My boyfriend has a 20-year-old daughter in college. He pays for all of her college and sorority expenses, which total $3,000 a month. He pays for the car loan and insurance for his ex-wife, who he claims is a poor teacher. His daughter often calls him and lets him know she is out of money.??
I worry about what will happen if we get more serious and discuss living together or getting married. His daughter is extremely dependent upon him and his generosity. I fear she is spoiled and will expect him to continue paying for everything, even after she graduates from college.??
What happens if we marry? Are my worries justified??
Worried in New Mexico
There are two very different issues here. His daughter will be his No. 1 priority during her college years and beyond. It’s not a competition; it’s life. His income is his own, and he will continue to spend it as his head and heart dictate. That’s his prerogative. Relationships don’t always end with divorce, especially when there are children involved. There is an emotional bond that can last a lifetime, and a financial relationship that continues above and beyond the divorce ruling.?
So my message to you is buckle up: The college expenses are not over yet. Parents’ income and savings fund the largest portion of college costs (40%), followed by scholarships and grants (29%), according to the 2023 report by student-lending giant Sallie Mae on how America pays for college. The remaining college costs are covered by student borrowing (11%), student income and savings (10%), parents borrowing money (8%) and relatives and friends (2%).
You’ve been together a mere five months, so take the time to look at your feelings and response to his financial relationship to his ex-wife and daughter. It’s very early days for you to second-guess the monetary ties between this man and his family. And fair warning — his daughter may need her father’s support and financial help after she leaves college: a down payment on her first post-college rental, for example, or help buying a car. Think carefully before interfering.
His wife is his responsibility if he believes she needs his help. Secondary-school teachers are paid an average of $62,860 per year in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Teachers have one of the most important and stressful jobs in the world, and given the important role they play in the lives of children and their impact on students’ lives long after they’ve left school, they are criminally underpaid.
“It’s too early to do a forensic accounting of your boyfriend’s family finances. It’s a good time, however, to ask yourself why you like being with him, and why you would even consider marriage five months into a relationship. ”
The typical teacher can afford to buy just 12% of the homes near their school, down from 30% in 2019, according to a report released in August by the real-estate brokerage Redfin
It’s too early to do a forensic accounting of your boyfriend’s family finances. It’s a good time, however, to ask yourself why you like being with him, and why you would even consider marriage five months into a relationship. (I have a friend who says any committed relationship over a certain age is technically an engagement, but that’s not entirely realistic.) This should be the honeymoon phase, not the time to feel threatened by his ex-wife and daughter.
Here’s a depressing statistic: Financial security is the No. 1 reason for getting married (42%), according to a recent Forbes Advisor survey, followed by companionship (36%) and love (32%). It’s probably no surprise, therefore, that lack of compatibility was the No. 1 reason for new couples to divorce, with 59% citing it as the reason in the first year of marriage. Couples also cited lack of family support, lack of intimacy, too much conflict and financial stress.
Every couple should have a conversation about expectations and financial goals before getting married, but they should also make sure they’re getting married for the right reasons. Transparency is important, and loyalty to his ex-wife and daughter bodes well for his character. If you come between him and his obligations to his daughter, and question his financial commitment to her, you may find yourself on the losing side.
Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas.?
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