Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiancé Can’t Provide For Me. Should I Still Marry Him?”

Cold Feet

I’m engaged to be married in eight weeks but am beginning to have cold feet. My fiancé treats me like a true queen, but he can’t provide for me the way a husband should because of his finances. I’m a school teacher making $34,000 a year and my fiancé currently works at a warehouse job making about $12 an hour. He also has a six-year-old son whom he has joint custody of and pays child support for, which leaves him with a small paycheck. We split all our bills and sometimes he asks me for some money here and there to carry him to the next pay period until I barely have money for myself. This is really starting to bother me. Should we still get married or do I need to postpone it? If I could change his financial situation, I would marry him tomorrow. Please help. — Getting Cold Feet

First of all, if you’re a school teacher, it’s especially important that you use real words/real spelling of words in your written correspondences. I had to edit quite a bit of your letter, including changing “thru” to “through,” “n” to “and,” “wud” to “would,” and “tnrw” to “tomorrow” (I mean, there’s not even an “n” IN “tomorrow”). Maybe I sound nitpicky, but it really bothers me that a grown adult who’s responsible for guiding and teaching our next generation is expressing herself, at least in written correspondence, like a 12-year-old texting a friend. (For the record, yours is certainly not the first letter I’ve received like this. Sadly, most of them read like prepubescent text logs, but I would [not “wud”] hope that a teacher would hold herself to higher standards and not perpetuate this sloppy text-speak that has become pandemic in our society, especially in the younger generations). Ok, end rant. Now, onto your question:

No, you absolutely should not still get married if you aren’t financially stable and don’t have a solid financial plan together. Postpone or cancel the wedding immediately and get yourself to a financial advisor who can help you budget and plan for the future. Discuss career training for your fiancé so that he might be able to move into either a better-paying field or at least a better-paying position in the field in which he currently works. Can he discuss the terms of child support with his ex and a lawyer? If he shares custody of his child 50%, maybe his paying child support isn’t fair or necessary. That said, if you plan to have kids with this man, you obviously need to consider the expense of those potential kids. If you can barely afford to support yourselves now, I don’t see how you can support additional family members.

Also, you need an attitude adjustment. Why is it the husband’s job to provide for you? You’re a grown, capable career professional (despite what your aforementioned text-speak might suggest). You can provide for yourself. It’s one thing to want to be supported, but to just expect that that’s a man’s role to fill is sexist and backward. This is 2015. Wives can be providers, too. They can even be the sole breadwinners while their husbands stay home and take care of domestic duties.

Anyway, get thee to a financial advisor who can look at your incomes and expenses and help you form a budget and a plan to better reach the kind of financial comfort that will allow you to marry worry-free. And if you can’t get there because you simply aren’t a match on the financial side of things, move on already, because, as much as you love this guy, if money is a big problem, you won’t have a happy marriage. And it’s a lot cheaper to put off a wedding than pay for a divorce.

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

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.

49 comments… add one
  • juliecatharine

    juliecatharine May 26, 2015, 8:42 am

    +1 for an end to text speak-it’s awful.

    To the issue at hand, if you’re a teacher you likely have good benefits and time off in the summer which would allow you to supplement your income pretty significantly with tutoring, coaching, or another seasonal job. If you’re not doing that, why not? A financial adviser is a good step but the no brainer is to boost your income when you can.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 May 26, 2015, 10:28 am

      It’s funny that it is that simple, and most schools have before school and after school programs that teachers can signup for to make some extra money as wel, but this person clearly has no intention of doing that. I wonder if she has her masters yet, because there is usually a pay increase there too.

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      • avatar

        snoopy128 May 26, 2015, 11:36 am

        A master’s degree also costs money, which can be prohibitive.
        But as other’s have said, this is probably a budgeting issue, not a money flow issue.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh May 26, 2015, 8:45 am

    Letters like this always rub me the wrong way. One because you think that him being the man means that he should automatically be the primary bread winner and two that you’ve waited until now to discuss this.
    .

    Wendy’s advice is spot on and I hope you follow it.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki May 26, 2015, 8:49 am

    This sounds like our relationship right before I got married. I was a state employee making $12.50 an hour and my husband got laid off 2 days before our wedding (from a warehouse job making about the same) and had child support to pay for 2 kids. But since I’m a grown ass adult, I didn’t expect anyone to provide for me. I didn’t marry him so that he could pay my bills.
    But yes, please cancel or postpone your wedding. There may be underlying reasons you’re getting cold feet or maybe there aren’t. Either way, you’re not ready for this step. And be honest with this guy about why you’re waiting. And get your own financial house in order too if you’re that concerned.

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  • avatar

    MissDre May 26, 2015, 8:53 am

    Wendy you are so awesome!!

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  • coconot

    coconot May 26, 2015, 9:05 am

    I second Wendy’s idea of a financial planner. Depending on where you are living $58,000 a year for a couple is really not that poor. With a 2 person family it’s 3.6X the poverty line, and with a 4 person household it’s still more than 2X the poverty line. According to wikipedia, $58,000 puts you above the 50th percentile for household income nationally. That means more than half the country is somehow figuring out how to live with the amount of money you have or less. I have personally lived on about half of your income for two years with my partner and somehow we were fine and I still wanted to marry him. Granted, both of us had plans to make a lot more money in the coming years by making sacrifices in what we purchased and where we lived at the time, and by investing a lot of time into our education and skillsets.
    .
    Just like Wendy and others are annoyed by poor grammar, my pet peeve is poor budgeting and people not spending within their means. Your fiance obviously has not learned how to spend within his means (or he wouldn’t have to borrow from you every month), so I hope you have learned or will learn how to manage money before you choose to get married to him or anyone else. The low income children I volunteer with always have the newest ipads/ipods, but have worn out shoes and are sometimes not getting breakfast at home. The adult high school equivalency students I work with tell me they can’t make their rent payment, but somehow always have perfect shellac manicures and designer yoga pants. I know people at ALL income levels from (10s of thousands to ~a million a year) that are in debt. This country has ridiculous entitlement problems, and it seems like everyone assumes they deserve luxury goods and services no matter what their income. Sorry if this doesn’t apply to you, LW, but it really bothers me! If everyone were financially responsible, this country’s economy would be in much better shape than it is now.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy May 26, 2015, 9:45 am

      Amen, sister.

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    • Cassie

      Cassie May 26, 2015, 5:37 pm

      “The low income children I volunteer with always have the newest ipads/ipods, but have worn out shoes and are sometimes not getting breakfast at home.” Yes. This. It breaks my heart every single day.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes May 26, 2015, 9:08 am

    WWS!
    *
    Text-speak makes me want to slam my head into my desk. Ugh. It makes me shudder when I actually get it in text, like the dreaded “ur.” Ick, I could barely type that. I mean, I get that you want to shorten texting to do it quicker. Like “tmrw” for “tomorrow” (what the sh*t about an “n” in this letter? phew) or somesuch, but only with people you KNOW. Most definitely NOT in a professional email or even *gasp* if you are writing to an advice columnist- one who I would think, you want to convey your situation/thoughts/emotions to the fullest extent possible. Buuuut that is just me.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray May 26, 2015, 9:20 am

    WWS! Also, I’m surprised this is an issue *now*. Did something change? Assuming not, you’ve always known about his income and responsibilities (hopefully). So, I’m surprised now, all of a sudden, you’re not happy with what your fiance brings to the table financially.
    *
    Also, about your comment “he can’t provide for me the way a husband should because of his finances” – barf!

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  • Crochet.Ninja

    Crochet.Ninja May 26, 2015, 9:35 am

    Child support is his responsibilities – you need to deal with that. You’ve got 10+ years left of that, and yes, it can take a big chunk out of that person’s income. We lose almost an entire paycheck a month from it. You work with it. If you want to marry him, that child becomes partially your responsibility as well.

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  • Portia

    Portia May 26, 2015, 9:44 am

    I think Wendy makes some very good points about finances and the LW would really benefit from looking at all that critically before the wedding.
    .
    As for the text speak: I understand that there are places for formal writing and that people on here tend to expect that. However, text speak is in fact a rule-based system and not so far divorced from the now-quaint creative spellings of old (all those s-to-z differences between British and American spelling were once very contentious and intentional). As always, I turn to my favorite academic on the matter, Anne Curzan: http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/03/01/txtng-rules/ Bottom line: those who write in text speak are generally highly aware of writing style and conduct themselves more professionally in professional spheres. And we could better teach students by acknowledging the differences in registers between formal and informal writing they already do, including text speak. ::gets off soapbox::

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy May 26, 2015, 9:47 am

      Touché, Portia. Dr. Portia, that is.

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      • Portia

        Portia May 26, 2015, 9:50 am

        🙂

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray May 26, 2015, 9:58 am

      Talk linguistics to me!! I’m all ears when you turn on your speech speak. If I could do college all over again, I’d definitely take linguistic classes. I regret that.

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      • Portia

        Portia May 26, 2015, 1:47 pm

        I’m glad you like it! I’m gonna miss linguistic-ing all day, I think… If we end up doing a Chicago meet up, I’ll linguist as much as you want 😉
        .
        I’m also supposed to finish this journal article on my dissertation topic (well, really a presentation I did) in 10 pages and keep putting it off. But really, how are you supposed to condense basically 200 pages to 10? Blarg.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray May 26, 2015, 2:08 pm

        Hey, that’s better than having 10 pages you need to expand to 200!

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      • Portia

        Portia May 26, 2015, 3:52 pm

        True story.

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    • avatar

      Cleopatra Jones May 26, 2015, 2:20 pm

      Ha ha, I may be dating myself but text speak is the equivalent of Valley Girl speak that was pretty rampant in the 80’s. I had so many teachers in school who would rage on students if they used ‘party’ as a verb or used the word ‘like’ as a filler. In the 90’s it was the use of urban slang that was allegedly causing the downfall of the English language.
      .
      English is a living language, it’s bound to change and grow in different ways. I honestly don’t understand why people get all upset about text speak. As long as I can understand your meaning, I personally don’t care how anyone speaks or writes. 🙂
      .
      Remember when saying the word, ‘ain’t’ meant you were poor and uneducated. Ah, good times.

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      • Portia

        Portia May 26, 2015, 4:21 pm

        I had a 7th grade teacher who banned a number of words from the classroom. Most were those Valley Girl type words or constructions. I showed her, though, since I had entire classes on the various meanings of “like” (even the filler-type use has a purpose in speech) and verbalization of nouns is a productive and common process (your example of “to party,” also “to homework” or “homeworking” was big in my social group).

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      • Portia

        Portia May 26, 2015, 4:30 pm

        Oh and Cleopatra Jones, are you a “finna” user?
        .
        Bassanio once came across a footnote in a judge’s legal opinion about the meaning of “finna” (my understanding is that it is approximately the African American English version of the Southern “fixing to,” meaning something like “going to” or “getting ready to,” but it’s likely regional). A good amount of the case was about a 911 call and whether the caller meant the action was going on at the moment or the speaker said it was in the future. I wonder how one of those language maven teachers would have responded to a reference to a legal opinion…

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      • avatar

        Cleopatra Jones May 26, 2015, 7:23 pm

        ha ha, I am in an informal setting but not at all work.
        .
        Although my parents weren’t southern, they grew up in the country so stuff like ‘finna, fixing to, and bout to’ were definitely a part of my lexicon growing up.
        .
        I love country southern people so I love to hear people say stuff like that. I know it’s improper English but there’s something about the way they string those words together that has so much meaning and rhythm to it.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover May 26, 2015, 8:26 pm

        Wait, is “ain’t” acceptable now? I have literally never in my life heard someone use it seriously. I’ve only heard it in movies and as a joke.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh May 26, 2015, 8:31 pm

        You’re in Canada, right? Come to the south in the US. It’s used regularly. Also we sat next to a table Saturday that said fixin to so many times we thought they were using it as a joke. But, they were just fixin to do a lot of stuff apparently.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover May 27, 2015, 7:41 am

        Ok, I see, makes sense. Also your “fixin” comment made me laugh out loud. 🙂

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      • avatar

        Cleopatra Jones May 26, 2015, 9:45 pm

        I think it has been entered into Webster’s dictionary as a legitimate word. I’m not sure about the rest of the U.S. but it gets used pretty frequently where I live and I’m not even in the south.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover May 27, 2015, 7:43 am

        Interesting. I work with a lot of Americans but I guess because it’s a corporate environment people maybe don’t say it at work.

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  • avatar

    captainswife May 26, 2015, 9:48 am

    Oh, good grief. Treating you like a “queen”? Are you KIDDING me? What’s with THAT? Do you really feel that entitled to any goods and services you could possibly ever want? Most countries in the world are doing away with royalty because the whole thing is so gag-o-matic.

    SO. If you want a certain lifestyle, it’s on you to figure out how to do it. NOWHERE is it written that it’s any man’s responsibility to treat his wife “like a queen.” You sound so incredibly materialistic and selfish, I’m having a seriously hard time even responding here.

    My thoughts:
    1. It’s reasonable to be worried about a partner’s spending habits, and better to discuss them now than after the wedding.
    2. You need to figure out how to be your own provider and tame down your financial expectations.
    3. Next, figure out whether you are better off together or apart. Love alone does not a great marriage make.

    And just throw away the term “queen.” Ugh.

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    • avatar

      Cleopatra Jones May 26, 2015, 2:23 pm

      NOWHERE is it written that it’s any man’s responsibility to treat his wife “like a queen.”
      .
      Um, I had it written into my wedding vows cause I didn’t want him to forget. 🙂
      .
      .
      jk- I’m feeling way too silly today. 🙂

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      • Cassie

        Cassie May 26, 2015, 5:40 pm

        My DH got it as a tattoo.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie May 26, 2015, 5:41 pm

        (I hate when people use ‘DH’).

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    • avatar

      Anonymous May 27, 2015, 7:20 am

      It’s an immediate red flag to me when a letter writer mentions being “treated like a queen”. Screams of entitlement and someone who is too caught up in a Disney princess fantasy to enter the real world of marriage.

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  • avatar

    Tanya May 26, 2015, 9:59 am

    Financial planning is good, but one thing I would suggest is to make sure you have a very clear idea why your fiance is in this financial situation. Child support may be one reason, but it also might be that the fiance is just not very ambitious and is the type of person to just cruise through life and be satisfied with whatever he has. If that is the case, you then need to decide whether you are okay with this type of attitude towards finances. It seems to me that what you need is first and foremost a frank conversation about your individual and joint plans for your financial future. And then once you have discussed and agreed some common goals, take yourselves to a financial planning discussion with a professional and take it from there. It will be much better to have this clear in your head BEFORE your wedding so at least you know what you are getting into. For me it isn’t so much a case of don’t get married, but a case of are you completely okay with your life will be like should you marry the man you love. Best of luck!

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  • Diablo

    Diablo May 26, 2015, 10:13 am

    Mahahahaha. Oh, ffs. Provide for you? If my wife had ever implied that i was to “provide” for her, i would have known there and then that she was not the girl for me. Not because I am cheap. Because the right girl for me is a modern woman for whom it would simply never have occurred to her that anyone should provide anything for her. I provide what she cannot get for herself: my love, loyalty and friendship. When we were married we didn’t have $34K/yr between us. We lived on a lot less for a lotta years. (Wendy, i have an MA, so I can say “a lotta” if i wanna. And anyone who uses “lulz” should be taken out and beaten with a very big smelly fish.) She was independent and capable and so was I. Over the 26 years we’ve been an item, I have made more money than her for 5 years. Right now, she makes half again what i do, and I do OK. Now as then, we provide for us. As to being “queen,” well, she’s the one with the money, not her “loyal subject.” Do this guy a favour and don’t marry him.

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  • avatar

    Krys May 26, 2015, 11:14 am

    Seriously? The man treats you like a queen and your reservations are over his wage? Where I’m from, $12/hr is a respectable wage. You are only making approximately $4 per hour more than he is. He also has a child to support for the next 12 years. That child’s financial needs will need to come before your financial wants for that entire time frame and very possibly beyond. My concern is that you will start to resent the child taking money from your household. Yes, you do need some financial advice. I highly suggest Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

    I also highly recommend postponing the wedding. I am wondering if there are some power struggle dynamics here because of the (tiny) wage discrepancy. You do seem to think your $34,000 per year is so much more than his yet the reality is that you’re probably bringing home $12/hr after taxes. You say he treats you like a queen. What exactly does that mean to you? He waits on you hand and foot? Your every wish is his command? Or do you simply mean that he treats you better than every other man you’ve known? It always raises my hackles when someone says their significant other treats them like royalty especially when they do not follow up with any reciprocity. It speaks to me of selfishness and immaturity to demand someone else treat you as royalty, including financial support, rather than as a partner.

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  • othy

    othy May 26, 2015, 11:20 am

    As the only bread-winner in my household, I’m totally doing it wrong (I guess). I missed the memo where I need a man to provide for me the way a husband should. Instead, I found a husband, who while he wasn’t making a ton, was very loving, supportive, and on the same page with me in terms of finances. We lived in crappy apartments for a number of years because that was what we could afford. We budgeted (together) for me to go to grad school. And now we’re fortunate enough that we can afford for me to be the only wage-earner in the house while he finishes his degree. And as far as I’m concerned, we’re in it together. We both agreed that we were comfortable and stable enough for him to quit his job and go back to school. Not because I could “provide for him the way a wife should”, but because he wanted a degree to get a more enriching career.
    .
    Also, financial situations are never guaranteed. He could have a great job making lots of money and get laid off. You marry the man for who he is, not what job he has. Does he make you happy? Are you on the same page in terms of life goals? Do you have similar (sustainable) spending patterns? When you marry someone, you marry them for richer and for poorer. If you are reluctant about the poorer option, maybe marriage to this man is not for you.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo May 26, 2015, 12:30 pm

      “provide for him the way a wife should” – somehow, this phrase sounds SO much more appealing to me than with “husband” in there. For years, I tried to convince M what a good “kept man” i would make, but the shrieking harpy insists that i go outside of the house and find gainful employment. I have to work, like, ALL DAY LONG. FML. LULZ.

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  • avatar

    csp May 26, 2015, 12:21 pm

    LW, Every relationship has a cost. Every single one. This one is that this man is an average wage earner with a child. Is that worth it? Is that the way you see your life going? If you walk away from this situation, you might not find better.

    Look, money is a factor in relationships just like looks, sense of humor, ect. Weigh what that means for you. I know when I got married, my husband didn’t make a lot but I did see a career trajectory for him. I believed in his potential. I wasn’t looking for a meal ticket but I did want a man who worked as hard as I did.

    I think you need to ask a ton of financial questions to each other. My husband and I ran credit reports on each other. We talked about how we felt about prioritizing spending (Things versus experiences). We are thrifty in the same way versus splurge in the same way. What our long term goals were and how important saving for retirement was. These conversations are so important.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 26, 2015, 1:00 pm

      I think that especially in this situation running the credit report of each partner is a great idea. If he has a history of not being able to live on his income there could be some surprising debt that she knows nothing about.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 26, 2015, 12:56 pm

    For now I’d postpone the wedding. You don’t need him to support you, you should be able to do that for yourself. But, he should also be able to support himself and he can’t. He shouldn’t have to borrow money from you and he certainly shouldn’t be running through your money to the point where you can barely support yourself. Does he pay you back?

    What is it that you want from life and can you achieve that with your current combined income and spending habits? I’m guessing no. Don’t get married until the two of you can handle your money well enough that you are reasonably certain that you can achieve those goals. I’d wait until the two of you have made steady progress toward reaching goals for at least a year. A lot of people can make sacrifices for a short period of time but many can’t make it a year. If you go ahead with your wedding as planned nothing will change and your life now will be your married life. If that isn’t a life that you like then cancel the wedding.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra May 26, 2015, 7:01 pm

    Wow. Just…wow. For starters not every teacher has as big of a salary as you do, so you’re actually lucky in that regard. Second, if the fact that he can’t support you financially (ugh) is such a big deal there are obviously bigger things wrong with your relationship. Third, if he is a good dad his son will always come first, including child support. Do not marry him and let him find someone else who will appreciate him.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 26, 2015, 8:58 pm

      What if she would like children of her own and a house? Is she bad for having her own basic dreams, whatever they may be? If she realizes she can’t have the basic life she dreams of because of money issues with him she needs to break up not feel bad about not loving the status quo.

      His son needs to be his priority but she shouldn’t have to give up her dreams for that. If he can’t manage to have a son and a wife she needs to move on because he is already a father so that decision has been made.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra May 26, 2015, 10:54 pm

        And I totally agree that it’s fine if she wants a comfortable life financially, plus her own house and her own kids. Financial stress is insanely difficult to deal with. She shouldn’t feel bad if she decides to move on…however how she portrays herself is pretty juvenile. Expecting a guy to provide for her really isn’t ok. It’s one thing if they work together and if one of them loses a job the other one picks up the slack, but it doesn’t sound like that is what is happening here. Like someone mentioned above it’s easy for a teacher to work for additional money after school or during the summers either tutoring, advising an activity, coaching a sport, etc. As a teacher myself I’ve done all of those but coaching. Yes it makes the day long and tiring sometimes, but whatever pays the bills (and student loans). A man is not the equivalent to a financial plan, and it sounds like she sees it that way.

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  • avatar

    Monaliza February 17, 2017, 11:50 am

    Wendy, that was Nasty start on ur first pharagraph. I wouldnt take any of ur advise with that schizophrenic complaining because of a spelling error. Everyone makes a mistake. Guess what? Ur grammar was not better than mine.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy February 17, 2017, 12:15 pm

      Huh, I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom February 17, 2017, 12:26 pm

      This one just makes me laugh. No one will ever take you seriously when you write like a texting teenager. My great uncle was a paranoid schizophrenic but he always spoke like an intelligent adult. I personally find it offensive that you are using schizophrenia as an insult. You sound juvenile. Much younger than my 16-year-old daughter.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse February 17, 2017, 12:26 pm

      Lol.
      This is so funny. Thanks for the laugh.

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    • avatar

      Vathena February 17, 2017, 12:53 pm

      My least favorite text abbreviation is “ur”. Really, is it too much work to type the “yo” too? There is really no excuse for it when most phones now have an autocomplete/autocorrect feature.

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