How shall I pay my partner????
November 3, 2022 7:02 AM   Subscribe

For 2 years, I have been living with my partner/best friend/lover/partner/confidant/supporter who makes life better for me/my son/my mom every day. He is a foreigner who has permission to stay in US, but not to work. We deeply love each other but are struggling to overcome deep disparities in retirement savings and income (we are both 50) as we confront the desire/imperative to marry. Is there an equation that could help us?

Warning- wall of text ahead, I feel incredibly stuck/exhausted/saddened/scared of not being able to find a viable path forward. I'm hoping to hear advice from anyone who has faced income/retirement savings disparity in their partnership/relationship.

Two sticking points are a) communication issues/ often linked to approach to parenting (we are in counseling and working on these) and
b) retirement and income disparity.

I want us to devise a calculation that would allow us to acknowledge the market value of his skills (if he were working), the market value of what he's providing to me and my family (ie we would have to hire more childcare etc...

apologies in advance- I have tried to shorten this but don't know what is relevant detail and what is not anymore. I am in counseling (on my own) and my partner and I see a couples counselor- but this issue below does not seem to be something we can address with counselors and need to rather get to brass tacks.

We are both 50 years old. We alternate residing in the US and outside the US (I can work remotely) to stay current with my partners visa/residence restrictions. Its been ok for 2 years, but its not sustainable.

I own a home, have little debt and a steady/well paying job that allows me to pay for health/life insurance for all of us (partner included). I have a young son, and my mom who increasingly needs help, and a very old house that needs TONS of maintenance. I was sole carer for my quadriplegic father for 17years, so I am concerned about unforseen health issues/cost in aging, and part of my definition of 'security' is to always have health (and likely long term care insurance) as I never want my son to be in the position that caused me such pain/hardship for nearly 2 decades. It gives me great joy to see my partner and son with such a strong relationship, and the same with my partner and mom. As a family we are wonderful together.

I have been working my entire life to save for emergency savings and for retirement. I estimate I'm about 15 years out from retiring, but with frugal living/luck in investment, maybe as little as 10. It has been _excruciating_ as a single parent and often work very long hours (10+hours/day) to keep up with a (new as of 1 year ago) job that allows me to save MUCH more than in previous years. I suffer a _lot_ from this job(stress/health) and am counting the years/mos to retirement. I think a lot about the costs to time with my son and challenges to my relationship because of this time and energy sink, but due to financial constraints, the tradeoff weighs heavily on my conscience. I would love to change jobs for something that was healthier, but any other job I could get would have less stress/work hours, but the pay would be much less than half.

My partner has only about 5k in emergency savings and has never saved for retirement. 17 years ago he took what he calls 'early retirement' (saved up money early in his career to travel the world on a shoestring budget for 15 years. His plan was to start working at age 50 and work until (?age 75-80?) and if medical issues cropped up he would move/live in a country with low medical/insurance needs such as NewZealand - he has a visa that allows this). He has not worked in US to qualify for US social security, and does not have pension abroad. He has estimated that living frugally he could live off of 10-20k/year in NZ, so he calculated he needed about 600k to feel he had his retirement covered.

Meanwhile, right before covid my partner was in the process of earning certifications which would allow him to work with flexibility, abroad for 6 weeks on/6 weeks off, with all living expenses paid, and he'd be able to spend 10-15k/year on entertainment/subsistence costs but still save about 50k/year towards retirement. When we started dating/moved in together 2 years ago he abandoned this path because he didn't want to be away so long. He can restart this certification process starting next month, provided I pay for the coursework (as he has no savings). If we got married, and he didn't finish his certification, he could work but for about 1/4 of the hourly rate I currently receive. He says that wouldn't make financial sense, I say I can't bear the burden of providing for the whole household for the full future.

I am at a crossroads, because after many discussions, due to the above issues, I am still not ready to get married. We know that we can only keep up this 'rotation' in/out of the US so long.

We want to come to an arrangement that accounts for all the help my partner gives, and has given these past two years, to me/my mom/my son. We know that just 'not counting' anything (the whats yours is mine/whats mine is yours approach) does not work for us, because I work so many more hours, and such a higher intensity, and have done so for so many years prior to this. I (having tried for 2 years now, including with a counselors help) to let go of resentment....I have not been able to do so. First, because I don't feel able to take on the emotional or financial burden of being the main provider for my partners retirement... I believe US law says that if we married and ever split up, I'd still be responsible for any debts he could create in the US within 10 years of the marriage date.

Also, I still come home to a house that hasn't been cleaned, and dinner isn't made, and there are many roles that as a recently single parent my young son still relies on me exclusively (that is slowly changing over time), and we have what are I think typical discussions about disparity in emotional labor (we are making some progress on that). I struggle with the concept of me working 10-12 hours/day and my partner having all the time with my son (both fun and difficult moments)... I get done with work and am so exhausted I'm barely able to hold a conversation much less read a book to my son.

Division of labor is an issue I hope we can work through, step by step. But it is clear that we hold different work ethics. We are simply different people in this respect. It absolutely does not mean I don't love him, or dont want to be with him... I simply don't know how to establish clear/fair approach to finance/assets/boundaries.

Re: an equation that would allow him to 'save' and me to acknowledge his contribution, I am ok with paying for food and housing regardless. Also I know I will have to hire a housekeeper regardless because we don't share the same standards), he is very skilled with repairs and maintenance and as my mom needs more assistance he is incredibly wonderful with her and happy to do anything she could need. He also still likes to travel and have weeks of leisure which he takes and wants to continue. Its not clear who would pay for this now or in the future unless he had savings built up.

I consider myself frugal, but my partner is frugal to an extreme, regardless of whose money he's spending. We both want to live together, see ourselves with each other in the future, absolutely do not want to break up, but the tension about communication (parenting) and finances leads to many arguments. We know we have to come to terms we both can agree/live with.

My partner is my best friend. We share the same (broad) life enjoyments, sense of humor, intellectual and recreational interests. my partner is INCREDIBLY wonderful with my son and LOVES homeschooling (son is in school, but def loves enrichment to stay challenged), if we can just work through this financial piece in the near term to allow us to reduce immediate tensions (resentment/sense of sacrificing for the other on unfair/ambiguous terms), then we could focus explicitly on our communication differences and work to a point that we could marry and resolve the visa issue.

I know this all seems cart before the horse, but the visa issues and the way things have come about have led us to this. As I said, I have tried to just suck it up and 'not care' that he has no retirement/has a different work ethic, and I just cannot.

I am looking for equations that have worked for any of you when income disparity, work opportunity, retirement savings and other considerations have made it impossible to just simply be a 2 income household.

Also, if I'm missing major considerations, or have a skewed look on things, I would dearly appreciate the additional perspective & insight. You are not my tax lawyer :), I am well aware that if I were to transfer funds to my partner, above a certain amount there would be tax liability and likely violate visa too - but those points are outside the scope here, as I'm looking for a conceptual solution to start working with first.

Thanks in advance
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I suspect that if you added up the hours your partner actually did things - fixed things, offered concrete assistance to your mother, offered basic high-school-babysitter-level childcare - and calculated the market rate for those things, it would not be a living wage for your partner. It would probably not even come close to covering food and housing at a market rate. This might be a useful exercise! It might make it clear to your partner that if he wants to be a partner, he needs to contribute more in cash or in kind, since it is very clear you do not want an expensive pet.

I'm glad he's a good partner on the emotional front and you like him, but that is the ground-level bar for a romantic partner. That's just a reason to see him at all. If he wants you to subsidize his entire life, including leisure and travel, he needs to bring more to the table, because you don't have the free cash to do that. This is entirely separate from visa concerns, which are a whole tangle of legal and financial issues, but even if they were not a part of this at all, he's not doing what I would consider to be the bare minimum for someone I lived with, let alone someone who wanted me to pay for his vacations.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:14 AM on November 3, 2022 [46 favorites]

if we can just work through this financial piece in the near term to allow us to reduce immediate tensions (resentment/sense of sacrificing for the other on unfair/ambiguous terms), then we could focus explicitly on our communication differences and work to a point that we could marry and resolve the visa issue.

Okay - this is backwards.

If you have deep differences that are preventing you from marrying, then he should return to his home country, and you visit when you can.

That's not because I think you have to be married to provide him with money but because...what you're really saying is "we're not partners," and if you're not partners then he is correct, he needs to go where he can resume his career and be an independent adult. And bluntly...if two years into a relationship where you have both put in this kind of time and there are immigration pressures, you're still not okay with marrying him...definitely don't marry him.

The exception would be, if he's your nanny, pay ("gift") him an au pair or nanny rate. However, be aware that you may be setting up a liability for yourself tax and employment law-wise, since the same reason he can't work legally in the US is the reason you can't hire him.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:26 AM on November 3, 2022 [19 favorites]

He's not working but also not cleaning the house or cooking? Why? I don't care if he has different standards or not, if he's not working for money he needs to do these extremely essential tasks. Maybe you and he need to reframe these things? They're not preferences, they're requirements. Love is not enough. Each partner needs to put in effort as well. I think if he did these things, it would change your relationship completely (and in my personal opinion, some boundary-setting needs to happen here; he's free to decide not to do those things, but you should be free to decide that these are non-negotiable for you and he needs to provide support for you in these ways, in order for you to continue providing support to him in other ways).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:27 AM on November 3, 2022 [43 favorites]

You have a very good friend with benefits, but not a partner. All the partner things he is just putting in your lap. That’s not going to be solved with an equation. It’s not going to be solved with you figuring out how to not resent someone for being dependent on you when he’s a full entire adult human who is just allowing you to make all the money, clean all the things and do all the cooking. I don’t know what you think he’s going to do for your mama if it’s not cooking and cleaning because that’s a hell of a lot of elder care. Sounds like he just wants all the puffy things without doing the Adult things.

I don’t think you can entangle finances without feeling taken advantage of.
posted by Bottlecap at 7:57 AM on November 3, 2022 [26 favorites]

I'm not trying to be unpleasant or imply that everyone needs to work constantly, but...

What the hell is he doing all day while you are working yourself to death???

Reading this question makes me so frustrated and upset for you - this is completely unreasonable. Yes, he may be a positive emotional/romantic partner but he is not a domestic partner in any sense. You have already expressed (understandable) frustration at being put in a position where you end up as caretaker for both of your parents but then you turn around and basically want to enable your romantic partner to basically live responsibility free. This will result in you taking care of him as well as yourself and son. By the time this is all said and done, you'll basically have done elder care for 4(!) people, including yourself, and he'll have done.... what exactly?

I'm sure he is a wonderful person. I'm sure brings you a lot of happiness. But regardless of how much he could earn, he is earning 0. I know he could be more helpful at home and with your mother, but he isn't. He is contributing less than you to the household both in finances and labor. If you feel like the emotional value he brings to your life is worth you carrying the family, that's fine, but that's what will be happening. If you create an equation to somehow "pay" him, he'll then work for you. That's not a dynamic that will be healthy IMO. You're even talking about working harder to spend more money to accommodate his lack of effort (housecleaning) - why isn't him just compromising and meeting you in the middle not an option??

The fact that he is talking about wanting to have weeks of leisure and travel - yeah, obviously we would all prefer to do that. Why would he feel like it is reasonable and justified when you aren't working and aren't earning any money to have someone else subsidize your travel? This, to me, indicates vast immaturity. Honestly, I don't know how he can watch you work yourself to death and then expect you to do more to give him the ability to do what he wants - he should be the one in the trenches with you making it happen but instead he is sitting outside on a lounge chair drinking a mai tai.

You deserve better than this. There is not an equation that will solve the fact that you and him have completely different lifestyle aspirations and long-term goals. There is not a system that will make this feel fair to you with his current level of effort. Sometimes we meet people in life that serve a role we need, but ultimately are not the well-rounded partner it takes for a happy marriage. Unless he changes some of the things he is doing, these feelings won't go away. You paying him or taking him on as a full dependent or anything in between will just result in resentment down the road. Please consider the fact that he may be an excellent emotional/romantic companion but he isn't someone you can marry and keep your sanity or financial security.

You seem like an amazing, caring, wonderful person and I don't want you to feel like standing up for yourself and all your hard work is a bad thing. You work hard. You do a lot. IMO, you are being taken advantage of. You deserve a high quality of life based on how much work you are putting in. There isn't something financial you can change to cancel that out.

Please please please please take all of these responses to heart - I hope you can find a way to get through this that will result in you feeling happy, fairly treated, and secure. You deserve it.
posted by _DB_ at 8:02 AM on November 3, 2022 [31 favorites]

I'm a little confused that you want to work out a way to pay him for what he does, but it doesn't sound like he really does much? Surely you giving him money as well as you doing most of the housework and being the only one who goes out to work, and paying for a housekeeper because he never cleans, will make you more resentful, not less? (Which is setting aside the point, well made above, that you shouldn't have to pay your partner for doing their share of work to keep your family unit thriving).

The thing that leaps out at me here, is that he needs to get that certification that will give him decent earning power. If you have to pay for it, maybe you can do it as a loan that he'll pay back to you once he's earning enough to save 50K a year. Being abroad for 6 weeks at a time might not be ideal, but it's better than breaking up permanently because your effort and income disparity is tearing you apart.
posted by penguin pie at 8:14 AM on November 3, 2022 [20 favorites]

What if you marry him to get him a green card/work visa and he gets a full time job? Is this an option? Aside from that I think you are right not to marry this man under your current circumstances.. I don't think you should "pay" him.
posted by emd3737 at 8:15 AM on November 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

I will be blunt: You would be insane to risk everything you've worked for by marrying now, especially to someone who is so manifestly irresponsible. The idea of waiting until you're 50 to start saving the $600K you need for retirement is bizarre and totally unrealistic, as I'm sure you must know.

He may be wonderful but that doesn't mean you need to commingle your finances. He can run up debt that you'll be responsible for, if only by having a medical emergency. As you age, he can need nursing home care and the state can put a lien on your home for the cost of his care. And frankly, as he ages he is going to become less and less of a practical help to you. That's just a biological fact.

Even if he had real assets of his own, it would be risky to marry, but I just don't see any upside here. I know what a hard situation you're in--it's hard enough to find someone you're compatible with, especially when you have a kid and elder care needs and are getting older yourself, but I really think this is just going to cause you totally foreseeable financial problems that you will then be too old to recover from.

(As a side note, I think people, including me, would probably be a lot less harsh if the genders were reversed. Stay-at-home moms who are also providing elder care often have trouble keeping the house clean and getting dinner on the table and we're understanding of that. But that doesn't change the brutal financial reality you're facing if you marry now.)
posted by HotToddy at 8:17 AM on November 3, 2022 [18 favorites]

So just to tot this up, here are the costs that you are bearing on his behalf:

> I still come home to a house that hasn't been cleaned, and dinner isn't made [IN OTHER WORDS, YOU ARE COOKING AND CLEANING FOR HIM], ... and we have what are I think typical discussions about disparity in emotional labor [I.E. YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF HIS EMOTIONAL AND RELATIONAL NECESSITIES IN ADDITION TO YOUR OWN] ... I am ok with paying for food and housing regardless. Also I know I will have to hire a housekeeper regardless ... He also still likes to travel and have weeks of leisure which he takes and wants to continue. Its not clear who would pay for this now or in the future unless he had savings built up.

You are cooking for him, cleaning for him, doing all his emotional labor as well as your own with little contribution from him, paying for his housing, paying for a housekeeper to take care of his share of household chores in addition to your own, and you are also going to pay for his weeks of leisure and travel. (You are lying to yourself in that last sentence there: allow me to point out that it is perfectly clear that you will pay for all his travel and leisure now and in the future, because he has no savings built up.)

Now let's look at what he contributes:

> there are many roles that as a recently single parent my young son still relies on me exclusively [I.E. HE IS NOT PROVIDING MUCH CHILDCARE] ... he is very skilled with repairs and maintenance [I.E. HE IS CAPABLE OF CONTRIBUTING, BUT HE ISN'T ACTUALLY DOING IT] and as my mom needs more assistance he is incredibly wonderful with her and happy to do anything she could need. [I.E. HE *SAYS* HE'S HAPPY TO PROVIDE SOME VAGUE AND UNDEFINED EXTRA ASSISTANCE BUT HE HASN'T ACTUALLY DONE ANYTHING YET]

Am I reading you wrong here? His contributions so far are just air, right? If he had actually built you a deck or fixed your dishwasher or rehung your doors or whatever, you would have said so. Instead you only say that he *could* do this work, if the need arose and if he was not on vacation at the time. Similarly, your description of what he does for your mom is also phenomenally vague. You could have said he drives your mother to all her appointments and hobby groups, or that he provides physical care for her, etc. But you didn't. You just essentially said he has good social skills when he talks to her.

Tot it up, OP. What exactly does this man actually contribute in terms of labor? Add up the actual market worth of whatever he is concretely doing right now. Then subtract all of the costs you are paying on his behalf. This is the equation you have been looking for.

An equation that allows him to save money and fund his own lifestyle involves him getting a real job and earning his own money. If he expects you to just hand over this money to him, he's looking for a sugar momma. From what you have described you aren't rich enough to be one, nor are you looking for a sugar baby.
posted by MiraK at 8:29 AM on November 3, 2022 [29 favorites]

this is rough.

1. paying him doesn't make sense; you can't afford it anyway, and he doesn't actually do much. The stuff he does for your mom and your son is nice but it sounds like the only contribution he's making to the household, while (did I understand this right) living in your home rent free?

2. marrying him doesn't make sense because of the potential financial liability to you and your son. You correctly don't trust him to not run up a debt or divorce you and get alimony, etc.

3. he can't work in your country (I'm curious what he was doing there when you met him, but that's not material I guess.) Has he applied for the necessary permits/visas/green cards whatever?

And yet he needs to get to real, paying work.

Could he go wherever he has work privileges, get a job that allows him to work remote, and then come back, doing whatever vpn magic necessary to mask his location?
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:33 AM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

he could work but for about 1/4 of the hourly rate I currently receive. He says that wouldn't make financial sense

This guy has found reasons, somehow, to avoid working for most of his adult life, so I guess it's no surprise that "it doesn't make financial sense to work" (???????) makes sense to him.

Beyond the simple fact that pay >>> no pay, work is a way to pay in to social security, to secure health care, to put away money that takes years to grow (the magic of compounding interest, which can't be made-up for later), to acquire an earnings history that will justify later pay, and to signal to everyone (family, future bosses, etc) that you do work, that you contribute to society.

This is why families with children opt for both parents to work even if it's a net day-to-day wash with child care costs and "doesn't make financial sense". When kid is 5, a parent with a work history is hire-able. A parent who has not worked in 5 years is not. (as you know, this is most often applied to women). A parent who has worked for 5 years has 5 years of healthcare and earnings history.

Yes, we all could be earning $500/hr, and it just doesn't make sense somehow to work unless we're getting that, but ... most of us do anyway.

There are always free spirits who approach (van-)life by calculating the very minimum they need to survive. It's appealing to think of yourself as so unencumbered, so free, so in control of your own destiny. But somehow those idealized lives never do entail committing or contributing to others' lives, either financially or emotionally. I think this is the fundamental thing your "partner" needs to confront and address: what it means to partner. Until he does, there's no amount of accounting that you can do to compensate for it.
posted by Dashy at 8:45 AM on November 3, 2022 [38 favorites]

>For 2 years, I have been living with my partner/best friend/lover/partner/confidant/supporter

>17 years ago he took what he calls 'early retirement' (saved up money early in his career to travel the world on a shoestring budget for 15 years.

So this man is 50 years old and hasn't worked since he was 33 years old. Doing the math, it seems that you met him at the end of his "early retirement" (*cough*) when he was out of money and needed to find someone who will not only financially support him but also cook and clean for him, be emotionally available to him, and subsidize his regular weeks of travel and leisure. This guy has it made, riding on your back, and all he has to do is be a part-time babysitter to your kid and nice to your mom. You are being grossly taken advantage of and there is nothing that you alone can do to "fix" this. You are frustrated for very good reasons. Listen to the part of your psyche that is screaming at you that this is not a fair or equitable relationship.

The center of your relationship with this person is not a deep emotional connection or respect for each other, it's your paycheck. Take that away and the relationship will absolutely fail. You must know this, and he has said as much by trying to discourage the completion of the certification program that he was working towards by somehow convincing you that you would have to pay for it, which you wouldn't, and shouldn't, do. He can use his precious savings (you said that he has $5k for emergencies. Not being able to work to afford basic necessities is an emergency) to ensure his employability. He needs to grow up and become responsible for himself before he can consider himself an actual partner in any relationship.

I am angry on your behalf that he has convinced you that you need to do more, provide more, and work harder so that he can continue to maintain his parasitic lifestyle. Please look after yourself, your son, and your mother above all else and don't sacrifice your financial future to this guy. He will take everything from you.
posted by mezzanayne at 9:05 AM on November 3, 2022 [76 favorites]

Sorry to come back for a second go-around, but this keeps going around in my head and I feel like I must have misunderstood because it's so out there...

Is it really the case that you're paying for everything for him, including housing and food, and work that guarantees his medical insurance, just because he prefers not to work? Even though this puts you under great stress because of the amount of time you have to work to do all this? And that somehow you're considering giving him even more money because you think that will make things OK? That just doesn't make sense.

There's a point at which frugality tips into taking advantage of others, and another point at which taking advantage of others tips into outright financial abuse, and your description of things certainly doesn't sounds like just frugality.
posted by penguin pie at 9:16 AM on November 3, 2022 [18 favorites]

A retirement plan that has someone working until average life expectancy (us) is not a retirement plan.
It is okay to have financial differences about money. With that knowledge it is understandable not to marry, or come up with some sort of arrangement that you feel comfortable with.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:17 AM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

You sounds like a wonderful person with a great head on your shoulders. Your primary concern is to protect your son. Please keep working toward that end goal. I'm glad you found someone that you enjoy spending time with, but please don't legally enmesh yourself with him. Trust your gut here. It's telling you that you shouldn't marry this man. Nor should you pay him for anything. You are not his employer.
posted by hydra77 at 9:25 AM on November 3, 2022 [16 favorites]

He can restart this certification process starting next month, provided I pay for the coursework (as he has no savings).

Can he get a loan to do this? (From a bank, from a credit card, from friends or family members who aren't you? Even if the interest rates are high, depending on the amounts it could be worth doing.)

I'm a little less unsympathetic than some of the posters here, because I live in a country where it's normal for people to not think about retirement too much. But if he wants to live with you in the US, then he does need to understand how different the situation is there.
posted by trig at 9:34 AM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

I am looking for equations that have worked for any of you when income disparity, work opportunity, retirement savings and other considerations have made it impossible to just simply be a 2 income household.

When I was 23, I lived with a boyfriend. I had a secretarial job at a small television company; my boyfriend claimed to be "starting a desktop publishing business", but largely spent his time programming Beavis and Butthead sound effects into his computer.

The equation that worked for me was breaking up with the guy and finding a roommate who COULD contribute to building a two-income household.

If it helps to hear: my breaking up with him was the kick in the pants he needed to get himself together and go to grad school. He went on to marry his next girlfriend and they had a kid, while I went on to two other boyfriends who were FAR above and beyond better to me than that guy was. My worrying about him was what kept me there as long as I stuck with him; and that taught me that sometimes the best way you can help someone is....not help them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 AM on November 3, 2022 [19 favorites]

"Paying" a partner is...a really odd way to think about shared finances in a relationship. It's odd enough that even on its own, without any of the other issues raised in this question, it would make me think that there were some deeper-seated issues in the relationship. The way this normally works is that you make decisions as a couple about your spending.
posted by capricorn at 9:37 AM on November 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

To expand on this, I had a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood, and my parents had a set budget for expenses both individual and shared. My dad did not "pay" my mom an "income" for "her" savings. They planned to retire together, with shared savings. (And they did! Although somewhere in the middle Mom started a business.)
posted by capricorn at 9:41 AM on November 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

This man's retirement plan is to start working at 50 and work until he dies.

That plan's not viable. What if no one hires him? What if the job disappears? What if he gets injured and can't work or just gets too old and lacks the energy to work at the job?

Worse yet, it appears to be nothing more than a plan, because he's not getting the certifications/courses he'd need to put this (fairly terrible) plan into action.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:42 AM on November 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

It sounds like part of what's tripping you both up is his idea of what his life could be like -- he could live very frugally, he could find work if he lived elsewhere... But that's all moot, really. He is living where you live, with you, and incurring the expenses that come with that lifestyle. He made that choice. There are many benefits to that choice (he gets to be with you!), but there are also some consequences. He needs to start making choices that are in keeping with the reality that he has chosen to inhabit, instead of making you tie yourself in knots & work yourself to death in order to accommodate his lifestyle preferences.
posted by attentionplease at 9:48 AM on November 3, 2022 [6 favorites]

Like Penguin Pie, I, too, keep thinking about this. Because this situation is so grossly unfair to you and yet the question you came here with was how to pay the guy who is already taking so much from you.

We've heard what this guy wants (to continue to not work, spend weeks traveling) and what he's capable of doing but isn't doing (cooking and cleaning), but not what your needs or wants are other than how to get rid of your frustration about how poorly you're being treated.

Talk is cheap and so far it seems that's all this guy has done, outside of sometimes watching your kid, which isn't even the bare minimum. If he truly cared about you he would being doing all that he could to reduce your burden but he won't even cook or push a vacuum across the floor (because he has "lower standards of cleanliness" than you do. Ladies, a show of hands, who hasn't heard this tired excuse of why a deadbeat shouldn't have to pick up after themselves? "You're the one bothered by the mess, therefore it's your issue to deal with").

This certificate program that he started is a red herring. He has no intention of completing it, even if you pay for it (do not pay for it), because he has no intention on getting a job as long as he is with you. Once you started dating he dropped the program ("I just couldn't possibly spend so much time away from you because I love you so much!") because he knew that if he was employable it would be harder to excuse his unemployment and he knew that you would take him in like a stray dog and provide for his every desire, which you've now done for 2 years. The limerence has worn away and now you need to spackle to try and keep the relationship intact by giving and doing more and more while the resentment builds. Just look at your over-the-top introduction of this guy in your first sentence. You call him "partner" twice. You're trying to convince us, and yourself, that this guy is worth the turmoil that you feel over being his host for the past 2 years and he's. just. not.

Love is in actions: not just an occasional home repair or kind word to your mom, but in actually doing: providing for your partner in equal or greater measure than yourself. Where are your weeks of travel and leisure? How much earlier could you retire from your difficult, stressful job if you had a real partner, someone who was working alongside you to support your goals? You deserve so, so much better than this.
posted by mezzanayne at 10:00 AM on November 3, 2022 [19 favorites]

Oh sweetie. This guy...ugh. I am a bit older than you and raised two on my own, and what you don't see (and what I didn't see) is that people will take what you offer, whether it's good for you or not. And boy, do you offer! You are doing it all, inside and outside the home.

I promise you that your son will be ok without this guy, and the mess/deferred maintenance in your house won't be worse without this guy, and your finances won't be more stretched without this guy, and your burden won't be heavier without this guy. It will be lighter.

Just think of all the energy and therapy($) and time and thought and worry that you've put into this relationship in the past two years, and the aspects of your life that you've been too spent during the past two years to give energy and money and time and thought and worry to.

And that's with you healthy, operating at top speed. Imagine if you got sick or worse. He'd have to leave the country before long anyway, and poof, there goes the house of cards you have been working so hard to hold together - you singular, not you as a couple. You are doing all the work.

He also still likes to travel and have weeks of leisure which he takes and wants to continue. Its not clear who would pay for this now or in the future unless he had savings built up.

It is clear though.

Your life deserves more than you wearing yourself out on a hamster wheel.
posted by headnsouth at 10:19 AM on November 3, 2022 [10 favorites]

You're getting a lot of solid advice here about your specific situation that I can't improve upon. So I'm just going to answer this part of your question: I am looking for equations that have worked for any of you when income disparity, work opportunity, retirement savings and other considerations have made it impossible to just simply be a 2 income household.

My partner is seriously and permanently disabled; he will never be able to work full time again and probably not part time either, although it's something he aspires to be able to do someday and is working toward with his care team. So I am the sole earner for our family and have been for a long time. The way we've dealt with that has fluctuated over the years but here's where we've landed more or less for the past many years, and it seems unlikely to change much:

- I pay all the household bills and most of our shared costs directly
- I give him a chunk of money monthly that he uses for his own expenses - medical bills, cell phone bill, whatever fun stuff he wants for himself, sometimes clothes or sometimes he just asks me to throw a few t-shirts into my next Target order, whatever. I don't care what he spends it on and it didn't come from any specific calculation, I just looked at my budget years ago and said "hey I can afford to throw $X00 dollars per month your way easily, would that cover your stuff or do we need to figure out how to budget more?" and it was fine. When I get a raise he gets a raise, when I get a little windfall he gets a little windfall, and we've never felt the need to calculate anything more specifically than that.
- I take care of the pets (because frankly I'm a control freak about them and don't want to hand that over to him) and the laundry (because it's the chore I enjoy), and he does everything else around the house cooking and cleaning and repair-wise most of the time, as his disability allows. To some extent I feel like I live like a fifties sitcom husband - I make the money, and then meals and housecleaning just magically happen when my back is turned.
- When he's in a bad slump disability-wise, I might step in and do more, or we might mutually agree it's a great time to live in messiness and eat off paper plates for a few days or weeks during the flare-up, or we might figure out if there's something we can outsource temporarily or permanently.
- He has some retirement savings from earlier in his life when he could work, and I expect those to be helpful later in our lives, but I'm just doing my best to retirement-save for both of us. I won't retire as early as I otherwise might because of it, but that's fine with me - it's the situation we've been dealt, god knows retirement isn't guaranteed anyway, who knows what will happen to us twenty years from now, I'm just doing the best I can now for both of us.
- We're not travelling now because of the pandemic, but in past years we've both liked to travel, often separately. He typically pays for his travel out of his monthly budget, but I'm happy to chip in extra if needed. I never feel that he is asking for more than is reasonable or taking advantage of anything; if anything he's much more of a budget traveler than I am, and laughs at me when I offer to put him up in a nicer hotel or whatever.

The thing is, whatever the details, he acts like a partner to me. He shares the work of our shared life as much as he can, communicates when he can't so we can plan together to deal with the slack, vocally appreciates what I bring to the partnership, and is always open to changing how we do things and looking for ways to make our shared life better. As our situations have changed we've dealt with them as a team. If you don't fundamentally feel like your partner is an actual partner on Team Both Of You, then the financial specifics maybe don't actually matter, if the real issue is that you're not trying to solve the same problem, together, for mutual benefit.
posted by Stacey at 10:27 AM on November 3, 2022 [41 favorites]

Wait, you want to acknowledge that the fact that he "makes life better for me/my son/my mom every day", that his status as friend/confidant/supporter has a value, a value that maybe should be recognized with money somehow. But don't you also make life better for him every day, because you are *his* friend/confidant/supporter? Aren't those all mutual relationships? Why in the world should he get some sort of monetary credit for being a good person to be around, when you are also a good person to be around? His love for you and your love for him should balance each other out, not create a debt in his favor!

I'm glad that one of the things you value so much is the way he treats your son and all the time they spend together.....but that sits oddly with the reality that parenting differences are a major source of conflict and upset. He's even somehow convinced you that he's homeschooling your son when your son is, in fact, in school.

So let's take the idea that you owe him more money for being a good person/parent figure than he owes you for being a good person/parent out of the equation. If you take that out then......your resentment is not something to get rid of - it's your own sense of self worth and self love, desperately trying to tell you that it feels bad because IT IS BAD.
posted by Ausamor at 10:28 AM on November 3, 2022 [22 favorites]

He says it doesn't make "financial sense" for him to work. In what sense? Sometimes that's true for people who, for instance, have to pay for childcare that would cost more than they would earn. If he's saying it doesn't make financial sense because he wants to earn more than he's able to - that's not an issue of financial sense. That's an issue of not being willing to financially contribute to your household (and also a red flag in that he seems to be one of those guys who considers himself too good for the kinds of jobs he can get).

And if he were a decent guy who really cared about you but for some reason couldn't contribute financially, he'd be bending over backwards to make your life better and easier to make up for the fact that he can't contribute. That means you'd be coming home to a clean house and a cooked meal. Decent people do not want to take advantage of others. They do not want to be always taking and never giving. You say he's homeschooling, but your son is in school, so he's not homeschooling. He's what? Helping with homework? And he's nice to your mom? These are such small things. I'm sure you could find hundreds if not thousands of people who would be willing to do this bare minimum in exchange for having their financial needs taken care of.

I understand that you love him and care about him, and that's hard. But any unbiased outsider is going to see that this is a guy who is taking advantage of you, who is being unfair to you. People like this are really, really good at being charming to get what they want. You deserve so much better. Please show him the door.
posted by FencingGal at 10:29 AM on November 3, 2022 [9 favorites]

Most of the other comments have hit the same points but given his plans if health issues arise I think it’s important to realize that most “Western” countries with strong health care/universal health care systems don’t functionally allow disabled people to emigrate. It is often a disqualifying feature to require that level of support from the health systems/government assistance.

6 weeks away at a time is really frustrating and terrible, but do you plan to move to New Zealand/Canada/wherever in old age if he requires more health care? Do you just break up?
posted by raccoon409 at 10:39 AM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

You've been living on empty for so long and generating love and compassion and goodwill out of absolutely nothing when that all came from you in the first place -- be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to listen to the inner part of you that wants to take space back for yourself, to lessen your own burdens, and to allow someone else to go to the path where they need to be, without your intervention. This is not a nourishing relationship for you.
posted by yueliang at 10:47 AM on November 3, 2022 [12 favorites]

I have friend whose dad has some similarities to your partner. Friendly, interesting, intelligent guy, loves traveling, etc. He never held a job in his adult life, basically because he didn't want to (not due to disability). They lived frugally and his wife supported him financially. And his children started supporting him financially as well, beginning from when they were teenagers and putting themselves through college. It was infuriating. So keep this in mind...if this man is unwilling to work, he could end up mooching off your son in the future. Earlier my assumption was that the only reason he wasn't currently working was because he lacked a visa. But it seems like even if he did have a visa he wouldn't get a job? because he'd earn less money than you?? That's a ridiculous excuse. You know what he'd do if you weren't in the picture? He'd figure out a way to get a job and earn money. It makes me sad that he doesn't seem to be willing to do that during your relationship.
posted by emd3737 at 10:56 AM on November 3, 2022 [12 favorites]

Listen to your instincts and don't marry your boyfriend. It sounds like you not just want, but *need* to retire within the next ten to fifteen years.

I know it looks like the commenters are saying you should drop him over the money, and that seems incredibly cold-hearted. But think about the consequences if he doesn't start working:

you're still having to make dinner or clean the bathroom after a 10 hour shift. you'll keep missing precious moments with your son because you have no time to spare after work. you'll still need to move countries every x months because of your partner's visa. You aren't able to save much money because you're paying for a housekeeper and your partner.

That might even delay your retirement further.

A really good partner would understand the horrible effects your current lifestyle is having on you. They'd take on a job so that you could at least work a couple less hours, and spend that time with your son instead. They would think of the retirement as "ours" and find a way to contribute towards it so that both of you would have a nice life.
posted by wandering zinnia at 11:00 AM on November 3, 2022 [9 favorites]

I think your partner is a grifter. He is a man who doesn't want to work and will never pull his weight. Please, please don't pay him. Actually, I think you need to get away from him. Or, maybe the best thing to do would be: stop paying for his food/insurance etc, make him contribute, and then see what he does if you put your foot down. It is my belief that he would likely go and find someone else to grift off.

Also, incoming rant: as a NZer, I laughed out loud at your partner's assertions about living here. We don't want him. He should go on Reddit NZ and have a read about how real people experience the cost of living. Firstly, I can't imagine what 'visa' he already has that would allow him, as an elderly man, to immigrate to this country. I believe he would need a NZ passport. Secondly, the idea that he would come here to exploit the (already under pressure) health system after never paying tax is not only offensive, not only evidence of the sort of man he is (grifter), but evidence that he hasn't done his research. If you come here over a certain age and have not worked, they a) don't let you in or, if they do, b) make you prove that you have enough money to pay for your medical costs. Also, the idea that he could live off $10-20k (US I presume) and have a great life is laughable. That's poverty rates. He wouldn't be able to pay for housing let alone anything else.

To me this little anecdote is just more evidence that he is a guy who wants to take, take, take, without giving anything back.
posted by thereader at 11:21 AM on November 3, 2022 [34 favorites]

I want to tug on the thread of the unreality in your partner's thinking that thereader noted above. OP, this man is not actually looking for a feasible, reasonable way to live his life. He's looking for whatever cheap rationalization will shut you up and enable him to keep grifting from you. The very out-of-left-fieldness and lack of realism in his attempts demonstrates either that he has absolutely no idea how to provide for himself or that his real plan is to grift off you indefinitely -- that is, he is lying to you, one way or another.

The lying is bad, and even leaving that aside, neither of those possibilities should be acceptable to you. They're not acceptable, period, and if he keeps on with this thinking he'll near-inevitably drag you into a mess that will seriously damage you (and likely your son as well). I only escaped such a fix with my feckless ex-husband (who resembled your partner quite a bit) by luck and refusing to have children.

Basically he's acting as your second child, OP, and the yarn-spinning he's doing is incredibly childish. Therapy will not sufficiently fix this, especially if he's good at snowing your couples therapist (as some grifters are). Get him out of your life, the sooner the better.
posted by humbug at 12:04 PM on November 3, 2022 [5 favorites]

I recommend you watch the movie The Hustler. It's not directly about the main characters romantic relationship, but watch what happens to the woman who gets swept up in his life. She was never the point. She was collateral damage.

Even if you financed 100% of his dreams he would not happily stay with you. In fact he would become miserable to live with and blame you for clipping his wings, his unfulfilled dreams etc.

Your brain is working overdrive to rationalize a dollar formula to get him to stay but it can't because there is something wrong. He doesnt want to stay, doesnt want to work, and wants you to finance his travels and give him pocket money.

A person can come up with a salary for a nanny. It's pretty easy. Why can't you do it? Because it feels wrong and you know even if you paid him you would not solve the inherent problems here. He doesn't want what you want.

Im going to refer to pop culture again because when our brains cant rationalize an answer we have to approach things from the creative side. There's a line from Grey's Anatomy where Sandra Oh's character tells Meredith that Derek "is not the sun, you are". Meaning Merdith should not believe that she can only exist in her man's orbit. OP, you are the sun! He orbits around you. Don't lose yourself.

Here's another one: "he's just not that into you". I'm sorry. How can you tell when everything tells you otherwise? By looking solely at his actions and not his words. Other posters have crystallized his behavior better so please force yourself to read all the comments, especially the ones your brain forces you to skip.

Sending you a care bear hug.
posted by jello at 12:07 PM on November 3, 2022 [8 favorites]

OP, I know this has been a pile-on so let me tell you, I posted about a problem with my partner six years ago, and had a similar type of response. I did not want to hear it then, and you may not want to hear it now, but I can tell you, six years on, I should have listened. That relationship is over now, and it probably would have been much easier on me if it had ended sooner. It can be really difficult to not take it personally -- I felt like my choice of partner reflected on me personally, and the whole situation was actually even worse than I was willing to admit -- but it's absolutely not your fault if he's not pulling his weight. You are extending yourself in ways good partners would not expect you to. My advice from the other side is, start making decisions that put yourself first. Sit down and make a list of the things you really need in order to be happier, and ask if they can be met in this relationship BETTER than you can meet them yourself. Try and detach and see it that way and see if it helps.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:19 PM on November 3, 2022 [25 favorites]

I think that thereader has nailed it. He is a con man and you are his victim. His story makes no sense. How does a 33-year-old save up enough money to not work for 15 years? How many women did he grift during those 15 years that allowed him to not work? What kind of job covers living expenses plus $60-65k in discretionary/retirement funds AND requires 6 weeks on/off overseas? What kind of job requires 6 weeks on/off overseas at all? And requires a certificate that can be acquired online (since you said that he was working towards the certificate during lockdown)? And he somehow has a New Zealand visa that would allow him to retire there despite having no savings and never paid taxes there?

I'd be willing to bet that he's conning at least one other woman overseas and is feeding her the same lines. That's why he requires so much travel and leisure time. Please look deeply into this guy's past. Reverse Google image search his photos and Google his name. If you share technology, check his browser history. If he uses social media, look at comments/likes/mentions. He's lying to you and you need to protect yourself.
posted by mezzanayne at 12:27 PM on November 3, 2022 [27 favorites]

Holy shit. mezzanayne's comment above hit me like a smack in the face. Now it seems so obvious what his 6 week trips are all about. The folks on this thread who are alarmed were right all along. I was scoffing at first, and no doubt you are too, but please. Take a moment. *Really* consider the possibility that you're being scammed.
posted by MiraK at 12:42 PM on November 3, 2022 [12 favorites]

There's not enough evidence here for strangers to conclude that this guy is a scammer. whether or not he is, this relationship is unbalanced.

anonymous, don't let that accusation distract you from the excellent advice here to think hard about what you are getting out of this relationship, and where it is going.
posted by ewok_academy at 1:37 PM on November 3, 2022 [9 favorites]

Okay, time for some straight talk.

I was sole carer for my quadriplegic father for 17years
You are setting yourself up to be the sole supporter of your partner for the rest of your life. You haven't worked yourself to the bone to take care of another man who also doesn't have other means of support. Your partner may be capable, and he's still not taking care of himself. Why are you letting yourself fall into the role of provider and carer again? This is worth exploring with your therapist.

Now, about your kid. You're 50 years old, working like a dog with a young kid at home, planning to retire in 15 years, hoping it might happen in 10 years. How old is your kid? When you retire, your kid will be, what, 15? 18? Older?

I mean this with great gentleness: you cannot get back this time with your young child. Right now you are subsidizing a man -- who is apparently quite lovely and charming -- so that he has loads of time with your child and mother, while you work yourself to the bone, feeling incredibly stressed.

You say you are doing this to avoid being a burden on your child, as you experienced yourself. But you are going incredibly far in the other direction, possibly leading to so much stress that you are impacting your physical health as well. Like, I don't want your child's regret to be, "My mom worked so hard to save money to make sure she wouldn't be a burden to me that she drove herself to an early grave with stress. I would rather have had more time with her, especially as a kid, even if it meant a bit less financial security. Also, her boyfriend was okay, but she was my mom and I wanted more time with her."

The relationship is a red herring. You are sinking so many emotional investments into this relationship. Are you really getting it all back? I'm not one who thinks single moms shouldn't date, not at all! But, I think you need a peer, someone who, at the very least, does take care of themselves.

17 years ago he took what he calls 'early retirement' (saved up money early in his career to travel the world on a shoestring budget for 15 years.
Now I'm going to be very blunt and possibly very wrong. It sounds like he is warm and charming. Has part of the way he's been able to finance his frugal, traveling, no-work life been through long term relationships with women who support him? I'm not suggesting he's scamming you or your relationship is insincere. I am suggesting that he may be very attracted to women with resources, with jobs and homes, where he can continue to live comfortably without having to work. Like, that might be his lifestyle. You are supporting his lifestyle.

I was the primary breadwinner in my marriage before it ended. There were times I was really stressed at work and wished my then-husband would get a better paying, full time job so I could step back. However, when he wasn't working, or was working part time, he pretty much cleaned most of the house and did school drop off and pick up with the kids, did PTA stuff, and cooked dinner most nights. Because of course he did, because I was working long days and he had more time at home.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:59 PM on November 3, 2022 [14 favorites]

His plan was to start working at age 50 and work until (?age 75-80?)

As someone who reentered the work force at around 50, I raise an eyebrow. It is really hard to get a job when you're in your 50s, especially if you have a gap in your resumé. I was passed up for jobs that I was absolutely qualified for and watched younger, less qualified people get them. Even if he's 100% legitimate and not scamming you, this part of his plan will not work and it's not a good sign that he said it would.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:02 PM on November 3, 2022 [8 favorites]

I'm curious about the visa situation- how is he able to stay in the US long-term without a green card, etc? How have you been able to work while traveling abroad without tax/legality/employer issues? If you *are* able to work legally in his country, is there any possibly you'd all consider moving there? (I also don't think the NZ plan is feasible, like someone else said above). You say he's "frugal to an extreme" but it also sounds like he travels a lot; it doesn't make sense to me. It also seems like someone who truly cared about you would see and understand how stressful your job and want to help alleviate some of that burden. Why is the only option for him to earn 1/4 of your income? What about something like managing a grocery store or a Walmart, which can pay more than $100k? I don't know where you are, but there also might be better options out there for your own work, since it sounds like it's making you miserable.
posted by pinochiette at 2:39 PM on November 3, 2022

Working yourself to the bone to support this man while sacrificing quality time with your child and aging mother is setting a terrible example for your son. Your choices are skewing your son's understanding about what a true partnership looks like, his expectations about what women are "supposed" to do for others, and his security vis-a-vis where he ranks in the pecking order of who you love. You don't have to DTMFA, but you should put your foot down and set some parameters.
posted by carmicha at 4:46 PM on November 3, 2022 [6 favorites]

I had a friend who used to be close. He got married, they had a couple babies. He was telling me how work was getting busier and busier, and it was making it hard to make time for his family.

I pointed out that if his work was so important that he needed to be working more than 8 hours a day, then his work probably also valued him enough that he could limit his day to a 40-hour work week and they wouldn't want to lose him.

I did also tell him that they would probably appreciate his "family values", and you may not have that to lean on like he did. I suggested he push for an assistant if he needed to get more done than he had time for at work. It wasn't a fast process, he had to demonstrate the need to his employer, find the funding, etc. But he has an assistant now, too!

If you started easing off of work until you were down to a 40-hour work week, would they fire you?
posted by aniola at 4:54 PM on November 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

It doesn't solve your concerns about money, but it could leave you with more time for your child, which would be a win.
posted by aniola at 5:01 PM on November 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

So your guy planned to start working again at 50 years old. He was working on a certificate that would let him make more money, but quit that to be with you? Now he wants to go back to that and he wants you to pay for it? I think he needs to get that certification, but I don't see why you need to pay for it. He had a plan for that already... He's got his $5k in savings - will that help? Can he start working now and save up for the certification? There must be something else he can do for work in the meanwhile... Or can he get a loan to pay for schooling?

Answering your question, if you truly want to "pay" this man, then pay for his schooling. Don't give him cash for playing with your son and helping your mom. (this is all based on the fact that I have no idea how much this certificate will cost.) Or structure it as a loan; you can give it to him interest-free if he pays it back in X amount of time. This is reasonable to ask, and will go a long way toward showing you that he could be a decent partner.
posted by hydra77 at 5:06 PM on November 3, 2022

Like you and many posters above, I had an ex who mooched off of me for three years. I was in my early 30s and thought it was the best I could do. He had many good traits but none of them outweighed his manipulations to use me financially. Again, I thought he was the best I could do so it was beneficial to me emotionally but like a bloody band-aid hiding a staph infection rather than a true support. As others have said, people totally can be a loving contributing partner who cannot or chooses not to work due to circumstance but it's a different scenario. Your gut is telling you not to marry this man because you know he's a grifter; please listen to your gut. I felt for my guy because, as I later learned, he was undocumented; he actually worked too but didn't contribute a cent towards rent or food or anything. He did a lot of good community work but nothing around the house, and when I paid for him to finish college he probably had an affair or was using new marks. It took friends intervening for me to finally wake up, and I'm so glad I did. I will never ever have a relationship like that again, in part because I learned the hard way and in part because I did a lot to therapy to learn why I accepted that situation. My life now is amazing but it would have only gotten worse with him. And I almost married him out of pity so please remember that resolve can weaken and that's bad. You deserve to have a partner, married to you or not, who makes you feel so glad and lucky to be with! And they feel the same way about you and treat you accordingly in any one of the many love languages that have nothing to do with money.

I get that you feel having a man around is good for your son but he deserves better. You deserve better. I have seen single moms in this situation thinking they're doing what's best for their kid. In reality, they are feeding their own ego and insecurity while neglecting their kid's real needs. I'm not saying you are doing that but I can say that this situation is not benefitting your son and potentially hurting him.

There are a lot of good people in the world but shitty men like this one see us women in a similar spot as being both giving and vulnerable, and they use our best quality against us. It's not bad that you got into this situation -- he's surely a pro at manipulation -- but now it's your responsibility to do what's best for your son and you!
posted by smorgasbord at 6:05 PM on November 3, 2022 [8 favorites]

His plan was to start working at age 50 and work until (?age 75-80?) and if medical issues cropped up he would move/live in a country with low medical/insurance needs such as NewZealand - he has a visa that allows this). .... He has estimated that living frugally he could live off of 10-20k/year in NZ, so he calculated he needed about 600k to feel he had his retirement covered.

I think the first comments address the overall situation very well. I do think from what you've written that this man's world view is at best naïve, possibly delusionary, and at worst actually fraudulent.

A few others have spoken to this, but I would bet a very large sum of money that he does not have a visa that would allow him to move to New Zealand at a random indeterminate point in the future. Visas are usually time-limited. The exception would be permanent resident visas - but to get those, someone would need to spend most of two years in NZ on a temporary visa.

Additionally, visa applicants need to be in good health, such that they wouldn't be a burden on the NZ health system. The usual indicator is if their condition would cost more than $40,000/year to treat, and note that it's irrelevant whether they have health insurance or offer to pay for the treatment themselves. So I suspect that a plan of "if I get sick, I'll move to NZ to get treatment" may not be realistic.

As others have said, his budget isn't realistic, though he'd probably be able to find somewhere to rent for US$10K/year. Not somewhere good, but somewhere.

As an aside where I'm speaking without any specific knowledge: his plan would require him to save 600K from the age of 50, so it's placing an awful reliance on him being healthy for a number of years in order to do so - at least until 62 at 50K/year, as well as on him suffering no bad luck or employment discrimination. Which doesn't seem very sensible to me.
posted by Pink Frost at 9:36 PM on November 3, 2022 [5 favorites]

You are only two years in and have this much resentment. It is not going to get better.

I’m so sorry.
posted by Bottlecap at 10:21 PM on November 3, 2022 [7 favorites]

As far as I can see, you’re already “paying” him. He gets free room and board, free health insurance, and free maid service.

Depending on community property laws in your state, if you marry him, he’ll also get half your assets.

If he hasn’t started working by age 50, he’s not likely to. His “job” is charming you enough to keep this scenario going.
posted by elphaba at 6:46 AM on November 4, 2022 [17 favorites]

You say that he can't legally work in the US, but then later you say that he could work and make 1/4 what you do; which is it?


1) Do not pay him. He's already mooching off of you, and if he can't legally work in the US then you can't legally pay him for whatever work he's doing anyway.

2) It doesn't sound like he does much work. Maybe a few hours of after-school babysitting per day and some handyman work here and there for your mom?

3) If you work long hours and he doesn't, why isn't he doing the cooking and cleaning? What does he do during the hours that your son is in school? He should be using those hours to complete all of the household chores so that when you come home at night from your stressful job, you can eat the dinner that's on the table, relax in your clean house, and spend time with him, your son, and your mom.

4) Please do NOT pay for his travel/leisure time, holy shit.

I agree with others that he is a grifter, taking advantage of you to enable him to live without working. If you don't believe this and want to test the theory, tell him that you can no longer have a partner who doesn't work. If he cannot legally do any work in the US, you guys need to move somewhere where you can both legally work, OR he needs to pick up the slack in other ways (in other words, do all the cooking and cleaning - EVEN IF he has a different standard of cleanliness than you do, come up with a list of household cleaning chores and he needs to do them whether he feels they're necessary or not. For example, vacuum the carpet even if he can't see that the carpet is dirty and thinks it's not necessary. Run the vacuum over all carpeted areas anyway. Etc. Do not spend money on a housekeeper when you have a partner at home with no childcare responsibilities for hours each day M-F while your son is at school!!!!!!!!!!)

But really I think you should just dump him.
posted by whitelily at 12:20 PM on November 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

Sorry, I reread and I see that you said he could make 1/4 what you make if you get married (please do not marry him!)

Also, to answer the question that you actually asked, here is how I would put together a dollar value for what he should be paid:

the market value of his skills (if he were working)

Sorry, this earns him nothing. Skills alone don't make money. Time spent working does.

the market value of what he's providing to me and my family (ie we would have to hire more childcare etc...

Sure, this is worth something, and it would look something like this:

Hours spent babysitting after school when you would otherwise need to hire a babysitter * market hourly rate for babysitters = ???

HOWEVER, you would then also need to subtract the following:

- what you are spending on his room and board
- what you are spending on his health insurance
- the hours you spend cooking and cleaning * market hourly rate for housekeepers

I am pretty sure if you do the math, you will come up with a negative number.
posted by whitelily at 12:40 PM on November 4, 2022 [8 favorites]

He could indeed be grifting. He could be masking a disability or phobia or neurodivergent condition that makes working inaccessible to him. Him getting evaluated for neurodivergence, or just seeing an occupational therapist, is a good idea. Some societies don’t have a good discourse around ND yet and people wind up making excuses to and for themselves. If he won’t investigate that, then yeah, he should go away!
posted by The Last Sockpuppet at 8:06 PM on November 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

You can't "just suck it up and 'not care' that he has no retirement/has a different work ethic" because that's a fundamental incompatibility in how you live your life now and how you chose to live your lives up to this point.

You have a young son. Do you want him growing up with someone with no ambition/drive/goals as a role model? With someone who mooches off other people?

Whatever you do, please please do not get married and end up giving him half your assets and/or paying him alimony when he leaves. That will only make your life as a single mom harder.
posted by at 9:58 PM on November 4, 2022 [5 favorites]

So many great points made above already. I wanted to point out the following:

>I am concerned about unforseen health issues/cost in aging, and part of my definition of 'security' is to always have health

>I suffer a _lot_ from this job(stress/health)

I'm worried about you and your health in this job. What happens if your job makes you SO sick that you can't work anymore? Is your partner going to take care of you? Do you have the financial means to not be working? What will your partner do in terms of caring for you, running the household, taking care of your kid and mom, if you're not able to do those things? Can you trust him to step up?

You said yourself going back and forth between the US and outside the US because of his visa restrictions is not sustainable (what happens to your son and mom? Do they come or stay in the US?). Your job isn't sustainable either. Nor is this relationship, I'm sorry to say. Unless he gets with the program, there's really no future for you and him together. And you want to find a way to pay him?! That really makes no sense. I'd be interested to know how that idea came about since as others have already noted, you're *already* paying him.

>my partner is frugal to an extreme, regardless of whose money he's spending

Ok, so he's spending your money? (Obviously - he has no savings and can't/doesn't work) As others have noted, he's a grifter. He sounds like a lovely, fun, charming grifter, but still a grifter. (In fact, that's probably how grifters get to be grifters - by charming other people into sustaining their lifestyle.) He sounds like a great best friend and lover, but not a life partner.

What does he have to say about all this? About you working yourself to the bone? About what he wants for your life together? What do you think about what he says? I see you trying so hard to make it work and now you're seething with resentment. That and your stressful job... I really worry about your health, OP.

Also, you say he makes your life better every day for you, your son and mom... but then he doesn't clean or cook - so how does your son eat when I'm assuming you're working past dinner? There's also stress about communication, parenting differences, and division of labour, you're doing all the emotional labour... and (I'm assuming) he has the gall to come to you to ask you to pay him. (If I've assumed incorrectly, disregard that). I think you really have to think about what life without him would be like. He sounds like, not quite a dead weight, but maybe a dead weight wrapped up in beautiful wrapping paper with a pretty bow. That's still a dead weight.

I think you really need to open your eyes to what's going on here. You asked for an equation, but you need to do some accounting/taking stock of this situation (and your life) first. Financially and otherwise.
posted by foxjacket at 6:57 AM on November 5, 2022 [5 favorites]

I have been thinking about this. If I try to look at it purely from your partner's perspective, I can see his point of view to an extent. He's living with you and your family in a country where he does not have permission to work, he's 50 years old, he has almost no retirement savings, and you aren't ready to marry him - meaning that if you decide to break up with him at some point, you'll be leaving him at an age where it may be hard to find a job, nearing retirement age, and with very little savings to his name. I can understand feeling financially insecure in this situation and I can understand why he might be asking you to pay him a "salary" for his contributions to the household.

HOWEVER, he isn't doing everything he can to contribute to the household. His contributions sound pretty limited. If he were busting his ass in every way possible, doing all of the cleaning, laundry, and cooking, I could possibly see the two of you coming to an agreement where you'd give him an agreed-upon amount of money on a regular basis that he could put away to build up his savings and make him feel like his future is more secure.

But that isn't happening. You're coming home each night to a dirty house with no dinner on the table.

So I think the equation you're looking for might be:

- He starts doing all cleaning, laundry, and cooking
- He starts contributing in all other ways possible to take any load off of you
- IF HE DOES THOSE THINGS RELIABLY AND KEEPS IT UP, you start giving him a small monthly amount
- You won't need to spend money on a housekeeper.
- Any travel/leisure he wants to take needs to be paid for by him, either out of his existing 5k savings or out of what he can save up from the monthly amount you give him.

A much better solution would be all of you moving to a country where both of you can work legally, you both get jobs, you share the housework in whatever way makes sense according to how much time you each have available outside of your jobs, each of you can save, and neither of you has to pay the other anything. I do agree with those above that paying him might create a bad dynamic between the two of you so it really would be best to avoid this if at all possible.

I honestly don't see either of the solutions above happening because as everyone is saying, he's a grifter and doesn't want to do any work and I believe he is taking advantage of you.
posted by whitelily at 7:41 AM on November 6, 2022 [4 favorites]

So you're this guy's maid... and he's... friendly when he talks to your mom and son?
Jesus christ end this relationship. This isn't a boyfriend, it's a vampire.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 12:22 PM on November 7, 2022 [5 favorites]

I keep thinking about this question.

1. One of my friends is trying to emigrate to NZ right now - they have lived there in the past for years, have worked & paid taxes there. They have a scholarship to a master's degree program - and still, the country will not let them in. Hours on the phone, letters, proof of this and that, and still my very hardworking productive asset-to-the-economy friend with a high level student visa still cannot get into the country. They've been trying for 2 whole years. There is no way NZ is letting your guy in. No way.

2. > my partner is frugal to an extreme
>He also still likes to travel and have weeks of leisure which he takes and wants to continue

Those are direct opposites. Not the same thing. My MOM is frugal. She hasn't slept in a bed that wasn't her own for over 20 years. "Weeks of travel" is not frugal.

3. I agree that this man is very likely a romance scammer and the trips are to groom his other girlfriends. It's ok that you fell for it. Just stop falling for it asap and kick him out.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:26 AM on November 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

Just in case this helps, the Tinder Swindler on Netflix showed how some people got caught up in a romance scam with a grifter.

Also, he's not frugal if he doesn't have money. He's broke. Frugal and broke are two different things. Frugal is an immigrant family that live in the shop they work at and save money for years sleeping on the floor to be able to buy the shop for their future. Frugal is working ANY job you can get and eating and budgeting modestly because each penny is precious.

WEEKS?!?! at a time of leisure?!?! on YOUR dime?!?! because ultimately that's what it is, he's fleecing you. You don't get weeks at a time of leisure. Get an au pair or live-in nurse/home healthcare aide because then you'll get a qualified professional who is providing you a quantifiable service. THAT'S the equation you gotta figure out. THAT'S who you have to pay.

This person is NOT your partner. Definitely NOT an equal partner, and NOT contributing to your household. However, they do got a sweet gig with free room and board courtesy of you for shockingly, alarmingly little in return. You are being taken advantage of and the guise and belief and denial you're wrapped up in is not letting you see that.

DO NOT jeopardize your financial future and the future of your son, your mother, your family for this person.

The ABSOLUTE BARE MINIMUM should be house cleaned and food on the table with ZERO worries for you to concern yourself with. You are doing so much more work, being under more stress and spending more money with this person in your life than if they weren't in it. Is it really worth it? Are they providing that much to you that you're willing to go through this? You deserve more.

DO NOT pay this person. DO NOT. The fact that the wool is over your eyes that much that somehow you're concerned you need to pay them brings up so many red flags that I worry about your and your family's wellbeing. Stay safe, protect yourself and absolutely do not entangle yourself legally or financially.
posted by VyanSelei at 3:07 PM on November 9, 2022 [5 favorites]

His plan was to start working at age 50 and work until (?age 75-80?) and if medical issues cropped up he would move/live in a country with low medical/insurance needs such as NewZealand - he has a visa that allows this).

He has estimated that living frugally he could live off of 10-20k/year in NZ, so he calculated he needed about 600k to feel he had his retirement covered.

I’m a New Zealander and this sounds like pure fantasy land. We don’t have ‘low’ medical needs — you need to be an NZ / Australian citizen or permanent resident, or on an extended work visa (which I doubt he would qualify for, based on his age and work history). There are some less common visas, such as for refugees. Can he explain what visa category he’s on, exactly? It’s quite a process to apply for one, so he should be able to answer quite quickly. If he can’t, well there’s your answer.

Living on USD 10-20k in this country is miserable as well. Housing is expensive, whether renting or buying. Not to speak of going into a nursing home!

Besides, where is this magical $600k going to come from when he’s 50 and he only has $5k to his name? Sounds like it will be you. That’s $600k less for your child’s college fund or house deposit, if that’s something you’re interested in. But clearly your guy isn’t perturbed by this.

I raise these points because he sounds delusional at best, a liar at worst. I think you really need to challenge and verify what he tells you. This is not a man capable of making informed, let alone wise, financial decisions (unless his goal is for others to fund his lifestyle while he does the bare minimum, in which case he’s doing an excellent job).
posted by primavera_f at 1:57 AM on December 7, 2022

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