Stuck In the Pseudo-Wife Zone
July 19, 2017 7:18 PM   Subscribe

My SO and I have been in a long term relationship for 4 years that has produced a child, a mortgage, a dog, and life long plans. We are not married and I think we should be. Help.

My SO (m/36) and I (f/25) have what feels like an incredibly stable relationship over the past 4 years and I find that I keep hitting a few life-logistic snags because we are unwed. A little background:

I'm a full-time stay at home mom to our (awesome!) 2 y/o son for over a year now. Due to the significant income discrepancy between SO and I, it made more sense for our family economics if I stayed at home full time. For some context, SO earns a substantial six-figure salary and partnered within that company whereas I earned a fraction of that figure in a niche more bohemian and artistic field. I was and still am passionate about about my interests but couldn't justify the numbers vs. the value of taking care of our little one.

Now, one of the most obvious consequences is that both my guy and little one have awesome medical insurance while I have pretty miserable coverage myself. That wasn't such a big deal to me until over a year ago the SO and I decided that we love being parents so much, that we wanted to have another baby asap. After more than a year of nada results, we turned to infertility counseling which of course, predicted a flurry of projected expense if we proceeded. However, besides the expense of paying out-of-pocket for fertility treatments due to my abysmal insurance while his offers generous infertility coverage; it hit me whether or not it's incredibly irresponsible of us to plan more children while being unwed? Our son was not a planned pregnancy and we were actually still in the dating phase when we got the two little lines. We were fortunate enough to have worked out and are thrilled with both parenting and our rapport however, I'm growing more and more on edge with the precariousness of the lack of stability without my SO.

We've talked marriage on numerous occasions and and these are the snags we hit:

- He desires a lavish ceremony with many members of our families and friends (200+) / I truly have less than a fraction of that amount of relatives that could fill seats and it is not important for me to have grand/populated nuptials.

- He doesn't want to initiate marriage until we can afford said lavish wedding, enough to host friends and family at a particular destination. For context, SO is native to a Scandinavian country where hosting such life events is incredibly important to his family and culture whereas I don't have such allegiances or family volume to demand that.

- I asked if we could just obtain a marriage license to conduct a civil ceremony and have the lavish destination reception he craves when it's more of a financial priority for us. Right now, we have other expenses/goals and haven't even yet begun to budget for this fantasy wedding. SO's response was that it would be sacrilege to just do the "paperwork" without the bells and whistles.

- There has been zero timelines discussed for when any of this could or would happen so I have no idea how soon or how late any of this would occur. Definitely assuming much later because of the budget provision mentioned above. I certainly have tried to gauge a timeline through conversation but the answers where incredibly vague.

- We are not religious.

- We've outlined long-term goals and plans for ourselves in other aspects of our lives and for our child(ren).

- I'm completely comfortable going back to work and contributing financially to our household but as mentioned, my field of expertise isn't exactly lucrative. I certainly could not maintain the lifestyle that we currently have, which actually is not that important to me as long as I could provide fundamentals, just offering context in terms of my potential.

- SO comes from a very strong structured family with expectations and notions of etiquette, that frankly, evade me. I'm from an incredibly dysfunctional and fractured background and truly want to make an effort to maintain a foundation for the little one and honor traditions that may go over my head.

To offer a compromise, I would love nothing more than to have a simple civil ceremony and perhaps a great reception celebratory dinner for the people we care about most. At this point in our relationship, we already have a child and actively desire more, we purchased our first home together one year ago and are pursuing to purchase another abroad. We have a very loving and healthy relationship and are committed to one another. I do feel quite vulnerable because we both discussed just how "screwed" I would be if anything happened to him at this point, and it's enough to make me a little antsy about having more security as a mother and his partner. All things considered, the idea of putting off such an important transition for our family for the sake of appearances, ceremony, or a picture perfect wedding feels like a bit of a cop-out to me and even a little obnoxious.

So my conundrum is: I don't think it would be prudent to have another child until we have some measures in place so that there's more stability for our little family to be more economically cohesive. However, I also feel it's shitty to push an ultimatum of "we need to get married right now, or else I'm not going to do XYZ." That is not I feel at all and not what I'm trying to do. I don't believe that marriage or lack thereof is going to in/validate our (or anyone's) romance either way, but rather from a responsible, legal, and/or moral perspective how we should proceed in the interest of expanding our family and acquiring more joint assets.

Also, I rush to say that in no way am I advocating to get married just to receive any of my SO's medical benefits for infertility. No. Just no. That was more or less of a red herring of perilous situations we could end up with if life began happening to us.

Is any of this reasonable? What's missing? I'm truly at a loss for guidance so any insight and perspective is greatly appreciated.
posted by dea to Human Relations (91 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
of course it's reasonable. (I have heard that in Scandinavian countries plenty of families involve unmarried parents, so maybe he has a different cultural perspective? But yours is 100% reasonable -- the logistical advantages that accrue to married people in this country are far more important than his prejudices.)

Sacrilege my ass. You need good health insurance. And frankly you need the protection of marital property laws juuuuuuust in case (don't bring that up now.) Tell him that you will keep it a secret if he wants, you will consider yourself unmarried until the family party happens if he wants, whatever mental gymnastics he wants are just fine, but you're getting a marriage license this week and getting it done with a judge so you can get on his health insurance. You are done exposing yourself to this risk just because he's being precious.

Also, you could offer to set a date for the "real" wedding in his home country - like three years from now or whatever - so that he has that in his mind that he's getting a plan for what he wants too.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:24 PM on July 19, 2017 [74 favorites]

See if his company provides domestic partner benefits. If they do, get on that ASAP. If not, he should be buying health insurance for you. You are the primary caregiver for his child. He needs you, his child needs you, and there is a chance you would have a job with benefits -- including better insurance -- if it were not for your enormous sacrifice (and rewards) in taking on this role.

Second, huge lavish weddings are for extended families, and are generally paid for by extended families. If couples had to save up for them themselves, they'd be too old to have children by the time the wedding happened. Either get his family to pay for the wedding event of their lives, or find another way.

If he's not religious, then having a civil ceremony isn't "sacrilege". It's a way for him to protect his family. He could also think of it as a quaint local event, since we don't have nationalized health care in the US (or, apparently, wherever you are).
posted by amtho at 7:28 PM on July 19, 2017 [42 favorites]

You are entitled to a clear and unambiguous answer from your SO about a realistic timeline and planning measures for this fantasy wedding of his.

I don't know what the laws regarding common-law marriage are where you live but it's possible that you are already common law wed and might be entitled to his health insurance? It's something to look into. However-

What I'm hearing from you is that being married is important to you. You aren't obligated to justify that, period. It does not need to be "prudent" or predicated on having more kids, though those are valid concerns.

You're allowed to want to be married and you're really really allowed to want to be married to the father of your child with whom you live, for Pete's sake. And if that is not something that's actually going to happen, if that pie-in-the-sky wedding is just a pipe dream that lets him delay perpetually (if he makes so much money him and his family can pay for this lavish wedding, no?), you're entitled to know that so you can plan your next move.

I think it's absurd that the person who is essentially your husband refuses to at least compromise with you about something this important, (and this impactful to you! What are you supposed to do if you get sick?? He should care!) and think it's very unlikely that he ever will, because he doesn't have to. There are no consequences for him for brushing you off.

But if he decides to break up with you in a few years, you're the single mother with no recent work history, no health insurance, no entitlement to alimony or property. You're the one who gets fucked if this thing goes south, not him. And what if (god forbid) he dies? Then what are you and your child going to do?

You need to be firm about getting clear answers and actual, solid, actionable plans from him. You deserve and are entitled to honesty about what you can expect from your life with him moving forward.
posted by windykites at 7:37 PM on July 19, 2017 [40 favorites]

Your post makes me extremely uncomfortable. No person gets to talk about "sacrilege" when they aren't religious and already have a child out of wedlock. You need the lawful protections of a married partner. Yes, look into domestic partner benefits at his company. But also look for the kind of family lawyer that handles gay couples so you can understand the rights and risks you have.

Why are you shouldering all this burden and risk?
posted by amanda at 7:37 PM on July 19, 2017 [109 favorites]

By staying home and not working, you are making yourself unbelievably economically vulnerable and dependent on him. I'm not sure where you're located, but in many parts of the U.S. he could walk out tomorrow and leave you with basically nothing (except child support if you had custody). What a terrible thought, huh? That would never happen!

...Except it does happen, it happens all the time. You need to protect yourself, and your kid. You have to lay down the law on this one. A private civil ceremony isn't a "sacrilege," it's just a private civil ceremony. Have the big party later. But take care of business now.
posted by praemunire at 7:39 PM on July 19, 2017 [91 favorites]

However, I also feel it's shitty to push an ultimatum of "we need to get married right now, or else I'm not going to do XYZ."

No it's not. You're a mother and you need to protect your kid(s). That means you 100% do not bring a kid into the world, if that kid will be entering into a scenario where his/her mother feels insecure (and is insecure!)

I am disgusted on your behalf, that you should have to have subpar health insurance while being the mother of this man's child. He should be horrified, too.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:40 PM on July 19, 2017 [46 favorites]

Like, you don't owe this guy another kid and you're not manipulatively holding out on him! A kid is a person, and if he wants you to make a person, he needs to make sure that you feel comfortable, happy, healthy, safe, and secure.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:41 PM on July 19, 2017 [7 favorites]

It jumped out at me that you're pursuing purchasing a second home, but you supposedly can't afford the wedding he wants. I might be missing something, but that looks to me like getting married is just not a priority for him, yet you both acknowledge that you're screwed if something happens to him. I agree that this sounds like a cop-out. And decent health insurance for you is a big deal. You are not unreasonable to insist on getting married.
posted by FencingGal at 7:41 PM on July 19, 2017 [66 favorites]

I, random internet stranger, am getting worried on your behalf because of how frankly vulnerable you are to all kinds of potential disasters. Just a sampling: you get really sick and your crappy insurance means you get stuck with crippling medical bills; for whatever reason, you end up separating and you're entitled to less legal protection than if you were married; your partner suddenly dies. There are so many ways you could be utterly screwed. If I, random internet stranger, can see that and be worried for you, why isn't your partner doing whatever he can to reduce the chances of you being screwed? Honestly, arguing that you should accept subpar healthcare because he can't have his fantasy wedding right now seems like the height of selfishness. He should be looking out for you!
posted by peacheater at 7:43 PM on July 19, 2017 [43 favorites]

I have more to say.

If he is well aware that your situation without his support would be dire, and he discusses that with you while refusing to do anything to remediate that situation, he has a lot of leverage over you. And you've told us that you come from an unhealthy family dynamic and defer to his wishes about your needs because family structures "go over your head".

I'm not at saying that he is abusive but I am saying that I'm concerned about how much power this guy is holding over your head and how it could become a source of control.
posted by windykites at 7:53 PM on July 19, 2017 [44 favorites]

Here's what you're missing.

I do feel quite vulnerable because we both discussed just how "screwed" I would be if anything happened to him at this point

Life partners don't discuss how screwed someone would be if something happened and then don't address it because they want a big party. They go and do the civil ceremony quietly, and then do the big party.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:58 PM on July 19, 2017 [107 favorites]

SO comes from a very strong structured family with expectations and notions of etiquette

Oh yeah? Strange etiquette that demands a lavish wedding but cares nothing for a man caring for the mother of his child.

I, like others, felt sick reading this. Your boyfriend's incredibly selfish behavior is putting you and your child's well-being at risk. Do not even think about having another child with him. Push to have a civil ceremony very soon, like in the next couple of months. If he refuses, I think you have your answer: he doesn't care enough for you to commit to you. At that point, I think you need to prepare to go back to work and start to think of yourself as a single parent even if you continue to live with him.

If this seems over the top catastrophizing to you, well, this is one of the more worrisome questions I've read here. Protect yourself first so that you can protect your child.
posted by scantee at 8:01 PM on July 19, 2017 [84 favorites]

You are losing Social number contributions, and i agree that you are very vulnerable. Whether by marriage or other contract, you should have more financial security. Your post is all about his needs, your needs should be valued and addressed, too.
posted by theora55 at 8:03 PM on July 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

You are incredibly, terribly vulnerable here.

If he's so resistant to a wedding of any type, INSIST on visiting an attorney immediately to make sure half of the house, the savings, the retirement funds, and his salary are yours in the event you split up, and that he will make you more safe and equal in the household by purchasing health/dental/life insurance for you. You'll also need a will showing all that is his goes to YOU, not his parents.

If he resists this at all, DTMFA.
posted by littlewater at 8:03 PM on July 19, 2017 [80 favorites]

If he's so resistant to a wedding of any type, INSIST on visiting an attorney immediately to make sure half of the house, the savings, the retirement funds, and his salary are yours in the event you split up, and that he will make you more safe and equal in the household by purchasing health/dental/life insurance for you. You'll also need a will showing all that is his goes to YOU, not his parents.

This sounds like a really good idea.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:07 PM on July 19, 2017 [16 favorites]

He reminds me of the kind of person who doesn't want to wear a seatbelt because it will wrinkle his suit.

There are some really important benefits of marriage that don't come into play until some gets sick or dies. For example, if he dies, you can collect a monthly benefit to stay at home with the children until the youngest turns 16 and then you can collect again when you turn 62. My brother died suddenly at age 40. He had bought life insurance when he had one child in a low-cost state and died with three children under age 10 and high mortgage in a high cost state. My sister-in-law would have been in very difficult situation without his social security.

If he motivated by money, do a quick calculation of how much you would immediate save in taxes by filing jointly plus the value of coverage under his health insurance and comparable cost in life insurance for social security - maybe that would work.

Somehow I'm guessing that he hasn't dealt with life insurance, wills and power of attorney stuff either? If not, I think it is a reasonable minimum demand before you expand the family that you both get the legal stuff in place plus life insurance plus you get good health insurance. This is just basics that families do to protect themselves - like wearing seat belts. If he won't protect you and the kids in this way (that falls far short of legal protection of marriage but avoids the whole ceremony conflict) then you know you have a big problem and should proceed with caution.
posted by metahawk at 8:07 PM on July 19, 2017 [7 favorites]

I know a couple who needed to have their legal wedding asap for immigration reasons and then the big family celebration (and church ceremony) six month later. I wonder if it would help any to change your language - instead of "wedding" and "reception", use "legal paper" and "'real' wedding"?
posted by metahawk at 8:10 PM on July 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

You're already getting a lot of great advice, but just to address one specific part of your question:

it hit me whether or not it's incredibly irresponsible of us to plan more children while being unwed?

I wouldn't say irresponsible, but you absolutely should not have a child with him until you've done the civil ceremony (or on preview what littlewater suggests). You really are in an incredibly precarious position right now being a stay at home parent with poor health insurance and coming from a not well compensated field.

I feel so stressed out on your behalf just reading this. I don't know if your partner is being willfully blind, cruel, naive, or what, but this is a terrible thing to do to someone you love. You've already made sacrifices for this family by giving up a job in a field that you are passionate for because it was in the financial interests of your family and also for the sake of your kid. The least he can do is go down to the courthouse with you and make this official. Please do not have another child with this person until you've worked this out.

His desire for a huge over the top wedding with every person he's ever met does not trump your need for financial security, future security, and good health insurance. This is absolutely the kind of thing where you need to draw a line in the sand. Please, for your child's (and future children's) sake, if not for your own, take a stand on this.

(For the record, I am not someone who is a huge proponent of marriage for marriage's sake, but there arena lot of very concrete benefits that you can't otherwise get in the US.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:12 PM on July 19, 2017 [15 favorites]

Oh, and if you still aren't getting anywhere with him, consider going to a couple sessions of couples counseling. Maybe a neutral third party can get through to him if you can't.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:13 PM on July 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

You need to protect yourself, and your kid

This. 100 times over. Your SO needs to buy you health insurance tomorrow. You need to be married this weekend. You need to get some bills in your name (for credit) and get back onto the job track asap before trying for more kids. You are so vulnerable right now, it is terrifying to me.

Ask me how I know. Ask any one, anyone how they know.
posted by Toddles at 8:17 PM on July 19, 2017 [41 favorites]

I think it is irresponsible to have more kids with someone whose priorities are so incredibly, outrageously backwards. This is a bad situation for you as everyone has outlined above that you fell into basically by accident. It's not too late, don't get any further in. Don't get married, and don't have more kids. Find a way to support yourself with your own insurance and get child support.
posted by bleep at 8:18 PM on July 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

If this guy refuses to elope with you now, he is a shithead. You can have a fancy old wedding any time. But if he dies in a car wreck tomorrow, if he comes down with cancer, anything at all happens to him, you're fucked. Does he not care about that? Does he not care about your child? If you've pointed this stuff out to him and he still refuses to get married, he's making up excuses and will never marry you, and you need to get a job and otherwise start functioning as a single parent ASAP, as someone else said. If he refuses to take care of you, then you're going to have to start taking care of yourself
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:30 PM on July 19, 2017 [13 favorites]

what feels like an incredibly stable relationship

I guess I'm trying to understand how you have managed to convince yourself that your incredibly unstable, unbalanced and precarious relationship wherein you are economically dependent on a person who doesn't care about your wellbeing is actually a "an incredibly stable relationship".

Sorry to be so blunt but.. you are in an unstable relationship. You have no financial independence whatsoever, you have very few legal protections and you have shitty health coverage. This is not what stability looks like, and I suspect that your prior exposure to dysfunctional relationships might have something to do with your misreading of your own situation.

- I asked if we could just obtain a marriage license to conduct a civil ceremony and have the lavish destination reception he craves when it's more of a financial priority for us. Right now, we have other expenses/goals and haven't even yet begun to budget for this fantasy wedding. SO's response was that it would be sacrilege to just do the "paperwork" without the bells and whistles.

Your ask was very reasonable and exactly what the father of your child should have agreed to. The fact that he called this "sacrilege" is unloving and bizarre in the extreme. You are being exploited and manipulated by someone who doesn't care about you enough to clearly understand that your need for quality health care and legal protection matters more than a lavish wedding.

I'm concerned for you and suggest getting a job (to build your own economic security) and seeing a lawyer ASAP to discuss your options.
posted by Gray Skies at 8:31 PM on July 19, 2017 [33 favorites]

A lot of good points raised above - the priority is financial security for you and your kids, not parties. In that vein, When you do the maths on the 'sense' it makes for you to stay home, you need to of course take into account the 2017 cost of daycare and benefit for kiddo to have parent at home if that's of value to you, but consider carefully and weigh that against the 2027 cost of re-entering the workforce without currency of working experience or references. And as posters above have noted, you have no personal security that you won't have to re-enter the work force unexpectedly at any time.
posted by chiquitita at 8:37 PM on July 19, 2017 [9 favorites]

> Life partners don't discuss how screwed someone would be if something happened and then don't address it because they want a big party.

THIS! Maybe it's because I'm queer (and have been since forever) and so my ideas of how relationships "should" work in all kinds of ways but especially ways like this one are different from (many) straight peoples', but I got domestically partnered to my partner when she was changing jobs and needed to add me a a pension beneficiary, and we didn't have a party. A few years later we got last-minute same-sex married because it was civil disobedience and the "party" we had was later that evening, when friends who could make it came over and we all drank champagne and ate chips. The "real" wedding we had had no legal import whatsoever but it was the one where we got a caterer and sent out invites and all that. And you know what? They were all great! They all had meaning! It was lovely to celebrate with all (well, many, anyway) of our loved ones in attendance, but that kind of thing only has MORE meaning than GETTING YOUR PARTNER AND THE PARENT OF YOUR CHILD DECENT HEALTH INSURANCE ASAP if you assign it. Assigning is not required.

He needs to grow up.
posted by rtha at 8:39 PM on July 19, 2017 [10 favorites]

Darlin', given how incredibly insecure you are financially, you are at risk for your SO to gain full custody should the two of you break up, and with him having full custody he could potentially take the child(ren) back to his home country and there wouldn't be much you could do about it without spending a fortune in lawyer's fees. Marriage is important for your financial security, but you need serious legal counsel on top of it regarding your and his rights with regard to the minor children's passports and international custody. Don't think that he's such a good guy that he won't hide/steal their passports, or forge (or coerce you into signing) travel authorizations for them. It happened to a good friend of mine.
posted by vignettist at 9:14 PM on July 19, 2017 [46 favorites]

Thanks for the input everyone. Wow. I cannot argue against the consensus.

Also to clarify, the SO or his family can totally afford to have to have this cupcake destination wedding however, SO and I have no allocated funds/intentions that we would normally structure to any other plan of ours. I do "manage" all of the income for our household (allocating the budgets/bill paying) so I don't feel completely in the dark, however, here we are. I was completely under the assumption that for such an expense, SO and I were on the hook to personally accommodate such an arbitrary and exorbitant event and not out source to in-laws. Mind blown.
posted by dea at 9:19 PM on July 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

The aspect that's got me bewildered is your partner's contention that getting married without having a reception is "sacreligious" but having a child together outside the bounds of wedlock isn't. That's pretty much 180 degrees off from my sense of how people I know feel, whether religious or nonreligious.

What's important is the marriage – whether that's a religious "we're now married in the eyes of our spiritual community" or a nonreligious "we've got the paperwork taken care of" thing. The reception? That's a party. That's a bonus, a nice-to-have-if-you-can-manage-it. That's not the important part.

Please do what's necessary to ensure that you and your child have health insurance and legal protections. Your partner can worry about throwing a party when the time is right.
posted by Lexica at 9:30 PM on July 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

What everyone said above. The more I read, the more I started to feel concerned and even a bit anxious for you.

We have a very loving and healthy relationship and are committed to one another. I do feel quite vulnerable...

Please hear yourself. This does not compute. A relationship in which one partner expresses feeling "vulnerable" and the other partner is not helping to address and resolve it or their behavior is in fact actively causing/preserving it, is not healthy. Period.

Actually, several things you've mentioned about your financial situation does not compute. He's a partner at a company, making a "substantial" six-figure salary, and you guys (i.e. really him) are buying a second home abroad... and yet you're stuck with abysmal health insurance? Is the financial burden entirely on you to afford your health insurance? I'm guessing no, because you personally have no income, which means (I'm guessing) he must be helping pay for some or all of it... which, if true, means at some point, he decided what to pay for. And that he wasn't going to pay for something better for you. I may be completely misunderstanding this, but if it were true... it's fucked.

I want to add: you need to re-enter the workforce. Get a job and restart your career, whether in your former field or in a more lucrative field. Do this now, before your situation could turn and get more desperate or pressured (there's always a chance, no matter how happy and "stable" now). You said you "couldn't justify the numbers vs. taking care of the little one" ... again, this makes little sense in light of how much you said he makes and the decision to buy a 2nd home abroad.

And it also makes no sense when you consider that building and having your own independent career is priceless. Let's say you make $40K annually and child care comes out to $30K/year -- yes, that's basically a wash in terms of pure numbers right now. But with that $30K you fork over in child care to work, you're also investing in skills, knowledge, a professional network and development, work experience, building up a portfolio of work, various opportunities, etc etc, and laying a foundation for financial independence, i.e. the future. You're likely to get salary increases (even if small) over time. Oh, and you have the chance to get employer-sponsored, better health insurance than you do now, if we're talking about numbers. You frame the tradeoff as between the $40K and the $30K. But it's really not.

Sure, for some people it is an informed, personal decision to choose full-time parenthood over a career, whether long-term or short-term. That's all fine. But not in your situation. Because you're in a relationship with someone who knows that you -- his partner and the mother of his child -- are financially and medically vulnerable, and yet is digging in his heels about addressing it and being all hand-wavy and vague.

You mentioned a "red herring." The real red herring is his insistence on a lavish fantasy wedding and whatever else etiquette and appearances supposedly dictates -- according to him. He's getting to have his cake and eat it too, from start to finish.
posted by amillionbillion at 9:41 PM on July 19, 2017 [44 favorites]

First off, I agree with what everyone else has said, in much better words than I could have used. So I'll just point out a tiny minor nitpick:

"To offer a compromise, I would love nothing more than to have a simple civil ceremony and perhaps a great reception celebratory dinner for the people we care about most."

If your partner is set on a big romantic wedding, "a simple civil ceremony" with a reception is basically the opposite of what he wants, not a compromise. I would suggest that you offer the following compromise: You get married legally immediately and start planning a giant family wedding in his hometown (involve your mother-in-law, talk about how worried you are about staying within budget, leave openings for them to offer to contribute). The compromise is that you get the vital legal protections of marriage and he gets a concrete path towards his fantasy wedding without having to do any of the planning work. Worry about how to afford the wedding *after* you've done the paperwork; either it will work out with family contributions or it won't happen at the scale that he wanted, but well oh well.

The above paragraph assumes that your description of your partner is in good faith and he isn't being intentionally controlling/borderline abusive. which his behavior does flag as a possibility.
posted by serelliya at 10:55 PM on July 19, 2017 [12 favorites]

I agree with everyone who is terrified for you. Your boyfriend is either dangerously naive, or thinks you are disposable, and intends to dispose of you. It really does come down to shockingly ignorant or diabolical in this political climate in this country. I don't know how it's even possible for him to be awake in 2017 in the US and not understand how apocalyptic our healthcare situation is. I suppose if he comes from a Scandinavian country, and doesn't remember the US before Obamacare, he really might just not emotionally grasp how dire the healthcare situation is. He might know, intellectually, that you are "screwed", but he might still be unconsciously operating on the core belief that modern societies have a social safety net, and that it just cannot be possible that in a developed country where he can work a 6 figure job and have a civilized life, if you get cancer, or get hit by a car, or have a second child and bleed out in labor, and you can't pay, you will die. That's something a lot if European friends of mine have had a hard time wrapping their heads around, and your child's father might just need a serious Come To Jesus talk about medical realities in the US. I know so many people who have or had healthcare marriages before the ACA-- couples who stayed together, couples who didnt, couples who married as friends so one partner wouldn't die, then had relationships with other people. One couple I know married prematurely in secret right out of university, then had a lavish, beautiful wedding a decade later, because one partner had a 6 figure tech job, and the other had a poor family, a history of melanoma, and a thyroid condition, and the pre-existing condition of cancer meant she was uninsurable, and she couldn't afford her endocrine treatments, and without them would die in a county hospital. Does your partner know what pre-existing conditions are? Does he know that pregnancy and childbirth are on the list of pre-existing conditions in every draft of the new healthcare bills the majority Republican House, Senate, and Presidency have tried to pass into law? Does he get that right now you are basically in some hellish Dickensian novel, where the respectable rich man has a mistress and illegitimate child who he can ditch with no legal or social recourse?

I agree that you should immediately get the paperwork for either a civil marriage or get a lawyer. Tell your partner it's am emergency, because IT IS an emergency. Has he been following the news? Have you? I can't get online without being bombarded with news about the Senate not having the numbers to vote to kill Medicaid and healthcare because John McCain was rushed into surgery last week. People on ventilators are being dragged out of senators' hallways by the police. I don't think you should need to use a political/humanitarian crisis to spur your partner into not treating you like a disposable nanny, but if that's what it takes to get him to see how serious this is, please do it. You must take care of yourself and take the steps to make sure your child doesn't grow up without a mother.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:09 PM on July 19, 2017 [59 favorites]

So many great responses above, but I'll just add that if I were a friend or family member on his side and was invited to a gala wedding only to find out that he put his bride and their child(ren) in such a disadvantaged and risky position in order to have a fancy party, he would be permanently diminished in my view. It's an unacceptable choice in this situation.
posted by quince at 11:37 PM on July 19, 2017 [12 favorites]

Honestly, wanting to get married just for the infertility treatment benefits would be completely reasonable. With everything else? Holy crap, you guys should have been legally married back when you saw those two little lines, before reaching the decision that you would stay home with the kid.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:55 PM on July 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

His cluelessness about this is grotesque. (Spellcheck is suggesting "uselessness" instead, which is equally serviceable.)

Your first pregnancy was healthy, and covered under your previous employed-person insurance. He's proving cruelly indifferent with regard to your health, peace of mind, future, etc., so remind him what happens if, God forbid, the next pregnancy poses complications for the child -- ones that could have been caught/addressed with the proper medical oversight provided by the kind of "awesome medical insurance" he and your son now enjoy.

I wish you'd just see a lawyer. You're being exploited, and "hellish Dickensian novel" is dead-on. I'm so sorry.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:56 PM on July 19, 2017 [11 favorites]

Besides everything else, the money issues caught me: both the part about not being "able to afford a wedding," and the part about you not being "able to justify" continuing to work versus being a stay-at-home parent.

Given that it seems both of those things are actually technically affordable to you as a couple (certainly more so than to most), what kinds of conversations have you had about your respective visions for the money in your life? Is he envisioning his income as "his," and you as someone who needs to pay your way or be a drain on that? Do you actually want to stay at home or would you happily be working right now if you had a partner who was happily supporting you? What does he want his income to be for?
posted by trig at 11:59 PM on July 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Let me clarify the finances guys.

- When I said "able to afford the wedding " that pertained to SO and I (effectively just my SO) covering this huge wedding outright for which I assumed would accommodate 200+ people. Which again, I assumed is quite an expense to leave unplanned.

- "Justify the cost of working vs staying at home." What I meant was that while I immensely enjoyed my career, SO and I decided that it important to us both that our kid had me around full time. I was on board with that because it was and is great to spend an unlimited amount to time with the little guy. So it was more the priceless opportunity to be hands on with the kid and not so much of "Oh, the money doesn't make sense."

SO is not selfish with money, there is no my money/your money mentality within the household. I do have my own savings account and have some resources set aside.
posted by dea at 12:20 AM on July 20, 2017

Given your SO's apparent cultural background I can totally see being happy to live out of wedlock. At the same time in Norway social security systems would kick in to protect you from a lot of the downsides that lack of marriage certificate has in many other countries.

Frankly, in Norway you'd not be anywhere near as screwed as you would be in many other countries. So he needs to understand that.

And from that understanding hopefully he'll realise that however upset his overseas relations might be if you go down to the local registry office and get married it is absolutely unacceptable to leave your dependants witout basic rights and protection and unable to care for your joint child in the event anything happens to him and even without medical insurance at this point.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:45 AM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]

If your partner think weddings are expensive, wait until he gets hit with a medical bill if you get seriously sick without decent insurance. (Or is that just your problem since you aren't married?!) Your guy is a selfish ass to put you at risk and his attitude to your health alone would make reconsider marriage, a child, heck, staying with him at all.
posted by Jubey at 12:47 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

Having a big wedding isn't "a Scandinavian thing" — it might be your SO's family thing but it's not a cultural touchstone.

I'm Scandinavian. In the last 3 years here in Britain, I've been to more big weddings than I've ever been to in my native Denmark. In my family, I've been to exactly one wedding — even my mum and my stepfather just went to the registry office and then forgot to tell anybody for about six months that they got married. Among my Danish friends, I've been to two. I'm in my 40s.

If there is something to untangle, it is not the cultural background thing.
posted by kariebookish at 1:05 AM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]

After 10 years of marriage, you will be entitled to social security spousal benefits when you retire, even if you have been divorced for years. Given his income, this could be a significant factor in your retirement. (Sorry to bring up divorce at this time, but "til death do we part" is a hell of promise to make when you're just 25 years old. Even good marriages don't necessarily make this mark.)

I imagine that this doesn't seem like a big deal to you right now, but you will be 65 before you know it. (Trust me. I'm 62—and I swear that I celebrated my 30th birthday about 3 weeks ago.)
posted by she's not there at 1:18 AM on July 20, 2017 [16 favorites]

Honestly, you found out exactly the kind of person he was when you told him how screwed you were without health insurance and he dismissed it to talk about paying for a lavish wedding. Yet...he hasn't proposed, there's no timeline, there's no move to save for it, maybe that's because he doesn't actually want to be married. He does however want to buy another property. Whose name will that be in, again? This isn't a stable relationship, you're in a sinking ship surrounded by a shark. And he's the shark. Aside from the guy who posted about stomach pain and going to the ER and never posted again, this is the scariest post I've read here..
posted by Jubey at 1:21 AM on July 20, 2017 [40 favorites]

Something is odd here. There is no mainstream Scandinavian culture (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland) where big lavish weddings are a required thing. The general preference is for unmarried/cohabitation, civil partnership, or a wedding that fits the family's budget. I've lived in Scandinavia for some time, and weddings were always scaled to what people could afford, which was usually something classy and MODEST. Exceptions would be for royalty but I don't think that's your case.
posted by whitewall at 1:41 AM on July 20, 2017 [17 favorites]

Are you, or is your SO, aware of what would happen if one of you is hospitalized? If it's ICU serious the other one will NOT be allowed contact, and will have no say in what medical decisions will be made, and no one will be allowed to tell you any details about the patient's status.

If you're serious enough to have a kid together, you ought to be serious enough to make sure your legal status is solid. If I were in your situation, I would start to seriously think about life commitment with someone with the priorities of a 12 year old. At 36, he's unlikely to start to grow up. (Ask me how I know.)

I'm so sorry. This really is a disturbing situation -- as you know or you wouldn't be asking people here about it.
posted by kestralwing at 2:19 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

If he is indeed European he may just not grasp your situation. Speaking as a European, i admit it took me some intensive reading and more importantly talking to Americans to understand the total lack of any safety net in case you need any medical help.
So i would give him the benefit of the doubt and make it crystal clear that if anything at all happens to you it will be a disaster not just humanly but in form of crippling medical bills. I would actually tell him that for you to become pregnant without adequate medical insurance is a no go. Please don't feel this is black mail - it would simply be stupid. If he does not get that don't pursue ivf. What a night mare in the making if anything were to happen.
Be strong,
posted by 15L06 at 2:53 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

It sounds like they've already discussed in fair detail how screwed she would be if anything happened at this point, so it appears he does know - he just doesn't care.
posted by Jubey at 2:59 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

"SO is not selfish with money, there is no my money/your money mentality within the household."

And yet, your partner and son have "awesome medical insurance", while your coverage is "pretty miserable", despite your partner earning a "substantial six-figure salary" at a stable job. And this state of affairs has been allowed to persist for over a year at a time when you have given up your salary to raise your mutual child and you and your partner are actively trying to conceive again?

If there is no "my money/your money mentality" why do you not also have "awesome medical insurance", when, of the three of you, you are the one whose health is mostly likely to be imminently at risk and you are likely to be accruing substantial medical expenses in the near future?
posted by Secret Sparrow at 5:30 AM on July 20, 2017 [21 favorites]

Your first update is still focused on the wedding, which is fine? I guess? But both it and the second make me really worried for you still. You are partnered right now with someone who is being dramatically irresponsible about you and your child.

Look, I'm Canadian/American living in Canada and I have never worried about basic healthcare coverage in my life. I also can read and understand that it's necessary in the US. What's more though is my husband and I bought life insurance after our wedding although we're actually not that great at paperwork and planning. Because part of creating a long-term life together is looking out for each other. It is a huge red flag for me that he isn't buying you amazing health insurance already.

That's bad enough but I really, really don't get how you can have a conversation that if he gets hit by a car tomorrow you will be screwed and his response isn't "I'll take the afternoon off tomorrow to get a license." This is like...a user mentality here.

Finally this -
"Justify the cost of working vs staying at home." What I meant was that while I immensely enjoyed my career, SO and I decided that it important to us both that our kid had me around full time. I was on board with that because it was and is great to spend an unlimited amount to time with the little guy. So it was more the priceless opportunity to be hands on with the kid and not so much of "Oh, the money doesn't make sense."

is a Trojan horse for women. You are not only torpedoing your career but you are supposed to see it as a priceless gift of time. But it is not, it is you deciding to fit society's view of the Optimal Mother by giving up your paid work. That's ok if you have a partner who is acknowledging your sacrifice and mitigating the risk for you through insurance, access to financial assets, and in my opinion, also through encouraging you to do other things to grow your career (classes, networking.) Society's traditional way of handling this is through the blanket legal protections of marriage. If he is not providing that happily, you are in big trouble. Please stop finding out how to do the big wedding and instead figure out why he doesn't have your best interests at heart.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:44 AM on July 20, 2017 [60 favorites]

Echoing the above that there might just be an ignorance / cultural difference here. My brother (in Sweden) is kind of the same way -- he has two kiddos and still planning for the big party in some distant future.

This is 100% reasonable in Sweden because being married gives you virtually NO advantages to cohabiting. The two arrangements are treated the same for everything that matters (inheritance, child custody, visitation rights, immigration, etc.) Joint filing of taxes was abolished in the early 1970s and health insurance isn't really a thing if you have socialized medicine. So the only reason to get married IS throwing a big party.

But has been explained above - this is just not the case in the US. Have you explained to him why you want to be married and educated him on what it means NOT to be married for you and your child? If he's reasonable, he'll get it and you'll be at the County Clerk next week.
posted by yonglin at 5:54 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

I don't know where you live, but where I live in Massachusetts, married parents means one parent automatically gets the children if the other parent dies or is incapacitated. When my husband and I wrote up our will, our lawyer explained that being married already afforded us so many benefits with just our children alone. Otherwise if I died, for example, and we were unmarried, my parents could fight my husband for custody. (They wouldn't, but they COULD, legally). (Also why legal marriage for non-straight folks is so important!!)

I don't like his reasoning at all. Being married protects you both. He should want you to have good health insurance and for you to be protected - because as many have mentioned, as a stay-at-home mom you are vulnerable to the system if he decides to up and leave one day.
posted by sutel at 6:05 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Do you have any EOB's left over from baby #1? It's worth showing the sticker shock of just how much a normal, uncomplicated childbirth costs.

Sticker price on a C-section is on the order of $35,000 and varies wildly. Fertility treatments, hell: You can't afford to have another baby until you're on his health insurance.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:41 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Maybe I'm missing something, but I think he just doesn't ever want to get married. Actions speak louder than words.
posted by elphaba at 6:50 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

There's also something hinky that he is a partner at his company and hasn't managed to use his influence to get you health insurance. And your husband is culturally obtuse if he doesn't think any of his co-partners thinks his marital situation isn't very odd and probably discuss it among themselves. ("You know his girlfriend is stay-at-home, 10 years younger, watches the kid and he won't marry her.") It's not a nice cultural narrative and there are serious problems with it but culturally what he's got going on here is not done. Honestly, this is one of the most backwards part of being an American (and you haven't given an indication that you live elsewhere) but expediency here demands that you look out for your own interests and those of your kid and not be a justice warrior for bullshit social systems. I hope you're able to resolve this soon.
posted by amanda at 7:03 AM on July 20, 2017 [19 favorites]

I wouldn't assume this guy is a terrible person. For some people, getting married gets put off or not discussed seriously _because_ it is such a big deal to them, _because_ they take it seriously. He may just want to be able to focus on it completely and to hire 12 white horses instead of only 6. He may have started thinking about the perfect wedding when he was 10 years old. Possibly, he's a super responsible executive guy who people trust because he never makes work or relationships about _him_, and he's been looking forward to making a giant spectacle or a joyful family love-fest for a long time; he may worry (as I might) that if he goes ahead and has a city hall wedding, that the big event of his dreams will be even further pushed down the priority list, and it will never happen. All of these things are understandable, and not unlikely.

However, just to work with his emotions, on the premise that he's actually a well-intentioned person with love in his heart: his family members aren't getting any younger. If he wants everyone he loves to be there, he should do this _now_, before people become too old to travel.

There is also the possibility that he's just not taking you or the situation as seriously as he should, or worse, but thinking about how to approach this as if he's a good person is important.
posted by amtho at 7:20 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

This has been mentioned in passing above, but I think it's worth its own post, in bold and capslock.

IF YOU TWO HAVE ANOTHER CHILD, YOU WILL HAVE TO BE PREGNANT. Pregnancy can come with serious complications, and although you certainly hope for the best, it is a travesty for the father of your children to provide *them* with "excellent health insurance" but not you. Even in a relatively uncomplicated pregnancy where everything ends up fine, you'll need standard obstetric coverage for your prenatal care. And there's a reasonable chance that at some point you'll be sent to the ER to have something checked; and if you end up needing a C-section, that's pretty expensive too. And all of this assumes no major complications, it's just minor stuff that can happen to anyone even in a non worst-case-scenario. In the absolute worst case scenario, depending on how shitty your insurance coverage is, it could SEVERELY impact your family's finances.

In the pre-Obamacare days, a family member of mine LITERALLY LOST THEIR HOUSE because of obstetrical costs. (It was a worst-case scenario of a different sort - they couldn't get pregnancy coverage because of a previous complicated pregnancy, received substandard care because of lack of pregnancy coverage, and then the worst case scenario happened). Their family had to live in a studio apartment for years as they dug out of this hole.

So, the infertility treatments are a fine reason as well, but you and your SO need to have a come-to-Jesus talk about getting you on his excellent health insurance before you attempt a second pregnancy. It's quite possible that he doesn't fully grasp the implications, as anyone I've ever known coming from a country with socialized medicine has been just baffled by the US healthcare system, to the point that they assume they must be misunderstanding something because it's so messed up. If that's the case, though, he needs to get sorted out post haste, and I would strongly advise against pursuing another pregnancy until it is.
posted by telepanda at 7:27 AM on July 20, 2017 [12 favorites]

I'm a bit perplexed - from my experiences in northern Europe, weddings there were much smaller and less lavish than typical American weddings, with a few traditions thrown in. I can understand him finding the idea of just doing the paperwork for legal reasons a bit distasteful (I know a number of people who look at that as terribly unromantic and "ugly"), but having married on a shoestring budget, I can tell you that a simple ceremony and party afterward can be very romantic. Does he come from a particularly well-to-do family that expects $200/head dinners at fancy venues?

In the Netherlands, where I was, it was not unusual for a couple to wait to marry until their eldest child was old enough to walk unassisted with the rings or flowers down the aisle, and Dutch families seemed to find this very charming and romantic, to include the very young children in the special day. I wonder if your boyfriend has something similar in mind? With that said, I wonder then why he hasn't verbalized this to you. And certainly your son must be approaching the age where being ring-bearer might be something he could handle with some guidance & support.

Is the second home you're looking to buy abroad in his home country? Is he thinking of a backyard wedding there, perhaps?

Do you live in a state that recognizes domestic partnerships? Would he be open to doing that paperwork with you now, and marrying at a later date? This would help with your legal status (and insurances), leaving some flexibility (and the romanticism) for the marriage to come.

Does he have friends back in his home country who are unmarried and parenting? Is he perhaps "keeping up with the Jensens" in this sense? Is there a fairytale love story among his cohort back home that he aspires to? A couple perhaps who waited until they had two little ones - one to carry the rings and one to scatter rose petals - old enough to participate in their ceremony?

There are a lot of questions he should be supplying answers to, and it concerns me that either you aren't asking or he isn't answering. On a base level he may not understand what a precarious situation not being married in the US puts you in, or he may not be able to see into the future to anticipate potentially problems for you, but he must be relatively bright given his position, and it sounds as if he's been capable of planning for some circumstances, so I wonder if it isn't lack of understanding or capacity but lack of compassion.
posted by pammeke at 7:35 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't understand why you aren't already on his insurance if his job is so great? Let's say there was no issue of children or pregnancy. His partner having no insurance is not enough reason?

Similarly, children/pregnancy aside, your wishes for marriage and the type of wedding you want should be just as important as his.
posted by kapers at 7:54 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

My family is Finnish (so, Scandinavian-adjacent) and true to stereotype, going back generations, nobody is religious or flashy about it if so, and flashy lavish weddings aren't a big thing. In any event, I think that might be a bit of a distraction. Is his family just super rich? Is he just throwing up obstacles so he doesn't have to marry you ever?
posted by kapers at 8:04 AM on July 20, 2017 [8 favorites]

Does he get that right now you are basically in some hellish Dickensian novel, where the respectable rich man has a mistress and illegitimate child who he can ditch with no legal or social recourse?

There are a few questions that can help determine if this is the case or not.

1) You guys own a house and are considering a second house. Are you a legal co-owner or intended to be a legal co-owner of either of these houses?

2) When he says he won't marry you until he can have the fancy wedding, is he offering to make tangible steps towards wedding you, such as having a public engagement?
posted by corb at 8:06 AM on July 20, 2017 [12 favorites]

3) Have you met his family, specifically his mother?
posted by metaseeker at 8:08 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

Is he already legally married to someone else?

I'm not saying he's cheating or has another family or anything, but there could be a legal entanglement that he's not telling you about. Frankly, he might even have a green card marriage, given how immigration tends to work in the US.
posted by rue72 at 8:20 AM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]

I, too, was aghast reading the above.

Being married has almost nothing to do with having a wedding.

This is like not availing of life-saving surgery because you can't afford limousine to the hospital.
posted by bimbam at 9:22 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'm a Norwegian living in the US, and I echo the comments above that huge weddings really aren't a thing in Scandinavia in general; however, they certainly could be a thing for his family.

I will also say that because so many Scandinavians choose not to get married, marriage is kind of considered to be more of a meaningful and sometimes more religious thing than it is in the US. And this may be playing into his reluctance to do a small, paperwork-only, ceremony here - he could be seeing Marriage with a capital M to be more sacred than you would expect and the mini-marriage could sort of cheapen that in his mind. In other words, having a child together and a mortgage together means a commitment to co-parenting and co-habiting. Marriage, on the other hand, means a commitment to monogamy with you, even if kids were not in the picture, for the rest of your lives, and it's not entered into lightly. It's not uncommon for people to wait many years, even after having kids, before they feel they're ready to take such a step together. For example, my cousin's kids were 8 and 4 when she and her partner got married. In the US, at that point, people would be asking why even bother?...

I think part of the issue may also be that as a Scandinavian, he may not fully understand that the US does not provide the kind of safety net that the state does there. Insurance is obviously a huge thing, which he should be able to understand the implications of pretty quickly. However, in the US you can't fall back on the state for things like subsidized childcare, and without being married you don't automatically qualify for death benefits, alimony etc. In Norway, when unmarried parents split up, that in no way means financial ruin for the custodial parent the way it does here, and so I'm guessing he does not understand the severity of the situation for you - and your child - if something went wrong, either through death or a break-up.

I'm guessing and hoping that this is less about him deliberately being selfish, and more about him not fully understanding that in the US, marriage is a societal construct with huge financial implications. I hope you can have some conversations about this with him so you can come to a place of understanding. It sounds like things are otherwise really good, so I think you can do this! Good luck.
posted by widdershins at 9:32 AM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]

Everyone's got the "but what if something happens to you" part fairly well covered. Let's talk about what if something happens to him.

If both your names are on the mortgage and title, you'll own the house if something were to happen to him. But you'll be responsible for paying the mortgage, and you have no job. Does he have life insurance? Are you the listed beneficiary? Does he have retirement account(s)? Are you the listed beneficiary? Does he have other nest eggs or savings accounts? Are you a joint account holder with full survivor benefits? Because if not and he doesn't have a will stating otherwise, his parents and his child are next of kin -but not you- on all that stuff.

Please make it clear to him that you are in a very precarious position, and as you say, "life happens." You may both be young and healthy and doing well financially, but you never know when life will start happening. He could get hit by a car tomorrow.
posted by misskaz at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]

The whole situation described here sounds so deeply strange and non-intuitive that I'm wondering if you're not adding some crucial bit of context. I can't imagine being in a committed partnership for four years and having a child with another person and being okay with them having terrible health insurance. Did you have bad health insurance while you were pregnant? People have mentioned this above but in the US, the quality of one's health insurance can very easily mean the difference between life and death. No one remains ignorant about this for long. Medical expenses are the most common cause of bankruptcy. How is your partner okay with the mother of his child being this vulnerable? I know a lot of people are attributing it to ignorance but I just can't imagine being in a relationship with someone for four years and going through a pregnancy with them and having this much indifference to their health and well-being. Ignorance just doesn't seem like an excuse.
posted by armadillo1224 at 9:45 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

So, imagine this. Your seatbelt breaks, but your boyfriend won't get it fixed because he wants to buy a fancy new car soon anyway. He just doesn't have the cash right now. So you ride around without a seatbelt for months, years. You're nervous but he reassures you that he's a good driver and would never hurt you. Oh and also he wants to go on a 9-month road trip with you ASAP so you're saving up for that, so money's too tight to fix the seatbelt.

Sound ridiculous? It should.

He either doesn't understand how extremely dangerous this situation is for you or doesn't care. Let's pretend it's definitely the first one, since he certainly won't admit to it if it's the second.

You can, and should, try to convince him that you need to fix your dangerous situation immediately. But if you can't convince him, for whatever reason, even if he is amazing and will never hurt you, you still have to put your safety first. You cannot ride without a seatbelt anymore.

At bare minimum, you absolutely cannot consider getting pregnant without protecting yourself. You also need to seriously make a concrete plan for what you would do to support yourself and your child if he suddenly dies, leaves you, is disabled, flees the country, etc. Right now you're providing free nanny care instead of starting your career. That's great if you are compensated with things like legal protection and part of his assets if you break up (which I'm sure you don't want to think about, but this is not "gold digging" - it's fair compensation you have earned by caring for your child instead of earning money elsewhere). It's not so great if he has the power to ditch you in 3 years after he doesn't need the childcare anymore, and you're left destitute and with no job experience or connections.

Even if he never does that, do you really want the power imbalance of always knowing he can completely, utterly screw you over at any moment, for any reason? Do you really want to have that on your mind during every major fight you have?
posted by randomnity at 10:00 AM on July 20, 2017 [18 favorites]

Wait, he can afford two homes but not one wedding? Not a criticism, it just doesn't add up and seems like an excuse.
posted by kapers at 10:18 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

Possibly, he's a super responsible executive guy

A merely responsible executive guy would already be paying for equal health insurance, made her the beneficiary in his will/life insurance, put half his assets in her name (including the house), made her his health care power of the very least. That is simple, basic, "I was not actually raised by wolves in a makeshift meth lab" level adulting.

A super responsible executive guy would have recognized the facts of the situation and married her at the courthouse already, whatever parties might be in the future.
posted by praemunire at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

OP, I hope you will update us. As you can see your question has horrified everyone here, and we're all rooting for you to get this taken care of.

You can do this! It'll be ok. Put the machinery into motion today - figure out where your county records office is, the hours, what judges are going to be available tomorrow to get it done, etc. Then if you haven't done it already, explain things to him tonight when he gets home.

The seatbelt analogy someone made above is spot-on.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

> I don't understand why you aren't already on his insurance if his job is so great?

His employer may not offer the option of adding the OP since they are not married. Many companies do not offer domestic partner benefits.

> SO is not selfish with money, there is no my money/your money mentality within the household.

So how about you check out what a decent health insurance plan - one with a reasonable deductible and excellent maternity coverage, for example - would cost and then tell him that this is something that money has to go towards, ASAP. I kind of don't understand why you guys haven't done this already.
posted by rtha at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2017 [13 favorites]

I just want to emphasize what windykites said about common law marriage just in case you missed it. It's a long shot, because only a handful of US states recognize them, but if you do live in one of those states (or have lived in one for long enough to establish a common law marriage), you can be actually married without a ceremony or the court paperwork. And I can tell you first hand that, even though I am common law married and have been for a long time, when people find out that we didn't get married by the courts, they start asking when we plan to. We never plan to do that, because we're already married and we don't want to do that, but a lot of people seem to see a formal court and/or church wedding as a discrete thing from a legally recognized common law marriage. So on the off chance that you guys might qualify for that sort of recognition, maybe that would be a reasonable compromise for him. Common law married now, formal law married later.

If not, though, he needs to suck it up and recognize what a dangerous situation he's putting you in. I can kind of understand how someone might be dismissive of the horror stories about America's lack of social safety nets if they haven't experienced them, but he needs to realize that his clinging to this dream of some fairy tale wedding at some point in the future is putting you, and by extension your child, at serious personal risk. You can literally die from bad health insurance in this country, and that's not going to be improving any time soon.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:38 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I personally find the "let's get married now because we love each other and want legal support even without a wedding" to be the MOST romantic type of wedding. I mean think of the day same-sex marriage became legal and everyone who LEFT WORK in t shirts and jeans to get married.

So I'm sorry, "but I want a fancy wedding, it's more romantic!!!" is NO excuse to not take care of YOU and YOUR CHILD.

I am married. I am disabled by chronic illness and on my husband's insurance. If for some reason I was not able to be on his insurance, there wouldn't even BE a conversation about getting me insurance. We would just do it. In fact I got the final say on our insurance plan because I'm the one with the health issues. The same way you're the one who will carry the baby.

We also decided to get married when we did because we were moving states. It was already enough of a benefit logistically to have the same last name and a marriage license just to open new joint bank accounts and sign a lease and buy a car.

Something is very, very off here. I would be much less worried if he were taking care of you in some way and/or you had your own job and income. But you don't. Hell, if one of you is hospitalized - as pointed out above - you aren't next of kin to make decisions or get information if they're unable to grant it for you.

And if for some crazy (seriously crazy) reason he absolutely cannot get married without a huge wedding, then he should be moving heaven and earth to do so. I mean it literally takes a few minutes to sign a marriage license and see a judge, and he's not willing to do that for your safety and protection??

I honestly don't understand that you can't save for a wedding but he's willing (if I interpret properly) to spend THOUSANDS of dollars MORE out of pocket just for fertility treatments than to sign a piece of paper and get you on his insurance? Not to mention delivery, even a perfect one?

How is THAT financially responsible?

(And I just had surgery that would have been over $40K before insurance.)

Count me in as worried about you. Please get to a safe situation with yourself and your child.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:59 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the perspectives and input everyone. It was a lot to take in and a few different points really got my gears turning enough to have the sit down this morning to talk it through with my SO. We are still smoothing out the details but covered some important ground.

He was just as freaked out as I was when I mentioned that the power imbalance is so much in his favor right now and I really hope his isn't using that as leverage by casting a marriage to him as some sort of prize that I must continue on the hamster-wheel to earn. I am confident that is not the case and it was nice to be reassured. He did reiterate the wedding/marriage/ceremony all goes hand in hand and that that is very important to him. He sees having a civil ceremony any stretch of time before the "event" just as a legal formality as, frankly, non-negotiable. I told him I need dates and he said the summer of 2019. I told him that's unacceptable and he asked if next summer is a fair compromise. He asked for us to work through any area where I feel that I am disadvantaged in the meantime, so that we could fix each concern to cover our bases.

We easily agreed that I need better healthcare coverage. He admitted that he wasn't aware of the limitations of my current plan and that we will fix that asap. In lieu of the civil ceremony he suggested we meet with an attorney where we could outline his will and life/disability insurance policy to reassure me that in any event, I would have financial protection. The property that we currently have is jointly owned and we've always had the understanding that any other properties/assets we procure would also be in both our names. He reassured me that if I desire to go back to work, school, or network for any reason he would fully support that. We covered that I am not his baby making machine and that it means a lot to him there's a more even playing field with the power dynamic.

Also want to clear up:
- He does not have a prior marriage, green card motivated or otherwise. Quite privy to his application process and subsequent permanent resident status and I'm confident.
- I'm very well acquainted with his family and in fact may be closer to them than my own.
- We share many mutual friends between his colleagues and their wives. They're lovely and I'm 100% sure they whisper about how weird it is that my guy and I are shacked up.
- The big flashy wedding is definitely more of a family quirk and not necessarily cultural. Sorry for not being more clear.
- I really think that on my SO's part he is viewing, as widdershins pointed out, marriage with a capital M and that it has a ton of sentimental and emotional weight to him. At this point, I do believe that his desires to be precious about this wedding certainly shouldn't trump the legal and financial implications of our family. I am doing my best to make sure he understands the consequences of the delay even if we put the extra measures in place in the meantime. I'm going to meet with a family attorney on my own to spell out legal parameters within our state for my own peace of mind. SO is really making an effort to be more compassionate and informed. It's a place to start and I feel a hell of a lot more competent navigating this with all of the the thoughtful considerations (and criticisms!) of you all. Tusen tukk!
posted by dea at 12:05 PM on July 20, 2017 [21 favorites]

Welp, I still don't love it, although I guess it's better than where you were. I'm very glad you're going to see an attorney and that overall it sounds like he really does want to be in a family with you, and maybe in another day or two - or once you've met with the lawyer and he sees how much simpler it would be to just get the paper - you can get this over the finish line in timely fashion.

Here's another suggestion: civil marriage by American judge now. Wedding with whatever authority he likes in his home country next summer?

By the way I do understand the "wanting to have a big family wedding" thing. I did! But I am also going to tell you that they do not have to be fancy. Mine was not. I compromised on every detail of elegance in order to be able to afford to invite everyone I wanted (and every rando my husband managed to dig up from God knows where! He was inviting people I'd never heard of. Anyway.) It was a lot of fun. What I'm saying is that he could call his mother tonight and tell her to organize it for next month, just get everyone together somewhere that will hold them, and order some catering and a nice cake, and that would be fine too.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:16 PM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

- I really think that on my SO's part he is viewing, as widdershins pointed out, marriage with a capital M and that it has a ton of sentimental and emotional weight to him.

That's a really nice way of saying that he actually isn't committed to marrying you yet.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:22 PM on July 20, 2017 [45 favorites]

This article lists eleven kinds of legal documents, including durable power of attorney and others. You should also look into medical power of attorney, and other documents. There are books and articles on [legal protections for unmarried couples] that bear looking at.

One other question: are you engaged?
posted by amtho at 12:25 PM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]

In lieu of the civil ceremony he suggested we meet with an attorney where we could outline his will and life/disability insurance policy to reassure me that in any event, I would have financial protection.

I'm going to meet with a family attorney on my own to spell out legal parameters within our state for my own peace of mind.

Good good good! Hopefully you guys are able to do this sooner rather than later, and you get the protection you need.

Based on what you've written it does sound like this guy is more 'terminally clueless and stubborn on this issue' than 'actively intending to fuck you over.' But I hope this conversation, and whatever conversations you wind up having with lawyers, will make him take this more seriously. Because it's serious.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:39 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

We covered that I am not his baby making machine and that it means a lot to him there's a more even playing field with the power dynamic.

Oh man. Something really isn't right here. Let me ask you something. If this guy wanted to separate tomorrow, are you sure your life would be fine? In 5 years? In 10 years? I know a woman who was in your position and finally separated from her partner. They were in love for many years and thought it would be great forever. Over time, that changed and she finally left. He kept all of the money, not because he wasn't in love with her but because a) he genuinely believed it was his, as she had had the luxury of staying home to raise kids, and b) he was using it as leverage to get her back. To him this was both rational and loving and not malicious. They have argued about it but despite not seeing himself as willing to harm her, she now lives without medical care or an income. Her life is fucked.

You're supposedly in a stable situation right now, but only because your partner says so. This is the ultimate trust exercise. You believe that if you fall back in his arms, he will catch you every time. Sure it is great that you're willing, but is it romantic that he is making you?
posted by benadryl at 1:08 PM on July 20, 2017 [11 favorites]

That's a really nice way of saying that he actually isn't committed to marrying you yet.

Which may or may not be true, and by Scandinavian standards, completely OK. Just because you have a child with someone, it doesn't mean that you're committing to be with someone forever - it means you're committing to taking care of the child and co-parenting forever. In Norway, the idea of getting married just because you're pregnant is considered... kind of unenlightened. It's a bit like the idea of getting married very young is in most of the US now - considered a bit backwards and hasty and possibly a bad decision.

A lot of people here want the OP and SO to get married for financial and security reasons, and I totally get that, because that's the custom in much of the US (and for really valid reasons within this culture). What I'm saying is that in Scandinavia, the state provides the social safety net, not the institution of marriage. (It's an interesting thought exercise to wonder what the marriage and divorce rate in the US would be if that were the case here.) It's no wonder that all of this is freaking SO out a bit, because he hasn't had to consider marriage for these reasons before, and probably figured he had more time to make what is clearly an incredibly important decision to him.

dea, it sounds like you had a really productive conversation and I'm so pleased that it sounds like he took you and your concerns seriously - seriously enough to start talking about wedding dates with you. You will absolutely work this out. Gratulerer og lykke til!
posted by widdershins at 1:21 PM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

He did reiterate the wedding/marriage/ceremony all goes hand in hand and that that is very important to him. He sees having a civil ceremony any stretch of time before the "event" just as a legal formality as, frankly, non-negotiable.

Not the thread sit, but you guys can't break up at this point without you taking a huge financial and practical hit, especially if another child is on the table. If he broke up with you, he would be fine, other than the emotional repercussions. It is easy to forget this because he is providing for your family right now. I bet part of you would feel like a shitty ungrateful partner for insisting the opposite could some day be true. I urge you to ignore that part. Not an expert on marriage over here, and obviously it is impossible to force someone who doesn't want to get married to do so. But, be aware that you are entering a risky situation that many people have entered into and which has caused them long term grief - even despite many positive years of happiness and contentment at first. If I were personally in this situation, I would pay for a nanny and return to work part time at least. Or enroll in graduate school. None of those things are marriage and it sounds like he is ok with them and they would give you a good safety net.
posted by benadryl at 1:50 PM on July 20, 2017 [8 favorites]

With the medical and legal protections, I think you have covered your bases about as well as possible...and then his hesitation over a date, especially at his age, is kind of a personal issue more than a red-light-emergency issue.

I think it speaks well of him that you're on the house.

Personally, I would consider waiting to add to your family until you've resolved the wedding issue - you are really young and there is lots of time.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:02 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Background storybits: I lived with ExDude for about six years. We had a kid. We had vague plans of getting married someday, but didn't. We had some differences, and separated - I lived with New Sweetie, and Kidlet went back and forth between us. (We lived a few miles apart; Kidlet was with me most days while ExDude was at work; New Sweetie and I had a crafting business and I could be at home with Kidlet without disrupting that.) (Kidlet was under 2.)

About six months later, ExDude died of a tonsillectomy gone wrong. Kidlet got to sue; I didn't, because we weren't married. Kidlet got social security survivor's benefits until K was 18; I got nothing - and Kidlet couldn't collect anything from the lawsuit until that 18th birthday. K now gets regular payments from the resulting lawsuit; I don't. Some of those years in between were really, really tight for money.

If your spouse dies, you become a single parent with no support system. Your kid(s) may be eligible for various benefits - most of which will be held in trust until they're 18; you won't have the ability to claim them sooner to help you during their childhood.

After New Sweetie and I had a child (on Medi-Cal, because we were too broke for any kind of health insurance), we got married. We're at 17 years and counting, but we damn well didn't get the paperwork done because we were "in love," but because the US legal system is different for married couples.

Advice: Please slam it through your partner's head that if anything happens to him, you and his child(ren) are likely to be destitute for years. If he truly wants to commit to you for life, NOW is the time to get married, not at some nebulous point in the future when "the time is right." There is already a child in the picture; the time was right many months ago.

The purpose of a marriage is to create a family, and to provide the legal and social protections that families get. The party is entirely secondary.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]

It's not that his feelings aren't valid, it's just that the feet-dragging is really self-indulgent given the state of affairs in the US (and truly detrimental to the family he's made here). If you were living in Scandinavia, with its lovely, capacious social safety net, you wouldn't have needed to post this question. And it doesn't look like you're emigrating. (Moreover, if he ever heads back for business or family-of-origin concerns or what-have-you, a marriage certificate would make keeping your family together easier, too.)

You need to do the best you can, where you are, right now, for your son and yourself. I'm glad and relieved you're seeing an attorney. Thanks for your clarifications and updates, dea. Best wishes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:55 PM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]

I'm not American, but I live here and am adult enough to understand that it is a different place to where I'm from. If dude wants to be all Scandinavian zen about marriage he should a)move to Scandinavia and b) grow a spine and tell his partner that he isn't sure he wants to marry her, not make excuses about wanting the right colored phase of the moon for the ceremony. And since he's never thought about the obstacles his kid would face if anything went wrong and *is not jumping to fix them once pointed out* it's clear that he's done a shitty job of committing to take care of it forever, so he's not even living up to his "culturally Scandinavian values" well. .
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:03 PM on July 20, 2017 [24 favorites]

As a married person I can tell you that signing the paperwork only has as much meaning as you assign to it emotionally. I literally don't see how it's different than signing other wills/insurance/financial documents.

You're already living as married without the legal protections.

Relationships don't magically change the second you get married or sign the paperwork. It's still just the both of you and your kid sorting your way through life.

You can still have a big party any time you want. No one has to know you're married.
posted by Crystalinne at 5:45 PM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

Not sure if you're still reading this, and I agree with the general consensus... your man is being a selfish ass. You deserve better than what you're getting from him.

Also? I would print out the list of benefits marriage gives a couple in the US, and go over it with him point by point, preferably in front of the attorney. Perhaps understanding just how deeply he's screwing you over will get him to stop behaving like an idiot.
posted by Tamanna at 4:45 AM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

It seems to me like he needs to be more acclimatized to the society he's living in. Marriage can be a "capital M" thing for people, but when you live in America and have kids and one partner's foregoing work to take care of them, this focus on the symbolism of marriage is ludicrous---in a way it wouldn't be in a Scandinavian country with social welfare and a safety net.
posted by benbenson at 11:15 AM on July 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Your desire to be married to the father of your child is just as valid as his desire to wait for some undetermined time. I would say it's more valid because you have some serious practical and logistical reasons for getting married, in addition to the emotional ones. It's bothering me that both of you are making his emotional response more important than yours.
posted by apricot at 5:19 PM on July 21, 2017 [8 favorites]

I wonder if a lot of people missed your update. I think you guys had an amazing conversation and are well on your way towards a solution that is the really respectful of both people's needs (wedding next summer, lawyer, life insurance and health insurance asap). I'm also guessing that this has lit a fire under you and you will put the necessary energy into making sure that all of these happen. (It does take work and you might want to consider what part is yours and where you want to make sure that he is doing his part to help make this happen.)

One last suggestion: some time between now and next summer you might want to do a couples counseling weekend to work on your communication and connection. I'm not saying you guys are in trouble and need couples counseling but rather some are some good weekend programs that help you deepen up your connection and improve your skills.
posted by metahawk at 10:32 PM on July 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

health insurance asap

With no qualifying life event such as marriage, "ASAP" means next January.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:05 PM on July 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

That's a good point; open enrollment (for coverage in 2018) begins November 15. However, your state may have exceptions depending on qualifying life events (beyond marriage), so you should check to see if you qualify earlier.
posted by rtha at 9:08 AM on July 24, 2017

Open enrollment for ACA healthcare insurance coverage starts soon (November 1, 2017), are you ready? It closes in early December and coverage starts after the new year.
posted by amanda at 1:42 PM on October 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

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