Deadbeat Dud

I think I know the answer to my problem, but I just want to make sure I’m not having a mid-life crisis and allowing it to rob me of my common sense. I have been living with a man 12 years younger than me for a little over a year (we have been dating about three years total). He has five children and is trying to start his own business (he is an excellent photographer). We have a great relationship, but financially, he has nothing to bring. However, on the flip side, he does everything around the house, from cooking to laundry. And he does very special things for me that don’t cost a lot. My problem is that someone said “Sugar Mama” to me, and my mind has gone into a tailspin. I was married to a corporate suit for 15 years and financially he was always able to provide, but as a couple we had nothing. So now I have a wonderful partner, but no money. Am I crazy or have I finally grown up?

Older, Maybe Not Wiser

It’s rare to find a couple who are equally matched, economically speaking. It’s unfortunate but true that it’s generally women who earn less (73 cents to the dollar), but just off the top of my head I can think of two very happy couples in which the wives out-earn the husband by significant amounts. Who cares? As long as you’re happy with your relationship (and I’d be pretty chuffed if someone cleaned my house and made me dinner) ignore—as the kids say—the haters.

Now, speaking of kids…unless his last name is Wozniak or Gates, a man with five children he’s supporting isn’t going to have much money left in the bank at the end of the week. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that, since he’s not really doing much other than washing your skivvies and whipping up the occasional soufflé, he’s not paying much in the way of child support. And it certainly doesn’t sound as though these kids are living with you, or you would’ve mentioned it.

Perhaps I’m wrong about his situation and his kids are all grown up, but you don’t sound old enough for that to be the case—especially given that he’s 12 years younger than you. I know women who’ve been in your position—involved with or married to deadbeat dads—and you know what? It never ends well.

My friend Jen (fake name!) was married to a jerk like this. And while her deadbeat was also very charming, any time he got any sizeable chunk of money, the feds would seize it because he owed so much back child support. As a result, most of his jobs were off the books, meaning he was only eligible for going-nowhere jobs (not that he was equipped for much else). Much like your guy, he also wanted to make it in a creative field—he was a guitarist who’d had minor success in his early 20s and was still living the dream decades later.

He’d be out drinking beer and trading war stories with his friends while his kid was living in some shithole, eating government cheese with his mom. He didn’t even see his son for almost a decade, blaming his absence on his “bitch” ex. In her position, I’d be pretty bitchy too.

Think about it: Your guy has no problem walking out on five little kids he’s fathered (by however many women), and isn’t helping to feed, clothe, or educate any of them. Instead of busting his ass working a job—any job!—he wants to start some photography business. Oh, muse, Hasselblad be thy name. Spare me.

Your situation would be fine if it were just the two of you. If he were a good guy who did all the housework and needed to rely on you financially a bit, I’d have no problem with him pursuing his little dream. But once you pop out a kid or five—five!!!—you have to man up and take care of business, even if that means mopping up at Wal-Mart, digging ditches, or flipping burgers.