For Love or Money

Men say young women are demanding as hell—about money, about sex, about everything. So how come their mothers aren’t?

At age 58, a woman tells me she lives with her lover in her home, not his, and is reluctant to ask him to contribute to her—now, their–bills. “He buys us beautiful dinners,” she explains when I ask her what’s stopping her from  discussing this, and from confronting him about the sizable mortgage and living expenses she knows they should be sharing. “He gets us tickets to wonderful concerts; pays for our vacations. We started out that way and, well, it hasn’t been that long….” she trails off.

It may be that this set-up is perfect—both romantic and fair. But the real point is this: she’s afraid to discuss it. Worse, the idea of asking him to take responsibility for the tough part of their lives, not just the sexy part, scares her–as though he’ll be insulted; or that the sexy part will  vanish.

Yet she feels, she says, the way she used to when her ex-husband used to swoop in and take their children away to fun weekends…..but wouldn’t pay for their dentist bills.

A friend in her 50s lives in her boyfriend’s home and also works in his firm. They, too, have never discussed money. He has three grown children, and she, two. He has an ongoing illness that takes him, regularly, to the hospital for treatment, leaving her alone in a home  she calls “not really mine” and tons of work to do while she’s there. “What happens to me if  something really bad happens to him?” she asks rhetorically as we sip coffee at my place.

“What DOES happen to you?” I ask.

“Nothing. His house goes to his children. His pension goes to his children.”

“So you’ve discussed it?”

“No. He told me a long time ago. But when I gave up my house to live in his, we used that profit together–some was put into his business, some went toward doctor bills, some went to my kids. I don’t know, now, how to ask for a change in policy between us, or even what to ask for.

Another woman says, “I’ve asked him! Really! I’ve asked, ‘What happens if something happens?”

“What does he say?”

“He says, ‘We’ll figure it out when something does.’”

No. Talk now. You need to know now how both your money will be divvied up should disaster strike, or even if doesn’t. Romance?  Is there anything less sexy than finding out your lover  has left you on the street–when it didn’t have to come to that?

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