My boyfriend stresses about money so much that I’m considering getting secretly married so he can be covered under my health insurance. I’d like to be in a committed relationship that lasts the rest of my life, but I actually don’t believe in the institution of marriage as a government entity; I have trouble supporting an institution that still, in so many states, excludes gay couples. It’s silly to me that the government has anything at all to do with love, and it’s crazy that in order to have decent, affordable health insurance, a person either has to have a good job or marry someone with a good job.
I haven’t talked to him about this yet. We haven’t talked about spending the rest of our lives together; we talk about the future, but not that long-term. This marriage would be a financial decision and not a symbol of a lifelong commitment (though I love him immensely and would like to see things head there with him eventually). What do you think? And what should I be considering before we proceed? — Proposing for Health Insurance
I answered a question once from a couple who married early for health insurance reasons, but the difference between them and you guys is that they were actually planning to get married. It was something they had discussed, agreed on, and planned for. That doesn’t describe your situation at all, and you definitely should not marry — or even propose to — someone you haven’t talked about spending your life with. Furthermore, you should think long and hard before ever marrying someone whose financial situation is questionable. Whether you agree with it or not, marriage IS a legal commitment and, when you tie yourself to someone in that way, you also tie yourself to his or her finances. His money problems become your money problems (and vice versa), and it sounds like your boyfriend has money problems. Why would you want to be legally responsible for them if you haven’t even discussed a long-term future together?
Now maybe you’re thinking, “He doesn’t have money problems! He just can’t afford decent health care because he’s a freelancer.” Here’s the thing: the affordable care act (or, “Obamacare”) is set up so that people CAN afford it. I’m no expert at all, but I know a little bit about it because Drew and I (and our kid/s) get our health insurance through the ACA. I’m obviously self-employed, but Drew doesn’t get health insurance through his job even though it’s what most people would consider a “good job,” disproving your statement that to “have decent, affordable health insurance, a person either has to have a good job or marry someone with a good job.” We DO have decent, affordable health insurance, but it’s not thanks to our jobs or our marital status. It’s thanks to being financially responsible and to an improving national healthcare system. (It’s certainly far from perfect and I think we pay way too much for the coverage we do have, BUT this is the best and most affordable insurance we’ve ever had, so.)
Anyway, my point is, if your boyfriend who is single and in his 30s can barely afford what is probably one of the cheaper plans available (I’m assuming this since he’s saying that his copays are so high and, the higher the copay, the cheaper the premium) even considering the various subsidies and refundable credits for lower-wage citizens, then something doesn’t add up. I don’t know what that something is, but I sure as shit wouldn’t marry into it if I were you.
I appreciate that you want to help your boyfriend, but marrying him isn’t the way to do it. Maybe you can offer to sit down and work on a budget with him, help him figure out how to better prioritize his expenses and maybe apply for various tax breaks and refunds he might qualify for, so that he can better afford things like mental health care, which is super important, especially if he’s dealing with depression. When you feel like your relationship is ready for a next step, you could discuss moving in together. I’m sure splitting rent and bills would probably help his financial situation, too, without your having to marry him before your relationship is ready for that.
Bottom line: DON’T GET MARRIED YET. Don’t marry this guy or anyone until you really do want to spend your life together (and have discussed it at length). Marriage IS a legally-binding commitment. The government DOES get involved. You don’t have to like these things to be affected by them, and, the second you tie the knot with someone, you will be affected by them. So make sure you not only love and trust the person you’re marrying, but make sure you know and understand his financial situation and are on-board with being partly responsible for it (including unpaid debts). And make sure this is someone you want to be with long-term because, as much as you hate the idea of government being involved in a marriage, you’ll hate the idea even more when it’s involved in your divorce.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.