Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend’s Paid My Bills for Years But Still Won’t Marry Me”

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I’m a 31-year-old female who has been in a relationship for nearly eight years. We’ve lived together almost the whole time, and I am his domestic partner on his insurance. He is very successful and has supported me financially for the last six years, meaning I haven’t worked and I have, for all of my purchases, a credit card that he pays off every month. I take care of everything at home: the cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. Everything about our life is just like we are married, except that we aren’t. We’ve been engaged twice and both times, when it came to start making the arrangements, he couldn’t go through with it.

I made it clear when we started dating that I wanted to get married and start a family eventually. His friends all told me Mark would never marry, but he assured me they were wrong. I have tried to just not care about the marriage thing, but I just can’t change the fact that I want to share someone’s name. I told him I would sign ANY prenuptial agreement that he wanted, no matter the terms, but he is still fearful of marriage because of his success, as well as because of deep issues regarding his parents and their marriage. I can’t imagine my life without him, and I really do not want to leave because I believe we are meant to be together, but I am just not happy with the current situation. I feel like I’m in a no-win situation: damned if I stay, and damned if I leave. OH, and he has officiated the weddings of two sets of our friends, so I had to sit and watch him through two ceremonies! Talk about torture! Any advice on how I can keep my relationship intact but still be able to get my needs met? — Needing Nuptials Now

Well, what ARE your needs exactly? And how will marriage meet them? What is it that you want that you think only marriage will give you? Simply a name change? Kids? A deeper commitment? Once you are very specific about your needs, you need to make an argument to your boyfriend about how marriage is the thing that will get these needs met and that, without marriage, your needs continue to remain unmet. And then you have to decide what you’re going to do should your needs continue to be unmet. You’re either going to accept that this is how it is — that you will likely never marry this man — or that you need to move on. And if you decide to move on, you need to have a plan for supporting yourself since you have been supported by someone else for the past six years.

The way your boyfriend probably sees it is this: he is meeting your needs. You are provided for. You have all the material things you could need or want and you don’t have to work. AND you get his companionship and love. AND you get to be on his insurance, too. In his mind, he’s probably wondering what else there is. You push for marriage, but he doesn’t understand why marriage is so important when you are already getting everything you could want. So it’s your job to articulate what you’re missing and why marriage is so important to you.

You say you made clear in the beginning that you wanted to start a family eventually. Have you discussed that again in recent years? Does your boyfriend want kids? Does he think marriage is essential in starting a family or does it not matter to him? If you aren’t on the same page regarding kids, then there’s no point in getting married. If you are on the same page, then what’s the general timeline? And now does marriage affect (or not affect) that plan?

Finally, are you prepared to leave your boyfriend if he continues to avoid marrying you? Are you prepared to get a job and start supporting yourself? When you let someone fully support you financially without being legally wed, you put yourself in a pretty precarious position. Sure, it sounds cushy to be provided for, but what happens if your boyfriend suddenly decides he wants to break up? Legally, you have zero protection. No alimony, no stake in any shared assets, nothing. You lose your financial support and your health insurance and you don’t even have a job in place (or recent job history to help get you a job). Don’t you worry about that? Do you have a plan in the event of a breakup? If you don’t, I highly recommend you formulate one. Not only will a plan give you a sense of security, it will elevate your position in the argument for marriage. It will show your boyfriend that you are actually prepared to leave him if your needs continue to go unmet. I can almost promise you that, as long as your boyfriend believes you wouldn’t really leave him (if for no other reason than you can’t afford to), he won’t take your push for marriage seriously (unless he has a sudden desire for it himself, and that doesn’t sound likely).

Make your needs clear, and make clear that you are prepared to leave if they continue to go unmet. And as you’re doing this, think very seriously about whether you really want to marry someone who is so averse to marrying you.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

76 comments… add one
  • avatar

    RedroverRedrover November 4, 2014, 8:50 am

    Why are you letting him support you? I find this very weird. It’s one thing if he’s helping you because you’re going to school or something. Or if you’re a SAHM. But you can’t be a SAHM without actually being a mom. Of if you’re disabled or you’re on a visa or you have some other reason why you can’t work. If none of those are true, then it sounds like you’re taking advantage of him, frankly. I don’t think I’d want to marry someone who expects me to support them for no reason, either. You say he’s fearful of marriage because of his success. Well, it sounds like he has reason to be. You’re in the best years of your life for working/career, and all you’ve been doing is cleaning the house.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy November 4, 2014, 9:13 am

      In the LW’s defense, we don’t know for sure that all she’s been doing is cleaning the house. Maybe she is volunteering or caring for a sick relative or working on starting a business or taking classes or… I don’t know. Just because she didn’t give us details of her life as a stay-at-home girlfriend doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 4, 2014, 9:18 am

        I just feel like she would have mentioned that, because this sentence: “I take care of everything at home: the cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc” seemed defensive to me. If you’re doing the housework plus other stuff, you don’t break “housework” up into three separate tasks like that to make it seem like it’s more. You know what I mean?
        .
        But I agree, if she’s doing something else, like the things I mentioned or the things you mentioned, then it’s fine if they both agree. Whereas if all she’s doing is the housework, then even if they agree, I don’t think it’s really fine. She’s at risk, like you said, and she’s not really contributing the way she should be.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy November 4, 2014, 9:31 am

        I don’t think it’s fine even if they do agree, not because I think she *should* be working, necessarily. I just think that if she isn’t working, she needs to have some legal security in the event of a breakup. Their are plenty of stay-at-home wives who don’t have small kids at home (or any kids at all) and are happily supported by their successful husbands. It’s not a big deal. But the difference is if the marriage ends, they can fight for alimony or some kind of support while they get on their feet. To not have any safety net at all is so risky. That’s just financially speaking. But I would also think that not having work outside of being someone’s girlfriend/housekeeper wouldn’t be very fulfilling on an emotional/psychological/intellectual level, but not everyone would agree with that and we also don’t know that the LW doesn’t have something else in her life keeping her stimulated and fulfilled.
        .
        Related: I’m not someone who could be happy just being a stay-at-home wife or a stay-at-home mom. I don’t really want to work full-time or even work for someone else, which is why blogging/ freelance writing is such a good fit for me. It gives me some fulfillment and stimulation and a break from what is often a tedious job of care-giving and housekeeping. But I recognize that everyone is really different. Some women couldn’t stay home at all. Some women (and men, for that matter) love being 100% domestic. I think it’s all good as long as both partners are happy with the set-up and both partners have some short-term security in the event of a breakup.

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      • something random

        something random November 4, 2014, 9:41 am

        I agree there is nothing magical about a job. I could definitely find enough interesting life work to stay home without kids. Retirement anyone? ( assuming it’s possible

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 4, 2014, 9:57 am

        I guess. I don’t know, I think that both partners in a relationship should be contributing equally (assuming they’re able to). They should be “working” a similar number of hours, not necessarily at a paying job, but at whatever their vocation is. Whether that be caring for the kids, volunteering, trying to start a business, whatever. Otherwise there’s an imbalance. That’s just my personal opinion though. I don’t think it’s fair for one person to have to work harder so that the other person can work a lot less. I would think that would breed resentment, or in an extreme situation even contempt of the one doing less.
        .
        I think we’re seeing the results of it here. I mean, if he’s that successful he could easily just hire a housekeeper/cook. It’s unlikely that he values her contribution at the same level that he values his own. I’m not sure that I would either, if my husband just wanted to take care of the house while I worked fulltime. Housework isn’t a fulltime job anymore the way it was for our grandmothers. But if he wanted to take care of the house plus our son, then that’s more than a fulltime job and I would be fine with it (and I would help when I got home, because he’d be working longer hours than me, at a harder job). Or if he wanted to take care of the house plus do something else like get into local politics, that would be fine. But I don’t want to “keep” someone who isn’t working as hard as me, and it doesn’t sound like this guy does either.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. November 4, 2014, 11:33 am

        I have to agree. If I were married, I’d still work, just not at my current job. I’d find something more fulfilling and not worry about how much it paid. I do believe in marriage, and I don’t see it as a means to an end, but I would have a lot more time to practice music and dance if someone were supporting me, even partly. I’d still have to have some kind of income, as I don’t like being completely dependent. As long as both parties agree, I don’t see a problem with it.

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      • something random

        something random November 4, 2014, 9:37 am

        Redrover, I think you make a good point about the boyfriend feeling insecure.I briefly allowed my husband to contribute 100% after we got married right before I had a child. But I had contributed to most of the furniture and down payment on our house.

        Trust is built over time. You see what someone is willing to contribute to you. That they are willing to stick with you through ups and downs and changes.You don’t just decide you trust someone 100%. It sounds like the boyfriend has earned the Lws trust. But the opposite is not true.

        I think if the letter writer took more initiative in her own life and seemed more like a self- sufficient, interesting, ever evolving grown- up who elected to be with boyfriend as opposed to depending upon him, it would go a long way in building his trust.

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      • something random

        something random November 4, 2014, 9:43 am

        Of course maybe he’s just a phobic who won’t face his fears without being pushed to do so.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 4, 2014, 10:06 am

        My husband has contributed 100% of the money several times. Once when I went on medical leave for 9 months, and once when I went on maternity leave for a year. But there was a reason, in both cases. And in both cases I contributed the max that I was able, in terms of working hard. In fact I definitely worked harder than him when I was on mat leave. To me it’s not about financial contribution, it’s overall contribution that counts. If one person is always the one working their butt off, while the other is just working a few hours a day, I don’t think that’s fair.

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      • something random

        something random November 4, 2014, 12:25 pm

        I hear what you are saying. There are so many ways one can contribute I think can be hard to quantify. Some people start off having some or all of their varying tuition paid off, some don’t. Some people have medical limitations, some don’t. Some people see work to an end and find a job that supports them just enough; some people find their career to be a huge part of their identity and their work as a contribution to society. Some people like to buy nice stuff and some people are simpler in their tastes. Some people stand to inherit a lot of money and some don’t.

        I think at the end of the day you have to respect your partner and believe they have your back. I can’t help but wonder if it was the boyfriend’s idea to make the letter writer dependent on him. I’ve known people who refuse to let me pay for anything. It seems really generous on the surface but it is more about control and not being vulnerable. They just have to contribute more to every situation to feel comfortable. This guy has set it up where he will be just fine even if she leaves him. If this is a major fear of his, I think they will need to address it down the line.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 4, 2014, 12:32 pm

        Yeah, I tend to agree. While I kind of think she’s taking advantage of him (financially), I ALSO think he’s taking advantage of her (in terms of power). She’s basically stuck right now, and maybe he likes it that way. He’s got all the power in this relationship, and she literally has nothing.
        .
        She needs to get some of the power, and get her own dependence, and then see how the relationship looks. Maybe he won’t like that because he’s trying to control her. Maybe he’ll love it because she’s taking some responsibility for herself instead of living off of him. Who knows. But she can’t continue like this.

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    • avatar

      Sue Jones November 4, 2014, 12:22 pm

      She must be very attractive…

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      • avatar

        Sue Jones November 4, 2014, 12:24 pm

        Sorry, just couldn’t resist. My hands just started typing before I could censor myself…

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray November 4, 2014, 3:13 pm

        Hahaha

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      • avatar

        Sue Jones November 5, 2014, 1:30 pm

        Maybe this letter should have been labeled “Hot Woman Problems”… This and the Sugar Daddy letter above.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray November 4, 2014, 3:15 pm

      What Redrover said!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray November 4, 2014, 3:23 pm

        I just don’t get women like this… And i think I’m a little jealous. I’d love love to not have to work and justify it by doing all the cleaning. What a nice life! Yup, I hate women like that who can just take and take and … And I want that too! And I hate it. And I love it. And yuck. But how nice. And yuck. And oh man why did I not focus on finding a rich man. Oh well whaddyagonnado

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      • avatar

        ktfran November 4, 2014, 5:03 pm

        I want to be a lady who lunches. And I want a driver. Not really, because I would probably become an alcoholic. But sometimes, when I’m bored or whatever, it’s nice to dream about.

        In all actuality, if I was “taken care of,” I would still want some kind of job. A bookstore if those weren’t dying out. Or I dunno, a boutique of some sort. And I would volunteer. I would do that now. But I would do more of it. Also, I would fit time in for fancy lunches. Just sayin’.

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      • Portia

        Portia November 4, 2014, 5:17 pm

        You should go to the North Shore and see them in the wild. All fun and games until you find out your husband has a second family in Mexico (happened to one of my neighbors, amazing estate sale after that came out).

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      • avatar

        Muffy November 4, 2014, 8:25 pm

        haha sounds nice. I don’t know how rich this guy is she does all the cleaning and laundry for the two of them. Seems like you could just hire a cleaner twice a week for 200 bucks and be done with it. But maybe she really really likes cleaning? I read a quote somewhere that said that if you only marry for money you will end up earning every penny – ie: your marriage will likely be shit (like the comment with the second family). People who don’t respect one another do shitty things to one another.

        That being said, it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich person as it is a poor person (Gentlemen prefer blondes!)

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  • something random

    something random November 4, 2014, 9:09 am

    I think you should volunteer or get a job. You need more to your identity than being Mrs. Mark. What exactly would change with marriage? More evidence that things will last forever? A statement to the world that you two will be together for the rest of your lives? If that is the case, I suggest you examine your insecurity. You may have allowed yourself to become overly-dependent on your boyfriend. There is nothing wrong with wanting commitment but if wanting the commitment is based on wanting to feel safe because you don’t think you could make it without Mark than I would suggest you work on your self-confidence. The best way to build that up is by developing yourself and contributing more.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes November 4, 2014, 9:14 am

    Fast Eddie, I get what you are saying, tongue-in-cheek or not. But Wendy is so right- if something happens to their relationship (or to him), she is up a creek without a paddle. And LW, you have the right to stay at home and be supported and be a SAHM or whatever…but not without a clear understanding with your BF of the parameters of that situation.
    *
    I hate to say, but I find it telling that she doesn’t tell us his age- as in, he is older and she isn’t mentioning her (very real) fear it that the rug is yanked from underneath her when he finds another young thang. But maybe I’m just feeling pessimistic today.

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie November 4, 2014, 9:44 pm

      Your absolutely correct as it has been noted above repeatedly. I’m a bit vexed that so many commentators are obsessed with what happens to her when (not if) he wants out. If she’s fulfilling his wants (aside from her yearn for marriage) why would he want a change? I don’t get why so many of you are ready to paint him as a user.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite November 4, 2014, 9:25 am

    Your boyfriend is getting the best of all worlds here really. You’ve become overly dependent on him and he’s satisfied with the status quo. Plus, without being married he doesn’t have to split assets in the event of a breakup which sound substantial. I don’t necessarily think he’s a bad guy but he really doesn’t have much of any reason to change right now.
    .
    I agree with Wendy, figure out what it is that you exactly want. Then start laying to groundwork to get what you want. If you won’t get what you want from him you need to have a solid plan in place to transition to independence. What are your interests? What are your overall goals?

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  • Lyra

    Lyra November 4, 2014, 9:25 am

    Here’s my take on this: LW, your boyfriend has a LOT of control in this situation. He knows you’re not going to ever leave because he supports you and you’re on his insurance. It’s time to take some initiative. Get some independence from him. Get a job and if you can, get off his insurance. If he decides to break up with you — and it IS a possibility — you’re screwed right now. Take charge of your life.
    .
    I say get financial independence from him because his actions aren’t matching up with his words and quite honestly I doubt he will ever marry you. You’ve had TWO broken engagements where HE is the one who doesn’t want to follow through. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. You don’t want to be in a situation where you stay just because he is supporting you and you definitely don’t want to be in a situation where you are left with no income.

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    • something random

      something random November 4, 2014, 12:41 pm

      I agree. My (completely speculative) guess is that the boyfriend was attracted to the lw because she wasn’t majorly attached to a career. If he has a serious fear of abandonment and or commitment it probably makes him feel safer not to be on equal footing. Marriage would make them more equal and him more vulnerable in the case of loss.

      Trust is earned but it also requires taking some leaps of faith. Right now he has excellent (if not entirely honest) justification for not taking any leaps.

      Again, this is pure speculation. Its amazing how many direction you can go in with a letter. Sometimes I think Wendy’s titles prime me to interpret the letters a certain way. I gotta be less lazy, creativity is fun.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie November 4, 2014, 8:38 am

    You’ve got a good thing going there NNN, and he has reasons to hold back on doing the paperwork. Try not to screw up what you have for what you THINK would better. Sorry Wendy but I disagree with you on this one.

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    • gigi

      gigi November 4, 2014, 10:13 am

      I agree with you except for Wendy’s point that she is in a very precarious position financially if he wakes up one morning & decides he’s done with her. If they have children together, then they should at least have some sort of legal agreement drawn up to protect the kids, & provide for them, wills , etc. Paperwork would still be involved somehow, doesn’t necessarily need to be marriage though.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra November 4, 2014, 12:01 pm

      She says in this letter that she wants to have a marriage and a family. (“I made it clear when we started dating that I wanted to get married and start a family eventually.”) She may have a “good” thing, but ultimately it’s not what she wants. Her boyfriend has backed out of TWO engagements. Frankly I doubt he’ll ever give her what she is looking for — marriage and kids — and I think it would be a waste of her time to wait for him to make up his mind.

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      • avatar

        Sue Jones November 4, 2014, 12:21 pm

        Depending upon where she lives, there are domestic partnership laws that may protect her financially where he would need to pay her alimony, even though they were not married. She could use the fact that she is on his insurance as leverage.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra November 4, 2014, 12:25 pm

        But the fact of the matter is that she wants marriage and a family and was crystal clear in her letter — something that he, through his actions, has been crystal clear he DOESN’T want. Why waste another year or two in something where she’s not getting what she’s looking for?

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      • Lyra

        Lyra November 4, 2014, 12:30 pm

        We have seen countless letters about (usually) women who want marriages and/or kids yet their boyfriend doesn’t. Oftentimes the (again, usually) woman stays too long and hopes for him to change his mind about it, but in the end they break up. I don’t think this situation is all that different.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark November 4, 2014, 1:06 pm

      Seriously, talk about having it made and still finding something to bitch about. NEWSFLASH — few (man or woman) want to marry somebody who is pretty much dead weight and then STILL finding things to complain about.

      I suspect that from the beginning, he has been VERY clear about NEVER wanting to get married and you just refused to hear it. Thought you could change his mind and even twisted his arm into engagements that he later bailed on.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy November 4, 2014, 1:10 pm

        I don’t think agreeing to an engagement — twice! — is being THAT clear about never wanting to get married. The LW may be hearing what she wants to hear, but I think part of that is because her boyfriend is telling her what she wants to hear (“Sure, we’ll get married eventually. Yes, I want kids too…”).

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark November 4, 2014, 1:19 pm

        Could be. I dunno.

        Admittedly, I am biased here. Hey, now that I am beyond OLD and have thus (sadly) witnessed far too many of my friends and coworkers marriages… Well, lets just say that the very idea that somebody would have some great fear or hesitation about getting married increasingly just seems like the mark of HIGH intelligence.

        😉

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  • Miel

    Miel November 4, 2014, 10:15 am

    I really like that Wendy addressed this point: it is not safe to be entirely supported by a boyfriend for years and years ! A break up won’t be like a divorce, it won’t take months and be in front of a judge, it could totally be over in one single day, and then suddenly you have nowhere to sleep that night, no job and no resume.
    .
    The Supreme court of Canada had to pronounce themselves on that very specific issue a few years ago (the famous Lola vs Eric). “What if a woman and a man live together for a long time, have kids together, but never marry, is the man forced to pay alimony on top of child support in case of a separation, in other words, should a couple be automatically married after two years of cohabitation and no other form of ceremony, in the hope of protecting the poor woman who were depending financially on their non-wedded partner ?” I was horrified by this case. Automatically married ? Aren’t we adults that can take our own decisions ?
    .
    LW, don’t be like Lola who was entirely supported by the very rich Eric. Find a way to save money for yourself, find a way to keep your resume up to date.

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    • FireStar

      FireStar November 4, 2014, 10:20 am

      There is nothing wrong with common-law spouses having legal rights. You can always choose not to be common-law if you want to escape the obligations or set up co-habitation agreements that set up the parameters of your arrangements.

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      • Miel

        Miel November 4, 2014, 11:52 am

        At least in Quebec, where the Lola vs Eric case took place, common law spouse IS an automatic process that happens as soon as you lived for a certain time with your partner, or even faster if you have a kid together. They have certain rights, for example child support in case of separation, and they can share health insurance and such. But why would common law spouse have the same rights as married couples ? Then what would be the difference ? There would be none, except one would happen automatically and people would become married without knowing it!

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 4, 2014, 12:27 pm

        In my province, common law is automatic, and so is eligibility for alimony and child support. It seems kind of odd on the face of it – that you’re just automatically assumed married. It seems like it takes choice away from the people involved.
        .
        But look at it from a governing point of view. If you keep having the situation where a couple breaks up, and one of them is left destitute while the other has all the rights to the money, what happens? They get supported by social services. And if they have no marketable skills, or they’re older, they’ll be supported by the province and country for the rest of their lives. The taxpayers have to pay for it. Why should that be the case, when the other half of the couple was complicit in getting them into a situation where they can no longer support themselves? And presumably the other half of the couple was getting some advantage through this, most likely in unpaid work like housework and childcare. So why should one person get the advantage, and then the taxpayers get the bill for taking care of the other person for the rest of their life?
        .
        It’s actually a very similar argument as to why child support exists. We could get rid of child support altogether and just use social programs to fill the gap. But why should the rest of the people have to pay, when the child’s other parent is out there and has more responsibility for the situation than the rest of the taxpayers?

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      • Miel

        Miel November 4, 2014, 1:23 pm

        Actually I like your argument, I had never thought of it this way.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar November 4, 2014, 12:47 pm

        Yep – I know. In Ontario it’s two years or if you have a kid. I’ve had clients come in to my office having no idea they were common-law until I told them. Common-law laws essentially codified the case law with respect to equity laws and constructive trusts. You can contract out of them – just like you can contract out of statutory support and equalization if you marry. I have no problem with the default position being protection of the parties and if you don’t want or need that protection – expressly say so.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 4, 2014, 1:02 pm

        I was almost common-law myself once. I’m glad it turned out that I wasn’t – we were together for over 4 years and lived together for 3 years, but we had a break in the middle of those 3 years, so it doesn’t count. Plus for one of those years he was technically renting from my parents, and he had his own bedroom, so even though we lived together, we didn’t live “as a couple”.
        .
        I didn’t even know about it at the time though, so I’m just lucky that we didn’t become common-law. I wouldn’t have been happy about it, but marriage and the definition of marriage is owned by the govt, so it’s not up to us to say what constitutes marriage and what doesn’t. Unless we petition the govt about it, of course.

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      • othy

        othy November 4, 2014, 12:17 pm

        We’ve got something similar common-law marriage rules in our state. You have to petition to get the rights, so it’s not automatic, but it’s possible:
        .
        “are of legal age and capable of giving consent;
        are legally capable of entering a solemnized marriage; (For example, there are no reasons, such as a close family relationship, preventing the parties from legally marrying.)
        have lived together;
        treat each other as though they are married; and
        present themselves to the public so that other people believe they are married.”
        .
        I’m not sure if our LW would meet the last point (although I think she could argue well that being a domestic partner on his health insurance would cover it), but she sure meets all the rest.
        .
        On a side note, Gary Coleman died in my state a few years back. He was living with his ex-wife, and she tried to argue that they had common law marriage. But everyone who knew them testified against her, and she didn’t win. The whole thing was crazy:

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      • avatar

        ktfran November 4, 2014, 12:24 pm

        I just wouldn’t count on anything though. I mean, She would have to hire a lawyer and go to court to have legal rights in the event of a death or breakup. A good lawyer cost money. Presumably, she doesn’t have any of her own.
        .
        It would be in the LW’s best interest to have some kind of financial plan in place.

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      • othy

        othy November 4, 2014, 1:16 pm

        Oh, I completely agree. But, there are some states where there are laws protecting her. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t throw enough money at a lawyer in the event of a breakup to get out of any potential common-law marriage.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra November 4, 2014, 11:04 pm

        Common law is interesting to me. My ex’s mom has been with the ex’s pseudo “step dad” for like 15 years. They own a home together, their families do holidays together, and “step dad” has basically supported them through that entire time. At least as of a couple years ago the mom had been unemployed off and on for 10 years. I would usually only visit for holidays and I could tell their relationship wasn’t the best…let’s just say I got caught in the middle of multiple fights, including yelling, between mom and “step dad”. They were/are miserable together, but I honestly doubt the mom will leave simply because that’s what she has known for so long and the fact that — at that time at least, I haven’t talked to her in years — she really couldn’t support herself financially. I’m not sure of the common laws in that particular state, but I’m pretty sure they met those requirements.

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      memboard November 4, 2014, 1:06 pm

      The supreme court stated that in Quebec (only!) Lola isn’t entitled to a share of community assets. It different in the rest of Canada where Common Law in most provinces automatically marry common law spouces and grant them rights and obligations.

      LW needs to work out what the situation is in her jurisdiction but her worst case scenario is that she is on the street without a penny to her name.

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      • avatar

        Muffy November 4, 2014, 8:28 pm

        the eric dude in that case is the guy who created cirque du soleil. and the lola is some woman he met while on a trip in brazil. surprisingly she is not very attractive. But judging by pictures taken of him and his new girlfriend who looks a lot like his old girlfriend he likes his women to be tall and sort of masculine looking.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar November 4, 2014, 10:15 am

    What you are asking is a way to get him to change his position while at the same time you do not rock the boat or risk your relationship with him. But why should he change his position? HE likes the status quo. There will come the point where you will have decide what you want more….marriage? or him? And he knows it. Unless kids become a game changer for him – I suspect things will just keep as there are. I hope you have some sort of fall back plan in place in case of a break-up or if – god forbid – something happens to your boyfriend. I couldn’t imagine structuring my life so that my entire life and well-being is tied to someone else’s whim.

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  • Amanda

    Amanda November 4, 2014, 10:39 am

    LW, do you want the wedding or the marriage? There is absolutely nothing wrong with either one. But, you need to think about that. If you really just want to be married, ask him to go to the courthouse and sign the paperwork. Then have friends and family over for a dinner party. That might be an easier sell. If it’s the ceremony…MOA. He’s backed out – TWICE – when you started to make arrangements. Figure out what it is you really want. And, for chrissakes, come up with a contingency plan in case something (anything) happens!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 4, 2014, 11:03 am

      I doubt he would just go to the courthouse and sign paperwork. He is protecting his assets by making sure they are all his and remain all his. Signing paperwork would make them half hers and he isn’t willing to do that.

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    • something random

      something random November 4, 2014, 12:26 pm

      I thought of the movie Run Away Bride when I read this. 🙂

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  • avatar

    ktfran November 4, 2014, 10:46 am

    LW, from my limited understanding, if you two break up, you’re entitled to nothing. Sure, you could fight it in court, but legally, you get nothing.
    .
    I’m only saying this because since you’re not working, you should probably take steps to secure some kind of financial future if you ever need it.
    .
    Ok, now I’m going to read Wendy’s advice. And others.

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    • avatar

      ktfran November 4, 2014, 10:55 am

      Also, I just read the Secret Wife…. it is basically a story about this kind of scenario, but it ends very badly.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 4, 2014, 11:00 am

    Since you haven’t worked in six years you’ve also put noting toward retirement in six years. It is critically important, if you don’t want to be destitute in your old age, that you start working. If his income is more than enough to support the two of you, you could work and put everything you make into an investment fund for your retirement. Tell your boyfriend that since you aren’t married and won’t inherit from him that you need to know that you will have money when you are retired. He could hire a maid to cook and clean while you go to work. You need to establish a level of independence in case this relationship ends.

    As to how to talk to him, I suggest you read “He Wins, She Wins” by Dr. Willard Harley. It describes a process for presenting and working through problems in a marriage/relationship. He does say that if your partner refuses to work on issues you should separate because they don’t care enough about your happiness. You should care about your partners happiness and they should care about yours. I’m not sure that your partner cares enough to work out your issues and it may be time to leave.

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    • something random

      something random November 4, 2014, 2:41 pm

      I like the idea of saving a nest egg if she stays in the relationship. She definitely needs to have a few years of salary set aside, especially if things haven’t changed vwhen the have kids. Letter writer don’t have kids unless you could do it without boyfriends support. If that isn’t what you want consider giving yourself a timeline to work through things and move on if you can’t.

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    • Moneypenny

      Moneypenny November 4, 2014, 4:21 pm

      On top of no retirement being saved, she hasn’t contributed (much, I assume) to Social Security! (That is, if she’s in the US.)

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. November 4, 2014, 11:27 am

    Why is your boyfriend supporting you? Sure, it’s nice to be provided for, but what you’ve done is make yourself completely dependent upon him, which gives him all the power. Now, I’m not knocking stay-at-home wives. I’d do it if I could. It would give me lots of free time to pursue my artistic interests. But, at least they have protection in the event the marriage breaks up. You don’t. People say marriage doesn’t matter, but in fact, it does, under certain circumstances. Your BF could kick you to the curb and leave you flat. Or, you might stay in an unhealthy situation because you feel you have nowhere else to go. Give yourself some options and start working and saving. Your BF has given you an answer: he doesn’t want to marry you. I’m not saying he doesn’t love you, maybe he does. But he just doesn’t feel the marriage vibe. If you really want to get married, and I don’t blame you if you do, this is not the guy. My advice to you is to get a job, save some money, and move on.

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  • avatar

    shakeourtree November 4, 2014, 11:45 am

    LW, depending on the state you live in, you actually might have already acquired legal rights to some property. But as it stands now, whatever rights you may have, you would have to fight for them in court. Considering you haven’t really contributed to the partnership at all financially and you don’t have any kids, a judge might not be very sympathetic, so it might be a tough sell. Since your boyfriend doesn’t want to marry you, the two of you need to look into a cohabitation agreement (like a prenup without the marriage part) and come up with some agreement about how you’re going to be supported if the two of you split up. If he’s unwilling to do that, knowing that it puts you in a precarious position, then you need to start looking for a job and another place to live because he is not the man for you.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 4, 2014, 12:32 pm

    You’ve given this man 8 years of you life and you’re 31. How many more years are you willing to live in limbo? How many more years are you willing to give him? A decade? Two decades? If you live with him for another five years with nothing changing will you consider it a mistake? You’ll be 36. What if you turn 40 while waiting for him to marry you? You have to decide how long you can wait and when it is time to leave if nothing changes. How many years are you willing to give him if you aren’t happy? How many of your wants and needs are you willing to forfeit to stay with him?

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. November 4, 2014, 1:26 pm

      Yes! I meant to address the age issue. At 31, the clock is ticking, LW. If you wait much longer, it may be difficult for you to have kids. There’s no telling how long it will take for you find someone else to have kids with, so getting started sooner rather than later makes sense.

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  • avatar

    bostonpupgal November 4, 2014, 12:36 pm

    I agree with Wendy and many of the comments here. I’d also like to stress that “making a plan” can’t just be you sitting around thinking about what you might like to do in the event that your relationship ends. You should meet with a family law attorney to figure out what rights you have, if any, in your current situation. You need to be working and making your own money asap. You need to be contributing to your own savings account and retirement account (Roth IRA, an investment portfolio, something). If your relationship ends, it is likely you will be left with absolutely nothing. You then need to take Wendy’s advice, talk to your boyfriend, and if you decide you can’t stay in the relationship without a marriage then you need to pick an end by which, if your boyfriend hasn’t proposed, you’re leaving. I would suggest an end date of 6 months from now, it will give you enough time get a job and build some savings.

    Honestly, it doesn’t sound to me like your boyfriend is ever going to marry you. He’s backed out twice. Whether you stay or leave you need to make some serious changes to protect yourself financially. And remember, if you stay, at any moment he could kick you out into the street with nothing. You need to be prepared.

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  • avatar

    memboard November 4, 2014, 1:26 pm

    LW should really read up on the Lola vs. Eric Canadian case. Here’s somewhere to start http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/unmarried-quebec-couples-have-no-right-to-alimony-court-rules-1.1322347 Google will give you plenty of other sources. This was a very public case.

    Turns out that Lola isn’t entitled to anything in here jurisdiction. I think it makes perfect sense. There was no agreement (marriage or otherwise) so there shouldn’t be accruing rights or obligation by default of sharing the same address. But it’s not a position shared by every one. That’s a position that is very defendable when both are equally working but far more problematic if only one works. But in any event all of it were choices that Lola and Eric were free to make. Turns out that the one Lola made was disadvantageous to herself.

    Turns out that Eric had offered Lola a decent settlement before the thing went to the courts, one where she would not be destitute or homeless just one where she wouldn’t be a jet-setting Gucci bag hoarder anymore. She was left the use of the family house and it’s staff if I remember. FWIW Eric is understood to be a well know Quebec multi billionaire. He had a lot to loose. It’s unclear if Lola herself was a true gold-digger or if her lawyers were.

    Given LWs position, it might actually be better for LW boyfriend to marry here now. If he is very successful and has therefore a fair bit of assets the only assets she would be entitled to are those that accumulate after the wedding. As far as I understand it, getting married would reset the clock on property division. So all that BF brought in when getting married is off limit to LW. Only the increase in value after the marriage she would be entitled to. Maybe Addie Pray or Guy Friday know this well enough to comment (although AP might be too far on cloud 9 to be paying attention if the forum are to be believed).

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    • avatar

      memboard November 4, 2014, 1:47 pm

      Not to accuse LW to be a gold-digger but certainly financial implications are quite serious in case of a breakup and in the case of her relationship a weak hand with no assets or skills to fall back on.
      .
      What marriage gives here (and here husband at the same time):
      – a share of family assets in case of divorce (including accrued rights to pensions)
      – inheritance from the spouse
      – survivor spouse pension if that’s applicable in her state or country plan
      – being next of kin in case of medical decisions need to be made in case.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray November 4, 2014, 4:16 pm

      Haha I *am* on cloud 9! I know very very little (basically, nothing) about family and property law. But let’s talk about being on cloud 9.

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    • avatar

      shakeourtree November 4, 2014, 7:38 pm

      Typically, whatever property you already own going into the marriage will stay separate property. Whatever he earns during the marriage will become marital property, so all of his wages during the marriage. If he has money from inheritances or gifts, even during the marriage, that stays his separate property. The amount of marital property she would be entitled to depends on what state they’re in and the judge’s discretion. She probably won’t be able to touch his separate property or anything he buys with his separate property–again, depends on the state. There are ways to convert separate property into marital property, but the rules are different everywhere. In some states, commingling assets is enough. It’s a lot harder than that in my state. But since he’s supporting her and she’s dependent on him, she might have a good claim for alimony depending on how much he makes, the length of marriage, the state, the judge, and so on.

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      • fast eddie

        fast eddie November 4, 2014, 9:55 pm

        Good grief, why not sic the dogs on him.

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      • avatar

        shakeourtree November 5, 2014, 11:51 am

        I think I am the dog in this scenario (divorce lawyer in training)! But this guy, if he ever marries her, will almost definitely get a prenup.

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  • avatar

    herself November 4, 2014, 1:58 pm

    She needs a plan on how she can support herself. Accidents happen- what if he became incapacitated or worse, how would she be supported. He may never marry her, or leave her, but what happens if he passes away unexpectedly and there’s no documentation stating that his assets be left to her. How could she not have a fall back plan at the age of 31???

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark November 4, 2014, 2:05 pm

    Honestly? I love how the prevailing theme here is all about how if this ends, it’s such a tragedy as she will be left with nothing… NOTHING! Um, really? How about the fact that she would be DEBT FREE and has basically had fucking SIX YEARS of PAID VACATION?

    😉

    Just saying…

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover November 4, 2014, 2:17 pm

      And she’ll have a hard time getting a job with that unexplained gap on her resume, and she’ll have nothing to live on. It’s nice for now, but she’s screwed when it ends. If she had a nest egg tucked away, that would be totally different, but I think she would have mentioned if she did.

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    • something random

      something random November 4, 2014, 2:35 pm

      I think we all just remember the story about the grasshopper and the ant

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  • avatar

    raziel1687 November 4, 2014, 9:50 pm

    Sounds like he doesn’t want to get married because he is very aware of this thing called divorce and of alimony, of which he would not want to pay her. But she did mention she’s willing to sign any prenuptial agreement… As someone who didn’t want to get married who has gotten married. Marriage itself hasn’t changed anything for me. I guess it’s more of a status thing, people take your relationship more seriously, and if you have kids in the mix, it’s good for them as long as you STAY together. But a marriage is not anymore stable than a dating relationship these days. I don’t feel more secure that I’m married. If I lost my job, my husband couldn’t support me, I make more than him, and he doesn’t even make enough to pay all the bills, but I do. I just don’t see the point of complaining about not being married if you have a successful boyfriend who is paying everything for you… Or would you rather be single and have to pay everything yourself just because he didn’t want to marry you? The grass is not always greener on the other side. Nothing is going to be perfect in any situation, you have to give and take. And apparently being fully taken care of is not what this woman wants.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie November 4, 2014, 9:53 pm

    I lived with my wife for 8 years before we married. For 6 of those years she carried us financially. As things got better it was time and we did the honorable thing. Now in retirement we’re secure but her health is lousy. For better or worse, we keep plugging.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones November 5, 2014, 1:31 pm

    Hot Woman Problems….

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