Marry for Love, Passion, or Money? All Three?

Every time I attend a wedding I do two things. One: cry. Two: put myself in the bride’s shoes, and wonder how I’d feel walking down the aisle, tying the knot forevermore. I’m writing about this topic a lot lately because it’s been on my mind. I’ve spent my entire life fighting against allowing money to factor into who I date, but at the ripe-old age of almost 30, I’ve realized that there are two key pieces of a happy marriage: One: financial compatibility. Two: frequent blow jobs (seriously.) I’m pretty convinced at this point that as long as those two things exist in a marriage, it will be successful.

This week, I spent time with a good old friend who is now the mother of a one year old. Just a few years into the marriage, she says that if she could do it over again she’d get married for money. When you have a kid, she explained, they become your world, and all you care about is providing for them. Her husband apparently went to school for a certification and failed the exam, refusing to go back to take it again, and he’s stuck in his job making around $55k per year. Meanwhile, she makes a small salary as a hair dresser, and they both struggle to make ends meet. The pair bought a condo and, additionally, are paying off a car payment of $300+ per month. On the other end of the spectrum, sort of, I have another friend who is pregnant with her first child, and she’s married to an engineer for a major tech company, and even they are struggling with finances at the moment with a kid on the way and major house remodels. I kick myself when I share my concern about my boyfriend’s financial situation with her, as she’s struggling to pay off her debts as her husband pays for their expensive bay area starter home.

I’ve been scared to be with a man who has his life together. Because of my depression and other crazies, I just don’t trust myself to maintain a relationship with anyone who is focused on their career. I feel safe with my boyfriend, I know I’ll always be in charge of the finances, he’ll surely stay at home with the potential offspring, and maybe that’s fine. I just don’t know what I want. I can see myself going on like today if I don’t have kids, living with roommates, semi cheaply, splurging on dresses, shoes and makeup on occasion but overall keeping my living expenses low. Thinking about a life with kids changes the picture. And I worry one day I’ll be upset at myself for not seeking out a man who had his life together. Just enough to have a bit of retirement savings at 30.

It seems what destroys marriages is passive agressive bitterness about the things that one cannot change about their partner. They’re terrible with money. They aren’t sexually compatible. They don’t pick up the dishes. Suddenly there’s this grudge that makes two people who were once perfect for each other fall apart. And this may be a natural part of growing up, understanding yourself more and what you want. I just don’t want to get married without it being forever. And how can I commit myself to someone forever if I don’t feel like we’re on the same page financially. I want a reasonably nice house, which, in my area, will cost at least $1.5M. I want to take vacations around the world every couple of years with the family, once the future kids are old enough. I want to be with a person who inspires me to be my best all around. Someone who is contagiously, yet realistically enthusiastic for life… from road trips stopping at the motel 6 to catch some shut eye hitting the road again, to embracing the occasional luxuries and new adventures.

I don’t want to struggle with money at any point in my life. I’m still committed to having $500k in savings before I have children. It would be nice if my partner could contribute to this. I made a silly ultimatum the other day, to my bf, that before I say yes to a proposal he must have $100k in the bank. He has about $0 today. This means we won’t be getting engaged for a few more years, but I need him to prove to me he’s capable of achieving financial goals. $100k is a lot but not impossible. He lives at home, pays no rent, and if he had a job paying $60k per year, and let me pay for all our dates, he could save this much in three years. I’m willing to wait for that, because I know he loves me, but if he really loves me, in the way an adult loves another adult, he’d take on this challenge and strive to show me that he can provide some sort of stability in our lives.

And I feel like a TOTAL BITCH for requesting this. Who am I to want a husband who has saved money? Doesn’t that make me a gold digger? Well, maybe I am. Maybe I just want to be with a man who earns a six-figure salary, like I do, so we can have a comfortable life. It still won’t be easy in our neck of the woods, but my vision for my life will not be so far off the reality of it.

That said, what if he can’t save the money? Or doesn’t want to? Why not just get married now, have a family, and figure it out as we go like most people do?

Because I’d be bitter. I’d be bitter putting all of my savings to the life I want to have when he can contribute very little or nothing at all. That bitterness will destroy us. I need to be supportive now of his getting his life together. But I also am worried he will propose to me before he’s achieved this goal. Then what do I say? I told him not to buy me a ring. It is really just irresponsible to purchase an engagement ring when your salary is less than $15k from off and on freelance projects for the year. If he said to me, let’s go elope, let’s skip the rings, let’s save the money, and one day when I have a stable job and savings I’ll get you a ring, I’d probably say yes. Because that would show me he at least has achieved some level of financial maturity. But if he gets down on one knee with a ring that cost a few grand, I’ll be terrified, and won’t know what to say.

…so I just asked him to take the $5k he planned to spend on my engagement ring and to use it to start a Roth IRA. Propose to me by maxing out a Roth for just one year, to start his retirement savings before he turns 32. He doesn’t like it when I say things like this. 🙁

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11 comments

  1. Cindy Brick says:

    Why do I get the feeling you’re settling for second-best in this relationship?

    This guy may not be living off you. Which is a bonus, of course. But he’s living off someone else – his parents. He’s old enough to be out on his own now, even if it’s a small place.

    Are you willing to set an ultimatum, then walk away from the relationship if he doesn’t fulfill it? Are you more afraid of loneliness or being on your own, than you are of being without him?

    You’ve not mentioned the two things I think are critical for a good relationship – or a marriage: commitment and faithfulness. There will always be periods when one of you is sick or stressed or depressed, and the other has to cover. (This is especially important when you have children. They need to be cared for, regardless of how you feel, or what else is going on in life.) You must be willing to continue on, even when that person is temporarily unlovable…and that’s where commitment comes in.

    I can tell you from experience that love is so much sweeter and fulfilling if you commit your heart and mind to it. In spite of hard times (and many happy ones, too), We’ve had good earning periods (when he was an engineer) and bad ones (when he quit, and became a bus driver), and good ones again (now my business is going well, and he does IT work for the same school transportation dept. he used to drive bus for).

    I love my husband more now than when we married 32+ years ago. He is my best friend, in so many ways.

    Can you say this about your current relationship? If not, you should not be marrying him. You really need to read MILLIONAIRE WOMEN NEXT DOOR…especially the section on ‘Marginal Bob,’ the guy who expects that you’ll take care of him. Please read this book – it’s important, and you can get a copy cheaply on Amazon.

    1. hereverycentcounts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Great comment Cindy. You are 100% right. And this was stated beautifully as well. Yes, I am afraid of being alone, but I also know myself and know how hard it is for me to meet someone who just completely gets my odd sense of humor and loves my crazy personality. And I really do love him for his quirky personality as well. No matter how upset I am, he has a way of making me smile.

      The challenge is that I grew up in a household that valued “things” (ie money) and he grew up in a household that literally never spent money — his mother still lives with her parents and doesn’t own a car. So I try to be patient and give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s not that he isn’t naturally ambitious, he just hasn’t had a push in the right direction. And he values lower cost experiences such as camping versus luxury trips around the world. I don’t need the luxury trips and I enjoy the more affordable, fun things in life with him.

      The problem is that right now we can afford a good lifestyle of having occasional roadtrips and such with him living at home. But to get to that next phase of our life where we live together, get married, and have kids, we’ll need him to bring in a reasonable income. We also live in one of the most expensive areas in the country, which I’m not willing to give up, so it’s hard to make ends meet should he become a teacher. That said, I think in the long run him being a teacher would work perfectly because I can pursue my career and he can be home with the kids and have the long summers off to take vacations when I’ve build up enough vacation time at work. That’s probably much better for me than marrying some guy making $200k who is never around because he works 80 hours a week.

      So as much as I complain, I really just want him to get a FT job. He’s always wanted to be a teacher, but then he somehow didn’t take the right steps to become one in his 20s. He dated a girl in college who freaked out at him for wanting to be a teacher, she wanted him to be a lawyer or something, and ever since he just didn’t do it. I mean, if he was a teacher in his 20s at least he could have saved some money. Especially living at home. But he didn’t make that choice. The past is the past, but it does bother me. More so, it concerns me about his choices in the future.

      But you are right — what really matters is being there for each other through good times and bad, and various income amounts. He isn’t in debt (thank goodness) and if he wants to go to graduate school his mother will pay for it(!) so we won’t even have debts after that. I could be with someone in a lot worse financial shape. I could be with someone ambitious who’s a huge risk taker who starts a business and loses all of our money. So at least with my bf, I know what I get. If he can get on this path to being a teacher then I’ll feel a lot better about things. Sure, in the back of my mind I’ll wonder what it would be like to be married to someone earning six figures, but then I’ll just have to work harder and negotiate for more salary to make the money I need for the life I want to live. It’s simple as that, right?

    1. GPS says:

      PS! I read your blog as well!
      I need to start my own… Just scared I can’t commit to writing.

      I undergone some abuse where my parents basically kicked me out of the home for not being who they wanted me to be. Agree you can’t force someone to change, and you can’t force a relationship that doesn’t fit.

  2. This is going to sound harsh but I have never been good at sugarcoating, so here goes:

    1. When women are breadwinners in the family, they are usually resentful because they expect that the man should at least contribute, if not pay for most of the expenses.

    Every. Single. Woman. Breadwinner. I have talked to, says this in secret. Even I said it when I was the BW, and I still resent it to this day.

    2. You are expecting someone to change, and he will not change. Nobody changes. You have to accept them the way they are, and either suck it up to deal with it or do something about it and change the situation.

    To me, you sound extremely resentful but are in denial (as I once was in a relationship).

    The fact that you keep repeating about how you feel so loved, and how he will be such a great father and person, sounds to me like you’re just trying to convince yourself of something.

    You and I are different people, but I’ve been there and done that, so let me tell you what happened on my end.

    I basically effed up and wasted 5 years of my life on a loser who didn’t bring a dime into anything, and I ended up resentful for all 5 years, working like a dog, and extremely… extremely….. unhappy. Yes, I felt loved, etc etc etc ETC ETC ad nauseum, but the heart of the matter was that he didn’t do jack squat and I couldn’t be with someone who accepted such an unfair situation where he expected me to bring all the bacon and take care of him.

    He basically retired early by living off the back of my hard work.

    It wasn’t until I broke up with him that the weight lifted and I found someone who was my true match — in personal and life values, financial values, personality, work ethic, ambition, and hobbies.

    You are basically holding yourself back from finding the right person, by trying to make something that doesn’t work, work.

    I did the same thing and regretted it for a long time after the relationship ended.

    If it doesn’t fit, and if he doesn’t fit your values, ALL of your MAJOR values, including ambition and contribution financially, he can be THE BEST guy in the world, but he doesn’t match you in that regard.

    Don’t dream that it will be something else, because it won’t be.

    People don’t change.

    I didn’t change in wanting him to be more ambitious and to make some goddamn money, and you will never change in what you want out of him either.

    Otherwise, you need to suck it up and accept that part of him and love it. You need to change yourself.

    By the way, this is about the 3rd post (or more) I’ve read so far from you in this short period of time that has covered this topic, I am not complaining ( 🙂 ) but it sounds to me like you need to really evaluate the situation.

    At the very least, don’t marry him until he steps up.

    1. hereverycentcounts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      I agree with what you’ve said. The only thing that is keeping me holding on is that he says he really wants to be a teacher. I know that is his passion and once he gets a job as a teacher he will keep the job (unless the school has to make cuts unrelated to abilities.) He’ll never be the breadwinner but he’ll have a stable income. He just needs to get there. What bothers me most is that he’s wasted his 20s not saving a dime. I also must say he’s never lived off of me. He lives at home, pays $0 rent, and still is able to take me out to dinner on occasion off his freelance income. He never once expected me to pay for anything for him. I just am ready to take that next step in the relationship – to move in together – and he wants to get married and have kids, but over the last seven years I’ve saved $250k and he’s at $0. So I hear what you say about being resentful later in life. I won’t love it if he makes $50k as a teacher and I’m making $100k, but I WILL love it if he loves his job. We’ll never be wealthy, but I just want him to be passionate about what he does. I hope that happens. I’m giving him another year. I really can’t wait longer than that.

  3. I bet $100K is totally doable if he puts his mind to it 😀 I dropped out of university without completing my degree. Make less than most people do now but still managed to save $100K over time. I think that’s great you would rather see him invest in your relationship’s future with the Roth IRA than getting you a fancy engagement ring. By the time both of you are retired you could probably buy a $25K diamond ring with just the returns on that initial investment, plus money left over to spend on random life adventures 🙂

    1. You’re forgetting that she noted that he doesn’t seem to have any ambition. You have ambition and the drive to reach a goal that you set for yourself. He doesn’t seem to care about those things, which would be fine if he was with someone else who was happy living that way as well.

  4. Lauren says:

    You’re not being a bitch. I met my husband using online dating and I didn’t go out with guys who didn’t seem to have it fairly “together”. I was only 24 at the time, but I’ve always dated guys a few years older and if they weren’t on a decent ‘path’, I wasn’t going to waste my time. 5 years later, I’m married to a wonderful man, we have a 6 month old, we own a house, and I work from home in a very part time capacity (daycare was not for us and I am ok with taking a step back for now).

    I agree about getting a prenup. Maybe he will change, but I doubt he’s going to suddenly do a total 180. Marriage is about love, intamacy, and is a huge financial commitment.

  5. mrs. estepp says:

    get married, but get married with an iron clad prenup. Five years down the road, if his habits haven’t changed, you’ll resent him.

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