There are a lot of reasons not to get married, but if you haven’t heard, a good reason to go through with the ceremony is to protect your financial life. Living with someone does not give you any legal right to any shared assets, to income, to alimony, to just about anything, even if you paid for it all. Without that protection, there can be a lot to lose, especially when children are involved.
The OP says he has been with his wife six years and they’ve been “spiritually married” for two years, so there are no laws involved. They both earn over $175k a year after taxes and own a home together and split their finances 50/50. They recently threw out the birth control to see if a pregnancy pops up. But then his wife surprised him with a conversation where she brought up some hard numbers:
Her work place allows for maternity leave for up to a year, but only provides 50% of her salary for up to 6 months. The remaining 6 months is unpaid. She was very direct, and said that while her insurance would cover the vast majority of hospital related costs during pregnancy and childbirth, taking a 6 month break from work would cost her almost $50,000 since her pay would be cut in half. She is asking me to compensate her for that $50,000, in addition to agreeing to split any related but unexpected costs to pregnancy and childbirth. Her stance is that she is doing something for us to start a family, but it is not a true 50-50 split if she is expected to take a financial hit for it and I am not, given that our finances are separate. She had a printed list of expectations in terms of what she expected financially, listed some things that her insurance may not cover.
I see the logic in that, but I am really very turned off by this because she is essentially asking me to pay her to have our child (or children?).
She saw my hesitation and just doubled down. While her ideal is to return to work after 6 months, she says it’s a real possibility that she may require more time off and decide, as things happen, to take up to a year off. So, she had another plan drafted for that. For the first 6 months, her work will give her 50% of her salary, and I would compensate her for the rest, but for the next 6 months, since her work would not compensate her, and because this loss is something she is doing for the family, she is “comfortable splitting the loss of her income”, and only asking me for 50% of her salary instead of 100% for the second 6 month period, and she will take the loss of 50% of her salary. The idea I guess is that both of us “suffer” half the loss of income for the second 6 month period. However, if she takes 7 to 11 months off, any months after the 6th can be prorated.
There was even more in the three-ring binder she handed off to OP, including details about household chores, and potential contingency plans. But he is stuck on the idea of his “wife” asking him for “$50,000 – $100,000 to compensate for the loss of her salary for 6-12 months as a result of her having our child.”
The husband says he was shocked by the amount and more than that, his sensibilities were offended.
“The idea of a payment plan to have a child is just gross,” he continued. “And many couples manage to do this without paying their wives to have children. But then, I suppose most couples are married legally and a loss to one person’s income is a loss to everyone. So in our situation, it makes logical sense, but there’s something so transactional about it that puts a bad taste in my mouth.”
At the moment, the OP is just considering what to do, but he is now worried his wife is already pregnant and might terminate if he doesn’t agree on a workable financial agreement. Which is really a weird suspicion to have? Is that normal in a spiritual marriage?
Maybe this guy expected more people to agree it’s gross to mention money and having kids in the same conversation, but he basically got trashed on both Reddit and Twitter, where the story eventually made its way:
They also caught on to a comment that the OP made about not wanting an official marriage because that makes it easier to “walk away” should something “significantly change.”
You mean like having a kid, for instance?
This guy’s story is almost the perfect case study for discussing the literal labor of growing and birthing a child, because even someone in a legal marriage is taking a potential financial hit they may never recover from. If they do get divorced, they might never be able to recover their career or could even be permanently disabled by the pregnancy and delivery. It’s a big ask! We should stop acting like it’s anything else, even if that’s more romantic.