Marry for Love or Money?

When I mention my boyfriend and likely future-husband-to-be is unemployed, my commenters frequently point out that I’m an idiot for dating him. “He’s pulling you down,” wrote Erin on a post I wrote over the weekend. Maybe I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life by falling for him, but I don’t think that’s the case. Here’s why:

I never knew what I wanted in a relationship until I met *Derek (names changed to protect the innocent.) I had dated a few guys before off and on, but everything felt fake, like I had to be something I’m not to be with them. Derek was different. We met performing in a local community theater. He was shy yet extremely handsome. His smile melted my heart from day one. As I got to know Derek, I discovered he was perhaps the sweetest man on earth. He cared so much for others and lacked all selfishness which was so common in my family and in myself. He made me realize that no matter how much money I had or didn’t, I could always be happy just cuddling up to him and watching our favorite TV show. For better or worse, wealth started to matter less when I met him.

That said, despite the fact that he’s unemployed, he’s not in a terrible financial state. At 30, he hasn’t saved a dime for retirement and he’s whittling away his $10k in savings during his unemployment. Yes, he pays for our date nights on occasion even though he shouldn’t. I’m investing my money so at least any savings I have will go towards our future, and the faster he runs out, the faster he will move to get his life in order.

Also, many 30 year olds still have student debt to pay off. If I were to decide that I needed to go off and find someone else to date who I would actually want to marry (and who could put up with my own mental illness / depression et al), what’s to say they wouldn’t be in a worse financial state? Derek has $0 in debt and, from the long-term view, he’s an only child from a family that is incredibly frugal. That’s not to say we’re going to become multi-millionaires one day due to an inheritance, or that I wish that day to come sooner than it has to, but there will be some money down the road to makeup for the weight I may pull up front.

He’s also going to get a job. The problem is he’s depressed and he needs to see a therapist to work out his issues. I want to help him get to a point where he can get a job. It’s frustrating but only because he gets upset when I try to help him until a lot of time has gone by and finally he’ll admit he needs help. I think that’s just a guy thing anyway. What I know is that I need to take care of myself. I’ve made it very clear to him that we won’t get married until he has a career (not just an hourly job) of something that he actually wants to do with his life.

If that ends up taking many years, then I guess I have a choice to make – do I stay and give up on the idea of having a family or do I go and try to find someone else. I know everyone in a relationship filled with love says this, but I can’t imagine finding anyone else who so perfectly completes me. I feel completely at home in his arms. And that, to me, is worth more than his retirement savings account balance.


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7 thoughts on “Marry for Love or Money?”

  1. While your situation might be unusual, I don't see any problem with it. He has an issue that he's working on and he's able to sustain his current situation, and he's honest about it. You guys seem to have a great relationship as well. I don't see anything wrong with it. And if I did, I am just a random Internet follower, so what does it matter? 🙂

    I mean heck, looking at myself, I have about $46k in debt, live in the suburbs, and don't drive. My fiance is debt free and is my ride to work (though it is highly convenient for him to do so). This probably gets a little side-eye from others, but who cares, it's my life and my relationship. Lol.
    Indiraa recently posted..Conferences, Conferences Everywhere

  2. Just be careful. Having been there and done that (your situation is.. very.. very.. familiar to me), love does not put food on the table, and you may resent being the only person contributing to the household.

    You may end up feeling like the mother, as I did, and that is not great for a relationship.

    Money is the #1 reason people break up, even if they desperately love each other.

    My ideal relationship is an equal 50/50, I can't accept anything more or less, and I'm happy to be with someone who feels the same way.
    Mochi and Macarons recently posted..Save like a developing country: Global savings rates around the world

    1. Agreed. My goal is for us both to make at least $80k per year (+ inflation) so we have $160k income together, and then anything on top of that which we can make personally would be personal spending money. The number may change a bit with kids, but this minimum is a good requirement to set and have out there.

  3. I mean you no harm by commenting, but just know that because you air your relationship issues online, you will get comments (even if they're the kind you don't want to hear).

    I don't think it's a question of marrying for love or for money. I personally think that neither work. What works is finding someone that will mesh with your personality (ALL aspects of it) and shares similar values and goals for life (not just an emotional connection). You mentioned being very comfortable with him and I understand that. I don't think debating about whether it would be a better idea to date someone else should be in question at all. You don't marry a person just because you calculate that you can't find anyone else so you're willing to overlook his flaws. Coming from someone who's married, I assure you that its true, sex and money are the two prime reasons for divorce. You seem like the kind of person who wants to dot your i's and square your t's, and waiting for him to get help and eventually get out of his funk to finally have a job at the ripe age of 30 spells years and years of waiting and frustration. You can't expect the man to change when change is extremely difficult especially when it boils down to something so fundamental. The problem, I predict, will eventually be you and not him. He's perfectly happy vegging his life away while you have a whole life plan. Something will break down somewhere and I don't suspect trying to change him to fit your life goals is feasible. I know this is a lot of criticism but not advice, but I don't think that's what you're looking for at the moment.

    1. Sharon – thank you for your comment. There is a little voice in the back of my mind that says exactly this. But here's what keeps me holding on — Derek wants to have kids and he wants a nice house and a nice life. I think now that we are close to this being a reality it's kicking him into gear. His depression is bad – a recent situation with his grandfather having to move to a nursing home caused him to regress, he doesn't handle stress well at all. That makes me nervous a bit, but at the same time I don't handle stress well either. To be perfectly frank, I'm a very strange individual and have my own set of mental issues. He has stuck with me through all of my ups and downs and will continue to do so. Being with someone who is more driven than I am would make me nervous. I don't want to be with someone who expects anything from me because I couldn't commit to it. I crumble at the thought of it. I also don't want to be with a guy who is always looking for something better because those are the types of men who don't commit, or who will leave should I end up in my own depressed rut. I'm very open with Derek about both money and sex so if those are the two greatest reasons for divorce then we at least have all the expectations out in the open up front. I think many people don't talk about either, esp money, until after marriage. Well he knows what I expect from him (a career and FT job w/ benefits) and he wants that too. He's not going to change, but he IS very good at staying in a job once he gets it. He had worked for a non-profit for many years now hourly and he never left, they loved him, and kept him for too little pay for what he did, but he's very reliable and I believe highly employable and a great worker. The challenge is getting him from where he is today to getting a job, and getting him out of his depression. It seems that may take moving in with him and getting him out of the house where he lives, which is bringing him down. He really wants to "change" but I don't think this is change really – he just has never been given direction or an example of what adult life should be, and so now he sees it, and he wants to have a normal life. I think we work well together. And he knows that we aren't getting married until he has a job, period.

  4. A successful relationship/ marriage, knows no dollar signs..Yes money is important but finding someone who you not only LOVE but LIKE is even more important. So many relationships fail because people were more concerned about career and money than love and happiness. My husband and I have been together for 7 years and I married him while he was unemployed… He had gotten laid off and from there I pushed him to not find another job but pursue his dream. He spent the next 2 years going to school and pursuing that dream.. He's now self employed and is on the rise to being my economic equal (lol) within the next 2-3 years.. we each had a child before getting together and we also have 2 children together and listen when I tell you it works for us and I have never regretted my decision. If you truly love him and feel at home in his arms and make enough to sustain you both, then I say go for it!

  5. Can you honestly reread your blog as a stranger and be unbiased. The whole thing spells disaster. You make excuses for him not getting a job saying he’s depressed, sorry sweetheart but majority of depressed people are still employed and working towards something. He’s lazy, and you can’t see it blinded by how you feel. The only way he will get motivated to ever be the person you want him to be is when you finally dump him. A therapist won’t help, and you will be wasting your money there. People are reactive not proactive…

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