As someone who has been the primary breadwinner throughout our marriage, I am facing a new hurdle. Supporting my spouse through school, both emotionally and financially. I often wonder how other couples handle a situation when it seems to be so one-sided for such a long period of time.
Back when I was single, I had a set of requirements every man had to meet before I could date him:
- No Kids (I didn’t want any baby mama drama)
- Had to have a job
- No criminal record
- Had to have a college degree
They were pretty basic requirements, but still every guy had to meet all the requirements before I would date them. As soon as I found out they didn’t meet one of the requirements, it was the end of it. I knew exactly what I wanted and I didn’t want to waste my time on someone who didn’t have what I wanted.
That was, until I met my husband. We started off as friends, so I never felt the need to put him through the checklist. It wasn’t until I was head over heels and absolutely 100% committed that I found out he didn’t have his college degree.
We made a deal though that he would get his degree before we had any kids. Well, here we are. Not exactly in the kid-planning stage except that we know it is in the future (two, three years from now?) He has about a year and a half of school left to complete, and he started school last week. He is taking a full course load (four classes, or 12 units) and working full-time as well.
Getting his college degree isn’t something that is absolutely necessary for his field of work, but it is something that is extremely important to me. I place a lot of value on a college education and I want our children to grow up knowing that we absolutely value the importance of a college education.
That being said, it didn’t make the decision to send Eric to school any easier. Financially, it was a really difficult decision for us to make. We of course had to take out loans to pay for his schooling.
I wrestled with the decision because although I really want him to get his college degree, I didn’t feel that I should have to pay for it.
I know everyone can make the argument that he is helping pay for my $20,000 in student loans, but the truth is I have paid for my own loans since before we got married. Financially, Eric has never helped me. Whereas, I have constantly had to make sacrifices…becoming the sole breadwinner when he was in the fire academy for four months, and again when he injured his back earlier this year. When he worked part-time hours for the past four months, I was the one covering the slack for his part-time pay.
I have side hustled, I have babysat to pay for his flights to go on job interviews, I have mystery shopped to help save up for a honeymoon that we have yet to take, and most recently, I picked up a freelance position with a sizeable paycheck that I was hoping would help pay down my own student loans, not help pay for my husband’s college degree that he should have finished six years ago.
It seems to me, that the more money I make, the more money my husband spends.
I feel that I’ve done enough. At what point do I get to enjoy the benefits from the hard work I’ve spent working my way up the corporate ladder?
This has been a big source of contention. More and more so as the time ticks on and as my patience begins to wane.
I would like to say that we have reached some happy solution that is wrapped up in a glorious bow, but we haven’t. All we really hold onto is the notion that he will get hired as a firefighter after he receives his degree in fire science. Until then, I keep reminding myself that we were put on the same team to win. It is not a his vs. hers type of game, we’re both on the same team. Of course, that is definitely one of those easier-said-than-done type of idioms.
However, there is really nothing I can do at this moment to change the position we find ourselves in. Getting mad at our situation doesn’t help anything. So until there is a solution, it is best to focus on the good.
Image Source: http://mindbodysmile.com/2012/04/30/shifting-roles-supporting-your-spouse-2/
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This might be an unpopular thing to say, but it sounds like YOU are the person that having your husband get a college degree is important to, so I'd make the argument that he's supporting YOUR dream by going back to school. Yes, he will benefit too, but would he have done that on his own without it being hugely important to you? (I'm guessing not, since he hadn't finished it previously.)
@moneycrush I actually had never seen it from that point of view. One thing I didn't mention though because I really don't want to get into the logistics of it, is that he told me he had his college degree, and it wasn't until after we were married that I found out he didn't. SO really, he is just holding up his end of the bargain : )
I think you've made the key arguments as to why people shouldn't take a break in their college education - the shoulda, woulda, couldas creep up, the years go by, and life takes over. That said, you did say for better or for worse (or something like that) in your vows - there IS a payoff for this, I promise!
Although I'm not married yet, it seems like the couples around me with the strongest marriages have gone through tough times. Hang in there!