanuelle Cunt That was the way I read this letter, too.

WaityKatie

@Emmanuelle Cunt Oh noooo, you're probably right! UGH TO THIS GUY.

Mira

@themmases Me too. Or else (or additionally!) that there's some kind of massive resentment going on that he is channeling into bizarre anger over her student debt. Either way, LW1, your husband sounds like he sucks. If I'm wrong and he's not as much of a controlling juicebox as it sounds like he is, go to counseling. Otherwise, DTMFA, it's ridiculous for your partner to be treating you this way.

winslow

@sognodisonno "When she pays off her loans, what will the relationship and money sharing responsibilities look like? Will she start to buy nice things and not share with him? Go on fancy vacations alone and make him play babysitter?"

GOD I HOPE SO.

tessamae

@wee_ramekin So many likes for that.

I'm Sherlocked.

wee_ramekin

@tessamae

(Psssst...wanna exchange fanfic favorites?)

wee_ramekin

@wee_ramekin Also, whereTF is my GingerNutball? She should be all over this thread, Cumberbatching with the best of us.

It seems to me that only dire circumstances would keep our resident crazy ginger from commenting on an 'Ask A' thread, especially one that contains a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Oh...oh god.

What if she's hurt?!

[screams] GINGERNUTBALL!! WHERE ARE YOU?! ARE YOU OKAYYYYYY?!?!

tessamae

@wee_ramekin Ohmygodidontevenhaveanypleaseshare!!!!!!!!! Meet me in the Open Thread for some Cumberbatching, won't you?

wee_ramekin

@tessamae Holy crapper. I completely forgot that today was Friday and thus had an FOT. Yaaaaaaaaaaaay link-sharing! See ya there :).

Carrie Ann

@sognodisonno Yes, this is the only appropriate scenario. "Husband. At this rate, my loans will be paid off by the year 2022, at which point, I estimate my salary will be in the $300K range. I plan to take my surplus $10,000/month and bank it in my own secret savings account. By 2022, I estimate your salary at $80K. You will continue to bank your $600 surplus into your secret bank account. Sound good? OK, great! Guess you're right - we don't need that new fridge after all!"

Megasus

@Beatrix Kiddo Plus she's a lawyer! She could do it herself! Win/win/win!

WaityKatie

@Megano! The dirty little secret about us lawyers is that most of us don't have any more clue on how to draft such a document than anyone else. But we can look it up? Anyway, I'm guessing that her husband is noooottt going to go along with such a plan, though, given how delightful he seems to be on the topic generally.

Megasus

@WaityKatie Well or she is probably friends with someone who will help

HereKitty

@Beatrix Kiddo I went right straight there too! If this were me, my response would be, "Fine, I'll live as though I'm making $9/hour, and every single other cent I pull down is going toward paying down my debt, because every payment I make gets me a month closer to having you out of my life except for custody exchanges."

... as you may already have deduced, I am voluntarily single and child-free.

Wrenochka@twitter

@Nicole Cliffe Seriously!! It sounds like a big ole power trip to me, by a partner who has no interest in being supportive or proud of his wife. I really hope "secret" bank account is just another way of saying "personal" bank account - otherwise, time to get counselling or move on.

tootsky

@HereKitty YES - we don't know how much he makes, but I'm guessing less than her, since she says he benefits from her 90K. So I would say, OK: I am going to "pay" myself the exact same salary as you make, so we are equal. I will put the same amount you do into my own personal savings account, and the rest I will pay down my loans with. This means we'll have to downsize our home, and lease a Hyundai instead of a Lexus, but I think we'll both feel better about the situation.

Then again, our LW1 would have to be willing to step away from the lifestyle to which she's become accustomed. It might be worth it. Best case, it would effectively shut him up.

geek_tragedy

@sognodisonno

Good point! I saw upthread that a lot of people feel strongly that debt should not be shared, but I disagree. I mean, it seems like the letter implies that they both enjoy or benefit from the salary of her position (which isn't bad! the problem with law school isn't that you take out huge loans and then earn a great salary; it's that everyone takes out huge loans and no one gets a job!) Yet somehow he also seems to be insisting that the debt and its ensuing responsibilities are hers.

But most importantly, they have a CHILD together. I understand when some commenters say they don't commingle their finances, but none of the people saying that seems to have kids. I think it's perfectly possible to have separate finances from one's partner when there are no kids involved. Otherwise, how does this work? I don't get it--they're married, they live together, they have a kid together, and yet somehow their financial situations are totally unrelated/unmingled? What happened when the kid was born? I assume that the LW had to take SOME time off work--did her partner compensate her for her salary reduction? Or 50%? What about extra, unpaid sick days off work to care for the kid/relatives? Does the partner taking time off reimburse the other one? I am being somewhat facetious, but shit. The husband seems petty as hell, but somehow I doubt that he would want his wife to be so, erm, "scrupulous" with him!

Susanna

@Carrie Ann This. This is the correct thing to do.

Xanthophyllippa

@geek_tragedy One of my friends and her husband have separate finances, and they have kids. They pay all big expenses (cars, mortgage, etc) out of a joint account to which they both contribute, and then the kids get paid by whichever parent happens to be right there with the checkbook. After however many years, it evens out.

(I'm not saying it's ideal or making any judgement call about it - just noting that couples like that do exist.)

t-square

@Xanthophyllippa What do you mean by "the kids get paid"?

Xanthophyllippa

@t-square Sorry - I meant "paid for." Clothing, doctor's appointments, etc. So they don't pay that out of the joint account.

hotdog

I'm not sure I agree with dude's advice to LW #3. I mean, sure, chill out, but 33 and in the SAME HOURLY JOB with no benefits for 11 years? That's entirely indicative of low ambition, which if fine, unless you're looking for a partner with some level of ambition/drive/passion. Which it sounds like she is. Therefore, she doesn't need to CHILL out, she needs to GET out. He is not the one.

steve

@hotdog
I dunno. LW doesn't specify what the job is, but she does say that he's "very hard-working, passionate, and enjoys his job". If I can whip out the jump to conclusions mat, sounds like he's working that particular job because he wants to, not because he has to or is lazy (not to mention, surely a genuine slacker wouldn't last 11 years).

There's still a problem, since there's an imbalance in their ordering of priorities (LW has fiscal security above job choice, and vice versa for the guy), but I doubt it's a terminal one.

fondue with cheddar

@hotdog Agreed. Her boyfriend sounds a hell of a lot like my ex husband, who had a college degree and continued working at the mall. He was only making half as much money as I was, and we were struggling. When we were in college he joked that I was his sugar mama (I had 3 jobs to his one), but after we graduated and he never got a "real" job, I grew resentful.

You're right, low ambition isn't necessarily bad, but it can be for some people. And the reasons for having low ambition matter. If it's a pattern of doing the bare minimum, that's not good. If he's sponging off her and refusing to give back, that's not good. I can't think of what an okay reason would be, but maybe there are some.

Incidentally, my ex did eventually get a second job (also at the mall). I thought this was because he wanted to contribute his fair share, and it made me happy. Eventually I realized he only worked there it in order to spend more time with his girlfriend (our friend, who also worked there). They have a child now and are married, and last I heard he still had a low-paying job for which one does not need a college degree.

rocknrollunicorn

@hotdog This letter made me giggle a little because it reminded me of this guy I dated a couple of years ago. He was 31 or so and working on his BA, meanwhile had been working at a bar for 12 years. As a barback. 12 years as a barback. One evening he looked at me and said, "Maybe I should try to get promoted to bartender." DO YOU THINK?

Difference being, of course, that he was hoping to move on to something else (though as a film major... it wasn't like opportunities unfolding left and right in front of him). Personally, ambition isn't one of my hugest turn-ons (obviously, given this anecdote), but if it is a big deal for LW3, she needs to think about how much this will bother her 3, 5, 10 years from now.

EternalFootwoman

@hotdog I think more information is needed before we brand the dude a slacker, but my gut instinct is...to brand the dude a slacker. He has the same job he had a 22, which is hourly and has no benefits. That could be fine and it is true we don't know what it is, but what is the likelihood that he will still be at this hourly no-benefits job in another eleven years? If he loses said job, is he more likely to suddenly start applying to jobs using his eleven-year-old college degree or to apply for another hourly no-benefits job?

I also wonder about the house. Yes, he owns a condo. But...he bought it with inheritance money. After living with his parents. I know people live with their parents for a variety of reasons that do not make them slackers (Disclosure: I presently live with my mother), but the fact that he lived with his parents and bought a place only after receiving a windfall of money makes me think he would have been unable to purchase a home without said windfall and would still be living with his parents if he hadn't received it.

If financial security and ambition are important to the LW, she should leave now before she finds herself supporting this guy.

fondue with cheddar

@rocknrollunicorn My ex was a film major! Now he's a stockboy at a retail chain.

@EternalFootwoman YES to your entire second paragraph.

WaityKatie

@hotdog I'm even more disturbed by the "lived with his parents until 33" part. And "only bought his own place due to an inheritance that fell in his lap." Um, what now? And don't anybody tell me "recession" cause that hasn't been going on for the past 11 years.

WaityKatie

@WaityKatie And I'm not trying to say that everyone should be able to buy a condo, (I sure can't) but there's something called renting, look into it.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@hotdog: He is 33 but acts 21 and she is 24. Their relationship is not long for this world.

hotdog

@WaityKatie Yeah, right? I feel like if you're coming at this from a 33 year old woman's perspective, you think "oh HELLS no" a lot faster than this Dude did.

WaityKatie

@hotdog I wonder if these people live in Philadelphia, because when I lived there it seemed every guy I met was living with his parents, well into his 30's, because he was "saving to buy a house" and "didn't want to waste money on rent" in the meantime. There's something about dudes in that city that makes them think they shouldn't have to pay rent. WTF people it's called adulthood. (And egads, renting is so freaking cheap in that city anyway!)

ThundaCunt

@jen325 Jesus Christ though, the MALL!??

EternalFootwoman

@WaityKatie Ugh, "wasting money" on rent. I simply do not get that. You are receiving housing in return for your money. You do not have to do major repairs should they arise. You can up and move whenever you want. How is that a "waste"?

timesnewroman

@EternalFootwoman Also, you don't have to live with your parents as an overgrown baby-adult. MONEY WELL SPENT!!
(I also presently live with my parents.)

WaityKatie

@EternalFootwoman I know, I waste money on so many things, but rent is the one thing that is not a waste of money. Having a place to live is pretty essential! I just hate this idea that people don't want to grow up and be responsible for themselves until everything is *perfect* and they can move right into a plush condo and not have to deal with any of the realities of life, like landlords and roommates, etc. Meanwhile, Mom's going to make them dinner every night and do their laundry. That's just...not hot.

editrickster

@hotdog Yea, the age difference threw up a red flag for me too. He's dating younger because no woman in her 30s would put up with that shit.

I dated a similar guy where he was 28 and I was 24. I had my degree and was busting my ass at the paper and at the coffee shop. He worked at a kiosk at the mall, and later for a cell phone company. I was lucky to have a job in my field, but we were on different wavelengths, money and ambition-wise, and I don't even consider myself that ambitious.

EternalFootwoman

@WaityKatie I was just having a discussion the other day about how so many people in my age group seem to view owning a home as the ultimate sign of adulthood and are willing to take on mortgages they can't afford and/or live with their parents in order to buy a house. Meanwhile, things like learning to deal with roommates and landlords and bills are lessons lost.

sevanetta

@EternalFootwoman wow, thank you, I am going to bring this up next time my family pressure me about buying a house again. My brother lived at home to age 25 and only moved out because he bought a house with his girlfriend (they're married now, 3 years later). I spent my 20s sharehousing and finally moved interstate (back to where my family are) so I could afford to live on my own. My parents think I'm wasting my money and fail to realise that since I have had to (and wanted to) pay my own way, instead of living rent and bill free, funnily enough I have had rent and bills to pay. They try to get me to buy a house by saying they will help with the deposit, and when I ask who will pay for the maintenance and rates they suddenly get very deaf.

EternalFootwoman

@sevanetta Yeah, people seem to forget all the extra costs that come with owning a house. Your actual mortgage payment may be comparable to rent, but the taxes add money and you're responsible for anything that needs to be done to the house, unlike a rental. I really, really enjoy knowing that if a pipe bursts or the roof leaks or the water heater breaks, I don't have to fix it.

fondue with cheddar

@everyone Yeah, I understand how people say that my rent is more than their mortgage. But my rent is a regular, fixed expense. When their heater breaks or they need a new roof or their basement leaks, that costs a lot of money and sometimes completely blindsides them.

@ThundaCunt Yeah, I know. He worked at the mall while he was in school, and when that store closed he got another job...in the mall. He's moved up in the world, though. Now he's working in a ritzy retail strip center!

I'm not exactly Ms. Ambition myself, and even though I'm working in the field for which I went to school, I don't make nearly as much as I should. But at least I'm not making barely over minimum wage. He majored in radio/TV/film. The only job he was really qualified for was being a cameraman, but he didn't want to do that. He wanted to be a director! I see how well that's working out.

timesnewroman

@jen325 I'm out of college a year and I see that sort of thing a lot! People applying for crazy amazing jobs that require loads of experience & contacts, getting rejected, and then declaring that they'll work in retail/catering/something else low-paying and totally irrelevant until one of their dream jobs accepts them. It doesn't seem to even occur to them to try and get a mid-level job in the vague area that interests them, or some temp work, or at least an office job of some kind that might look better on a CV/resume...

fondue with cheddar

@timesnewroman He never applied to any dream jobs though, because for some reason there were no ads in the paper for "movie director". Imagine that!

WaityKatie

@jen325 Maybe he should have checked craigslist?

fondue with cheddar

@WaityKatie Ah, I guess he didn't think of it because there wasn't one in Philly yet. Think of all the opportunities there probably were in other cities!

josefinastrummer

@EternalFootwoman We just had an Aflac meeting this morning at work and the rep was shocked when four out of the 10 people present said they have no desire to ever own a home. She told us we would grow out of that and stop throwing money away. Yeah, hopefully we will all grow up and buy houses we can't afford because the Aflac rep told us we should. SHUT UP! I pay for a roof over my head and when the toilet blows up, I call someone to fix it!
And WaityKatie, you pretty much summed up why I only date guys who didn't grow up in Philly while I live in Philly. Sorry if I don't want to date you and your mom, Little Joey, even if she makes great Sunday night dinner. This goes for the whole Delaware Valley, not just the city itself. Ugh.

WaityKatie

@josefinastrummer Amazing. Apparently the lessons of the mortgage crisis were *completely lost* on some people. God I remember how, during the bubble, EVERY conversation ended up with the person berating me to buy a condo. I had just graduated from law school with a shit-ton of debt, made 40k per year, and lived in DC, AND YET, everyone was so horrified that I wasn't going to immediately buy property. I was throooowwwwing my money awaaaaayyyy. "But I don't have a down payment..." "Nevermind that! Buy one with no money down! Borrow for the down payment! Buy! Buy! Buy!"

fondue with cheddar

@WaityKatie Why don't people understand that that's the reason we're in this mess?! It's not entirely the fault of the lenders.

josefinastrummer

@jen325 So true! People need to get over this 1994 mentality that if you don't buy, you are a loser. My retired parents purchased a house in California with a bad mortgage, because my dad was embarrassed to be renting. Embarrassed at 65 years old! They have since lost that house and filed for bankruptcy and they will never come back east because of pride. So when someone tells me to buy a house when I only make $25,000 a year at a real job, I want to tell that person to shove it. Ugh. Just because we are approved for mortgages doesn't mean we can afford them!

fondue with cheddar

@josefinastrummer Plus I really like having the option to move once a year.

EternalFootwoman

@jen325 I know! People need to be responsible for their finances and understand what comes with buying a house. And yes, I love that renting makes moving so much easier. Perhaps that speaks to my immaturity, but the relative permanence of owning just seems inconvenient.

Better to Eat You With

@hotdog Your ex could be my ex except that mine married the first woman he dated after me and is now a stay-at-home-dad.

fondue with cheddar

@EternalFootwoman I don't think it's immature at all. Why does maturity have to mean staying in one place? Maturity is knowing what's right for you and doing it, regardless of everyone else's opinion.

EternalFootwoman

@jen325 I definitely don't think it's immature! I was being a little sarcastic because the prevailing attitude seems to be that until you own a home you're not a Real Adult.

RNL
RNL

Re: LW3. My personal credo with relationships is as follows: don't ever ever ever be with someone whom you think needs to change in some specific way in order for you to accept them. If you can't love who they are right now, then you'll never really love them. You're in love with an idea of them that does not actually exist. Even if it does come to be, you probably won't love them then either, because you never really did.

Of course people will change and grow up, but you can't know how that's going to happen. We love people, not potential people.

frigwiggin

@RobotsNeedLove but projeeeeectinnnnngggggggg

(it's so much funnnnnnnn)

JadedStone

@RobotsNeedLove *CLAP CLAP* VERY TRUE

Except for eyebrows. You may change your partner's eyebrows.

Judith Slutler

@RobotsNeedLove Yep. Exactly this. If you are 6 months in and thinking "this person would be perfect if they would just xyz" then either change that expectation or get out, imho.

RNL
RNL

@Jade And the cut of their jeans.

lora.bee

@RobotsNeedLove "We love people, not potential people." This.

themmases

@RobotsNeedLove Many years ago, before we dated, my now-boyfriend was a tech crew person who only wore awful black cargo pants. I took him shopping because I told him "if you don't learn to wear jeans you will never have sex." (why yes, I was one of those sarcastic 18-year-olds who think they're still being cute several comments into actually being awful)

My only defense now re. the sex comment is "But I took care of that!" Although, he did go back to not wearing jeans (but at least not the cargo pants). You may not be able to change the cut of your partner's jeans, but it may not matter?

RNL
RNL

@themmases Haha no of course it doesn't matter. I mean, if you partner doesn't care and you like them better without pleats or cargos or whatever, I think go ahead and lovingly take them shopping. But you have to believe down to your toes that you would love them even if they wore gross cargo pants to your own wedding.

Ophelia

@RobotsNeedLove I've also successfully donated all of my husband's pleated pants to charity. But I've always liked what's under them. *eyebrow wiggle*

JadedStone

@themmases I will paint you a picture!

When I met my dude he sported a MUSHROOM CUT with weird UNIBROW and this hideous baby blue raincoat that was so old and acid washed mom jeans that were too tight and highcut.

But the things that actually mattered? awesome.

tales

@RobotsNeedLove Yes, but this sentiment always makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I've had fights with a partner in the past that went something like Me: "x thing that you're doing is incredibly hurtful" Partner: "but doing x thing is part of who I am, I guess you don't really love me just this idea of me or someone else you want me to be" (x thing being something behavior related and also pretty clearly hurtful like lying) Which is manipulative and fucked up and I think this sentiment can be really easily twisted into it.

EDIT: I totally agree about this letter writer though, if you don't like the way someone independently goes about their life leave them the fuck alone. You do not love that person.

Linette

@RobotsNeedLove

There was a point when I sent my man-friend a joking infographic on the sketchiness of various facial hair stylings because his (the soul patch, if you're curious) was on the far end of the Sketch-O-Meter and it amused me. He wrote back, "Do you not like it? Should I get rid of it?"

It had never occurred to me I had power over what facial hair he chose to sport. The sheer potential power blew my little mind.

Beatrix Kiddo

@themmases The main reason I prefer winter is because then it's too cold for my boyfriend to wear cargo shorts EVERY. FREAKING. DAY. At least I convinced him to stop wearing hideous socks with them...

siniichulok

@RobotsNeedLove So true! I had a controlling decade-older (30-35 at the time) ex who used to wear his socks pulled up almost to his knees and almost meeting his shorts like an old man and it used to secretly really bother me. My two-years-younger-than-I-am, not-controlling, lovely husband does the same and I find it cute. Go figure....

Harris, Emmeline

@RobotsNeedLove
"We love people, not potential people." That's profound!

Summer Somewhere

LW3, I don't understand your concern about his money, especially if he's responsible, independent, not up to his eyeballs in debt, and happy with his current position. If you get married, you should be able to put him on your benefits. If you want more money, it sounds like you're fairly ambitious, I imagine you'll end up earning it. The underlying implication to me is that you want him to be ambitious in his career so he can provide for you, and he just might not be that guy.

laurel

@Summer Somewhere: This, yes, this. If she was concerned about his lack of health coverage, they could work that out together as a couple. Her problem seems to be that he's not sufficiently ambitious to suit her vision of her married self.

tessamae

@Summer Somewhere Yep, this. Especially with the paradigm shift we are living through, with more and more household showing the women to be the breadwinners. (Fantastic article on that HERE.) I'd personally prefer a man who is happy, passionate and comfortable with himself than one who is drudging through a career he doesn't like just to make more money.

TheclaAndTheSeals

@Summer Somewhere I don't think it's fair to say that she wants him to provide for her. I didn't see that anywhere in her letter (and it usually shows through). Some people find ambition attractive, some people don't. If she thinks of herself as ambitious and likes being around ambitious people and finds ambition sexy, then a guy not being ambitious could very well be a deal breaker. Or she could find that it's not as important to her as she thought.

Summer Somewhere

@TheclaAndTheSeals I acknowledge that I was making an assumption, and that my reading can be taken as sexist. I just don't understand why someone would decide after six months that they want to settle down and, in order to do so, they must change their partner radically. (I'm attracted to nerds. I don't go to sports bars, hit on jocks and then, six months into the relationship, push for them to play Dungeons & Dragons with me.) Admittedly, my assumption is rooted in societal scripts and memories of my own early relationships.

bot
bot

@Summer Somewhere My guy is not particularly ambitious, at least not career-wise. When we started dating, I said something to a close friend like, "I know this will never work out long term, because of the career thing, but I really like him." And now CloseFriend and I laaaugh about that, because it turns out I do not give a damn about the career thing! My guy is hard-working and dependable and I am proud that he takes pride in his totally unglamorous retail job. But before I met him, I had always surrounded myself with people with a lot of career ambition, and I myself had(have?) it, so I assumed that I could only be with someone in the same boat. (Also, I worked with a lot of jerks who were judgey about people who worked in retail, and like a fool, I thought that mattered.) It turns out, the Stuff that Mattered did not include what he did for a living, or what my jerk colleagues thought of it. In a year or so, I figured all that out -- and maybe LW3 will come to the same conclusion.

litothela

@Summer Somewhere
I think it's all about one's priorities. I'm a very ambitious person, career-focused and driven, and I could never be with someone in the long term who didn't have the same sorts of expectations of themselves, no matter the other great stuff they had going on. It's an essential part of who you are.
However, in the same same vein, I have friends in the same career as me with the same amount of drive who couldn't care less what their partners do for a living, as long as they have some passion for whatever it is and also other good qualities.
I see this LW as being the type for whom lack of ambition is a dealbreaker, and I think it seems to be a separate issue than breadwinning.

packedsuitcase

@litothela This. My ex is a wonderful guy who is just...content. Content to work a job he doesn't like, content to just go with the flow, content to just see where life takes him. I, on the other hand, am the "make shit happen" type, and like to have a plan in place and the next 5 steps outlined. The only shocking thing about our relationship ending was that it took so long! 5.5 (fantastic, honestly) years together, but it was a core incompatibility. Doesn't mean either of us are bad people (we're pretty awesome people, actually), just that we were bad partners for one another. I always wanted him to be more like me, and he always wanted me to be more like him.

skyslang

@bot Thanks for your reply! There was a thread above where everyone was coming down on guys who work retail or in bars. I don't think it matters what you do for a living. All that matters is that you're happy, you live within your means and you pay your bills.

StandardTuber

LW1, if he's like this with the loans, what's going to happen if you rack up a large bill in, say, the hospital? Or if you want to get a new car because your old one poops out on you?
Of course, we're only getting her side of the story, but if it's to be believed then I say hustle your butt muscle out of this relationship. Easier said than done, but honestly - if the shit hits the fan, this guy sounds less likely to stick it out with you than just fold his arms and say "Sucks to be you."

Brunhilde

@Mabissa Well, *I* wasn't the one who got breast cancer. I don't see why I should have to pay for your chemotherapy.

stonefruit

@Brunhilde THIS. You are so spot on.

(I'm saying this in words b/c I want to like your comment, but the sentiment makes me so profoundly sad that I can't bring myself to click the little thumbs-up icon.)

runner in the garden

@Brunhilde I started imagining her presenting him with a bill after every home-cooked meal. "You ate 57% of the ground beef tonight. Pay up!"

sceps yarx

@runner in the garden ooof, that's what one of the couples in Joy Luck Club does, right? Like, they figure out who has to pay for what percentage of the ice cream in the freezer...i believe the point is that any theory of gender roles, including total egalitarianism, can be opressive if someone is a maga asshole about it.

@Brunhilde That hits so close to home right now. Ladyfriend and I are getting serious (um, I hate to be a downer, she was just diagnosed with cancer), and we're both on board with "no, let's not think about marriage until hospital bills are paid and our graduate student loans are taken care of and it'll be okay."

Even though it wasn't my ovary that got a tumor, I sure as hell would be helping to pay for it if we were married because that's What You Do.

packedsuitcase

@S. Elizabeth So so so sorry to hear about your Ladyfriend, I will send her lots of healing, "Get healthy soon, ovary" thoughts.

Judith Slutler

LW2, one thing I've always appreciated my mom being totally honest about: she never wanted to have kids. In fact, after reading Sophie's Choice in college, she decided the world was too horrible to bring any more people into it on purpose.

Then! She met my dad. She watched him interact with children and was like "Hey, this man is MEANT to be a father".

That's why I exist and even when I am dealing with massive mental health issues, grad school, physical problems and all that other bullshit, I am still glad that my parents made that decision.

This isn't to say that you have to reproduce, but I think a lot of parents never have a ~super magic moment~ that makes them suddenly lose all their reservations about childbearing. You can be cynical and be a great parent.

WaityKatie

@Emmanuelle Cunt I get what you're saying, but to those of us who don't want kids, being told "you'll change your mind when you fall in love!" is possibly the most infuriating thing that can ever be said to a person. (Other than "calm down," perhaps).

Ophelia

@WaityKatie True, but in all fairness, it sounds like the LW DOES want kids, but is waiting for a thunderclap to tell her "Go!" - I think the advice would be different if she was truly ambivalent.

Judith Slutler

@Ophelia Yeah, this was more what I meant. So much of our narrative around childbearing is "And then we decided that it would be THE BEST THING EVER to have a baby, and a double rainbow appeared the first time I breastfed, and Little Brayden has been getting straight A's and modeling for Gap Kids ever since!"

Whereas my mom was like, "hah, nope, good thing I met your dad at a kegger, because otherwise I never would've had you two. Now get out in the garden and help me with the weeding"

Linette

@WaityKatie I know this one! I can't tell you how many people say that you fall in love with kids when you have them. Which I'm sure is true. I'm sure I would love the heck out of a kid if I had one. But I'm equally sure I would love the heck out of a brand-new sailboat if I bought one, but I am not going to buy one, because I do not live anywhere near a body of water and never shall.

WaityKatie

@Linette Also I'm pretty sure no one has ever told a woman who wants kids, "You'll change your mind when you fall in love with a wonderful man who absolutely does not want kids." But I bet that has happened more than once in human history.

Linette

@WaityKatie Oh gods yes. So true.

I've always been fairly ambivalent on kids, but mostly that ambivalence translates to "don't want", because I think kids should be actively desired. But there have been men I was with where I thought, "Yeah, we'd have to have kids, because that's how this relationship rolls," and equally so in other relationships a strong thought of "This dynamic between us works gorgeously, but would cease to do so immediately if we introduced children."

Apocalypstick

@Linette I am stealing that metaphor for use on all nosy old biddys.

Samantha Auchenpaugh@twitter

@waitykatie dammit, I want a sailboat now!

I get super tired of the "you'll fall in love with kids when you have them" thing. My husband and I do not want kids. We've decided that. But when we tell people, their minds are blown. It seems like a large portion of the population believes that having children is the meaning of life the universe and everything.

There are plenty of people who are having children, and who are wonderful parents. There is no reason for people who do not want children to feel pressured to do so just because they are smart, well educated, or successful (all reason's I've heard for why the spouse and I should reproduce).

Nicole Cliffe

It's bullshit. Stay the course.

EpWs

@Linette I am ALSO stealing this metaphor and filing it away for future use. Love love love.

E Wren

@WaityKatie I have a question for you. Has your decision not to have children started to impede your dating prospects? I thought it would be SO easy to find a guy that doesn't want children just like me, but it's been the opposite. Every guy I've dated has definitely wanted kids. I'm now at a point where I'm ready to settle down in other ways and have met an amazing guy...who wants to have kids one day. Which makes me wonder if I should just break it off now to avoid heartbreak later. Also, "you'll change your mind one day," is so infuriating to hear. I wish people would respect my choice. I definitely respect theirs.

WaityKatie

@E Wren Why yes, yes it has. Everyone I have dated, save one guy, wanted to have kids "someday," and my personal belief is that this was a key factor in them never truly taking me seriously as a relationship prospect. The one guy who didn't want kids was also the only one who was truly into me...coincidence? Maybe. At this point I have gone a long long time without any serious relationship prospects,and it sucks. Recently I decided to just be as up front as possible in my online dating attempts, so now I have "I don't want kids" in three different, prominent places in my profile...the responses are few and scanty but I hope they are at least coming from the right pool now. The problem is, the dating pool is so small for us and it's so hard to come across someone who honestly does not want kids, male or female. Almost everyone I know either hs or wants kids; I only have two female friends who don't want them and one was lucky enough to marry someone who doesn't care, although he still occasionally wavers about it. It's really freaking hard and frustrating!

sevanetta

@WaityKatie I've said it before, I'll say it again. Come hang out in my town - when I was doing online dating I kept finding all the guys who don't want kids - even though I had prominently in my profile that I want kids. I don't know where the men who want children are hanging out, but it's certainly not here.

packedsuitcase

@Linette Oh, every single word of this. Every single one!

MilesofMountains

@WaityKatie I actually did change the mind of a guy who thought he might want kids. When we started dating he thought it'd be nice some day and I was 100% against (we weren't planning on getting married so we figured that didn't matter). By the time we broke up he agreed that he didn't want them, and now has apparently gone off the Voluntary Human Extinction deep end.

skyslang

@WaityKatie My cousin and one of my best friends both knew from a very early age (like 10) that they did not want kids. They're both happily married now, without kids, to awesome dudes. Take heart! There are plenty of dudes out there just like you.
Maybe focus on what you DO want? For my cousin it was travel. It's an absolute priority to her. And so it was for her husband.
Usually, if you've decided you don't want kids, you've thought about what you're going to do with your time and money instead. Travel? Career? Art? Fashion? What is that thing for you?
Just a thought.

E Wren

@sevanetta Oooh, do tell! What town?

E Wren

@skyslang This gives me hope! I remember that I started having dreams about pregnancy when I was around 16 or 17 and the overall theme was "oh, no, my life is over." I absolutely love children and have been told time after time I would make a great parent, but it is not my path. Music is my baby.

WaityKatie

@skyslang Yeah, I mean, I have focused on those things. The problem has been that I meet guys who are into those things...and they all want kids. So it's kind of a matter of making it really clear that I don't want that lifestyle, as well as emphasizing the other things that I do want.

WaityKatie

@E Wren Every dream I've ever had about pregnancy has been a nightmare. Maybe that's a sign? Oh, but I'm sure I would "love have kids if I did it"!

WaityKatie

@sevanetta Also I think there's a problem in that guys don't really read profiles. They look at the pictures, age, and maybe "body type" and then write. This is why I've felt the need to reiterate multiple times in my profile that I don't want kids, in the hopes that at least one mention will sink in somehow.

E Wren

@WaityKatie I believe I'm the only one of my friends that doesn't want children and I get the "you'll change your mind!" from most of them (and these are fairly progressive people, I should add). The only people that seem to respect my stance are my sister, who has a 3 year-old and month-old twins and my father.

ETA: I've also been told that when I meet "The ONE" I'll be overcome with the urge to merge our biological material because true love is that powerful.

sevanetta

@E Wren you're not gonna like this... I live on the eastern coast of Australia.

sevanetta

@WaityKatie Yes, it just happened to my cousin. She is 37 and he is 45 with two children in their early 20s - he's done. But my other cousin (ie my cousin's sister) has already had one child, and Cousin A is a very hands-on aunty (and godmother to other children). She says it is worth it to be with her guy. Plus she runs a small business which is expanding - I had wondered for a while how she would deal with having kids. There are tradeoffs.

sevanetta

@WaityKatie yes, I agree. including educated/lefty men. they all just look at the pictures. Which I'm not really judging for, because women judge by pictures too, except I got tired of getting rejected (I suspect) because I am not blonde and blue eyed. (Or busty, come to think of it, there's another stereotypical thing they all seemed to want.) I may as well have written 'hobbies: reading magazines and shopping'.

josefinastrummer

@WaityKatie Ugh, WaityKatie, I hear you. I'm lucky to date a really great guy who doesn't want kids, but it probably helps that he is six years younger than me. But we've talked about if we stay together and he changes his mind...not only will I probably not change my mind, I might be too old anyway!
I know you've heard it before, but keep your eyes open and keep being upfront about this stuff. There are good guys out there who don't want to pro-create. I think a bigger discussion to have is what if you both don't want kids, but get pregnant by accident? Then what?

sevanetta

@josefinastrummer People adapt to their circumstances (although some of them become awful 'BUT YOU DON'T KNOW HOW GOOD IT IS, I WAS LIKE YOU ONCE' people, I'm sure). Most of my friends who have had kids wanted them very, very much, but one couple (who I'm very close to so they're more likely to be honest), their first pregnancy was accidental. They had bought a house together but hadn't thought a lot about kids or marriage. When my girlfriend told me she was pregnant, I sensed she was so ambivalent I wasn't sure if she was keeping it (although I also sensed that the father to be, hovering at our shoulders, was very happy, just trying not to show it). Anyway, they had their child, and my friend turned out to be one of the happiest mothers I knew, but not because having a kid changed her mind - I honestly believe it was because she had low/no expectations. She was ok with having a kid, but not super happy about it. Both the parents and kid are pretty relaxed, and they've decided to have another. Whereas some of the people who were so overjoyed about having a child are highly anxious about their kid and their experience has been disappointing in some ways. There's a lot to be said for low/no expectations!

yeah-elle

Secret Bank Account
Sinister Butt Assface
Selfish Brute, Away
Suggest Breaking Association

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle Should Be Asskicked

Reginal T. Squirge

Small Business Association

tessamae

@yeah-elle Sneak-thievery Bespeaks Assholery

Mira

@yeah-elle Stinginess Begets Acrimony

Ophelia

@Mira Stinginess Begets Alimony?

PistolPackinMama

@Ophelia Yeah, but if she earns more, guess who is paying it? Lady, you are a lawyer. Get a lawyer friend to work out how you won't have to pay alimony when you jump ship so you can be financially strapped without a partner I Told You So-Ing.

stonefruit

@yeah-elle what is it with you and butts.

yeah-elle

@yeah-elle They're delightful? Everything is butts and nothing hurts? I am five?

anachronistique

@yeah-elle butts butts butts butts butts

yeah-elle

@anachronistique

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle One time (unfortunately before I worked here) my boss was up on a ladder near the front door hanging something on the wall when a customer came in. The dude grabbed his ass with both hands, and boss was so taken aback he didn't know how to react, so he said nothing. I have no idea what possessed him to do that! He definitely does not seem like the kind of guy who would do something like that. He's been in a ton of times in the years since and both he and my boss act like it never happened.

I'm a big fan of butts, and of butt-squeezing. Sometimes I worry that I will instinctively reach out and pat or grab someone's butt when it's not appropriate, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe that's what happened with him?

rocknrollunicorn

Oh god, LW1. I understand you have a child, but unless his complaining is a cover and a ruse for when he uses the money in his SECRET BANK ACCOUNT to finally give you a vacation you deserve, this man does not deserve you, or anyone who isn't as petty as him, really.

I mean, Married Dude is right, all marrieds approach finances differently. But what if, god forbid, you lost your job? Would he continually guilt you over that while taking care of your household costs? WOULD he take care of your household costs? Being cautious with money is one thing, being stingy and/or cruel and petty about it is another thing. People who love you don't need to fork over all their cash, but they need to not be terrible assholes about your finances.

WaityKatie

@rocknrollunicorn "We wouldn't be in this situation if you'd kept your job." "We wouldn't be in this situation if you hadn't had that baby." "We wouldn't be in this situation if your parents didn't need to be in a nursing home."

Briony Fields

Seems to me that LW3 is looking for an out. I wonder if LW3 feels like settling down with him is more something she *should* do rather than something she wants to do, and is therefore looking for a way to avoid it?

Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter

Wait, so for LW1, how are things like joint purchases worked out? If you buy a bookshelf, do you go halfsies? Tuition for the kids?

I'm not saying that he needs to split you on your monthly pound of flesh, because he's sort of got a point - you took on that big debt before you even met him, and it isn't his burden to carry. And, if you out-earn him by a significant margin, it's also not fair to expect a 50/50 split: partners need to contribute financially to the best of the abilities, not to the breaking point of their wallet. If your loans are breaking your wallet and his low-paying job is breaking his, then it sounds like you two have a serious crack in what holds you two together, money-wise. If he's withholding because he wants things to be split down the middle, regardless of it makes you feel financially safe, then he's being a dillhole.

The cost of sharing a household, raising children, vacations, food, big purchases, gifts, fun money, travel, insurance premiums and the emergency savings account you have for when you accidentally back into the garage door while it's still down should be shared, as much as you can, between the two of you. If he refuses to do those things, he is being petty and mean. Get counselling.

empathicalist

LW1 - Firstly, that nonsense is sending up red flags for future emotional abuse. Secondly, on a practical note, it seems there are two big schools of thought (with a million variations) when it comes to married finances. All in (with each putting a percentage of their income to communal bills and debt) or completely separate (flat amounts, each pay individual debts). He obviously has an issue with all in, so keep it separate. BUT, since your student loans are causing you personal financial strain, I would seriously discuss downsizing your life. You need to get your half of the bills down, so you can get your debt paid off. If that impacts his quality of life, tough shit.

steve

@minijen
Yeah, it sounds like a substantial portion of that $90k salary is being directed to maintaining the joint standard of living.

empathicalist

@steve Yeah, at that salary, you'd bring in what - $6k a month? Less $1k for student loans, and her half of the bills is $5000? That's insane. There are some fantastic personal finance blogs out there that can help with cutting down expenses, paying off debt and building emergency savings. At this point, I would suggest keeping her personal savings completely separate from her husband, so he can't get his paws on it if she needs to leave.

themegnapkin

@minijen "That's insane. There are some fantastic personal finance blogs out there that can help with cutting down expenses, paying off debt and building emergency savings."
Can you recommend one or two? It's sometimes hard to sort out the crap advice from the good stuff.

WaityKatie

@minijen Taxes and retirement contributions, though. I make a lot more than 90k and my take home is $6000 a month, so I don't think those numbers can possibly be right.

empathicalist

@WaityKatie It definitely depends on taxes, retirement, insurance, etc. I was going with the basic rule of thumb of net = gross - 25%. Not foolproof, but surprising on target, most of the time.

Ophelia

@WaityKatie Yeah, I make roughly that, and I think she probably takes home about $4500/month after taxes/401K. If her loans are like my husband's, that's $1200/month in payments. So there is no way she's able to bear $5k/month in expenses (and for the life of me, I can't figure out what they're spending $10k/month on??)

empathicalist

@themegnapkin Blog RSS feeds I read every day:
The Billfold:)
Get Rich Slowly
Wise Bread
Simple Dollar
Clever Dude finances
Money Crush
Budgets Are Sexy

For podcasts, I like Suze Orman. Dave Ramsey may be ok for some, but he's rabidly religious, and turns me off completely. There are a number of great books out there, but I've found "Your Money or Your Life" to be the most helpful.

TheclaAndTheSeals

@minijen Yep, this is exactly what I was thinking. If she's paying for 50% or more of joint expenses, she's in a very good place to negotiate him down to a more modest shared standard of living. (Even if she's paying less than 50%, she should have this discussion, but I'm just saying that it sounds like she has the upper hand here.)

themegnapkin

@minijen awesome, thanks!

empathicalist

@minijen I think it would be great if LW1 would throw in on this conversation. She could totally do so anonymously, I just would like some info so we can all give (polite) constructive feedback.

tootsky

@minijen Yes, I posted upthread much the same thing, equalize the monthly income and use the surplus to pay down the debt. BUT, this will impact HER quality of life too, and would she be down with that? That's the question.

Cat named Virtute

This is the best Dude of all the Dudes who have ever Duded here. That answer to LW2 was so beautiful and empathetic. Nice work, Dude.

Lizzy@twitter

I'm not saying this is the case here, but I feel like "Secret Bank Account" goes well with "Secret Mistress" or "Secret Gambling Addiction"

steve

@Lizzy@twitter
Secret Canadian Family.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Lizzy@twitter Definitely. Why else would it be a secret?

JadedStone

@Lizzy@twitter truth! My grandfather had a secret bank account AND a secret family.

Very open gambling addiction though.

tessamae

@Lizzy@twitter

As I read the rest of her letter after that phrase, all I could think was "I'm pretty sure this is in the plot of 99% of the Lifetime movies I have watched."

Aunt Ada Doom

@Jade If it is not too rude to ask: Can you tell this story? I want to hear it.

chevyvan

@steve And even more secret Attic Family.

JadedStone

@Aunt Ada Doom OH SURE. It's cool, I wasn't invited to the funeral or anything so afterwards when I found out I was like HAHAHAHAHAHA.

My grandparents were super wealthy, like 'let's just buy a townhouse here when we visit'. The thing was, my grandmother was the one who learned all the languages and schmoozed with people. I have few memories of my grandfather but there's this pic of him with a can of coca-cola in one hand, a can-can dancer on the other arm, and a cigar dangling from his lip. As a baby, he thought nothing of handing me a $500 poker chip.
But he lovvveeddd to gamble and was really charismatic. He also traveled tons for business. So he'd gamble away $10,000 on a single bet, but didn't worry too much about it. My grandparents also, being wealthy in South Africa and not white, had their monies in dozens of different accounts all over in different names. I guess that made it easier to hide stuff?

ANYWHO. My grandfather died suddenly of complications during surgery, and afterwards different family members starting showing up wanting their 'cut' of the inheritance. (WHOLE OTHER STORY)
Including this OTHER FAMILY he'd been supporting the whole time who lived in Hong Kong.
I don't think they actually got anything, and I never heard a word about it since. Guess it got buried. Or they got paid off? Not sure.

Aunt Ada Doom

@Jade That is amazing. Seriously? If that was a book it would be on my bookshelf. Thanks for brightening up the heavy thread!

lisma

@Jade What is it with secret families in Hong Kong? I know of more than one family with such a story!

themmases

I'm agnostic on whether couples should pay each other's debts-- I guess it depends what they're for and how much they need the help?-- but if LW1 has almost no money left over after paying them then her husband is living off her by refusing to split their expenses fairly.

Every normal person who's had to figure out, say, how much rent they can afford should have some passing familiarity with recommendations about what percentage of your money to spend on basic needs. If they're keeping their money separate, then their individual finances determine that. E.g., my boyfriend's and my rent budget is (1/3 his income) + (1/3 my income) + (whatever we would otherwise spend on any utilities included). People with large financial obligations may need to budget an even smaller share than this. If that and loans leaves LW1 with no money leftover, then she is overpaying for their other expenses, probably because her husband is perfectly willing to accept a chunk of her income while ignoring her financial realities.

Work it out however you want, but it is unacceptable for two people to share a household and one of them to get to keep a much larger share of their money than the other.

Tam
Tam

@themmases Yeah, that's what I was going to say, or calculate so that you can both save the same amount. So your income - 10% savings (or whatever) - loans is what you can contribute to your household. The same for him. Income - savings (same percentage in regards to income) is what he can contribute. That is fairer. Not just expenses / 2.

chevyvan

Does it mean I want to have kids if the story about the little girl in the chicken suit made me start weeping instantly? I think maybe it does...

Cat named Virtute

@chevyvan I also wept, but I'm pretty sure I'm a kid-free-for-lifer. If that helps.

fondue with cheddar

@Cat named Virtute Me too. I also weep at puppies but I have no desire to own a dog.

lobsterhug

@chevyvan Seriously. I'm ready to get this IUD out right now.

chevyvan

@lobsterhug Haha...I think my weeping still allows for a roughly 2-4 year delay in childbearing.

tessamae

@chevyvan Me too! One Halloween, right after college, a little boy came up to the door dressed as a Dalmatian. Not only was he the cutest little nugget EVER, but when it was his turn to tell a joke (sidenote: kids here in STL have to tell jokes for candy, it's the first and only place I've ever lived where that was a thing), he sister piped up "Oh he doesn't have a joke, but he'll bark." He stepped up on the stoop and held his tiny paw out, which had a button on it that said "Press me!". I did, and his costume made a barking sounds. I laughed, and he gave me this shy little smile that actually made my eyes smart with tears b/c at that moment I just knew it was kids or bust for me. Not that I’m in any hurry…sweet God no. But Halloween, amirite?

karenwog

@tessamae you're in StL too? Awesome, are you part of the FB group? Do you want to be? Message me at ksmyth4@slu.edu! Also the joke telling is PRECIOUS here

Reginal T. Squirge

My old Crown Vic used to have manifold failures.

SuperGogo

@Reginal T. Squirge That was its manifest destiny.

PomoFrannyGlass

Caveat: I have nothing useful to say, I am just venting, because normally I get very excited about "Ask a..." posts but this one is making me feel all twitchy and grumpy. Because: today is exactly 1 year since I left a marriage due to a) shared financial issues, specifically insurmountable student debt; b) some issues of ambition/practicality (as in, lack of both) on ex's part. And just as a super special reminder I got a letter from the IRS yesterday pertaining to tax issue from 2 years ago created by ex's irresponsibility.
Good luck to all the LWs, and for the love of god, anyone thinking about getting married, have multiple frank and probably uncomfortable conversations about money, debt, and long term plans before you do it.

City_Dater

@PomoFrannyGlass

Hear, hear!
Also, have those money conversations before you move in together, even if you're NOT talking marriage in the near future. If I had known a certain ex was, shall we say, not unlike LW#1's dick husband, I never would have moved in with him.

gfrancie

@PomoFrannyGlass YES to all of this. HAVE those hard conversations about the major things that kill marriages. Money, sex, and kids. Talk about them a lot. They are uncomfortable at first but when you get good and honest with one another, you have less stress about life, because you will have plans and paths. And revisit them on a regular basis.

Linette

@PomoFrannyGlass Indeed. It's really tempting to jump on the husband of LW1 because he frankly sounds like such a douche, and because the question is about money we think he's being a douche about money. But to me, the question of who pays for what and all that is really quite complex and individual, and if he wasn't behaving like such a dickwad about it, we would probably have a lot more sympathy for this exact scenario of money-wrangling and feel sorry about how hard money dealings in marriage sometimes are.

It is sometimes very hard to separate out someone's dickish behavior from the actual issue at hand, is what I'm saying.

PomoFrannyGlass

@Linette As framed strictly within the letter, the husband is not coming off well, but yes, this is SUCH a complex issue and given my own experience I can only assume there is more to it than a couple hundred words can cover. (Also, for sake of clarity/LW1's peace of mind: I didn't leave because my partner had insurmountable student loan debt and I didn't want to help, or vice versa. Circumstances were somewhat different. But the themes in all of these letters are overwhelmingly familiar.)

@gfrancie: God, yes. I think money is often the toughest to discuss (admittedly biased here), at least when one or both people have grown up thinking that the best marriages are based exclusively on love and rainbows and that things like careers and finances will just work themselves out along the unicorn ride. Even unicorn rides of love and rainbows require proper planning.

gfrancie

@PomoFrannyGlass I have to give some props to the church we got married in. (I was brought up Catholic) Before you are allowed to get married you have to do some kind of pre-marital counseling and you have to sit down and have a frank conversation about this stuff. In fact we were encouraged to write some things down. It was difficult for me because money was always a complicated/ugly subject. (in some ways I still feel it is a taboo subject because of the emotions it brings up.) It's hard because it can be used emotionally against one another.
You are absolutely right about the love and rainbows aspect vs. the reality that stuff happens, relationships change/evolve over time. (sometime for the better or the worse.) And it is okay to stop on occasion and address whether the state of things is working for both parties.

I do think that LW1 and her husband need to seek professional help (both on the financial and marital side of things) to address the resentment and inequality going on. He doesn't have to pay her debts but what is going on at the moment is NOT working.

This is my new username

@gfrancie Marriage prep is actually one thing that I appreciate about the Catholic Church. I think it's great that they make couples have discussions about the big things before they marry couples. It's interesting, I was once listening to someone rant about the evils of the Catholic marriage prep because someone they knew did and then they decided not to get married and how terrible it was of them to convince them not to get married. I was like, but isn't that a good thing? 'Cause maybe they shouldn't get married of they don't agree on major life things?

I am actually thinking about trying to find some sort of secular marriage prep/counselling type thing for the mister and me to do before we tie the knot. I am not really sure how common non-religious ones are though? I mean we have discussed a lot of major life things, and seem to be on the same page, but I feel like having a professional talk that stuff out with us might still be a good idea.

theotherginger

@PomoFrannyGlass check out a practical wedding. they have lots of posts on it. and they really helped me not marry an ex.

JadedStone

It occurs to me that I freak out about having a baby AND financial stuff ALL THE TIME with my boyfriend. (By freak out I mean flip flop and get really weird WHAT IF'FY about it.)

He is remarkably calm and has plans for pretty much everything I can think up.

FOR INSTANCE. Later? I will read this entire column to him and be like WHAT DO YOU THINK BF? If he doesn't say 'light LW1 on fire' I will be displeased.

steve

@Jade
He'll lower his newspaper and pause in thought for a few moments before taking the pipe from his mouth and saying in a soft but firm voice "light the guy on fire".

JadedStone

@steve so hot.

Samantha Auchenpaugh@twitter

@steve Is it weird that now I picture Mr. Bennet? (1999 BBC production of P&P not the Kiera Knightly crap.)

EpWs

@steve I picture Atticus Finch.

Cavendish

Mr. LW#1 is a total dick! Jeez Louise.

But this Dude? This Dude is alright. Excellent advice, Dude.

JennLA

My advice to LW1 & her 'partner': You make 90K? For just over ONE YEAR (a very short time), tell him you're going to live entirely off his income, and voila! the loans will be paid off. It seems so logical to me, it almost hurts! My husband and I do something similar- I make 35k, he makes 55k...every year (for the past few years), we save 100% of his income and only live on mine. It's great (& we even have enough for trips/organic groceries/etc). & when he goes back to school for a master's degree, we'll pay for it all right away (with plenty leftover for a house or something). I just don't get why more people don't try this live-on-one-income thing (especially when there's debt to pay off), because it's awesome and fun and nothing feels better than knowing you have $100k+ in savings/investments/down payments/whatever, after only a few years. And I realize that because your husband is the way he is, this may not seem possible...but have him read these comments and perhaps he'll see the light.

jule_b_sorry

Dear god, where do you live where two people can live comfortably on $35k a year? B/c I want to go to there...

wee_ramekin

@jule_b_sorry Sadly, I think the answer is to live nowhere near NYC.

Ophelia

@JennLA While that's an awesome idea, if he makes substantially less than $90k, and they live in, say, NYC or something, it can be difficult to afford rent/food for 2 people on, say less than $60K. It would probably entail moving, which would cost a lot up front, and possibly a change in schools for the kid (or dropping out of preschool altogether).

That's not to say he isn't a gigantic d-bag, just that it didn't seem to me that they were living off an insane amount of money (although their expenses seemed really high).

@wee_ramekin also, you are correct.

hellonheels

@JennLA I agree. Either that or subtract her monthly student loan payments from her monthly net income and then adjust their shares of household/living expenses according to what's left rather than (I presume) half and half.

Still though, something seems fishy to me with this one - even if she is paying 1K a month in student loans, where is the rest of her income going? I mean, I make, I don't know, about 25% less than her and pay out roughly $1500/month in car, student loan, and idiotic youth debt (which incidentally I would never expect my BF to contribute to, and in fact the reason I pay so much is because I want all of it, or at least the consumer debt, paid off before we settle down), and I have plenty left to live comfortably on. And while I may not have a kid, I live in San Francisco. At first I was like DTMFA, but maybe he's just acting douchey because he feels like she is mismanaging her money/expecting him to contribute to a more lavish lifestyle than he's comfortable with?

WaityKatie

@wee_ramekin I mean, the problem is that the 90k jobs usually tend to be in cities that cost a lot to live in. But if someone want to show me a 90k lawyer job in Detroit, I'm happy to send in my resume...

wee_ramekin

@WaityKatie Good point. I was more referring to her statement that she lives in a place where two people can live comfortably on a $35,000 salary.

JennLA

@jule_b_sorry Yeah...I probably should've mentioned that...definitely not NYC! In fact, I live in the Midwest. (not too far from Detroit) Rent for a nice 2 bedroom condo is $1100/month. It would be very difficult to make ends meet if we moved to a bigger city.

@wee_ramekin I lived in rural Virginia for a year right out of college and made $35K. By the end of the year, I had a TON in savings. So yes, rural boonies VA is where you can do that, but I was in a town with 1 lawyer, and he mostly wrote wills. Also, the quality of life sucked.

koume

To LW1: I was going to write a response about how some of your husband's actions may have reasonable-ish explanations, but Dude is right: it doesn't matter how reasonable his reasons are, if he's still managing to make you feel like crap and not listening to you. Obviously it's a two way street, and he might feel just as stressed about this as you do, but letting things stay like this is driving you crazy, and that's not good for anybody. Money is the symptom, not the cause.

sophia_h

Oh my god: this column is my life split into three people!

1. I am a lawyer, my husband and I pay everything out of one joint checking account. It works for us. One of my friends from law school has a similar setup to LW and had to go right back to work after her baby was born to pay "her" loans because her husband won't touch them. I think she's crazy and they have fights over it but it seems to work for her. I'd say get counseling because this scenario isn't working for you. Maybe he needs to see it as "how to maximize everyone's happiness in this marriage" versus what's "fair"?

2. Ugh we have been around and around the kid mill and finally said yes last year and then I had a miscarriage last month and it seems to have solidified our drive to have kids even more. So I guess get pregnant and find out how much you want kids? Dangerous gamble but the fact that you're thinking about it so much tells me you probably do want them in the long run.

3. My husband has a college degree and has been working in retail management ever since. He just changed jobs and now he makes a third of what I do, versus a quarter at his last (emergency post-Borders layoff) job. My philosophy has always been that if he's happy and sane, that matters more than ambition and money. When this last job made him unhappy and crazy, I pushed him to get another one. He also has a couple absorbing hobbies, one of which could make him money someday. He does more housework than I do and all the cooking, and as long as he doesn't get weird guy self-esteem issues about his career (some guys do), it works for us. More money would be great, but sanity and dinner on the table is a nice tradeoff.

Cavendish

@sophia_h Your response to LW#2 is somewhat similar to what happened with me and my husband. We sort of went, hey, let's see what happens if we have sex in my fertile window! And I got pregnant immediately, and then had a miscarriage at 9 weeks. That made us decide we really do want to have a baby ASAP, but now it's 5 months later and I'm still not pregnant. I don't recommend going this route, LW, but I agree that it sounds like you really do want kids. Don't feel bad for wanting them, even though there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn't.

I'm sorry you had to go through that too, Sophia. :(

sophia_h

@Cavendish Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that! My miscarriage came literally five days after I found out I was pregnant, so I had only barely gotten used to the idea before I had to get un-used to it. I can't imagine having to deal with it much farther along. If it is reassuring to you, it took months of just being sloppy about our rhythm and occasional condom methods for me to catch, and I had started to get secretly crazy about being infertile, so while I know it is tough I would ease up on yourself. We're just about to start the process over again this month since I started my period yesterday, and I admit I'm nervous about getting back into that headspace again (and of course, about a repeat of before). But yay for at least finding more members of what my friend calls "the worst club in the world," which has way more people in than you'd think. *hugs*

Carrie Ann

@Cavendish @sophia_h One more for the club. I also began the miscarriage process only a week or so after learning I was pregnant (almost exactly one year ago), but it was still incredibly painful. Cavendish, it took me five months to get pregnant that time, and it took five more to get pregnant the second time (despite everyone telling me, as I bet they told you, that you're SO fertile right after a miscarriage! You'll get pregnant in like two months, tops!). I'm now at 6.5 months, and incredibly grateful. All the best to you both.

We knew mentally that we wanted kids, but I didn't feel the emotional/biological whatever until we started trying and it took so long, and I was so worried it would never happen. After the miscarriage, obviously that feeling was intensified.

the other lisa

@sophia_h et al

Also have gone through miscarriage and also came through wanting kids more than ever. Going on a solid year of trying after a few months of not NOT trying after. It is so much harder to get un-used to the idea of being pregnant.

Internet hugs and best wishes to you all!

Cavendish

@Carrie Ann Thank you for your response. It's very reassuring! I'm on some boards on The Bump and it's amazing how quickly some women get pregnant again. One woman had her first miscarriage around the same time as mine and has had two more since then. Another woman got pregnant again without getting a period, lost that baby, and then got pregnant again without a period. It's a little bizarre, but has been making me feel like a freak. I hope 5 months is good timing for me too!

Best wishes for a happy and health pregnancy and birth.

Ten Thousand Buckets

I've always liked the idea of having 3 bank accounts combined, and dividing on percentages rather than just splitting living expenses 50/50. I'm thinking something like 80% of each paycheck into the joint account, to cover rent and food and date night, with the other 20% going into our not-so-secret bank accounts for more frivolous or personal spending.

Of course I've never put this theory into practice, as I have the partnership but not the job. Currently we just spend the vast majority of his/our money on living expenses. The idea sounds really solid to me, and I intend to try it out eventually.

dj pomegranate

@Ten Thousand Buckets This is also my/our plan: One joint account for all Mutual Life Purchases (rent, food, subway, insurance, etc.) where we each contribute, say, 75% of our earnings or whatever. Then each of us has an individual account because sometimes I want to buy $28 mascara and I don't want him to pay for it, you know? And then a joint savings account for future things like emergencies, vacations, down payments, etc. I have actually done a lot of research on this because money is important and I am diligent with budgets(/really fun at parties), and this seems like a plan that works well for a lot of couples.

sashay

lw3, it sounds like his work situation/stagnation is a big deal to you, but you feel bad about it being a big deal to you, because he's a great guy, really, so it makes you feel kind of petty or materialistic to care about his apparent lack of ambition.

so, I just want to add a voice to the fray saying,
1. You're not being overly petty or materialistic.
2. So what if you were?

You hit the crux of why (1) is true in your own letter. If you feel like you're likely to end up resentful of him, you're probably right.

What I mean by (2) is even if you can't get rid of the nagging voice in the back of your head saying that it's petty and small to care about money, so what? You don't need logical and well justified reasons for every negative feeling you have. It's the way you feel, and if you don't see that changing, and if you see it getting worse, not better in the future, that's enough of a reason to be concerned.

Like, imagine if instead of being about money, this was about some physical characteristic of his. Maybe he's otherwise a great guy and you love him, but he just has this really annoying voice. How superficial would it be to dump someone just because of the sound of his voice? It'd feel like a really shitty thing to do. But on the other hand, could you really stand the thought of waking up next to that voice every day for the rest of your life? If not, then as ridiculous as it seems, he wouldn't be the partner for you.

mkpatter@twitter

Also LW1's husband is being a jerk because he won't buy fucking new appliances WHEN THEY NEED THEM with his secret bank account. Burn him with fire, I say!

@mkpatter@twitter I was thinking the same thing. This woman is paying for their housing/food/kid/expenses, paying off the loans that allowed her to get a job to pay for those things, and is also in charge of buying a new refrigerator or vacuum? WHY? Because cooking and cleaning are for women?

#burnhimwithfire

Poubelle

@mkpatter@twitter Seriously, where I live you need appliances because shit gets dirty and food needs to be cooked. Unless she's also supposed to be spending all her lawyer money on restaurants and takeout.

@Poubelle Shit gets dirty, but you can clean it With Fire (TM).

gidgetjones

LW1, my ex-husband was financially autonomous. When we divorced, I learned that he had focused on paying down his student loans while paying only the bare minimum on mine. He's settled up (I believe). I am still at least another four or so years away from paying off mine.
So I guess, if nothing else, ask to be more informed about your finances? It's fine to have separate accounts, but ... just ... I wish I'd not let my ex steamroll me into taking charge financially.

gidgetjones

LW1, my ex-husband was financially autonomous. When we divorced, I learned that he had focused on paying down his student loans while paying only the bare minimum on mine. He's settled up (I believe). I am still at least another four or so years away from paying off mine.
So I guess, if nothing else, ask to be more informed about your finances? It's fine to have separate accounts, but ... just ... I wish I'd not let my ex steamroll me into taking charge financially.

gidgetjones

@gidgetjones This double post brought to you by my shoddy work Internet. Sorry!

dj pomegranate

@gidgetjones Ugggghh, this sounds terrible and I am sorry he was such a juicebox.

Stacy Worst

It seems like I've read a few responses to the "not sure about kids" question in advice columns lately.. And the answer seems to always be the same. That it's never the right time, you're never sure, this and that sucks about raising children, except it always is, because it's hands-down the most fulfilling thing ever, and when I look at its little feet, etc. This one in particular echoes a Dear Sugar response to that effect.

This freaks me out because I'm 90% sure the answer is No. Then I read this and it's supposed to be this magic transformation. I'm oh so subtly urged to just Go For It, that I will love the thing so much when it arrives that I'll be aghast that I ever considered not giving birth to it.

I'm just kinda confused. I wouldn't even be thinking about it, I think, if the clock wasn't kinda running out...

trappedinabay

@Sister Administrator - The other thing to consider is that once you have one, you can't really un-have one.

jule_b_sorry

@Sister Administrator Yup - sister 4 years younger than me is one month away from popping out her first. Meanwhile, I'm freaking out. Because I don't feel ready (or know if I'll EVER feel ready and/or willing), but the whole bio clock thing, along with now feeling like an old maid around my fertile sis...ugh. Then you read things like this that subtly yell "Just do it! It'll be awesome...will change your life." It's very confusing!

WaityKatie

@Sister Administrator I am here to tell you not to have them. Look, some of us just do not have the Materrrnaaaal Innnstiiiinct, and that is ok! I'm not even kidding. (Haha, "kidding"!) I couldn't even make myself read that paragraph of the Dude's answer once he started down that path, because I am so, so sick of that party line. So anyway, here's your voice of dissent. Life without kids is freaking fantastic for those of us who don't feel the urge to have them, and don't let anyone persuade you different!

Stacy Worst

@WaityKatie Thank you. I think maybe I really do lack that maternal instinct. I feel ZERO longing. But then they tell you it'll be magic once it happens. And then I think of all the crappy parents out there for whom it didn't happen that way. And then I really wonder if the world really needs another human or two anyway. But then it's constantly presented to you like this imperative.

I would love to hear from more childless by choice people...

supernintendochalmers

@Sister Administrator Nobody ever tells people who aren't sure about kids NOT to have them. Caitlin Moran has a terrific chapter in her book about why not having kids is fine and you shouldn't feel pressured to have one because you might regret it, so you better have one just in case.

packedsuitcase

@Sister Administrator I've recently gone over to the "Kids are something I want someday" camp, but can I tell you how great it would be to be childless? Think about all of the things you don't have to pay for. And all of the stress and pressure you won't have. And the ability to go wherever you want to go, and buy nice things because you want them and you can take care of them.

Not having kids is okay! It's great! I think every single choice people make re: having/not having kids is selfish because it's all about doing what makes you happy and what you want, and that is fantastic. It should be a selfish choice, because it's a choice you have to live with forever and ever the end and you want to make sure it's a choice you really, really want.

packedsuitcase

@packedsuitcase Wow, sorry for the overuse of exclamation points. I am a little enthusiastic about being CFBC and also a little hopped up on too much coffee.

WaityKatie

@packedsuitcase THANK YOU for not following your first paragraph with "But...you will never know love until you have an adorable grubby little moppet gaze into your eyes and say, 'Ma-ma', smugsmugsmug MY CHOICE IS THE ONLY RIGHT CHOICE." We need more tolerant future parents like you.

Honestly, I wish people could just have kids and enjoy them without feeling the need to denigrate everyone else on earth who chooses not to live exactly the way they choose to live. You love your kids? That's great. I'm not trying to take that away from you by not having any. Given the amount of taxes I pay to support your chosen lifestyle, it would be nice to get a thank you once in a while, but I'd settle for being left in peace to live my life without shame or judgments.

packedsuitcase

@WaityKatie That may be the most infuriating line ever. Seriously. I live in NC, and the amount of pressure that I get for not being married with kids yet (I'm 26) is insane. I think it's hard for people to really, truly understand that other people want other things in life, and that's perfectly okay and not a judgement on their choices in any way, shape, or form. People that don't want to be parents shouldn't be parents. Not because they're bad people, but because children should be wanted. It's pretty simple, really.

I feel like I'm in a weird position because I preach the CFBC gospel while knowing I will have kids someday, but it's a choice that deserves respect. So I am determined to bring up CFBC in positive ways and making it clear to people I talk to (including kid type people, gotta start young!) that it's a great choice for some people and should be treated with just as much respect as anybody else's choices in childbearing.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

Parents with a 2-year-old moved in just above us. He's a real sweet kid and I'm enjoying getting to know him BUT MY GOD it's such a good reminder of how wonderful it is to have a house full of inanimate objects and low-maintenance plants. Shut the door and leave, come back whenever you want! Everything will be fine!

Also, he always gets up before 7am. 9/10 times I should be up at that point, too, but oh that tenth time. Sorry, kid's parents: you can't sleep in!

skyslang

@WaityKatie Right on! My sister gave me the best, most HONEST advice about kids. I was 28. She was 36 with two kids. One day, I said to her that I had finally decided that I wanted kids. She said:
Don't. It's the hardest thing and you loose yourself Don't do it. Don't do it!
I feel like this "oh his tiny feet fill me with joy!" business is people trying to make themselves feel better about it all. It is hard! Think about it and TRUST YOURSELF.

josefinastrummer

@WaityKatie So true. A great friend asked the other night if I was still firm on not having kids. She is also pro-childless by choice and just wanted to check in that we're still partners in crime. And she's even married!
I think some people really want kids and that's really cool. But I think a lot of people have kids because they think they are supposed to. And those are the folks who like to make us feel bad for our choice. And that's too bad for them, because I am not changing my mind!

WaityKatie

@josiahg My floor has a 2-3 year old who runs up and down the hallway screeching pretty much at all hours of the day and into the night, so I kind of feel like I already have a kid.

WaityKatie

@WaityKatie Floor of my apartment building, that is.

WaityKatie

@josefinastrummer Yeah, I do think it's a bit of misery loves company most of the time, although there are also people who really do earnestly want kids who can be just as judgmental. My best friend's husband is super into the kid thing (was a stay at home dad for a while, is just, in my friend's words, "baby crazy"), and he gives me sooooo much guff about not wanting to be married or have kids. Like, he just CANNOT BELIEVE it is possible that someone doesn't feel the same way he does about how conventional marriage and kids is the only acceptable way of life. It's really obnoxious and I have tried to ban him from my facebook feed several times because of his obnoxious and insulting comments about my choices and lifestyle. UGGGGHHHH if my friend weren't married to him I would give him the serious what-for, but I have to tolerate it. (he figured out that I blocked him the last time, so now I have to carefully screen my FB posts from him - way too much effort).

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@WaityKatie
Y'know, thinking about it further just now, I think it's this (or at least this is a big part of it): I know a number of kids, and I like some of them and I don't like others, just as with adults. And I'll accept the possibility that a child who is "yours" gets a boost in likeability for that reason. But I know a number of kids who are just outright terrors who I could never imagine enjoying spending time with (much less living with!) and my understanding is that there's a no-returns policy. So why take the risk, yes?

Princess Slaya

@LW1 - Everyone has said what I would say! He does sound like a major league asshole. Also, I'd like to point out, that even if you aren't supporting him (Which I think you are) your marriage status (plus kid?) gives him tax breaks! So even if your financials are completely separate (which they can't be because you have a spawn and you said so yourself), you are still getting benefits for being married and procreating. (I don't know the exact rules on this).

I'm also assuming that before you got married, he knew that you had loans. This is true? So, he knew that he was marrying someone who was 100k+ in the hole, and he married you anyway. Now, in the future, he gets to somehow lord it over you that you're struggling. What a dick! The smart thing for him to do in this situation, is to help you. Why? Because in the years down the road, when he has some kind of financial disaster (or otherwise), you will be able to help! Instead, he's just digging his own financial grave and padding himself with his "secret bank account".

There is nothing wrong with having separate spending accounts (for things like when you buy presents for your best friends or each other or your friend's dog or ladies' night), but financial crap has to be sorted out and discussed in detail. As we all know, it is the number one reason why people get divorced! I feel like this must seep into other parts of the relationship? There is no way he is "great about everything" except the money. Come back and write in the comments!

Mira

@Princess Slaya Yeah, 100% agreed that partners who are "great about everything except this giant fucking huge gaping hellmouth of a money problem" are not a thing that actually exists. The problem with money problems is that they're never actually about money (I mean, they are a little bit, of course, but the actual amount of money involved is usually only the tip of the iceberg).

bocadelperro

@Princess Slaya I really think this is another one of those letters where the LW is like "My partner is wonderful, but..." and then proceeds to paint the picture of someone who is the EXACT OPPOSITE OF WONDERFUL. What is going to happen when that kid needs braces/physical therapy/college/bail/any of the other expensive things that kids inevitably need?

PistolPackinMama

@bocadelperro Why do I feel like husband is a parent who will be "18 and you are out" about finances? So bail will be kiddo's problem, is my guess.

runner in the garden

@bocadelperro "you want to go to college? If you'd saved $1000 a month starting when you were a toddler, you could afford it now! Oh well!"

Mira

@runner in the garden "If only your mother hadn't taken on so much debt!"

PistolPackinMama

@Mira don't worry- you can work at Starbucks for $9.00/hr and you won't have debt, and you might have health care. College... hah.

Actually, I have an uncle who really didn't think his daughters needed education (he married into a family FULL of teachers) because you just need a tech degree to make money. I lost my temper with him eventually and pointed out that the surest guarantee of avoiding poverty post-divorce for a woman... a college education. Hands down. By, like, a lot.

He shut up about it, finally. Thank goodness.

Which doesn't really apply to this situation, because that guy is a financial disaster. But just, you know. AGH. Women need education, unless they are very lucky, in order to avoid poverty.

@PistolPackinMama AND there's that little bit about the level of education of one's children has more to do with the mother's level of education than the father's. Regardless of the father's education, kids of any sex are more likely to be well educated if their mother is well educated. This is part of why there are so many "girls are awesome, help them get an education!" programs starting up in impoverished areas -- because if you educate girls and women and they have families, those families are less likely to end up in poverty.

TL;DR studies show that if you educate women in a community, the community as a whole is less likely to be impoverished. Women = the ultimate stimulus bill.

PistolPackinMama

@S. Elizabeth I deleted a comment to that flavor about felons above. Same idea.

Anyway. That thing the Secretary of State said about how women's rights are a poverty issue and economic security is a women's issue?

Yeah, that is as true at home as it is abroad.

Too bad Clinton (male) helped institute welfare reform that totally countermanded those concerns here in the US in the 1990s.

ThundaCunt

@kangerine Here's the thing, she said THEY MAKE THE SAME AMOUNT....sooo...where's the problem? Health insurance? Ok, if you get married, you carry him! If his job sucks, which he admittedly LOVES and has been doing awhile & he enjoys it, why doesnt your job suck too!??

vunder

Is it really a secret bank account? I mean, she knows about it, so is it just a safe place to put money so that there is money there for emergencies/child's future college/whatever? I'm sure this has been said above but it sounds to me more like this couple isn't on the same page about money and money-related goals than LW is letting on, which may or may not be because the husband is a jerk.

HereKitty

@vunder I took this to mean that she doesn't know how much is in it. And that her husband is a dick.

Stickynee

Maybe I'm dense (also a lawyer who had a lot of student loans here) but I don't understand married couples who don't share everything financially - income, debts, expenses. It just does not compute to me. Always makes me think of the Joy Luck Club where the one mom is all "YOUR HOUSE IS UNBALANCED!!!!!!"

lisma

@Stickynee I thought of that too. And they end up splitting things like Birth Control and it's all so tit for tat.

This is my new username

@Stickynee Welllllll, sometimes it is more complicated to share finances. And also weird. We are not married (yet), but are co-cohabitating and do not currently share finances and it is possibly that we may never do it. We have extremely different financial situations in that I have a decent-ish paying regular salary job and he is self-employed, with an extremely variable income and a decent sized nest egg, but also some debt (real estate investment). So we do split expenses 50/50 (kind of) and keep our finances separate because that is the least complicated thing to do.

If/when we have kids, we prooooobably will have to adjust that though.

Chesty LaRue

@This is my new username You and your dude sound exactly like me and my dude who are not (yet) cohabitating... So thanks! Very helpful to someone who's head is in the clouds about the future.

@Stickynee So there are really good reasons not to share finances. One of them is that in the case of spousal abuse, the victim may need to get out quickly. The other is that it eliminates the "oh I'll just hide it in the back of the closet for a while so he just doesn't know!" issue regarding spending -- because if it's your money, the other person shouldn't get a say in it. There's also the issue that there may be frivolous things that you want to spend money on and having to "get permission" from your spouse can be weird.

I would much rather have a joint account for things like house stuff, groceries, date night, etc. and separate accounts for individual things so that you can be like "yes, I need to get a pedicure and have pinot grigio with the ladies" without having that cause turmoil because it's "frivolous" or whatever.

And if one person has vastly different spending habits than the other, it eliminates the resentment issue of "my money is going toward XYZ and I don't want it to."

This is my new username

@Chesty LaRue It has worked out pretty well for us so far. Probably for us, we may need to change how we do things depending on how our circumstances change.

As S. Elizabeth points out, separate finances are also nice in that I can go buy clothes that I don't really need and I don't have to justify that to him.

packedsuitcase

@S. Elizabeth The ex and I sat down and figured out how much our monthly expenses were, and figured out what percentage of our combined income that was. So we each contributed that percentage of our income into a joint account, had everything autodraft from there, and made big joint purchases from there as well. Then everything else (student loans, car insurance, phone bills) that was separate came from our personal accounts, and the rest was our own fun money. So when he bought his 3rd ridiculously expensive bike, I could comfortably say, "That's nice, honey, I'm glad you're happy," and when I bought diamond earrings and a new DSLR in the same month, he said the same for me. We had talked about switching the system when we got married so that instead of putting in a certain percentage, we pooled the money and took out a certain percentage purely for fun money, but as he is an ex that didn't ever actually happen.

TL;DR - 3 account systems rock in my world but your mileage may vary.

harebell

@Stickynee That works out best if both people come into the marriage with roughly equal assets and family situations. Once you start adding any complications in, though, it can get weird or bad fast.

That's why joint accounts can actually make things simpler, emotionally and otherwise.

austengirl

I don't know about LW1, but for me it can be really difficult to react objectively to financial disagreements. To the point of thinking, however fleetingly, 'you don't want to spend money on non-essential item X that I want, thus you don't love me'. Equating money with love is not healthy and is something I continue to work on. My husband and I grew up with different attitudes towards money and in different circumstances. We don't argue about it a lot but he's much more cautious about saving/reluctant to spend than I am. And I know rationally that it's a sensible position to have, but also you only live once and sometimes it's ok to splash out, within reason. We keep our finances mostly separate aside from a joint checking account which we would contribute to proportionally, as he was making almost twice was I was. We're both lucky that we have virtually no debt; he paid off his student loans within a couple years of starting his first full time job after he finished his PhD. I don't think either of us would ever expect to pay the others' debts unless it was a joint decision where one would pay the other back to avoid higher interest charges from the lender, etc. But yeah, LW1's husband sounds really petty and needs to re-think his attitude. I hope you can find a solution that works.

LW2, are you me? I've been on the fence for awhile, or rather 'I think I want kids, but not just yet...' And while there is still time and husband is still firmly in the 'not yet' camp, I'm having more moments of WANT interspersed with 'I don't want them to be exposed to all the awfulness of the world', not being ready for the ways in which life will never be the same ever again and being afraid I won't bond with them/like them. And then worry that my husband is going to feel left out/excluded (I grew up in a single parent household and while my mom was an amazing parent, I'm kind of lacking in co-parenting role models who I can watch in action).

I think we need to get a dog first and see how that goes.

Married Dude, thanks for some awesome advice.

@austengirl I think your situation is kind of different than LW1 because of the lack of proportionality and the fact that they're raising a kid.

austengirl

@S. Elizabeth Absolutely; neither of us will ever earn her kind of salary and we don't have kids. There are plenty of ways for couples to manage finances where both parties aren't feeling shortchanged. I hope LW1 is able to get a better balance/proportion of contribution in her financial situation.

dracula's ghost

I also want to pipe up here and say that long-term partnerships where the finances are kept rigidly separate give me THE HOWLING FANTODS.

This is my new username

@dracula's ghost Why does this creep you out exactly? I think in some cases that can work out well for some couples in some circumstances. Personally, in the case of LW1, I don't think it is working out well, but I think in some cases it is for the best?

EternalFootwoman

@dracula's ghost First, mad props for appropriate use of "howling fantods". :) Second...I can see where keeping finances separate would work for some couples, especially if each person has a vastly different approach to finances. I think a lot of people use the "three account" system, where there's a shared account for shared expenses and then two individual accounts for whatever. So that if one person wants to spend all their money on comic books and ski boots, that money isn't coming out of the electric bill. I do agree that keeping some kind of itemized expenditure list and demanding that each partner pay exactly their fair share seems less like a partnership.

Carrie Ann

LW1 currently makes more money than her husband, and probably always will. If she stays in the law firm world, she will eventually make MUCH more than her husband will (don't know his job obvs, but if he doesn't have student loans and is currently making less than her, I would assume).

So, who do you think will really be paying for their children's college tuition, for example? In 15 years, when tuition is like $60K/year, I suspect that money is going to come from the large law firm salary, which is the result of the large law school debt. He will continue to be able to sock away as much of his own salary as he likes, buffeted by his wife's choice to go to law school. If he doesn't realize and respect this, he is a dick, and short-sighted to boot.

She currently shoulders all of the pain from the debts and he enjoys all of the benefits of her income. I just don't understand why she would allow the line to be drawn there.

For my husband and me, the solution was pretty clear. All of our bills are joint bills and joint debts to pay (he has student loans and I do not). We then both contribute the same smallish amount to our own separate accounts for things like happy hours or movies (or bigger items like video game consoles or expensive handbags). What's left goes into savings and our joint checking. He makes more than I do (not hugely), so he contributes more to those accounts than I do.

So we both have the same amount of discretionary cash to do whatever with, and we both contribute to our household and joint expenses based on our level of income. He probably contributes 55% and I contribute 45%. I am happy to help with payment of his loans because his degree is what makes his career options possible, which makes our lifestyle possible, which makes our having a child possible, and on and on. It's not a competition and we don't use finances to punish each other.

LW1, this situation makes me really sad for you. I want you to talk to him about this seriously, but I also want you to prepare first by finding a counselor and making him go with you. He sounds like he has a real blind spot in this area and he probably needs an outsider to shed some light on this.

Wrenochka@twitter

@Carrie Ann

THIS: "She currently shoulders all of the pain from the debts and he enjoys all of the benefits of her income. I just don't understand why she would allow the line to be drawn there."

carolita

@Carrie Ann I'm just curious about how these things work at the eventual divorce, since most people don't stay married forever these days. Do you get paid back for all the dough you invested in your hubby helping pay back the student loans he or she brought into the marriage? Do you get to demand restitution if your highly paid husband runs off with a hot babe fifteen years younger than you after you helped pay back all his loans? Does he get his money back that he put towards your debt if you decide you've outgrown each other after you've hit the apex of your career? How does it work? I know people wouldn't get on airplanes if they thought it might crash, and people wouldn't get married if they thought they'd get divorced one day, but are we all just saying that the only people who should get married (or travel by plane) are the ones who don't think realistically about these things? Because seriously, that's my main reason for not getting married or sharing my BF's debt. He could "r-u-n-n-o-f-t" (as in "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?") one day when I'm old and tired, and enjoy his great highly paid career with someone else who didn't get old and tired helping him. I'm sure that's the kind of thing LW1's husband has in mind when he refuses to help her pay. Maybe he had parents who divorced (or sees that she has parents who've divorced), and doesn't see it as a wise way to invest his hard-earned money, especially if he isn't making tons.

Also, perhaps if she were unable to work while she volunteered to stay home and take care of their baby I'd see why he really ought to be paying back her loans. She doesn't mention this. If she did, then she deserves some kind of compensation for the months or years she was at home, putting her career on hold or at least not being able to give it 100%.

Carrie Ann

@carolita To me, anything I "pay" toward my husband's loans comes back to me in the form of his increased income and career opportunities. If we were divorced, and it was appropriate, I would receive alimony - again, because of that education that I "help" to pay for.

I think there are two cases where I might be more sympathetic to LW1's husband. 1 - If the debt were huge and her current income and income potential were low. In that case, it might feel like, "Well, you went to get a PhD in a field knowing there are no jobs out there and what jobs exist are low-paying and unstable." It would still bother me, personally, but I can understand if others would feel differently.

The second scenario would be if LW1 and her husband got the same education and were on the same career track (or very similar in terms of debt and earning potential - say, doctor and lawyer). In that situation, if Husband had already paid his debt off or if he had incurred less, then I could see why he might feel resentful of having to then pay for someone else's loans. Especially if they were earning about the same amount and would potentially continue to earn at the same level.

Finally, I think their income disparity makes separate finances super tricky. LW1 currently makes 90K, but could easily make in the millions by the time they're in their 50s. Let's just say for argument's sake that she will make $500K when they are 50 and he will make $120K. Should they look at their finances and say, "I can afford $10,000/month for housing, but Husband can afford $2000/month. We'll find something for $4000 just to make it even." Even if you think that, yes, that's what they should do, what happens to the $8,000 leftover from LW1's paycheck that she could have put toward housing? Just goes into her own personal account that eventually is just enormous? OK, next, maybe Husband can afford to put $250 into a fund for their children's college tuition. Is that how much LW1 should put in, just to make it even? No, right? So she's going to end up paying for their college. There is no way - when you own property together and have children - to truly keep your finances even, unless you make a very similar amount of money.

BUT I don't believe Husband actually wants separate finances. He just doesn't want to have to help her with her debt right now while it benefits him not to. Once they have only shared debt, he'll be more than happy to "share" income, because at that point, his income will probably only cover his "share" of the very basics in their life. Right now, he gets to keep all of his precious dollars for fun stuff, but later he'll get to drive cars and go on vacations and have housing that he would NOT have access to without her much larger income. Their situation is inherently unequal.

(AND as others have mentioned, if they were to get divorced years down the line, SHE would probably be the one to pay alimony to HIM. Because of her income, which results from the education that he wants no part of. So he's not really protecting himself from anything.)

carolita

@Carrie Ann Well, I think the thing that nobody is thinking about is that if she has so little left over after paying the bills and paying down her debt, what is she putting in savings? Maybe her husband is the only one with a savings account, and he wants to keep it untouched, because otherwise they'd have no savings in case of the worst scene scenario? Maybe her credit is terrible, and he's saving for that rainy day? Really, this was a good letter for bringing up all sorts of questions, but it was a bad letter as far as presenting a problem that could be truly solved based on the few premises posed within. My personal opinion is that LW1 is probably headed for a divorce, her husband's "douchey" activities being just a symptom of a failing marriage. Seriously, she didn't say ANYTHING about his career (what does he do for a living? how much does he make? is it a job or is it a career?), which leads me to think she dismisses it as meaningless compared to hers. Perhaps she's a tad self-centered?

Anyway, I told my BF about this whole discussion, and he was sweet enough to say that if I had lots of student debt, he'd want to help me with them if he could. But the truth is, I don't think I'd do the same for him. Why? Because he's had two divorces in his lifetime, that's why. I don't see myself investing anything but love and time in a guy with a history like that, however much we love each other. Money is not proof of love. Oh, heck, I MIGHT help him a bit, out of sympathy, if he were really struggling, but I wouldn't do it just because it was expected of me. And I'd definitely make a sort of prenup or predivorce agreement for it, where it's explicitly said that he pays me back a certain percentage of it if we break up. I'm no starry-eyed young thing.

TenyaLuna

I thought LW1's husband was being a douche, and my spouse was really adamant about "nooo his debts were his own and even if he never paid them off they shouldn't be MY responsibility" (I make a decent income, not quite as much as LW1, whereas my spouse is a humanities adjunct) but having large debts unpaid would be a future strain and when something happens - like oh, wanting to buy a house or drop everything to go to funeral out of state - being like "no, this is MY money, you should have thought of that before getting a job that would entitle you to make this much!" is just mean. And what about when the debt is paid off? Financial and/or marriage counselor, at the least! And maybe they even thought about them and talked about them before marriage, before a kid, and it didn't seem that bad then but now is a problem?

And for LW3, if the situation bothers you now, don't go any further. It is okay to care, and to want someone similar, even if otherwise you have no issues with this guy.

And I live in Lancaster, PA - while two can't live lavishly on 35k/yr, you could certainly live comfortably. Someone move out here!

@TenyaLuna One of the problems with places with awesome costs of living is that there aren't many law jobs. :( It's sad. Dude, I would totally live in Lancaster, PA but finding a legal job that would let me pay off my loans would be nearly impossible.

WaityKatie

@S. Elizabeth I went to high school in Lancaster, and burned rubber so fast getting out of there, so...I mean, you get what you pay for.

@WaityKatie Okay, I take that back. I wouldn't live in PA because the gays are royally fucked over there and I like to have basic civil rights. However, I lived in rural VA for a year after college and the cost of living was so low (as was the quality of life). However, I wouldn't be totally opposed to living in a small not-so-awesome city in general, so long as I could make enough to live comfortably and pay off my loans. $90K in a place like Lancaster goes a loonnnnnggg way.

Ideal location: Northampton, MA. However, there is nothing in my field (arts/media/IP law) in the pioneer valley.

P.S. I don't want kids. And I wouldn't want to raise kids in Lancaster, PA because teenagers, when they are bored, shit is scary.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@S. Elizabeth
Haha Lancaster, Pa.! That's where I'm from! I turned out okay, I guess! My mother works for a law firm there, but I am sure they don't do any arts/media/IP law.

@WaityKatie
Where did you go to high school again? I swear we've had this conversation before...

WaityKatie

@josiahg I went to Hempfield. My family moved to Lanc. when I was 14, so I was an outcast forever. People were mean and snotty. Most of them had far more money than my family did. No, I did not enjoy it!

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@WaityKatie
Sooo I almost certainly didn't know you at the time. Well, if you ever get to Chicago, or if I ever get to where you are, we should meet up for a drink! We have a surprising amount in common!

@josiahg I wouldn't be worried about my kids' health and safety, I'd be worried about my kids being assholes because bored children often are. You, however, are probably not an asshole. I, however, am a frazzled neurotic future lawyer and I'm betting on my potential parenting skills being nearly nonexistent.

Koko Goldstein

One of the sweetest moments in our relationship is when my fiance and I were talking about setting up a joint account for bills, and he casually mentioned throwing my student loans in there. I was all, "really? For real?" and he was like, "of course, duh!" And because our bills are so affordable, we each are happy to be paying off debt AND having extra money to spend.

Of course, I totally expected him to help when we got married. Because, of course? I mean, he's thinking about buying a car, and never in my mind would I say "well you get it yourself, it's YOUR car." I don't know. People are weird about money.

D.@twitter

Debt problems? My fiance and I have found a solution: by the time we both finish grad/professional school, we will BOTH be heavily steeped in debt! That way, neither of us will be able to lord it over t'other.
LW1: Have you thought of selling your child? I don't know how old it is...I've heard newborns fetch a high price, though. My first baby is going to go a long way towards getting me out of debt....

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@D.@twitter Surely between the two of you, there must also be a kidney you're not using!

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@jen325 I'm out of college a year and I see that sort of thing a lot! People applying for crazy amazing jobs that require loads of experience & contacts, getting rejected, and then declaring that they'll work in retail/catering/something else low-paying and totally irrelevant until one of their dream jobs accepts them. It doesn't seem to even occur to them to try and get a mid-level job in the vague area that interests them, or some temp work, or at least an office job of some kind that might look better on a CV/resume...

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The first question was in the Washington Post (Hax) column yesterday, too. Is (s)he spamming every help site?!

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Miss B

Just chiming in with everyone who finds the "oh, you'll change your mind when you're older/wanting to get married/have an actual baby of your own" completely infuriating. I have been hearing that since...well, since I was a child myself. (I have never liked babies under any circumstances, and it's very rare I legitimately like non-baby children, either.) I have also never had any existential crises over this -- I am not bothered by my dislike of little kids. Other people -- basically ever other person in the world -- however? Seem very bothered indeed. I finally got myself sterilized a year-and-a-half ago (I cannot say enough great things about Essure, for anyone else wanting a permanent no-accidental-pregnancy solution who might be terrified of surgery/anaesthesia.) which has at least put an end to the very uncomfortable moment that usually occurred when people who were

Miss B

Just chiming in with everyone who finds the "oh, you'll change your mind when you're older/wanting to get married/have an actual baby of your own" completely infuriating. I have been hearing that since...well, since I was a child myself. (I have never liked babies under any circumstances, and it's very rare I legitimately like non-baby children, either.) I have also never had any existential crises over this -- I am not bothered by my dislike of little kids. Other people -- basically ever other person in the world -- however? Seem very bothered indeed. I finally got myself sterilized a year-and-a-half ago (I cannot say enough great things about Essure, for anyone else wanting a permanent no-accidental-pregnancy solution who might be terrified of surgery/anaesthesia.) which has at least put an end to the very uncomfortable moment that usually occurred when people who were badgering me about how I'd change my mind "someday" would triumphantly add "But say you got pregnant accidentally -- then you'd see!" because believe me when I tell you that saying "I'd have an abortion, no second thoughts about it" is a real conversation killer, generally. A woman I worked with for awhile actually said to me once that she hoped I would end up accidentally pregnant, just so I'd be forced to come around to the wonders of babies and parenthood. Which is so many kinds of fucked up I can't even deal with it.

Poubelle

I've never been in a serious relationship, but as someone who used to be the kid in a marriage where money was a constant issue? I picked up on it. Like, nearly all of it. I used to actively wish my parents would just get divorced already and put an end to all the fights. It's a huge stress that really sucks because there is nothing you can do about it and you don't really understand half of what is going on. (You'll shock your math teacher someday with being really good at compound interest problems, though!)

Unless LW1's kid is a toddler or younger, they know something is up. They might even be blaming themselves--they'll see the pricetags on their new clothes and their school supplies (and if they're not in public school, they're aware you're spending tuition money, too). I remember basically convincing myself Santa existed when I was otherwise a little too old to believe in him because otherwise Christmas gifts weren't fun.

Parents: work that shit out. And don't use student loans as goddman guilt trip unless you want to be fighting with your 17-year-old about how they could do better than the local U of State for college and you thought they liked smaller classes and enjoyed the liberal arts colleges you made them visit. Do you want your kid to be that $9/hr barista? Because I doubt Daddy is doing anything to convince the kid to pursue a JD.

I'm Not Rufus

Somehow I had a very different reaction to #1 from most other people. LW1 seems actually offended by the fact that the husband isn't paying her loans. The absolute worst place to start a discussion is from the position that the other person's position is offensive -- especially when the other person's position is actually completely reasonable, as it is in this case. I agree that they should consider getting some counseling, because something is badly wrong with their communication about this, but I don't think it's appropriate to encourage the LW to be more hostile to her husband or more assured of her correctness, as many commenters implicitly seem to be suggesting.

EternalFootwoman

@I'm Not Rufus I agree that she shouldn't up the hostility. I think both positions ("she accrued the debt before they were married and so it should be her debt" and "they're in a partnership and so the debt should be shared") are reasonable and both could work for different people. But, from the letter, it sounds like 1) the LW and her husband didn't discuss the debt before getting married and have differing opinions about it, 2) the LW's husband is being weirdly snooty about the loans and doesn't recognize how he benefits from them via the LW's salary and 3) the LW is unable to buy things like trips and appliances (both of which I think of as joint expenses when two people share a household) because she has little personal money after paying her loans. This last one is what gets me. The husband seems to have a kitty of money socked away which he refuses to share with the LW, even for household expenses. I feel that she's more offended by his comments and his refusal to pool any money than she is about his refusal to pay her loans. Regardless, counseling is definitely in order.

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@carolita One kind of debt, until it's paid off, is just as debty as any other kind of debt. Uh, what? Between the terms and the interest rate, no it's not. Hell, there's a difference between federal student loan debt and private. I would suggest taking a closer look at your credit card terms if you think it's just the same as student loan debt. (It's also not the same if you declare bankruptcy.) Will gambling debts be forgiven if you go into public service? Do you consider mortgages and car loans (debt people take on to own things that are kind of necessary) exactly the same too? Are you naive enough to think all gambling debt is above-the-table? responsive design

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@winslow I don't think saying "If you didn't have these loans we could do X" is a jerk move at all, IF they are addresing her debt as a unit. Whether that be he is helping to pay her debts or just waiting for her to deal with what should be her financial priority before their shared quality of life (therefore HIS quality of life)can be augmented by things like vacations or appliances.I don't think its wrong to remind a spouse of financial priorities when you have to wait around for them to finish up commitment to have shared luxuries. best fiverr gigs for backlinks

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There are solutions to this that don't involve him paying student loans. Maybe calculate their incomes after she pays her loans that month, and then contribute to the household in equal proportions. So if she takes home $7K per month, and every month she pays $2K on her loans, her income FOR ALL PURPOSES, is $5K per month. Then calculate expenses. buy clip in hair extensions online

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WaityKatie We are only getting one side, cuz I totally feel that this dude is being a huge ass because this LW isn't responsible with her money and by him making comments like that, he is trying to make her realize it? That's what I'm getting from it. I think maybe this issue, the letter, is extremely one sided because how wasnt this discussed before marriage?? How did you marry & procreate with a total DOUCHE!?? unlock iphone vip

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I was conducting a research on no credit check loans and somehow it leads me here. Well, when you're married you share the debt. That's my opinion but every couple have there own take.

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