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It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag.
As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymity guaranteed.
I’ve started a new weekly podcast called Wins and Losses, which features long-form conversations between me and people I find interesting. So far our four guests have been Jason Whitlock, the founder of Rivals and 247Sports, Shannon Terry, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and Washington State football coach Mike Leach.
With that in mind, here we go:
“Thursday is my anniversary (11 years). Originally we had planned on going to dinner at a nice restaurant, then I’m taking the day off on Friday to spend the day together and a hotel stay downtown. Kids are being watched all day and night, so it’s just me and her.
However, I have a Softball Doubleheader on Thursday, and it’s the playoffs. Games are at 8:30 and 9:30. So I told my wife that we’d have to go to dinner a bit earlier so that I can make it to softball.
“You’re playing softball!? On our anniversary…?”
Told her about it a couple of weeks ago and she’s still super pissed about it. Weird for her to be pissed or justified?
Also, it’s not like I’m a bad anniversary husband. Last year for our 10th we took a 2 week trip to Boston and The Azores (look up the Azores. It’s the best vacation spot that no one has heard of).
Is my wife crazy and overreacting here, or am I being selfish? And either way, what can I do about it…?”
Y’all know that I’m not a big birthday guy unless it’s a hugely important birthday (21st, 30th, 40th, etc.) and I’m also not a big anniversary guy unless it’s the big round numbers. (Don’t even get me started on people in relationships celebrating their six month anniversaries together. Six months?! Six Fucking Months?! You haven’t even dated for a full baseball season. Seriously, run the other direction if this is your life.)
But you’ve been married 11 years and it’s a fucking softball game.
Assuming you didn’t get married when you’re sixteen years old you’ve got to be in your thirties now, probably your upper thirties.
And you still need to play softball? And not just play softball, but play competitive softball with playoffs involved? It’s time to hang up the glove and spikes, man.
Dude, what are you holding on to? Even pro athletes are retiring by your age.
In fact, I think your wife’s a saint for letting you play softball this long.
Having said all this, you can’t walk out on your team. Once you start the season you’re obligated to show up for the playoffs unless you’re injured. (Faking a torn ACL would be a nice escape valve here.) What’s more, if you don’t show up for the softball playoffs game then you’re the pussy who couldn’t miss his 11 year anniversary. (The 11 year anniversary sounds like a punchline to a joke, honestly, because it’s hidden so much in the ten year anniversary’s shadow).
Let this be a lesson to everyone reading this right now, your big mistake here was in even trying to take her out to dinner before the softball games. You would have been better off booking the hotel room, getting the babysitters set up, taking off Friday, and telling her you were celebrating your anniversary over the long weekend instead of going out on Thursday.
Because then you’d make her look silly if she was insisting that your anniversary had to be celebrated on the exact date as opposed to waiting a day and celebrating over the weekend.
Unfortunately what you’ve done now is make it appear you are picking softball over your wife of eleven years.
I know, I know you like your wife more than playoff softball. (Maybe.) And you didn’t set the schedule, but women don’t care about that. I don’t know why it’s necessary, but women have to set up all sorts of binaries that perpetually require you to pick them over something else. (The first one, WITHOUT FAIL, is “Well, do you like me or your friends more?” which is the subtext of every decision a man makes in an early relationship. Eventually it turns into, “Well, do you like me or your family more?” And then it’s, “Well, do you like your family or your job more?” Eventually every married man just wants to scream, “I DON’T LIKE ANYBODY! CAN’T I JUST SIT IN THIS DARK ROOM AND WATCH FOOTBALL AND DRINK A BEER WITHOUT ANYBODY TALKING TO ME AT ALL?!” And then your wife will be like, “Well, the reason you have to sit in that dark room by yourself is because you didn’t change the light bulbs in that ceiling like I asked you to do three months ago.”).
What you’re doing now is booking a dinner in the early summer evening — seriously, it’s not even going to be dark when you finish your anniversary dinner you monster?! — and then you’ve got to change into your softball uniform — will you change in the car or the restaurant bathroom? Either way you come out looking like the worst superhero of all, “Slightly Overweight Divorced Dad Who Cares About Sports Way Too Much” — and leave her behind.
It’s like she’s the appetizer to your night.
I can already see her arriving with you at the restaurant at 5:30, pulling out the chair to sit down in a mostly empty restaurant and saying, “Oh, wow, looks like they had some tables available at this time,” as every woman can do to just kick you right in the balls and let you know exactly what they are thinking. Women win the passive aggressive Olympics a billion to one every year.
And then if you respond angrily to her, she’ll be like, “What? Why are you so mad? I didn’t mean anything by saying that.”
But what she’ll really be thinking is we’re here at this time because of THE SOFTBALL FUCKING PLAYOFFS. (Every time your wife thinks about the softball playoffs there are multiple silent f-bombs in her head surrounding these words, which are always capitalized in her mind, guaranteed).
It’s not like you’re suiting up for NBA Finals game six, you’re playing a crappy game on a crappy field with crappy old dudes.
Instead of hanging out with your wife on your anniversary.
Again, I get your perspective, but I’m just telling you what she’s thinking and probably telling every one of her friends.
You blew this one by the way you delivered the news.
After 11 years, you should have been smarter.
Good luck in the softball playoffs though. I’m sure that title in the suburban adult league slow pitch softball championships will forever cement your status as the LeBron James of Smyrna, Tennessee.
God forbid, by the way, you actually get injured in this game and end up in the hospital for your anniversary.
Can you imagine if you tore your Achilles rounding first trying to stretch a single into a double after leaving your wife at Applebee’s? Would your wife even show up at the hospital?
“I recently got engaged and my fiancee has pretty significant student loan debt from medical school. I do not have any debt to my name other than my mortgage. I have a solid career and a decent chunk of equity built up in my house from before my relationship began with my fiancee.
What’s your advice for talking about merging personal finances, prenups, and handling debt when it comes to new marriages? The debt doesn’t override the relationship obviously, but it is nearly $175k worth of student loans which does scare me even though I recognize her earning potential is high for the future. Should I be worried?”
First, I think prenups make sense if someone has millions of dollars and the other person has nothing. That’s not because I’m a vile, heartless retch, it’s just because two people being entirely in different financial situations creates major obstacles in the event a divorce ultimately occurs.
So why not eliminate that at the outset with a prenup?
But when you don’t have many assets and you get a prenup I think you’re just a dickhead. Is it really that important to protect your $5ok from ever being divided up with someone else?
The vast majority of people in America don’t need prenups. I certainly didn’t need one when I got married fifteen years ago.
But if my wife leaves me? There’s a 100% chance that if I got remarried I’d get a prenup. Why should someone get to sweep into my life and be entitled to a substantial percentage of my assets that I’ve built up over the past 15 years when the person I was marrying would probably have been ten years old when I started Outkick? (If you’re having trouble with the math here, there’s a 100% chance I’d end up getting remarried to a hot 25 year old who was only marrying me because I was rich if my wife left me.)
Now back to your specific situation — THIS IS NOT SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE BECAUSE STATE LAWS CAN VARY AND YOU SHOULD CONSULT A LAWYER ON THIS IF YOU ARE TRULY CONCERNED ABOUT IT — but as a general rule the property you have when you enter into a marriage remains your property even if you later get divorced.
This means, for instance, that if you’re rich and have a private trust account with millions of dollars in it, you get married for six months, and then get divorced, your husband or wife wouldn’t be entitled to half of the money you had in that trust. At most they’d be entitled to the appreciation the trust had during this time and even that is debatable if neither of you ever touched it.
Back to your particular situation: let’s say you get married and one year later you get divorced.
Your ex-wife would only be entitled to whatever appreciation, if any, occurred in your home during your marriage. You also wouldn’t be on the hook for her student loan debt either.
So I think the easy solution is this — keep the home in your name, as it is presently — and get an accurate appraisal done to peg the value of the home at the time of your marriage. This way you can argue in the event of divorce that she’s only entitled to the increase in value since your marriage and you’ll have a valuation statement to cite.
As to the student loan debt, that’s her personal responsibility since she took it out in her name and you wouldn’t owe continuing payments in the event of a divorce since she’d be accruing the benefit of the degree, not you.
Now, to be fair, these financial issues become more difficult the longer you are married. But, presumably, if you are getting married the reason why you’re getting married is because you hope you’re going to spend the rest of your life with her.
If this isn’t your goal, then you shouldn’t get married in the first place.
Notwithstanding all of this, if you’re truly afraid of your finances being intermixed, you could suggest that she pay off her student loan debt only from the money she earns for the rest of her life. You could balance this out by saying you’d pay the mortgage on the house out of your own personal funds, but I think you’re likely to run into problems trying to make this a reality.
Namely, this would lead to a perpetual fight over finances with both of you scrutinizing the expenditures of each other rather than mingling all counts. Plus, do you really want to be arguing over who bought dinner or movie tickets the last time?
That’s no way to live together.
Especially since the truth of the matter is that all couples end up intermingling funds over the course of their marriage.
Lacking the two of you creating entirely independent bank accounts and never mingling your funds, eventually the debts and benefits of each of you on an individual basis become your mutual obligations as a couple.
It’s also worth mentioning here that YOU ARE MARRYING A DOCTOR.
How many women (or men) get a medical degree and end up freeloading leeches on their partners? I mean, I’m sure it happens, but getting a medical degree requires so much work and discipline that it’s very unlikely someone is getting divorced so they can get a share of a house.
If anything, she should getting a prenup from you.
On a larger level: if you’re truly troubled by these financial issues and worried about what happens in the event you divorce then you don’t trust your fiancee enough and you shouldn’t be marrying her.
My co-worker was able to view the results before his wife, which they were fine with. The problem is this testing, unbeknownst to them, clearly states the gender of the baby. My co-worker saw it when he opened the test results. Here is where his dilemma starts. He and his wife agreed to not find out the sex of the baby until birth, but he accidentally found out through the test results and he is now unsure how to proceed. He could tell her he knows the sex and give her the option to know as well, he could wait to see if she sees it when seeing the test (she will), or he could try another approach.
When he came to me with this, my response was “this sounds like a great question for Clay to help you with”, so here we are King Solomon of the Internet.”