My Boyfriend Wants To Get Married To Save On Insurance. Does It Matter Why We Get Married?

My Boyfriend Wants To Get Married To Save On Insurance. Does it Matter Why We Get Married?

Over five years ago I fell in love. I filled my car with all my belongings, sold everything that wouldn’t fit and moved to be with him. I’ve never wanted a wedding or even a husband. I wanted a partnership…and I got one. A partnership I’ve always appreciated. 

Things got rough when my partner lost his dream job and started borrowing money from me. Eventually I couldn’t afford his friendships (beer drinking buddies). Then I got pregnant and had to make the financial decision to move close to my family. This was a pretty good deal for me. My son had cousins and grandparents and I was never lonely. This sucked for my partner. He loves me and our son and we are now together and financially very stable. But he goes through months where he is generally unhappy with the rest of his life and it is tiring for both of us. After our son was born I realized that I did in fact want to have some sort of commitment ceremony and when I brought it up he told me he didn’t think it was a good idea. I decided not to be upset about this because we bought a house together and have a better relationship than most couples we know. Plus, we made the decision to have another baby (due in July). I didn’t push the idea of a second baby, he came to me and said he was ready for a second child. He’s a wonderful father and partner. 

A few months later, I brought up the commitment ceremony again and he said, “What difference would it make?” Two weeks ago I took a new job which means a big change of insurance policies. He then suggested we get married to save some money. I don’t know how to feel about this. Is this a *fake* marriage? I’m afraid to ask him for fear I’ll be too hurt to cope. Checking the married box suddenly means more to me than it once did. Do I ask? Do I care to know? Our relationship won’t change because of the new status so does it really matter if we are doing it for financial reasons? 

Amy

This question isn’t what I thought it was going to be. Candidly, my assistant writes these headlines. And when I first read it, I assumed you had a slacker boyfriend who needed insurance and that’s why he proposed. The fact that you have been together for five years and will soon have two kids together threw me for a loop.

So let me answer your question first and then back into my reasoning.

Yes, it matters why he wants to get married. Motivation matters. There is a big difference between someone who volunteers time on the weekends to clean up the side of the highway and a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit who is forced to do the same thing. Namely: how the person FEELS about his actions.

Yes, it matters why he wants to get married. Motivation matters.

You will soon have a husband (or whatever you call the man who joins you in a “commitment ceremony”) who is only your husband out of resignation. So technically, you got what you wanted, but did you really?

What I see – admittedly from the outside – is a systematic series of questionable decisions. Hindsight is 20/20 and I would be shocked if you expressed any real regret at choosing the man who provided you two kids. But while he may be a great father, it doesn’t sound to me like he’s a great partner.

  1. You sold your stuff, filled your car, and dropped everything to pursue this long-distance relationship. I have no idea how long you were dating, or how often you were seeing each other, but you pushed your chips all-in for a man with whom you had probably never spent an entire week. But hey, that’s common. You could always change your mind and break up if need be – although it would probably be easier if you had your stuff. Alas, you sold it based on passion and faith that love would win out.
  2. You never wanted a wedding. That’s okay, too. But that means you will largely attract and accept men who also don’t want weddings. Sure enough, that’s what you got: a man who doesn’t want to get married.
  3. Your partner lost his dream job, which is obviously devastating. But you put a roof over his head. Why would he need to borrow any money? Oh, yeah, because it was so important for him to go out drinking while he was depressed and unemployed. If the “I don’t want to be married” thing wasn’t a red flag, this selfish, short-sighted behavior should have been. So what happened next?
  4. You got pregnant, out-of-wedlock. 50% of all children born to women 20-30 are out-of-wedlock, but kids born in these situations are more likely to struggle if their parents aren’t stable. People CAN be stable without getting married. They’re just less likely to be stable because they aren’t AS committed as a married couple. Okay, so you had your child. Your partner didn’t run. All is good, right? Not quite.
  5. You (presumably unilaterally) chose to relocate to be near your family. Based on the suggestion that you were in a long-distance relationship, that means you were pulling him far away from his friends and family and asking him to blend in with your oldest friends and family. I do understand how much easier it is to raise a child with family around. I do understand that all couples need to make compromises. It’s not abundantly clear that this is a compromise he WANTED to make. And if he didn’t want to move near your family and was forced to do so to be near his child, then you can imagine the resentment he’d feel towards you. If he got a job in Bismarck, ND and told you that you had to move to be with him, you might not be happy either, even if you are really committed to him.
  6. Now you have a partner who is depressed. I don’t know if he’s working, if he likes working, or if he’s found any friends in your hometown. But if he doesn’t have/like his job, doesn’t have friends, and has nothing more to keep him happy than the role of parent to a toddler, I can see why he’d be unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with stay at home dads, if you WANT to be a stay at home dad. But if you WANT to have your dream job and your drinking buddies and you’re now living in someone else’s life, you are probably going to be seething with regret and resentment.
  7. Then you changed your mind about the marriage thing. Great timing. You’ve got a partner who is down-on-his luck, who feels trapped in a life he didn’t choose, and you’re asking him to cement it. How is his mood? His self-esteem? His day-to-day treatment of you? It’s hard to make rational long-term decisions when you’re in a place of scarcity. And you’re asking him to make the ultimate commitment – with another baby on the way.

You can’t be afraid of his feelings – even if they’re not what you want to hear.

The issue here isn’t that he’s a bad guy or a bad father. It’s that, from where I sit, you don’t make good decisions as a team, you don’t have healthy communication, and, most of all, you have an unhappy partner who sounds like he’s once again relenting to something he doesn’t want to do to keep the peace.

If I were you, I would ask him about how he feels about living in your hometown, his job, the second baby, and marriage and really LISTEN to him. You can’t be afraid of his feelings – even if they’re not what you want to hear. Once you hear what he feels about all of these things, you can make decisions that reflect both of your desires – which may mean moving, him getting a different job, or even enthusiastically getting married. But you better make sure your partner WANTS what you want; if you don’t, you may get your ring, but you’ll likely get an unhappy marriage, or worse, a divorce, down the road.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Sabine

    Congrats on your baby! I believe all children are a gift. Marriage is a lifetime decision. Divorce, is also a lifetime decision. While marriage can be JOYFUL, divorce is equally as painful. Imagine being financially responsible for a man you don’t want to be with FOREVER? Think beer money for life. I read,”Should You Marry Him?” By Abby Rodman. It is VERY insightful. Two things I took away from the book: make sure you can LIVE WITH his faults. Make sure you love him SO MUCH you cannot imagine living without him b/c you love him so much. And it mirrors what Even says time and time again. How does this guy make you feel? Don’t make excuses. Leave him and find a man who loves you, and not your generosity and health benefits. You are awesome and deserve better :-)

  2. 2
    Joe

    The other issues aside, it’s possible that he’s now willing to get married “to save on insurance” because he feels badly about pushing off your “commitment ceremony” idea before, but doesn’t want to admit it.  So why do YOU suddenly want a commitment ceremony, when previously you didn’t want to be married?  Is having a commitment ceremony much different from having a wedding?

  3. 3
    Sunflower

    Sorry if this sounds harsh, but this relationship sounds totally dysfunctional and now, there are innocent kids involved to absorb and witness it.  Why would anyone in their right mind chose to have babies with a man who didn’t want get married?  You’re just setting yourself up for failure.  

  4. 4
    Dina Strange

    With 9 billion humans by 2050 and children starving and dying from  hunger, i am not sure every child a gift. Anyway, the guy doesn’t really want to get married to you, he is just doing it out of convenience or to “save money”. If i was in your place i’d think twice if i want to marry someone who doesn’t actually wants me. Or maybe take a break both of you and decide what do you want. Overall, there is a difference when a man is a father vs. just a partner. 

    I have to second Evan in his post…this all doesn’t look like a great idea to me.

  5. 5
    J

    If you wanted a commitment ceremony after the first baby was born why not hold firm to that before planning the second baby?

  6. 6
    Dina Strange

    I want to chime in regarding being financially responsible for a guy. I had dated a guy who was okay but taking me out once a week for a five dollar sandwich was too much for him. He constantly whined he couldn’t afford it, and i should pay for himself. We are talking about a five dollar sandwich, once a week.

    Finally despite the fact that he had some good qualities i lost respect to him. I mean if a guy can’t take you out for a five dollar sandwich what happens once you have a baby with him? He won’t be able to support to help to support the baby and its all on your shoulders. A man should be somewhat of a man. If i was you, i’d really think very hard about this whole situation.

    1. 6.1
      Frimmel

      So do you take guys you’re seeing out once a week for a five dollar sandwich or is that too much for you?

      1. 6.1.1
        Dina Strange

        No, i don’t. But i do cook great meals for him at home. Frimmel, thanks for showing the type of mindset that destroys relationships in US. 

        1. Frimmel

          Your post did not say “I cook for him once a week (less? more?) and he won’t buy my lunch.” Your post indicated an entitled to his paying for lunch attitude not a lack of reciprocity on his part. I was asking if you’d checked your feminine privilege.
           
          I’ll not derail the thread with this and point to a few places Evan addressed this “mindset”:
           
          http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/dating-tips-advice/i-make-40k-and-my-girlfriend-never-offers-to-pay-for-anything/
           
          http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/dating-tips-advice/do-you-need-a-man-to-make-more-money-than-you-if-so-why/
           
          http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/communication/my-live-in-boyfriend-doesnt-contribute-equally-to-our-joint-expenses-and-im-starting-to-resent-him/
           

        2. john

          Not sure why Dina Strange is getting all pissy at a legitimate question asked by Frimmel.

        3. SparklingEmerald

          Frimmell – OK, in her first post she didn’t mention that she cooks, but you can’t assume that she doesn’t because of it.  I don’t mention that I comb my hair and brush my teeth 2-3 times daily in any of my posts, but I hope no one assumes that I don’t.  I seriously doubt that one day Dina lorded over her BF, and “demanded” a weekly $5 sandwich, but rather noticed a pattern of him always insisting on splitting the check.  And not being appreciative of the groceries she bought (if she bought them)  and the labor that went into the meals she made.   I don’t know if he helps with bills, or around the house, or contributes in any other financial way, but I do think if a woman cooks for a man on a regular basis (and pays for the groceries), and if he has free reign to her pantry & fridge (that she stocks with his favorite cookies, chips, and beverages) that taking her out for a meal once a week isn’t too much to ask, is not a symptom of female entitlement, and isn’t demanding.
          On the other hand, if he pays most of the life expenses (housing, utilities, home maintance,) gives her money to buy the groceries that she uses to cook the meals with, than that’s a different story.   I don’t think we really know enough to know if she’s being “demanding” for wanting a $5 a week expenditure, or if he’s being a stingy cheapstake.

      2. 6.1.2
        Dina Strange

        Frimmel, take your “war on women” and your angry, bitter attitude away from me. You will probably be single or have unsuccessful relationships with an attitude like that.

        And i stay on my own. If a man cannot even take you out once a week for a five dollar sandwich…this man is not going to make a provider for his child. Period.

        1. Shaukat

          @Dina,
          The entitlement and privilege does seep through your words. Not sure why you feel the need to test the person you’re with by demanding a five dollar sandwich once a week. And I’m not sure why someone calling you on that qualifies as a “war against women.”

        2. Frimmel

          Dina, my posts here go to moderation before appearing. I presume that if Evan felt they were too bitter or too angry or to outside the scope of the discussion they wouldn’t be allowed to appear. I found my way here because I was wondering what the sorts of women I was interested in dating were getting for advice. I bother to comment in the hopes that cluing women in to what’s going through my fairly typical middle-aged liberal white male head will help both them and me and other guys like me.

      3. 6.1.3
        Kristyn

        Hi Frimmel
         
        A guy who can’t afford to spend $5.00 a week probably shouldn’t be dating.  Same thing for a woman, if she can’t afford to date, maybe she should wait until she can.  
         
         

        1. Frimmel

          The problem is probably not really the $10.00. (They are likely both getting a $5 sandwich. How much baby stuff does $520 buy?) The problem is early on that if you pay it is very difficult to change it to splitting in the future.

    2. 6.2
      Dina Strange

      @shaukat, insecurity and anger seeps through yours.

      1. 6.2.1
        Dina Strange

        @Sparkling, you are correct. Btw, thank you for actually understanding what i was trying to say, instead of attacking me the way Fimmel and Shaukat did…

        There was a pattern of course, and of course he didn’t pay for utilities or gave me money to buy groceries. I was buying groceries on my own money, and i was cooking and cleaning the dishes after he ate. Basically, he refused to do anything, 5 dollar sandwich once a week was just an example.

        1. SparklingEmerald

          Dina – I don’t know why those 2 decided to attack you over your brief post.  There really wasn’t enough info in your post to conclude that you “demanded” a $5 sandwich, and that you never contributed a dime to the relationship.  Besides “demanding” women usually don’t “demand” such tiny little crumbs.  A woman who was truly “demanding” would make BIG demands.  (and personally, I don’t care much for women who expect men to LAVISH them with expensive, break-the-bank gifts, dinners at 5 star restaurants, and to pay their day to day living expenses)
          Those 2 clowns act as if you are some sort of “gold digger” when in reality, you only asked for crumbs.  And he thought that was to much.
          I had a boyfriend who did occasionally take me out to lunches and dinner, and I appreciated it, but what I didn’t appreciate was the fact that he lorded it over me as if he was some big spender, and now I “owed” him.  I pointed out to him that we spent most of our time hanging out at MY place.  Sometime with his friends, sometimes with my friends, sometime both.  But no matter who was hanging out with us, the fridge was stocked with beverages and snacks.  That I paid for.  When I made dinner for us, I purchased the groceries. When he spent the night, we usually had breakfast in, which means once again, I footed the bill.  When we went on a River Trip, I called to make the reservation,  I gave them my name and address as the person to bill, and didn’t ask him to pay for “his half”.  I wasn’t trying to be tit-for-tat, it was all just what I considered to be part of a natural give and take of a relationship.  On top of all that, he didn’t even have a phone where he lived (claimed he didn’t need one since there was a public pay phone across the street from him) but boy, when he was at my house, the first thing he did was get on MY phone, and start calling everyone he knew, and when his room mates were hanging out at my place with us (drinking beer I bought, and eating chips & dips that I bought)  they would ask to borrow my phone also. 
          When he started going on about “all that he did for me” and started bringing up that he paid when we went out, and acted like I was being the mooch, I finally just pointed out to him, that I wasn’t asking him to leave a dollar on the table when he had a bowl of cereal in the morning, nor did I pass the hat around when his buds were over eating chips & drinking beer.  (occasionally they would bring their own, but if I knew in advance when friends were coming over, his or mine, I always stocked up on snacks & beverages)  I also pointed out that even tho’ he claimed he didn’t NEED a phone, that he had no problems using mine, and once again, I didn’t tell him or his roomies to leave a quarter on the table. 
          I didn’t bring this up to him as some sort of tit-for-tat, but rather in response to his constant bellyaching, about how he does so much for for so little in return.  It made me feel very unappreciated, that he didn’t even RECOGNIZE the contributions that I was making.  My labor aside, if you factor in the river trip I paid for, and the $50 “loan” for his car registration (which he begrudgingly paid back when I broke up with him) I probably contributed MORE in terms of dollars to the relationship.  I really didn’t want to keep track of who paid for what, but I just got really tired of him acting like I was some spoiled little gold digger because I let him buy me a drink and a burger at the pool hall while he was shooting pool with his buds and he brought me along.  I was really disappointed that he didn’t appreciate the ways I contributed to the relationship.
          I know some men think that ALL women are gold diggers, but the truth is, many of us are just crumb snatchers.  With men, who even begrudge us those crumbs.
          If a man considers $5 a week towards a woman who cooks for him, with groceries that she purchased to be “demanding” he is not a good relationship partner.  You were right to break it off.

  7. 7
    starthrower68

    A man convinced against his will (and I’m not saying the poster coerced him; he had his own reasons) is of the same opinion still.

  8. 8
    Dawn

    This won’t be a very helpful post, but I’m very confused on the terminology of “partner” and “committment ceremony” vs. boyfriend and wedding – it’s just weird to me!

    1. 8.1
      Joe

      Me too…sounds like she wants to get married, without having to call it a wedding.

  9. 9
    Judy

    I would give it a try for the sake of the kids. I know of several couples who got married because of an unplanned pregnancy and it turned out really well. It is not the best hollywood type of scenario where you fall in love, get married, and then have kids. But the alternatives are ugly – you are going to be trying to date as a single mom with two kids and he will marry someone you don’t like who will treat the kids bad. Even if it could be a 10 year marriage that ended in divorce you are better to take this and really try. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Try. Say thank you and try. He will  be there for the kids and he will help you and together you can try for a future and college.

    1. 9.1
      Lee

      ugh. My parents gave it a try for the sake of the kids and they did us kids no favors. Disagree.  He can be in their lives and be a father without giving a bad idea a try, and he can do it without the constant tension we always sensed with our parents, and which didn’t do our development any favors. Ugh ugh ugh. 

      1. 9.1.1
        Sunflower

        “For the sake of the kids.”  That is a 50/60′s term.  It’s not best for “kids” to live in a household with dysfunctional parents, who for the only reason are together, is for the kids.  Kids are like sponges and will pick up on the tension and the lack of love and sincerity, and will then grow up and perpetuate what they are familiar with, meaning, dysfunction and the lack of skills for fostering a healthy relationship. 

  10. 10
    AllHeart

    You are certainly in a pickle Amy. You’re guy doesn’t sound like he’s a “bad guy” but he’s not really a responsible grown-up, mature man either. It appears to me that you’ve made all the sacrifices.
    You packed up, sold your stuff just to be with him.
    He actually borrowed money from you just to go drinking. This is actually mind blowing to me.
    You made the financial, and wise decision to move close to your family. He did not come with. Even though at one time, you moved just to be with him. This was even after you two had a child together. It might have sucked for your partner but it clearly didn’t suck enough for him to come with you. 
    He tires you and himself out by never getting help for a repeat pattern of emotional upheavel that you both know he cycles through.
    Even through all this, even having his child, he still didn’t want to fully commit to you. Yet, he was willing to let you have another one of his children. 
    Yes, based on all this, he now only wants to marry you because of the new job and new insurance policy. If having his first and second child isn’t enough at that point for a man to want to completely commit, nothing else will be. 
    You settled for too little early on Amy. But you don’t have to anymore. Talk to him about how your needs have change. But be strong enough to walk away if he is unwilling to truly meet them. And let me tell you, him agreeing to something alone doesn’t mean he truly means it. Especially as indicated by the track record he has already set. 
     

  11. 11
    Amydk

    OP sounds very impulsive and codependent…you both need therapy…together, maybe? You can’t date one type of guy then expect him to change.
    this mirrors the  statistics that say that couples who drift into marriage rather than commit to it end up divorced…

  12. 12
    Lola

    This is so sad…. Another woman with low self-esteem and low expectations makes a kid or two – only to realize her partner might not be that great of a husband material – AFTER the fact. Not judging here, been there done that myself (I did get married first, though…). Wake up, OP, and smell the realization that your partner is here not because he truly values you, wants to spend the rest of his life with you, respects and looks out for you… But because it is comfortable and suits him (for now)  and he loves the kid. Just don’t be surprised if he “all of a sudden” he decides this life is not what he truly wants (oh, watch our for those pesky mid-life crisis  years) and he walks away. In any case, it is way, WAY too late for you to demand commitment – which he doesn’t have in his heart … but you already know it. Why is this too late? Because at this point (2 kids) it is way WAY more important to put the interests of these kids first. Go ahead and talk to your guy all you want, but you can’t ever make a man love you and WANT to commit if he doesn’t. Put the kids’ interests first and get a stable environment for them (living arrangements,  stable jobs, reliable child care) and work on being the best parents you can be, which includes being good partners and try hard to be respectful, loving and caring toward each other. 

    1. 12.1
      Peter 51

      “work on being the best parents you can be, which includes being good partners and try hard to be respectful, loving and caring toward each other”   This is the bit my wife didn’t get.

  13. 13
    Goldberry

    I agree with others that the situation is really complicated now.  Evidently both of you have fears about marriage and commitment (which I can relate to).  But it would be unrealistic to make a decision based solely on your history; since you have kids now they need to be seriously considered as well.  It looks to me, a complete stranger, as though you two actually want to stay together and have a family, but you are hung up on the concepts of “marriage” or “commitment”.  How will your decision affect the kids, and is there any way you can improve your relationship so that you’re both all in and there for them?  Honestly I would consider finding a good counselor.

  14. 14
    Quinn

    It seems to me, despite him being a ‘wonderful father and partner’ you two might have some communication problems.  When you feel you have to ask a dating coach for marriage advice (no offense, Evan, I like your advice), it is a sign that you are unable to communicate with the partner right next to you every night about how you are feeling.  Is he anti-marriage because his parents had a terrible divorce?  Does he just not care about marriage that much and you are too scared to really tell him how you feel about it?  If he doesn’t care that much about it but is willing to do it for insurance purposes, why won’e he do it to make you happy?  Either way, there is a communication breakdown here.  Try talking to your wonderful partner instead of seeking outside council from someone who knows very little about the ins and outs of your situation.

  15. 15
    SparklingEmerald

    I am not a mind reader, but I am very skeptical that the original letter writer, didn’t want a husband or a wedding.  If you don’t want a husband or a wedding, why try to make do with cheap imitations in the form of a “partnership” and “commitment ceremony” ?  Why would you have TWO kids under those circumstances ?  Women have been playing the “cool girl” for a long time now, but deep down inside, I think we are lying to ourselves, we really aren’t that cool with it.  It’s like settling for cubic zirconia when you REALLY wanted a diamond.  Now all this self deception, and playing it cool, has led to a big mess, and 2 innocent children have been brought into this. 

  16. 16
    Marie

    Yes it does matter why your boyfriend now wants to get married.  Basically, he doesn’t really but the two of you have unwisely incurred so many sunk costs that he doesn’t really see a good way out of it.  This is what happens when you have two kids with someone without having a clear picture of what you want out of your relationship.  You just fall into marriage (or commitment, I guess, yet another self-delusion).  If you marry him and his level of enthusiasm is already so low, what do you think will happen 2 years from now when he feels trapped and resentful of you and the kids?  Not going to end well.

  17. 17
    starthrower68

    The reasons why someone wants to do something says a great deal about where his or her heart is at.  

  18. 18
    Mandy

    I wanted a man who didn’t want a wedding and that’s what I got. As soon as I thought this, I looked over at my guy sleeping, and I instantly smiled and felt a very sharp feeling of love in my heart.

    It was weird! :)

    But the blog then read, “If the ‘I don’t want to be married’ thing wasn’t a red flag, then him borrowing my money for drinks (which is selfish, short-sighted behavior) should have been. People CAN be stable without getting married… They’re just less likely to be stable because they aren’t AS committed as a married couple.” Hm. He’s the most loyal boyfriend I have ever had though…

    I am considering relocating to a bigger apartment with a bedroom instead of a studio so we can sleep better and have more room, but also so we can be closer to my parent’s house so they can save money on gas going to and from our place, and also so we can choose a safer neighborhood; this may be pulling him further away from friends and family…and asking him to blend in more with my friends and family, although I don’t see myself doing so…I’m not certain this is what J wants to do so I am hesitant. He may feel like a 1950′s housewife if I just decide to move us!

    He’s also depressed and not working. He does like to have something to do and having money of his own, who doesn’t, but he has anxiety issues and he would like to switch careers. This is fine with me. He is looking to work at a hotel again. But he doesn’t really have friends who will hang out outside the local bar with him. If he wants to work at a hotel, and be close to his drinking buddies (even though he said he’s kind of done with them), he might feel angry still.

    Then, we’re still working on having more frequent sex. He was awesome and brought it up to his doc and I told him I was absolutely positively ecstatic he did this! He also started taking antidepressants! He also said it would happen again, lol. We take care to use many bonding behaviors outside actual intercourse.

    Do we have problems making decisions as a team though? Do we have healthy communication? We’ve discussed each issue multiple times and continue to. I may have an unhappy guy, but he seems to want to make things work or him, me and us. That feels good.

    One thing’s clear, I need to make sure we both can agree we want the same thing!

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