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How to handle tremendous wealth/income disparity in new relationship

Save-n-Invest
Established Contributor

Re: How to handle tremendous wealth/income disparity in new relationship


@SoCalGardener wrote:

@Save-n-Invest wrote:

When I read the suggestions about counselling I get the willies. If you go that route please know there are some really bad counselors. We went after we were married. Terrible experience. We would meet at the office. She rang the ringside bell and started needeling. All kinds of crazy went on. She sat there absolutely worthless. Fifty minutes later she rang the bell again saying time is up. Just running the clock and would have forever. We were ready to kill each other when we left.  Arrived smiling. Left in much distress.

 


There are rotten tomatoes in any profession! You're unlucky enough to have found a bad therapist. I've had nothing but AMAZING experiences with therapy throughout my adult life, really great, compassionate, thoughtful, helpful therapists who got me through some of the most difficult times of my life. I literally would not be here today if not for therapy.

 

Since I lucked out each time I needed a new therapist, hitting gold on the first try, I've never needed to do this, but I always advise others to get out quickly if you don't click with the first therapist you meet. No sense wasting time, money, and emotions working with someone you're not comfortable with. I've clicked right away with each of my therapists, but always knew going in that if that didn't happen, I'd find someone else.


Absolutely. There are excellent people in any field. There are also people who are not so good. As you say if people click that's a big help. My primary doc retired November 2019. It's been catch as catch can since then. The pandemic has effected scheduling tremendously. I'm happy for him that he was not as risk during the public health crises.

 

I call his name in my sleep!

Message 21 of 23
spiritcraft1
Valued Contributor

Re: How to handle large wealth/income disparity in new relationship

Do what feels right.  Remember, your worth is NOT the size of your bank account and if your partner knows that which seems to be the case, you found a good soul.  Good luck to you both!


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Message 22 of 23
tacpoly
Established Contributor

Re: How to handle tremendous wealth/income disparity in new relationship


@AliciaB2021 wrote:

I am happily in a new relationship with an old friend.

 

We are both mature adults, debt-free, responsible with money, homeowners (no mortgages) and compatible in many ways. We have known each other for years, communicate well, and have recently found ourselves in something much deeper than friendship. We're now talking about merging our lives and perhaps eventually marrying.

 

That's the good part.

 

The dicey part is that there is a HUGE disparity in our income and wealth and despite all the good I feel at a disadvantage coming into this relationship.

 

I've made conscious life choices that have kept me poor. Though I'm solvent and have excellent credit I've never in my life had anything more than enough to meet immediate needs. I have small savings, no stocks or bonds, no retirement accounts, no pension. My house is a tiny thing I bought as a fixer-upper and have worked on for years to make livable. I have a self-directed part-time career I enjoy but that never has and never will pay what most people would consider a livable income.

 

He on the other hand is wealthy by my standards. Not "1% wealthy," but he has built a demanding career and been well rewarded for it. He has multiple nice homes, freedom to travel, and every sort of financial vehicle I lack. He doesn't live or spend extravagantly, but he also never has to worry about things like medical bills or car repairs and if he wants to go to Europe or Asia for vacation, he doesn't have to save up.

 

We've talked about this difference and he assures me that it doesn't bother him at all that I would make almost no financial contribution to our relationship or any joint household we'd set up. I believe him. He's a nice guy and has been a close friend for a long time. He's already generous to me and begrudges me nothing. In fact, one of his only frustrations with me is that when he made me an AU on one of his credit cards (on which he pays the bills), I would check with him before spending $10 or $20 and would never use the card for even small personal luxuries.

 

I realize this is a "good" problem to have. I feel extremely blessed to be in this situation. But the disparity bothers me. I've always been fiercely independent, determined to pay my own way, and unwilling to be dependent on anyone. If I move in with him or we marry I might have a lot to contribute to the relationship in terms of emotional support, household management, and that sort of thing, but I'd be almost completely dependent on him financially.

 

I have a two-part question.

 

1. How do I get over these fears of being inadequate or at a disadvantage because my income and net worth are small?

 

2. If we do get together, which seems almost certain, what are some ways we might handle finances so that things would feel most equitable for us both?

 

 


You already know, based on your life choices, that a person's worth is not based on how much he/she makes.  So where did that belief go?  Why are you questioning yourself now?  

 

I think you're worried that should you marry, there will be an unbalance of power resulting from the disparity of income.  I think you're right to worry, because there will be if you both don't come to an understanding. I would echo the suggestion of premarital counseling or at the very least conversations where you lay out your fears and work out a plan to allay those fears. 

Unfortunately, most of the compromise will need to come from him initially, but it will show his willingness to share power (which here is in the form of money).  When you marry, any major purchase (house, car, etc...) should be decided by both and it should be in both your names -- as if you are equal in this relationship/partnership.  Assets from before you're married should stay separate (have a prenup drawn up to say so).  


Which brings me to my next point:  it is 
important to not feel (or be) a "kept woman" so you need to have something of your own. My suggestion is to keep working and keep your house. Most likely you'll be living in his house, so rent yours out. Maintain accounts (banking, credit cards) separate from him.  I would also suggest learning about investing from him -- you don't need to have a lot of money to start investing.

 

Based on a 50:1 income ratio, he will be the one financing your lifestyle.  Accept it.  I mean, sure, you can ask to contribute to pay bills, but that contribution will, in all practicality, be small.  I don't suppose there will be a huge change in lifestyle as you say he's not in the 1%, but don't insist on doing what you would do as if still on your own (i.e. choosing cheap healthcare or car).  

 

You're way ahead of the game if you both have the same attitude when it comes to saving and spending.  When married, you should both be open about your finances - yours, his, and combined. You shouldn't feel weird asking about it, because you're supposed to be equal partners. Nor should you leave it all up to him - it's your responsibility to learn. 

 

I think equitable shouldn't be the goal -- equality should be. And for you to be equal in the relationship he would need to "give" a lot more when it comes to finances. 

 

Message 23 of 23
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