Jeff has a good job as an architect. He works hard and has five- and ten-year plans and retirement goals. However, he doesn’t make enough to feel comfortable, with college debt still looming and and high cost of living prices in the area that we’ve chosen to live. And then, me. I work hard, but my career as a dancer does not bring anywhere near the stability that my boyfriend’s job does. I choose my career every day – it’s emotionally and physically difficult, but something that I am deeply passionate about. I do not hesitate to take on side jobs to bring money in for our general expenses.
Ever the planner, Jeff spoke about how he is worried about how my career choices would affect our family if we were to have one (we both want one) — how a proposal means marriage, which means a house, which means kids, and that I’m not looking at my financial situation realistically and am putting pressure on him to make the money to raise our family. He is, to put it mildly, stressed about this. And to be fair, I don’t know if my career will ever bring in enough money to support a family.
I’m not sure where I stand here, and I need your help in getting clear on what I’m allowed to ask and where I’m asking too much.
I’m asking him, I think, to propose to me because he loves me, and trusts that I will do everything I can to support US. When he talks money when I mention proposals, the conversation becomes transactional in a way that makes me shudder and back away. And he shudders at my distaste for looking at my bank account.
I understand that he wants to be more secure financially before he proposes, but this is a man who might never make that step because that security could be a decade away. We joke that we each expected that we’d marry millionaires when we grew up and would never have to have these conversations. That seems not to be.
Is he right to bring such realistic terms into the question of a proposal? Am I wrong to expect him to love me no matter how much money I make? — Not a millionaire and personally ok with it
Is Jeff right to discuss his financial concerns with you before proposing? Um, yeah. In fact, YOU are wrong to “shudder” at the thought and to avoid looking at your bank statement and to simply fantasize about marrying a millionaire so you can continue doing work you’re passionate about that doesn’t earn you much money without having to worry about how you’ll raise that family you want. At least one of you is being practical and responsible! I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but marriage isn’t some lala dreamy playing-house set-up where food just magically appears on the table and the sink is always clean of toothpaste scum. Marriage takes effort and it takes some planning, and it most definitely takes communication about the not-always-pleasant-and-easy-to-talk-about-stuff, like paying bills and saving for a house and deciding whom to leave your kids to if you should die while they’re minors. So… you know, if you seriously can’t even handle a talk about how your career choice is going to affect your ability to contribute to a household and raise a family, how are you going to handle all the other decisions — both big and small — that come with legally tying your life to someone else’s?!
Honestly, I don’t think you’re ready for marriage and it sounds like your boyfriend knows this. For one thing, you act like by “choosing your career everyday,” you deserve a medal, but, wow, what a privilege you have to even get to do that! Do you have any idea how many people would give their left tit to be able to choose a career they’re passionate about every day instead of doing whatever moderately soul-sucking job they have 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week because it’s not the worst thing ever and they live in a reality where bills have to be paid and “taking on side jobs” isn’t going to cut it? I don’t say this to shame you or mock you, but to point out that you seem to lack the kind of perspective most grown-ups who are making big life decisions — like marriage – should have. And it sounds like that worries your boyfriend a little, as it should.
So, ease up. Ease up on the proposal talk until you can think about the big financial picture a little more clearly, without shuddering and covering your ears. I don’t know how old you are, but if it, indeed, takes Jeff a decade before he feels financially secure enough to propose, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Certainly, it sounds like you could use a few more years of maturing before getting married, and maybe by then you and Jeff will have worked out some plans that alleviate the responsibility he might feel to be the sole/main breadwinner in your relationship…
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
LS February 14, 2017, 2:30 pm
He may love you no matter how much money you make, but he also has the right to say he doesn’t want to be the only/primary breadwinner of the family and life you’re talking about building together.
That means you have three choices:
1. Both of you need to change what your vision of the future looks like so you can be closer to equal contributors (ie: budget for a life as if you both make your lower salary, then any extra he makes goes to enhancing the lifestyle instead of sustaining it). If you can’t live at that level, then you need to admit that you are currently living beyond your means at his expense.
2. You start contributing more to the relationship to create a more equal partnership. If you don’t want to downsize your lifestyle that probably means getting a more steady, higher-paying job–otherwise it probably looks a lot like option 1 (you can cut coupons, pick up more of the housework to share the burden of maintaining a home, find/plan more free or cheap date nights, etc). Either way it probably means sacrificing some of the time you spend on your passion. For him, it hopefully means recognizing the value of your contributions even when they don’t bring in actual income (assuming your contributions are actually helping create more financial stability).
3. You accept that you want someone to support/subsidize your lifestyle, and he is looking for someone who will contribute equally to the household resources. If neither of you are willing to compromise on these points, you need to accept that you are not a good long-term match and should go your separate ways.
kmtthat February 14, 2017, 2:46 pm
LW – Please look at these three choices, it is excellent advice. I for one am team feminist and shudder at the thought that there are still women who think men should be breadwinners and support them, the lifestyle they expect, a future family, retirement (I am betting 100% you do not have a retirement plan) without so much as a real adult discussion and agreement to do so. You just….expect him to be ok with it. This conversation was him telling you he’s not. You can bury your head in the sand, deflect with “if you really love me’s”, etc. but at some point you two are going to have to come to an agreement or move on. Why not do that now?
bondgirl February 14, 2017, 2:39 pm
Wendy’s right; you NEED to be able to have those difficult conversations, especially finances, if you want any shot at having a long-term future with your boyfriend. You can’t just “shudder and back away” every time you’re confronted with these uncomfortable topics. If you can’t find a way to work through it, then you’re probably not ready for marriage yet.
RedRoverRedRover February 14, 2017, 3:21 pm
And you need to be able to look at your OWN finances and plan your own financial future, to be able to live like an adult. No adult should shudder at the thought of looking at their bank account. They should grow the hell up and start planning their finances properly. And if you can’t even do that, then I don’t blame him one bit for not wanting to marry you.
bagge72 February 14, 2017, 3:33 pm
So I always find it funny when the term difficult discussion gets brought up in situations like these. I mean they probably should have had the financial talk a while ago, and talking about at a point where you are ready to marry somebody should make it pretty easy to talk about. I mean it is a very important thing, and if you have been with somebody long enough that you feel you know so much about them that you want to spend the rest of your life with them, then yeah easy conversation.
Guy Friday February 14, 2017, 5:49 pm
Yeah, I’m with you on that. My wife and I had the conversation in like 30 minutes, and it took longer to figure out the logistics of our plan than it did to actually agree on the plan. And, what’s more, the idea that you have to only talk about it once and that’s it is silly too; finances are an ongoing conversation as things in life change. So if you shudder when discussing it, just suck it up and dive in head-first.
Meg February 14, 2017, 2:41 pm
I agree with Wendy, that talking about unromantic and uncomfortable issues like finances are an important part of marriage and a life together, but I do want to give the LW a little bit of benefit of the doubt.
LW, it sounds to me like part of the problem might be a difference in what the proposal signifies to you vs. to your boyfriend. To you, it sounds like a proposal would mean an acknowledgement of his love for you- and would indicate a commitment to work the logistical challenges out, whatever they may be. To him, it sounds like a proposal would mean that you’ve figured out a plan to navigate those logistical challenges, and that you’re both ready to set that plan into motion.
Maybe you do need more time and life experience before you’re ready for marriage. Or maybe you’re hurt because you feel like your boyfriend’s unwillingness to propose right now is indicative of his feelings toward you, and not just of his need to make sure you’re on the same page first. It sounds like it bothers you that he doesn’t know that you would do whatever it takes to make ends meet- but have you talked about it? There are more than two options, and there is plenty of middle ground between an immediate proposal, and waiting a decade until your boyfriend feels financially stable enough to support you. Talk about what you each want out of life- and what you’re each willing to contribute (financially and otherwise) and give up to make that happen.
Maybe he assumes you want the big house and kids immediately, while devoting as much time as possible to your dance career- and that makes him feel pressure to single-handedly bridge the financial gap to make that happen. Maybe you want to start your life together as husband and wife, but are willing to live more modestly, work a second job, and put kids on hold while you pay off school loans and save for a house together.
Marriage requires compromise, and until you talk about what sacrifices you’re each willing to make, it’s easy for each of you to jump to conclusions and feel anxious about them. So talk- and if you can’t talk honestly about the realistic issues that you will face as a couple, then you’re probably not ready for marriage yet.
Vathena February 14, 2017, 3:01 pm
Maybe you just need to look at it from a different angle. Instead of it feeling “transactional”, think more along the lines of “planning for our life together and talking about our shared goals and dreams, and how we are going to make them a reality.” I actually think talking about financial goals with my husband is kind of exciting. Like if we save $X this year, we can take an amazing vacation next year, or finally get the bathroom re-done, or put $Y extra into our daughter’s 529. If you think about it the right way, it’s kind of romantic! You are building a life together, and the financial details help you build the kind of life you want to have. You guys should sit down with all of your info (income, debt, credit, saving) and really talk. What is your 10-year plan TOGETHER? Where do you want to live, how many kids do you want to have and when? How will you deal with childcare? When do you want to retire?
I kind of disagree with Wendy that being a professional dancer is in any way irresponsible, *as long as you are living within your means*. Being responsible about saving/spending is far more important than net income, IMO. There are lots of people who make far less than their partners, but contribute to the relationship in other ways. But, what is your plan when you’re no longer able to dance professionally? If you are not ready to think about these things, then you should wait a bit on marriage.
bagge72 February 14, 2017, 3:40 pm
I think her being a professional dancer as being irresponsible would only come about if she were expect this person to provide her a lifestyle should couldn’t provide for herself. If she is perfectly comfortable living the lifestyle her income can provide the rest of her life then there is nothing irresponsible about it, and it’s great that she gets to do what she wants to.
for_cutie February 15, 2017, 11:47 am
I thought about this too. Her boyfriend has a 5 year, 10 year and retirement plan. His career is more prone to this sort of stability. I could see how he would expect her to have the same plan in place. He wants more than just passion from her, but a realistic plan for her life. Dancing – or anything that is physically and emotionally demanding – often has a natural end point when one’s body no longer performs at the level it used to. Pregnancy is another factor for female dancers, and there likely is not a maternity leave policy to fall back on. This is all real life. If the LW thought through these life steps as much as she’s thought about engagement, I am sure they would both feel better.
Also, I do think there are great long term plans for dancers – such as working an administrative job at a studio or with a performance group. I think the boyfriend just wants to hear that these are options the LW thinks about, instead of inconsistent part time work.
Bree February 14, 2017, 3:17 pm
I can definitely see both sides on this. The guy is very reasonable in wanting to be financially secure. However, I get where LW is coming from. The kind of financial security that the guy wants may take years and years, and she may want to know whether or not she’s wasting her time on him. My ex gave me the same song and dance about all of these things he wanted before he would propose. What it ended up boiling down to in my case was that I wasn’t his One, and he strung me along. With this couple, I think there is room for compromise, if both are willing. The LW can work towards making more income, while not selling her soul, and the guy could shift his idea about what financial security looks like. Is it being able to comfortably afford rent every month, or is it about being able to afford a multi-million dollar house? I think they need to have an in-depth discussion about how to become more financially secure. There are effective ways to be thrifty, while not feeling impoverished: eating out less, saving more, buying used things, etc. If they want to be together, both sides will have to compromise and shift their expectations.
Ron February 14, 2017, 5:46 pm
I don’t get the impression from the letter that the bf is looking for a multi-million dollar house. I do get the impression that LW expects to be supported while she does what she loves for little remuneration.
For most people, work is work, it has it stimulating and intellectually satisfying moments, but you’re basically paid to do it, because you wouldn’t put 40-60 hours a week into it if you weren’t paid to do it. It funds the other part of your life, the part which generally yields the most enjoyment — family, hobbies, travel, outings with friends, little luxuries.
If we had our druthers and could get somebody else to support us in the manner to which we wanted to become accustomed, I think almost all of us could find a job about which we were more passionate and which wrapped up all of our avocational interests in a bow with our employer supplying great facility and tools and paying us a pittance to do what we happily do after work, supplying our own tools and facility.
Even for a guy who loves architecture and happily chose that field of study, there is a difference between being able to pursue exciting architecture possibilities without regard to level of remuneration, and doing architecture as a job to earn enough to support a family.
In this age of equality, and really the need for two-earner families, I confess to finding LW’s urge to be supported more than a tad self indulgent. I guess the real test is whether she would happily live on a family income twice what she produces from her dancing and side jobs. If they could agree on this standard of living, it would at least free her bf to pursue architecture as more of an interesting lark which produces some $, rather than having to choose projects and employment for the $ they will bring to his family, rather than what he sees as the architectural merit.
Somehow, I don’t think that is LW’s mindset. They may have both kidded about marrying millionaires so they could choose the life’s work they most desire, but she’s the only one of the pair who is still approaching this as her due and not feeling obliged to earn a living wage. That puts a ton of pressure onto him. His role in life will be family provider. That may allow him to undertake exciting architectural work or it may not — $ will always have to be his prime consideration.
Ron February 14, 2017, 3:24 pm
LW: If financial discussions aren’t held and agreement reached prior to a proposal, when is the appropriate time in your mind? If you delay the discussions, then you trade a delayed- or non-proposal for a far more painful and costly canceled wedding or an even more costly and painful divorce. Kicking the bucket down the road doesn’t help your situation. Financial issues cause more divorces than infidelity. Wendy has a good list of things you need to discuss with your SO before engagement/marriage. Search for it on this blog. You do yourself a great disservice by shirking what you need to discuss.
I don’t know how old you are, but you seem to have never outgrown your childish dream of being the princess who marries the millionaire and gets to spend the rest of her life pursuing her interests with all of the practical shit being her husband’s responsibility.
Again, I don’t know how old you are, but there comes a time when you have to admit that you aren’t going to make it as a dancer. If you aren’t good enough today to really make it, there will be another crop of younger college grad dance majors every year and the wear-and-tear on your feet and body will continue to build up. You said little about dancing other than that you love it. You, preferably with a knowledgeable advisor, need to sit down and dispassionately assess the arc of your dancing career. What is your level of formal training? How do your skills compare with other young women your age? Are you living in a geographical area where it is possible to actually earn a living as a dancer? Are you performing in paid venues now? Are you a lead or very much supporting role? How much will you earn from dancing this year? At some point, this is either a career or you have to demote it to hobby status, or you need a true sugar daddy.
What are your financial skills? Do you live by a budget? Have you ever lived alone in an apartment and fully supported yourself, without gifts from your parents or bf?
Essie February 14, 2017, 3:32 pm
While I definitely get the urge to shudder and back away instead of thinking about scary adult stuff like money, you’re not ready to marry if you can’t do that. You’re not even ready to be an adult if you can’t do that.
You seem to have a very fairy-tale idea of what marriage is like. “Can’t he just propose because he loves me?” No. Because love is not enough to make a marriage work. It just isn’t. You need to buy food and pay for housing and insurance and medical bills for yourselves and any kids. Kids cost an absolute fortune. You need to have tough conversations and make tough decisions about moving because someone’s job requires it, and whether or not you’re going to take his sick mother in to live with you and who will quit their job to take care of her. Or how you’ll pay for the new roof your house needs.
Unless the two of you are going to live in a cottage in the woods with fairy godmothers and magical talking mice, you’re going to learn very quickly that marriage IS transactional. Simply living with another person and sharing expenses is transactional. It’s always a discussion, a negotiation, a compromise. That’s not a bad thing. When you’re doing it with the right person, it can make your relationship stronger and closer than you thought possible. But you can’t shy away from it.
Diablo February 14, 2017, 3:34 pm
As one of a pair of bleeding heart english majors who got married with no money and no plan, I can say that there are points on both sides of this. On the one hand, everyone will eventually have to address how they are going to get enough money to live the life they require. But not everyone requires the same lifestyle. If we had waited to get married until we were even nominally financially solvent, who knows if we’d even be together today. We were together for about 13, maybe 15 years before we got past living paycheck to paycheck, and we are far from able to retire in the near future. For us, living together was a cost saving measure, and we got married once we figured we could deal with our situation adequately. So to some extent, i’m in the love conquers all camp. That being said, two points. First, I say again, eventually you’re gonna have to deal with how much money you need and how to get it, and you should be able to agree on that. We had relative equality in that neither of us was able to earn much, and our deal was always 100% effort on both sides, regardless of paycheck. But being broke english majors, we did not have any of the big expectations the LWs bf has. House? Maybe. Someday. Security? Hah, you’re funny. Second, I think the disparity in the LWs and BFs expectations is the bigger issue than the money as such. Lots of artsy types live in relative poverty but are happy living the life they choose. Doesn’t sound like BF will settle for that and somehow wants you to be able to earn big cash. How does he think you’re gonna do that? Have you asked him? Are you determined to be a dancer? If so (and no judgment from me, my niece is one and her husband works in theatre, and they are a great couple who pay their bills but have only a little), then his demand that you earn big may have to be a dealbreaker, and you may need to seek a man who can accept your choices. I think that’s the conflict you need to solve before considering marriage. I think i’m a little more on side with choosing the life you want than Wendy is. Even though I think her advice is very sensible, I’m still not convinced at age 50 that sensible choices always lead to greater happiness. But you have to choose a fella who wants to live that life with you.
RedRoverRedRover February 14, 2017, 4:05 pm
I don’t think it was implied anywhere that the bf wants her to earn “big money”. It sounded to me like he’d be happy with a steady paycheque. And I really don’t blame him.
I think you’re right that the difference here is in expectations, but I don’t think his expectation is for her to suddenly be pulling in the big bucks. He’s making good money in a white-collar profession. He sees what his coworkers have and that’s probably what he wants, and he’s not sure if he can provide it on his own. That’s fair. That’s what I wanted when I started working. In fact that’s one reason I picked the career that I did, even though it wasn’t my “dream” career path. It would give me the support to have the personal life that I wanted. I definitely wouldn’t have been crazy about the idea of then giving up my dream personal life as well, so I could subsidize my SO’s dream career.
ele4phant February 14, 2017, 4:35 pm
Ummm. You should take finances before you get married.
And honestly, maybe you’re not compatible if you have different life goals. It sounds like you prioritize artistic and personal fulfillment in your career, he prioritizes stability. Neither is right or wrong, but it might not work out.
Many marriages end over financial woes and disagreements, so better to get those hard talks out of the way (or end the relationship) before you add the complication of marriage.
SpaceySteph February 14, 2017, 6:41 pm
So I agree with the general point that the LW is a bit head in the clouds about all this and needs a) a reality check and b) to understand that marriage is transactional.
BUT I also think that the BF is taking it too far in the other direction. As they say on A Practical Wedding, “ducks are wily.” Meaning that you can want to get ALL your ducks in a row before you get married, but ducks never get all in a row. If it’s not student loans, it’ll be something else that stands in the way of that perfect fantasy (a layoff, an injury, a dying parent, whatever).
LW needs to come toward the middle and agree to have a serious conversation about lifestyle, earnings, and financial plan. At the same time, she needs to coax the BF to a middle ground. You don’t have to immediately pop out 3 kids, get a dog, and move to a house in the suburbs. You can get married and continue living in a 2-bedroom apartment and save for the house and hold off on kids for a few years. These can be on the 5 or 10 year plan that you can work toward together.
ele4phant February 14, 2017, 7:11 pm
Yeah, but to have a 5 or 10 year plan, you have to you know, talk about it and come to consensus on the financial goals and you want to work towards.
It sounds like at this point she’s resistant to having any sort of talk about their financial future.
RedRoverRedRover February 14, 2017, 7:23 pm
She’s literally upset that he even wants to talk about finances at all.
justagirl February 14, 2017, 8:08 pm
I kinda agree with the English majors people here…happiness in life doesn;t always come form a big house and popping out a couple of kids immediately after marriage. And I did find Wendy’s advice (though very practical) a little harsh. Happiness comes from loving and enjoying the same things together..and you could do that in a 1 bedroom apartment. If both of you are okay with that then you should think about the next steps forward. What are your long term career goals? Not everyone who dances gets to make to Broadway. Are you both comfortable living in 1 bdr apt for the next 5-10 years? (If you shudder to look at your bank balance then that means you are not comfortable with that thought). if not then there is a major disconnect in both of your life goals.
And in many parts of the world, men are still the sole breadwinners but women contribute equally to the family by managing the household and kids solely. Will you be able to do that along with pursuing dancing? Probably not. Or are you expecting Jeff to pay for daycare while you go and pursue dancing? That sounds unfair. And that’s what you need to have the discussion about.
I can’t blame Jeff either since the very fact that he wants to sit down and discuss finances with you shows that he wants to discuss a long term commitment with you.
Ashley February 14, 2017, 8:35 pm
I think you are avoiding this conversation because a talk about your future earning power and money is tied into the probability of your career ending soon, and having to face that reality. A dancers career isn’t very long, and making a lot of assumption here…but if your bf is an architect and you are roughly the same age then you are like past 25 and on your way down as far your career trajectory. Would you be interested in teaching? Having your own studio? have you thought about staying at home and proving child care while working those side hustles you already have? Are you open to being trained for a different career? I think what your boyfriend needs is reassurance-that he is marrying someone who is looking out for us, not yourself, and you likewise need reassurance that your relationship is going somewhere. None of us here can give it to you, you need to talk to him.
Dear Wendy February 14, 2017, 9:06 pm
All great points. Listen to this, LW.
Chrystal February 14, 2017, 10:04 pm
Wow once again Wendy has missed the point. From one feminist to another Wendy – lighten up! We are fighting hard for women everywhere so that I can run a jackhammer and a water plant and this girl can DANCE. Being a feminist isn’t about squelching each other or being feminine. It’s about squelching the voices that say we are less because we are women and celebrating our right to be feminine. That’s it. The main point here is, LW, this man is making excuses and beating around the bush. I know it’s hard but you are going to have to MOA.
RedRoverRedRover February 14, 2017, 10:12 pm
Wut. It’s not feminism to expect someone to financially support you so you can live out your dreams. That’s not anything.
Ele4phant February 14, 2017, 10:39 pm
Being a feminist also isn’t about finding a partner to subsidize your dreams.
Look she may be happy with the lifestyle a dancing career can afford, and if so that’s great. Keep dancing as long as you can, even if that means financial sacrifices.
But *her* partner may have different ideas about what he’s comfortable with financially, and he may not be on board living the same lifestyle she is.
And that’s neither bad nor good, but it is an issue of compability and she’s being willfully ignorant if she won’t even engage in a discussion of values and finances with someone she says she wants to commit the rest of her life to.
MMR February 15, 2017, 11:39 am
I don’t see how Wendy’s argument was anti-feminist. She didn’t tell the LW not to dance, just that she needs to understand her financial limitations before she can move forward with the expectation of buying a house and having kids. I think it’s incredibly smart for someone’s partner (notice: gender is irrelevant) to want to know how they’re planning on contributing to a life together in the future.
@Ashley brought up the excellent point that most dancers’ careers don’t last forever, which makes this conversation even more important because there isn’t an implicit answer. The situation would be the same if their genders were reversed or unknown. It would be the same if she were jumping contract-to-contract driving a forklift.
The bottom line is: Both partners need to be on the same page financially before they should commit to marriage. Unromantic, but true.
csp February 15, 2017, 12:34 pm
Feminism is being considered an equal in your relationship including with financial conversations. To have him take care of it and for her to not worry her pretty little head is awful.
Bittergaymark February 15, 2017, 2:38 pm
RIGHT. Nothing is MORE feminist than expecting a MAN to pay ALL the bills…
Portia February 14, 2017, 11:03 pm
I think everyone covered a good amount of what the LW needed to hear, but also, do you think that millionaires get married without taking finances? Like, I promise you Mark Zuckerberg and his wife talked about finances in depth before getting married.
Anyway, whether you go into a marriage wealthy, poor, or anywhere in-between, you need to be able to talk about your financial plans and whether you’re on the same page. Personally, me and my husband started the conversation years before getting engaged, and more than a year into marriage, I’m glad we did (and glad we put together a prenup, though I recognize that’s not for everyone).
ele4phant February 15, 2017, 12:24 pm
I just wanted to add on, it seems like you have a romantic view of marriage, in general.
Marriage has romantic components to be sure, but it’s really a partnership. A successful marriage is less about love and romance, and more about two people coming together to face and battle all the bullshit adult life demands.
Which is wonderful, because life is hard and it’s great to have someone to share that burden with you.
But your married life, at least in the day to day, is going to be more about budgeting, about weathering economic challenges, about dealing with the mundane things like housework and childcare, about supporting each other through tough emotional times, and less about love and romance.
If you are imagining marriage as some happily after end-point, you will be sorely disappointed. Love is a necessary component of marriage, but is far from sufficient.
You also need shared values, a shared vision, good communication, and comparable temperaments.
Skyblossom February 15, 2017, 12:27 pm
My daughter took ballet from a former professional ballerina. She owned the studio and also had a jazz instructor and a hip hop instructor and a yoga instructor. I think that to make any money you would need to be the studio owner because teaching a couple classes of kids per week isn’t going to support you.
Another woman I know who was a professional dancer choreographs dances for musicals at the local theater and at the high school. Again, these are side jobs that make extra income but she can’t support herself that way and is also a teacher.
I also know a young woman who is getting a master’s degree in dance therapy and plans to work at nursing homes.
I would assume that you could also teach dance at a local college but again, you wouldn’t make much money.
I think you need to look at the possible alternatives and see if there is one that both appeals to you and would make a steady income that could help pay bills.
csp February 15, 2017, 12:43 pm
LW, you should have these conversations often and it will help you envision your life together. When my husband and I got married, we had NO idea what was in store for us. We did know our financial values and priorities. We both wanted to feel solid with strong emergency funds. We both value experiences more than things so we have hand me down furniture and photo albums of vacation memories. But these thing are so important. You both are the cultivators or you lives and you are right about choosing your career every day. So own that and talk about how that fits in your future. Own your place in this life that you are building together. Life is going to take turns that you never expected so you can’t plan everything and plans change all the time. But to ignore your long term goals and the life you want to build is to be a passenger and not a driver.
dinoceros February 16, 2017, 11:32 am
A few things here. It’s OK to be disappointed that he’s unsure about marriage to you because of finances. Especially if you’re financially responsible, but he is just concerned about your career choice and how it relates to your income. However, it’s not right to act like he’s doing something wrong by thinking about finances and having a discussion about it. You can’t wish this away, and it’s better to talk about it now than find out you’re not compatible a couple of years into marriage.
I think you should talk to him about his specific concerns and figure out what can be done. If he just won’t marry someone who doesn’t make X amount of money annually, then you may not be what he’s looking for. If he is more concerned about how you handle money or that you don’t plan long term, that gives you things to work with to compromise with (like increasing your savings, or making a commitment to be more responsible). As a dancer, surely you realize that you’re not going to be able to dance forever and need a plan to bring in a suitable income when that day comes (which could come tomorrow or in several years).
Similarly, you also have to make sure that you’re with someone who shares the same values as you, which are putting passion before income, etc. So, if it turns out this can’t be reconciled, then it’s also about your preferences too.
Ron February 16, 2017, 12:04 pm
She writes as if she truly expects her husband to support her, while she does what she finds exciting, regardless of earnings. The big issue is: how much does she EXPECT her husband to earn. Is it acceptable to her if he take the same approach to career as she does and they live a low-income life as a married couple? If that’s not ok with her, then she is living back in the 1950s and assuming a sex-based sense of financial/career responsibility. I find both her comment about marrying a millionaire and her unwillingness to discuss finances as very telling. She is a princess, not a real woman.
meadowphoenix February 16, 2017, 1:55 pm
As a former dancer:
1) Get your financials straight in your head without your bf. What would your life look like without him? What do you want for yourself in the future, if you were single? How would you get it?
2) I can’t tell if you’ve combined finances, but if so, I can understand a little of your consternation. If this were a relationship you both intended to be serious, he should have expressed concern when you first combined finances. Doing it now might feel like he’s had doubts about you and your profession for a while or was irritated about his contribution, while you were all in. It’s also a little disconcerting because, well, he knew you were a dancer and that your money was sketch at best. I too would feel anxious about someone’s commitment, if they only tell me what’s wrong when pushed, and it’s this big of an issue.
3)The fact of the matter is that you both seem uncommunicative. “What are you going to do when you stop dancing?” should have been a conversation already, not because the two of you have butted up against a personal threshold. I really really suggest you too work on communication, and having more conversations.
4) He’s not wrong to talk about finances however, even if I think this conversation is late. You do need to face your future. Not because you want to marry him, but because anything can happen to your relationship, and you still need to be solvent. Seriously figure it out.
5)There’s nothing wrong with one person being the breadwinner, if it’s mutually agreed upon. But he clearly doesn’t want to be (I think he’s being unrealistic actually. if you guys are in a high-cost area, the likelihood of a former dancer being able to find a job that will pay more than childcare isn’t high, and you’ll likely be an SAH parent anyway) so yes you need to talk about your future.
6) If the money thing is scaring you, talk about the picture of your future and work down from there. If you want your own studio for instance, you don’t have to go straight to cost. You can figure out the other logistics to see if that’s even reasonable (the availability of space in your area; the market for dancing, etc).
Marie March 3, 2017, 5:48 pm
I agree with Wendy about re-evaluating your ‘readiness’ to marry. BUT, from a woman whose ex-husband was adamant that I entered the marriage w/no debt (helping me pay off my car loan balance of just a couple hundred dollars) and was worried about every dollar spent, I will be a bit gentler. You MUST be able to discuss money. We were actually very much on the same page and desired to live w/o debt, always lived far below our means and never had a credit card balance. However, life is far richer than just a plan or money. There has to be a great value placed on relationship(s) over things/success. You may need to ask ?’s about HOW he sees your life once married, 5 yrs, 10 yrs, etc. If you haven’t already discussed this, you may ‘see’ the future completely differently and it may not be healthy for you to marry. For instance, does he assume you will always work outside the home to contribute vs having a more traditional view of him being the provider and you balancing as the nurturer? Does he worry bv he expects that you will stay at home to raise your children like his mom did? These are HUGE things to understand and your up-bringing may largely determine many of them, either being healthy, happy and naturally wanting to emulate it, or the opposite and want everything different.
A man who is a planner is a good thing. He DOES need to understand, that no matter how perfect his plan, there is NO guarantee it will come to pass. Unfortunate things happen to good, bright people every day and god-forbid one of you become ill or lose a job – how will he handle those things in his ‘planned out’ mind? How does he deal with stress now?
I just feel I see a possible red flag that he is so concerned by the finances and how / when he will be comfortable moving forward vs understanding that to combine your life shld help to save you each money and have a joint focus and goals vs what he ‘sees’ and just letting you in on his plan. It should be YOUR plan together, something you can both dream of, work toward and hold each other accountable to when making buying decisions, etc. ($4/day latte or 1 splurge per week and $16 in the savings, $64/mo, $768/yr. That pays a good portion of car insurance, all of additional life insurance . . . You need to start with the ‘little’ things you spend on and work up to how it impacts the big picture you agree to ‘see’ together.
Good luck and don’t be afraid to realize you may not really be suited for each other. Have the guts to let go, no matter what a dreamy couple you make or now ‘great’ he is. I made a ‘smart’, very ‘matter-of-fact’ choice in my first marriage. If there is a next time, I do not plan to ‘think ‘ quite so much about it. If I feel I need a ‘pros/cons’ list again, I will defer to ‘next!’