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Ask Dave

No Downside To Marriage In This Case

Curtis and his girlfriend have been living together a little over a year. They're now expecting a baby and don't know how to budget since they aren't married.

QUESTION: Curtis in Dallas and his girlfriend have been living together a little over a year. They’re now expecting a baby and don’t know how to budget since they aren’t married. Dave explains that their relationship has a whole new level of responsibility and can’t see the downside of marriage.

ANSWER: You have a baby on the way. I think that genie is out of the bottle. You’re going to be doing something together. I don’t know if it’s raising a kid or being married or whatever. A whole lot of the answer to your question goes away when you get married, and if you’ve got a baby on the way and you’re 19 and 24 and going through classes together, going through premarital counseling together, that sounds like a lot of good things going on in your life. I don’t know that marriage changes the equation negatively. What bad things does marriage bring to this equation? I don’t see a downside to it because it’s not like you tried on this shoe to see if it fits or something. You’ve got a baby now. There’s a whole different level now.

I think that it is very difficult for you to pay each other’s stuff when you’re not married—like you pay her debts and she pays your debts—because something bad could happen and then you’re stuck. I think you’ve got to treat it—and it’s really difficult to say this for me when I think about a baby—financially almost like roommates. In terms of your relationship to your girlfriend, I wouldn’t think your income being double hers matters. We’re roommates. Now, the fact that you have a baby and you are a dad—all of a sudden, then yeah, you start thinking you should man up here and pay all you can pay and make sure this woman and this baby are taken care of. Then it starts kind of leaning toward your suggestion.

It’s kind of hard because the equation is tough. It’s hard to do the roommate thing because there’s a baby. That changes your role. You’re no longer just boyfriend; you’re also daddy. To me, that adds a whole different level of responsibility in this equation. I don’t know exactly how to answer your question except to say yeah, maybe you just pay the lion’s share of the household bills and make sure your debts are paid, and she pays her debts. And you make sure this baby is taken great care of. One more time, I’ll lean back into my suggestion because sitting here just as an old guy, I don’t see the downside of marriage in your situation. I think it’s something that you guys should do very soon, and it will solve all those problems in terms of how to split things up because when you’re married, you don’t split things up. When you’re married, it’s yours is mine and mine is yours. There’s no yours and mine; it’s ours. It’s all about making sure this kid has a great life then. You sound like that kind of guy. I think that’s where you’re headed, and I just encourage you to do that. I think it’ll take you where you need to go.