I’m 35 years old and have been dating a man 20 years older than me who is 55. Things were going good until we started having conversations about the relationship being serious and possibly merging assets. He has a home that he shared with his ex-wife after a failed marriage of 20 years that he currently still lives in and has recently taken out a second mortgage on the home. He also has adult children in their late 20s and they seem to still be heavily dependent on him for financial support.
He has a lot of student loans that he is repaying for himself and his children’s college tuition. I own my home free and clear with very little debt (student loans that will be paid off within the next two years) and I made a few good financial investments so I have quite a bit of funds in savings and a good retirement account. I have a child who is five years old and, of course, solely dependent upon me.
When we discussed taking steps to moving the relationship forward and discussing marriage, I expressed that I would want to purchase a new home and would be willing to sell my current home and asked that he do the same so we can have a fresh start towards building a life together. He was completely opposed to this plan.
His ideal plan: I move into his current house that he shared with his ex-wife until he can pay it off which would be in 10 to 15 years and then we could purchase a new home together. He also said that I could help him pay off his house to move the process along quicker so we could purchase a new home together. If we decide to go with his plan, his adult children will inherit that home.
He’s not willing to compromise in this area and it has created a roadblock in the relationship. I do not want to move into his home and he says I’m being selfish and unrealistic.
What should I do?
Firstly, kudos to you for reaching a debt-free status before you are even the age of 40. That is no small achievement. You should be very proud, especially given that you are also supporting a young child. According to our Money Milestones series (and Fidelity Investments) most people should have one year’s salary saved by 30 and twice their salary by 35. Few Americans can afford such a luxury. It makes your financial situation all the more commendable.
And so to your question. Your request was a reasonable one. His response seems rigid. Your first port of call is to ask him: Why? How much equity does he have left on this home? Is that why he needs to remain there? Could you both sell your homes and afford a new home by contributing 50/50? Could he cover the mortgage with rent, if he decided to purchase a home with you? Finally, is he emotionally attached to the home where he raised his family? (That’s one for couple’s therapy.)
The Moneyist Facebook Group members came down pretty heavily against your fiancé. I’m not telling you to stay and I’m not telling you to go, I’m recommending you find out more about his reasoning so your have more information to make a decision, and to understand his decision. The one red flag: His request for you to help him with the mortgage over the next 15 years seems unreasonable, especially if this home will ultimately be inherited by his children. Name-calling is another no-no.
You reached this place of financial security by not acting impulsively and making decisions — from what major to take at college to when and where you should buy your home — after deliberation and once you have all the information. A generous take: Your fiancé is not in the same financial position as you. His request for help with the mortgage may have been a moment of not-so-quiet desperation. You should both lay your finances bare and a prenuptial agreement should be on the table.
Dealing with the financial wants of his adult children is a separate conversation. As far as your living arrangements are concerned, you have drawn a red line in the sand or, in this case, on the front lawn. I like that line: You both start fresh somewhere else.
That already seems like a good compromise to me.
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