My partner went back to school and I had to support us both

May 21st, 2020

This story was submitted as part of our #modernfamily series. Follow along as couples share the good, bad and ugly on navigating love and money together.

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My partner and I have had an income differential our entire relationship. When we first started dating, I was making 3 times more than he did. Recently, my partner decided to go back to school and pursue a different career.

He felt like he was stagnated by his existing career and wanted an opportunity to earn a bigger income. He was really trying and I wanted to support his efforts. I told him I’d be willing to cover all of our shared expenses while he's in school. But I asked him to pay me back if we ever broke up within the next 10 years. I deeply believed we'd be together for a long time, so I didn't expect this issue to come up. I've been screwed by relationships before and I didn't want to be stuck if things didn't work out.

Things ended up getting complicated because he stayed in school longer than either of us had anticipated. He also ran out of emergency savings and had separate credit card debt that he had to cover. In the end, I spent a lot more money on our shared expenses than I'd expected to. Then it got even messier when he ran out of money to support himself which increased both our anxiety levels since I had to start covering his personal expenses too. Eventually he got a job to help cover expenses so that helped reduce both our stress.

I have to admit that it's been weird and awkward navigating all the twists and turns together: there was this expectation on his side that I'd continue covering things but this also went on for a lot longer than I expected. Each month took me further from my own financial goals so we had to constantly discuss and reset expectations which wasn't always fun. But even so, I'm really happy with the way things turned out. He's happier than he's ever been and has a career that he loves, earning good money while he does it. The whole experience taught us a lot about how we communicate about money together!

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