I paid my fiancé rent for 9 years, and spent $10,000 improving her home. She is also listed on my health insurance. Am I crazy?


This situation is causing a lot of problems in my relationship. I’ve been dating this person for 17 years, I’ve been engaged for six years, and we’ve been living together for almost nine years.

I moved into his house and we agreed on a monthly rent of $600. Over the years, I’ve increased the amount I’ve paid in rent and taken on other expenses, such as the $300 cable and internet bill, and contributed to some home improvements (about $10,000 total).

Also, when we go out to dinner, which is probably 60% of the time, I usually pay.

I am now paying $1,100 a month in rent. He is retired and listed as a domestic partner on my insurance. I am also paying the $200 health insurance premium.

“Her previous company is reimbursing her health insurance and she keeps that money.”

However, her previous company reimburses her health insurance and she keeps that money. She says she “subsidized” my rent nine years ago to help me out financially, and this is now “packing” since I’m debt free.

Wait What? I paid him exactly what he asked then without question and there was no discussion that the agreed rent was below market value or “subsidized”.

This has caused a rift in our relationship as we view money very differently. I’m pretty generous with that.

The cherry on top is that we both have a trust, and she refuses to tell me any details about it. If I were to die tomorrow, I would literally be in the dark. With mine, she knows all the details, including the fact that she is included.

Am I crazy to feel this about rent, health insurance and trust?

Appreciate your guidance

dear thank you,

We could go back and forth all day about who is being unfair to whom.

Whether or not you believe the rent was below market value, it is an amount you both agreed to. No doubt you also had a good idea if this was a fair price. There were no blindfolds or lottery tickets. You both came to an agreement that worked for both of you at the time, and you entered into that agreement with both of your eyes open. You’ve both benefited from living together: you have a place to live, she gets extra income.

The problem, I think, is bigger than the $200 health insurance premium. Resentments seem to have built up over time, perhaps because of how much money you spent on renovations and/or your own health insurance premium, or perhaps because of an underlying imbalance of financial power. I suspect it’s a bit of both, perhaps with more dissatisfaction due to the latter: she owns the house, and you’re the de facto tenant.

There are no victims here. Volunteers only. You volunteered to live in his house for nine years and pay for $10,000 in improvements. I agree that at first glance it is a lot of money. After all, houses are expensive to maintain: property taxes, mortgage interest, gas and electricity, etc. But that $10,000 equates to about $93 a month for the years he’s lived there. Add this to wear and tear, goodwill and miscellaneous contributions.

The other disparity relates to your respective trusts. Your partner is not transparent about how much money they have in their trust and possibly whether you are a beneficiary. Again, this is part of a larger problem: a curious lack of financial faith. It’s funny because you shared your financial responsibilities, but your arrangement has a lot of deep-rooted issues for both of you. There’s a reason your engagement has lasted six years.

“If your options are limited, you may be more willing to accept things that make you unhappy.”

With the important caveat that I’ve only heard your side of the story, there is a certain cruelty in your fiance’s comment that he was subsidizing your first few years of rent. While it is your responsibility to be aware of the market rent, this is another important thing that was not said (until now). Resentments are like dry rot in the frame of a house. They grow bigger over time and weaken the foundation of the relationship.

you are not crazy You’re stuck in a rut. I have a few questions for you: do you want to continue living in his house after you get married? do you have your own house Do you have enough savings to buy a house? Assuming living with your fiance is plan A, what’s your plan B if you break up? Assuming you get married? Is it another happy relationship? If your options are limited, you may be more willing to accept things that make you unhappy.

By picking up the check at a restaurant, you may feel like you’re restoring some kind of financial equity to the relationship; but this is fleeting; you’re in charge of that night just paying for your fiance’s dinner. But (a) that’s also part of a long, gendered social contract that’s changing over time, and (b) it doesn’t change the fact that you live at your partner’s house, and if the relationship ends, so does it will make your life arrangement

Ultimately, it’s important not to put your $10,000 renewals or $200-a-month health insurance in one basket. While these gestures show a fair amount of goodwill, they also come with a “gift tax.” The more you pay and the longer you live under that roof can make you believe you have more right to live in your fiance’s house. But there is only one name in this scripture.

And this is who is ultimately in charge.

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You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to the coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com.

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