Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “My Boyfriend Still Pays His Wife’s Mortgage and I’m at My Wits’ End!”

I’m very much in love with my boyfriend. We have been together for three years and have lived together now for two years. He is still married with three grown-up children (20, 23, and 29). His children still live with his wife in the family home. He pays half the mortgage as he still has financial interest there. He says he pays it because he doesn’t want to disrupt his children’s home lives any more than what he feels he caused when he left. His wife cannot afford to stay living there without his financial input towards the mortgage.

I have my own home which we live in and I have no interest in hers. We are struggling with money at the moment and I can’t help but feel frustrated that he still pays half of the mortgage for a house he doesn’t live in. I said, “Let her have the house!!” He has said he was going to, but then he changed his mind and said, no, that would be pointless because his kids don’t want to move and they would have to if he stopped paying. He used an excuse about not being able to afford a divorce, and then I found somewhere online (quickie divorce.com) where it was affordable and he still won’t do it. I wanted to eventually get married and move on. He says he loves me, but I can’t help but feel unsure. If anything were to happen to him, I’m not legally his next of kin — there’s no life insurance, and due to his still being married, I have no rights. He makes me feel like I’m moaning and what difference would it make if he is married or not. Well, it makes me very unhappy, so that should be enough. I’m getting to the stage where I think we should call it a day. I just feel he is feathering two nests. Please let me know what you think as I’m at my wits’ end. — At Wits End

When people say that divorce is expensive, they don’t typically mean the actual divorce itself although that can be expensive. They’re usually referring to paying for two different households, paying alimony and child support, etc. Your boyfriend wouldn’t have to pay child support, but he’d likely owe some sort of alimony and quite possibly be expected to continue paying for his wife’s home while no longer having an excuse to NOT marry you and NOT contribute to your household expenses. He’s probably right that staying married is cheaper for him.

Do you really believe he’s worried about disrupting the home life of his 20-something grown kids?! Come on. (And side note: why on earth are all three of his grown children still living at home?!) What he’s worried about is being financially accountable to both an ex-wife and a new wife (you). He’s trying to avoid that by staying married and being as minimally financially accountable as possible to just one wife (and not a wife and an ex-wife). The likelihood of your getting regular financial contributions from him for household expenses, let alone ever being a benefactor of a life insurance policy, are pretty much nope, not gonna happen. Even if he did get a divorce — and he has literally zero incentive to — the last thing he’s going to want to do after getting saddled with the expense of the divorce is to sign himself up for being financially responsible to another woman.

If getting married is important to you — hell, if it’s important to you that your boyfriend not be married to another woman — I’d move on. And if you own a home that you cannot afford on your own, I’d consider selling it and downsizing to one that you can afford. Or, if that doesn’t appeal to you, get a roommate whom you can charge rent that will help cover the mortgage. But you’re delusional if you think your married boyfriend is suddenly going to step up and fill that role.

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

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

29 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ktfran January 22, 2018, 9:44 am

    I think it’s fair that the 20 year old would still live at home if, let’s say, he or she was going to college or trade school or something of that nature. Other than that, WWS.

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  • avatar

    Arra January 22, 2018, 10:10 am

    And…….THIS is why you shouldn’t date married men….

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  • Cleopatra Jones

    Cleopatra Jones January 22, 2018, 10:19 am

    I dunno this sounds like another case of a man not planning to divorce his wife but living with his side chick.
    LW, the children are adults. They could sell the house and she could downsize to something smaller for her. He’s not getting a divorce because he doesn’t want to get a divorce.
    And for the LOVE OF GOD, do not LET a man who can NOT financially support himself move in with you. There’s not enough love in the world for me to support a grown ass man who’s supporting some other grown ass people.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star January 22, 2018, 10:28 am

    It’s almost like it’s a bad idea to shack up with a married man. Who knew?

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. January 22, 2018, 10:33 am

    Your boyfriend is not your boyfriend. He is somebody else’s husband, and he plans to stay that way, at least for the immediate future. Send him back to his wife and next time, don’t date a married man.

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  • avatar

    ron January 22, 2018, 10:54 am

    LW: I don’t know how many of the reasons offered above to explain your bf’s behavior are true, but it seems beyond obvious that he has no desire or intention to marry you. He could get a divorce if he wanted to. Alimony is less and less an issue these days and it is highly unlikely he’d have to pay for more than a few years or more than he is currently paying.

    You should not be living with a married man. The problems you are experiencing are the normal problems from such a situation. It is strange that your expectation was that everything would be wonderful.

    MOA, there’s nothing for you in this relationship. Essentially, you are supporting, or at the very least subsidizing, somebody else’s husband. It sounds like you don’t earn enough to afford to do this.

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  • avatar

    Sketchee January 22, 2018, 11:12 am

    Wws. You clearly want him to make reasonable changes that he doesn’t want to make. Take charge of your life and move on. Find someone who is more in line with your own needs. Good luck with everything!

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  • avatar

    Hannanas January 22, 2018, 11:18 am

    This story just makes zero sense. LW, were you the other woman? If so, you obviously still are.
    Accept that or move on. Good luck (sincerely)!

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie January 22, 2018, 11:37 am

    Oy, so much baggage! Let’s unpack it a bit…

    1. The three kids are living at home because either they’re in school or they live in an area where it’s difficult to find a job that pays enough to afford rent or more likely, they’re encouraged to live there by all parties (except the LW).
    2. Dad feels guilty that he left his wife and kids and so the easiest way for him to have his cake is to pay for it. That’s his concession.
    3. Mom feels angry because her husband up and left her. She’s not going without a fight. As long as he keeps paying the bills and she’s financially covered, I doubt she’d want to make any changes. Only out here is that she starts dating someone else who wants to marry her. Still, depending on state laws and other factors, she may walk away with 50% or more of the assets.
    4. You put yourself in this situation by not insisting that he formally get a divorce before moving in. “Actions speak louder than words” is highly applicable to your situation.

    Move on. This guy’s guilt is not going away.

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  • avatar

    csp January 22, 2018, 12:03 pm

    LW – What would he do if you kicked him out? He can’t afford to help you but can afford to pay his wife. On the flip side, what would you do if he was kicked out? could you afford your home without him?

    Look, I think you should expect more for yourself. This man is not helping enough and I would kick him out and get a roommate to really help you. Stop settling for scraps.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros January 22, 2018, 12:27 pm

    You should move on. He’s made the decision about how he wants to handle this, and it’s not compatible with what you want. (Though, I think most people would not be interested in using a site called quickie divorce. com).

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie January 22, 2018, 12:42 pm

      @Dino – very good point. I am guessing those sites are for people who have no assets. Typical marital assets include house, retirement funds including pensions, any other property, investments, etc.

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    • avatar

      MMR January 22, 2018, 3:27 pm

      “He’s made the decision about how he wants to handle this, and it’s not compatible with what you want.” <<< YES. That's kind of all that matters here.

      I definitely wouldn't call her "the other woman" or "his mistress", like some of the other posters, but it's clear that his financial priority is his family.

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      • Cleopatra Jones

        Cleopatra Jones January 22, 2018, 3:48 pm

        Well, he’s still married to his wife so that does technically make her the other woman and/or his mistress.
        There’s still a chance that he might reconcile with his wife (that ish happens all.of.the.time!). Just because he’s living with LW now, doesn’t mean he won’t go back to his wife. As their situation stands, LW is a diversion from his marital strife. She should definitely move on from him.

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      • avatar

        Ron January 22, 2018, 7:30 pm

        Of course she’s ‘the other woman’. Her bf is married. He has had plenty of time to divorce, if that was his desire, apparently it isn’t.

        I also don’t get this complaint: “he’s paying his wife’s mortgage”. No, he’s paying his OWN mortgage. That house is half his, his name is on the mortgage and deed, his credit gets trashed in a foreclosure, and he has a legal liability to pay the mortgage. Husband and wife are 100% responsible for family debts and often 100% for debt run up by their spouse. That is one excellent reason not to linger in marriage-divorce never-never land. Whether living together or apart, legally a husband and wife remain an economic unit, barring legal action with regard to separation pending divorce.

        This guy has no legal (I’m not saying no moral) obligation to pay LW’s mortgage. It would be fair if she charged him rent, but his name isn’t on the deed or mortgage for her house. He racks up no equity in it by paying into the mortgage fund.

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      • avatar

        MMR January 23, 2018, 10:08 am

        Yes, he’s still married, but he’s legally separated from his wife.

        Terms like “other woman” and “mistress” have connotations of malicious intent, and I think it’s unfair to lump her into the same group of people who are willfully deceiving someone.

        Separated people date all the time. Although she doesn’t say it, I think we can safely assume that it’s public knowledge that the LW and her bf are a couple, and that his wife and kids know. What she’s running into now are the known consequences of dating someone who isn’t untangled from a marriage he has partially left.

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      • Cleopatra Jones

        Cleopatra Jones January 23, 2018, 10:25 am

        @MMR,
        At no time in her letter did she state that he was legally separated from his wife. What LW did state is, ‘He says he pays it because he doesn’t want to disrupt his children’s home lives any more than what he feels he caused when he left.’ His level of guilt in this story is a little questionable.
        .
        Also, if he & his wife were separated before he met LW, why didn’t she ask him to divorce his wife before they moved in together? Most women are going to insist on a divorce before living together, if they have plans to marry the man. From our perspective, it all looks a little shady.

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      • avatar

        MMR January 24, 2018, 3:25 pm

        @cleopatra jones – You’re right about the separation thing, I just googled it:
        There is a difference between “separation” and “legal separation”. He is separated (not living with his wife), just not legally separated (it’s a formal thing, documents, etc).

        Anyway, my point is that he’s openly not living with his wife, and living with the LW. I’m not on her side in this – this guy is clearly still invested – both financially and emotionally – with his wife and kids, and she should have known this before they moved in together. I just don’t think it’s fair to call her his mistress, and everything that goes along with it, when we don’t know how they got together.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros January 24, 2018, 4:25 pm

        I think “mistress” has less to do with legality and more to do with whether a couple is considers themselves to be committed to each other in a monogamous way. Whether or not a couple has baggage or issues that prevents them from ending the marriage in a healthy way is a separate issue. There’s no technical definition of “mistress” that I would say overrides the perception of the parties involved.

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      • avatar

        Ron January 24, 2018, 5:52 pm

        So, the fact that a married man is no longer having sex with his wife makes his mistress not his mistress. Would this still be true if, instead of moving out, he was still living under the same roof as his kids and legal wife — sleeping in a separate room? Sleeping in the same bed with his wife, but just no longer having sex with her?

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      • avatar

        MMR January 25, 2018, 9:00 am

        @Ron It would depend on his relationship with his wife.

        Like @dinoceros said, there’s no legal definition of mistress, so I don’t think his legal martial status is a black-and-white determination of whether or not she’s a “mistress”.

        If he and his wife had decided they were no longer going to behave as a couple, but still live under the same roof, then no, she wouldn’t be his mistress. He has physically moved out of his marital home, and is now living with another woman. Without knowing his legal marital status, it’s fair to assume that he and his wife are operating under the assumption that they are – at the very least – not a monogamous couple.

        Obviously, there are a million emotional/financial/moral issues that are bound to surface when someone is in this grayish legally-married-but-separated-but-still-involved status, which is what that LW is now unhappy about.

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  • avatar

    Scarlet A January 22, 2018, 1:10 pm

    I’m with a guy who is divorced, and financially it’s not that different than him still being married. (We don’t live together though.) He supports his ex 100% as she is a SAHM and homeschools their children. This was their arrangement when they were married and continues to be that way post-divorce agreement.

    If he’s been supporting her all this time, it’s likely he’d be court-mandated to continue to do so. I would move on if you expect otherwise.

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  • avatar

    Sarah January 22, 2018, 1:54 pm

    LW, this is what happens when you’re the other woman. Usually the mistress doesn’t get a happily-ever-after fairytale ending. End the affair now.

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  • Copa

    Copa January 22, 2018, 3:36 pm

    This is a bit beside the point, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable that the 20-year-old and 23-year-old live at home. (The 29-year-old is a different story.) This is pretty normal, and the new normal extends past the age of 23.

    Anyway, this is why you shouldn’t get involved with someone who is still married, LW. Even if he gets divorced and sells the house, it’s likely he’ll still have to pay his wife spousal support.

    At the end of the day, though, he’s indicating he isn’t interested in marrying you. Not now, not for a long time, if ever. You want to get married. The fact that it’s because he’s still married is, imo, beside the point when you’re on such different pages about what you want and where you’re heading.

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  • avatar

    carolann January 22, 2018, 9:39 pm

    LW-YES You SHOULD “Call it a day”!!!!
    It blows my mind when side chicks help ruin a marriage and then have the nerve to think they are entitled to anything.
    You haven’t spent a lifetime with this man (and raised 3 of his kids) his WIFE has and she deserves whatever he has NOT YOU!
    Like all the other comments said…
    No, he ISN’T your boyfriend!
    He is paying his own mortgage and isn’t responsible for yours!
    Whatever assets,insurance etc he has would pay off to his FAMILY not you!
    You were obviously the mistress and you deserve everything you get for interfering in a 30 + year marriage.
    You have a lot of nerve!
    MOA and stop eating crumbs off another woman’s table!

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  • avatar

    carolann January 22, 2018, 10:04 pm

    And as far as the grown kids go…their Mom probably wants them to continue to live there especially since her husband left and she has a big house to herself.
    Back in the old days (and it is still common in some cultures) the whole family shared a house with several generations. In my city it is common for latino families to live together. They buy giant houses. It works out great for them because they all share the expenses and responsibilities. (bills, cooking, cleaning, errands, childcare etc) I would love it if I had a big piece of property and my adult kids continued to live with me. As long as everyone helped and had a J. O. B.
    I wanted my oldest to keep living with me, but it didn’t work out that way. She is living with other family members and isn’t really on her own.

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  • avatar

    CET January 24, 2018, 3:04 pm

    LW, you sound so immature. He’s MARRIED. He has CHILDREN. Of course he still needs to pay half the bills. It’s his responsibility. And if he gets divorced he will have to pay child support and perhaps even alimony. He STILL will have to pay for half of everything for his children. That is called being a PARENT. That is called being responsible. If you date someone who is married and/or who has children then yes, that man will most likely be financially responsible for these things.

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    • avatar

      Ron January 24, 2018, 3:14 pm

      CET:
      It is far from clear that he would have to pay child support if he got a divorce — certainly not for the two older children, probably at least part of tuition if the youngest is in college. Otherwise, if the wife were to be an ex-wife, choosing to support the older kids would be her decision and not his responsibility.

      All of that is moot, because he is still married, still co-owns the house with his wife, apparently does not have a legal separation/complete separation of finances. He is a married man who has chosen to leave home to live with his mistress. Since he hasn’t initiated divorce and their is no mention of a formal legal separation, I don’t know how else to correctly describe his status.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 24, 2018, 5:15 pm

    If your boyfriend has his name on the mortgage of his home he has a legal obligation to make mortgage payments whether you are struggling financially or not. He would ruin his credit rating if he quit paying his mortgage. He has equity in his home and none in yours. He would be a fool to start helping pay your mortgage while not paying his own. He should be helping cover his living expenses in your home but if your name is the only one on the mortgage you are the only one responsible for it.

    This is what happens when you live with a man who has no interest in getting divorced. If he wanted to be divorced he’d be divorced by now. The excuses he is giving are just excuses. He has made the choice to remain married. You can keep him as he is or dump him.

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