They Were Engaged but Were Delaying Marriage until They Were Debt-Free, yet She Wanted to Study a Ph.D. – Was He Inconsiderate Saying This Was a Stupid Idea?

A 33-year-old woman had been engaged to her 35-year-old fiancé for 2 years and was pushing him to commit to a wedding date. However, the man was keen to get the couple’s finances in check and work toward being debt-free before marriage, which raised questions about a long-term goal the woman had.

Consuming Financial Content

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Following the COVID-19 lockdowns, the woman’s fiancé had become engrossed in financial advice content on social media. It spurred him to embark on a mission to become debt-free, a mission that he believed the couple should aim to achieve together before they got married.

An Intense Approach

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The man did not take his new mission lightly. “He took it super seriously”, explained the woman. “He was selling everything (people were actually worried about him) and essentially got a second full-time job. He actually paid off about 60k of debts in just one year.”

Different Approaches to Life

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In contrast, the woman had been pursuing her second master’s degree and had also been accepted into a Ph.D. program. Whilst she agreed to her fiancé’s mission, she took it far less seriously and had a more light-hearted approach to life. “I really want to enjoy my early 30’s by attending events and going on trips with our friends”, she wrote.

Her Significant Debt

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Whilst her fiancé had already cleared a significant portion of his debt, the woman could not say the same. She was grappling with a significant debt load from student loans, car payments, and credit card debt, totaling around $160,000.

Ph.D. Justification

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However, the woman felt that her mounting debt was even more reason to pursue a PhD. “With a Ph.D., I anticipate my salary would be around 200k within 3 years, which would be double what he is currently bringing home.”

Student Debt Forgiveness

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To add to her justifications, the woman was also optimistic about student debt forgiveness. She was aware that it was common for student debts to be written off after many years, and she considered this a potential solution, as her student loans had formed the vast majority of her debt.

Conflict Arises

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When the woman shared her acceptance into the doctoral program with her fiancé, he reacted negatively. He criticized her for not “growing up” and voiced concerns about her debt and spending habits. 

Her Reaction

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Naturally, the woman was disappointed with her fiancé’s reaction. “I feel like he is not supporting my dreams, and may just have a problem with the fact I will have a Ph.D. while he has a Master’s degree.”

Clashing Perspectives

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Beyond financial concerns, political differences started emerging in their relationship. The man dismissed her decision to wait for potential student loan forgiveness, labeling it as dumb and immature, further straining their bond. 

Stifling Her Dreams?

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As the woman contemplated her options, she felt torn between her dreams and her husband’s financial goals. She dreamed of accepting her Ph.D. opportunity and marrying her husband, but she was aware that he did not see this as a viable option until they both settled their debts.  

Seeking Advice

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The woman headed online to seek some needed advice. She wrote up the predicament and opened it up for public comments, but sadly, the advice she received was not what she wanted to hear. “You’re not financially compatible”, one reader stated. “A huge number of marriages end because of finances. You’re lucky to have discovered this before getting married.”

Neither Was Wrong

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Many people completely understood the fiancé’s perspective. “It’s your life and you need to make the decisions that are right for you”, another commenter wrote. “However, I would never marry someone with that much debt because your spouse can become responsible for it. He might feel the same way.”

Professional Student

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To the woman’s dismay, some commenters harshly criticized her dreams. “You have two Masters already… adding a PhD onto that screams professional student, especially with your comment about enjoying life”, criticized one reader. “You already have a lot of debt, and you’ll be in your late 30s before you pay it off. I’m also skeptical of a 200k salary right after graduation.”

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