I got married last October. My husband and his first wife have one daughter, now in her late 20s. The ex-wife has been very successful financially and has raised this daughter to have luxurious tastes and surroundings, emphasizing materialism. We cannot keep up with them financially.
A few weeks ago, he told me he borrowed $100,000 on a second house he owns for Daughter’s college expenses before I was with him, and it is coming due. The townhouse we live in is not fully paid for.
He raided his retirement to put up $40,000 of what was likely a $150,000 to $200,000 wedding for Daughter for a marriage that didn’t last.
He’s 67 and doesn’t want to retire, but his employer is making overtures that they want him to retire. I keep trying to get us better organized re: personal documentation, the future, etc., but I don’t want to get stuck with debt that isn’t mine when no one has ever said no to Daughter, and she will bleed all of us financially dry for her unmet emotional needs.
How do I deal with this tricky situation?
It seems like you’re upset with your stepdaughter for her expensive taste, when that’s not exactly her fault. She has simply responded to the dynamic set up by her mother and your new husband.
The person who is going to bleed you financially dry is actually your husband. He’s the one who keeps writing checks, apparently putting his own finances at risk by doing so.
If he did not disclose this debt and its purpose before you tied the knot, you may need to have a difficult conversation about financial honesty and how to move forward.
It sounds like you’re mad at everyone — your new husband, his ex and his daughter. It sounds like you don’t want any part of any of their financial problems. I cannot blame you.
It’s possible to have a postnuptial agreement drawn up and notarized, barring any peculiar rules in your state. Doing so would determine what happens to his and your property in the event of death, and in theory could determine the fate of your individual debts in a worst-case scenario.
But unless you’re planning to separate, that won’t excuse you from working together to figure out how to handle finances as your husband approaches retirement.
He and your stepdaughter are long overdue for another conversation about the loan he took out to pay her college bills. Whether he intended on requiring her to pay him back or not, it’s probably time to shift the burden.
Have an awkward money dilemma? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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