Reddit: “My wife asked me to pay her $50K to have our child” – Opinions & Breakdown
I am copying the text just in case the link also disappears again and now we have it here as well.
ORIGINAL REDDIT POST
In TEXT if you could not see the images:
I am [M34] and my wife is [F29]. She has asked me to pay her almost $50,000 to have our child, and I’m not quite sure what to do.
858 2022-03-03 08:47:29
I have known/been dating my wife for 6 years, and we have been spiritually married for 2 years. We are not legally married, although at this point we are essentially common law.
We are both high earners (both earning over $175k a year after tax). We purchased our home together and we have agreed to split the finances 50-50. We paid for our wedding, honeymoon, everything 50-50, although I did pay for the cost of our rings and her engagement ring. Our mortgage payments were 50-50 and we comfortably own our home now, so much of our income goes to savings, investments, home improvements and discretionary spending.
Because of our incomes, we felt it would be best to keep our finances separate – we’re both highly independent people and both very career driven. It’s part of the reason I’m so attracted to her – she’s amazing at what she does, and I’m so proud to be able to introduce her as my wife and explain what she does.
Unfortunately our first two years of marriage were hampered by COVID and lockdowns. We would have loved to have traveled and saved up quite a bit in order to do this. A couple months ago we had a talk and decided it might be a good time to have kids instead of continuously waiting for better or safer travel conditions. Without too serious discussion about it, we decided to stop using birth control and let things happen as they will.
Yesterday I came home and my wife was on the phone. She seemed like she was in a hurry to end her conversation and tried to evade my question when I asked who she was talking to. It was her sister. They don’t talk a lot, so that was a bit weird. She still works from home, so she continued to do some work, then we had dinner and watched some news. Regular, pleasant evening. Then she says she wants to have a serious talk, and asks me to make us some tea and meet her upstairs at her work desk.
I make the tea, bring it up, and she starts talking financials.
Her work place allows for maternity leave for up to a year, but only provides 50% of her salary for up to 6 months. The remaining 6 months is unpaid. She was very direct, and said that while her insurance would cover the vast majority of hospital related costs during pregnancy and childbirth, taking a 6 month break from work would cost her almost $50,000 since her pay would be cut in half. She is asking me to compensate her for that $50,000, in addition to agreeing to split any related but unexpected costs to pregnancy and childbirth. Her stance is that she is doing something for us to start a family, but it is not a true 50-50 split if she is expected to take a financial hit for it and I am not, given that our finances are separate. She had a printed list of expectations in terms of what she expected financially, listed some things that her insurance may not cover.
I see the logic in that, but I am really very turned off by this because she is essentially asking me to pay her to have our child (or children?).
She saw my hesitation and just doubled down. While her ideal is to return to work after 6 months, she says it’s a real possibility that she may require more time off and decide, as things happen, to take up to a year off. So, she had another plan drafted for that. For the first 6 months, her work will give her 50% of her salary, and I would compensate her for the rest, but for the next 6 months, since her work would not compensate her, and because this loss is something she is doing for the family, she is “comfortable splitting the loss of her income”, and only asking me for 50% of her salary instead of 100% for the second 6 month period, and she will take the loss of 50% of her salary. The idea I guess is that both of us “suffer” half the loss of income for the second 6 month period. However, if she takes 7 to 11 months off, any months after the 6th can be prorated.
She expressed that she anticipates and hopes to return to work in 6 months, but that she wants a contingency plan in the event that she requires a year off. She said that taking more than a year off is something she is very unlikely to do as it would put her job at risk, but that she’s open to exploring a third plan with me if I feel that it’s necessary.
There are also detailed notes about how she wants to keep housework split, with plans to start saving for both childcare and additional housekeeper expenses for at least the first four years. I kid you not, it’s a 16 page ring binder that she handed me with detailed notes, some explanations, and lists of expenses.
But the immediate and essential element here is that, she wants me to pay her $50,000 – $100,000 to compensate for the loss of her salary for 6-12 months as a result of her having our child.
I really do not know how to process this. My first thought is shock, because, despite our salaries, $50k-$100k is a lot to demand. The idea of a payment plan to have a child is just gross. And many couples manage to do this without paying their wives to have children. But then, I suppose most couples are married legally and a loss to one person’s income is a loss to everyone. So in our situation, it makes logical sense, but there’s something so transactional about it that puts a bad taste in my mouth.
I didn’t fight it or argue, and she’s basically allowing me to think about it, but says if having kids is something we’re going to do, she wants to write up an agreement and go to a lawyer (splitting the cost of that is ALSO in the binder).
What really hits me here is that she was talking to her sister on the same day she brings this up to me. Why on that day? On the same day she mentions this to me? They do not talk often. I am partially excited and scared that the timing of this means that she is actually currently pregnant and that my response to her will have real consequences if I disagree with her. She has previously had an abortion, and only told me after the fact (almost a year later), because it was early into dating. I was shocked to learn that when I did, but supported her choice as it’s her body, and at the time having kids would have been the wrong decision for us. Still, the fact that she makes decisions like that so independently has me incredibly cautious right now.
I checked trash cans and such for a pregnancy test but didn’t find anything. She also asked for tea instead of coffee, but maybe that is overthinking it because she likes both. I want to ask her if she’s pregnant, but we both had busy days today, and I was processing and it didn’t even occur to me on the day we first discussed this. Definitely a conversation to have, but I don’t know whether that should influence my response here.
tl;dr: My wife and I both earn over $175k a year and we are considering having children. She is asking me to compensate her for 6 to 12 months as compensation for the time she will have to take off to have our child. I do not know whether she is pregnant.
What really hits me here is that she was talking to her sister on the same day she brings this up to me. Why today? They do not talk often. I am partially excited and scared that the timing of this means that she is actually currently pregnant and that my response to her will have real consequences if I disagree with her. She has previously had an abortion, and only told me after the fact (almost a year later), because it was early into dating. I was shocked to learn that when I did, but supported her choice as it’s her body, and at the time having kids would have been the wrong decision for us. Still, the fact that she makes decisions like that so independently has me incredibly cautious right now.
1. Communication was awful
She totally butchered it. She did not articulate what the situation was, and did not present it properly. I am on her side, but it was not done well. This was a miss on her part.
2. 50/50 means 50/50
For women, having a child is a massive hit to women’s economic opportunities and earnings. For men, it barely affects them at all. 50/50 makes sense in this case because 50/50 means 50/50 of the income as well as expenses; knowing how detrimental having a child is to a woman’s career not to mention her body and other things we endure.
We are all transitioning into a new culture / society where we haven’t had any role models or guidance on what is fair and 50/50 can be tricky, but she is proposing quite a logical, rational case here.
3. Societal expectations of women
Romance doesn’t mean naivety. Just because she’s in love with you, does not mean she is agreeing to take on the full hit of having a child, economically speaking. Why do women have to sacrifice it all for a family?
All of the options and ideas of what they plan on doing once the baby is here (does she stay out for 6 months, a year?), has to be discussed and put in writing to make sure she is protected in case he ever decides to leave her in the lurch (happens a lot more than you think). He enjoys a 50/50 relationship but her asking for her half now feels “unromantic”.
4. Marriage is a contract
If you don’t think so, get divorced and see how well your contract holds up when everyone is bitter and angry. Unless you have an equal, and fair prenup (OR POSTNUP!) in place, the wording is really vague when it comes to “for richer or poorer, or til death do us part”.
We also think she is coming on too strong because she asked for it in writing. If a man asked for it in writing, he’d be a smart, careful lawyer. Instead, for society, when a woman does it, it’s “unfeminine” because only men get to ask for clear rules, and get to set the terms. Women, should just go along with it and take whatever dregs are leftover, unprotected from anything.
5. Patriarchal disgust
She is asking for cash, which makes sense, and it is an uncomfortable discussion because there is a baby involved, and society expects women to martyr themselves for a child because we are all “hardwired to have a family”, to the point where we sacrifice ourselves for them. This is utter nonsense that we are still expecting women to take the hit for everything for children. It takes two to have a baby.
If we removed the baby from the equation, and he was asking her to stay home 100% and be dependent on him for money, would you feel any differently?
There is a real disgust in women asking for money, which is why in the past, men have given expensive gifts that could be resold for money (and not to mention the fact that women weren’t allowed to have bank accounts until as recently as 1974). Women received jewellery instead, and then got pilloried for being greedy magpies.
She’s just putting a dollar amount on what it will cost for her to have this child. Period.
6. MOTHERHOOD PENALTY
Her ask, doesn’t even account for the loss of time at work, the hit her career takes. There is also a motherhood penalty where women make less money after being mothers, or are saddled with a stigma of being a working mother, but working fathers, get a Fatherhood Boost from having a family because it elevates his status at work.
Also, while being off work, she is missing out on a lot of important career changes, and perhaps even losing out on benefits while on maternity leave because she isn’t working.
Then if she decides to go back to work, childcare would cost money as well. Why would a stranger get paid for childcare but she is not, especially in a 50/50 situation?
More women should do this. 100%. A lot more talking about money and equality is required, because a lot of old, traditionally-held beliefs need to be challenged and changed. Becoming a mother is wonderful, probably the best thing I have ever done in my life, but I should not be the only one who takes on the economic brunt and career hit for it.