Dating at Midlife/Fair is Fair


Dr. Belove,

My  soon to be stepdaughter has been living with us for 4 months. She does not pay rent, clean house or buy food. She has a full time job but spends her money on wine, clothes and going out. That brings me to my problem. Her mom and dad have the wackiest financial arrangement I have ever seen, Supposedly they do not pay alimony to each other or child support but even though all of the kids are adults with the 2 youngest living with partners, my boyfriend and his ex-wife continue to "balance" their finances every month together. This is an elaborate ritual involving a lot of manipulation on her part and forgetfulness on his.

Even though they have been split up for over 6 years he tells her how much he spends and she does the same every month. Except it is not fair by any stretch and we end up out of money every month. They both make about the same amount of money and he did the right thing by paying her over 150 thousand for her half of the house we live in. She left him by the way. Not that that is crucial. I just wanted to give you the history.
What this amounts too is that even though they both now give the kids who live out of the house the exact same amount of money every month for room and board, they still are in each others financial pockets. He pays all the medical, flights for the kids, once she even charged him to take the kids surfing. Whenever it may be that she owes us she always revises it and says she forgot things that she had paid for. Never provides receipts by the way.
So back to the daughter living with us. There is a financial cost to having an adult live with you. For 2 years the ex has been charging us 200 dollars a month for room and board for the other adult daughter who until 2 months ago lived with the mom. Now we have one living with us and my fiance is not willing to ask his ex to pay him 200 a month for this daughter to live with us even though she did with no hesitation. he paid it too every month. We paid this to her for 2 years but he won't ask her to do the same. He won't ask his daughter for money either even though she works and could well afford to contribute.
But he asks me to pay. Every month I give him money for bills and now he is telling me that he won't expect the same from either of them even though they are both well off. The ex makes double what I make. So I decided that if he won't ask for what is right from his ex that I am not paying because the money just goes into her pocket. She gets her hair professionally colored. She owns an electric bike and goes to Ashland to see plays every three months. I wear clothes with holes in them that are 3 sizes too big. My shoes are falling apart from too much use.
I told him I was using the money for myself until he asked for what was right and fair. He called me a free loader. He actually got angry and started calling me names. I am the free loader? Right, I cook and clean and take care of his kids and mom and I am the free loader. Not the ex who could well afford at 60 thousand a year to pay her own way. No I am.
I don't know what to do. I just want fairness. I am sorely tempted to leave. Any advice would be really appreciated.

Thanks Beth.

No simple advice on this situation, sorry. It's really very complex and
tangled, a crisis waiting to happen.

You're quite right. Fairness is the issue. Fairness is a very elemental and fundamental issue in relationships.  You can go on youtube and see some videos with capuchin monkeys and how they react to unfairness. It's funny and deeply true and also very much how we humans feel, too.

This is your situation (please excuse the pun) in a nutshell.

Now, advice.

You are going to have to either leave or provoke a crisis forcing a crisis upon the man you live with.

Let's say you take the second choice.  Then it's  important that you force the crisis upon him in a way that doesn't interfere with his ability to think.  When he throws tantrums and threatens, that's a sign that he's not able to think, that he's panicked, that he's afraid of the implications of the situation, and so on.

I have a very strict rule about never diagnosing people I've never had a long conversation with. the description of him, coming through you, filtered through you and your current frustrations, is that he seems to be (notice how tentative I'm being) a man who wants to keep everyone happy most of the time. I would guess (guess) that you are challenging him to take actions which will displease people he cares about. So this isn't going to be easy for him.  Yet it might be utterly necessary.

It might even be good for him and for all concerned if you take this step.  However you have to be able to do it with a very clean set of emotional tools.

This move I'm recommending will require some impeccability.

You might want to engage a coach or counselor to help you stay clean in this. You'll want to be able to live with the consequences, regardless.  I'd be happy to work with you or you might want to find someone local.

I'd be happy to give you a follow up on this question. You can write directly at

good luck and thank you

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.d.  

Dating at Midlife

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Philip Belove, Ed.D.


Hi. I`m Philip Belove (that is my name, really). I`m 71 and I`ve been a psychologist all my midlife, the past 35 years. My specialty has been counseling and coaching other midlife adults.  I think we all figure things out as we go along, but even more so at midlife. Being between 40-ish and 60-ish and single is like being a stranger in a strange land. I`ve learned which questions help people find their own way. I created this category, I publish a blog at and I write articles for various web sites. My commitment is to help people 1) understand and improve how they deal with others, 2) understand the forces that rule the relationships they are in, and 3) make the decisions which will shape, or create, or end those relationships  so they achieve the goal of midlife development  to finally live with personal satisfaction. I`ve been divorced twice myself. I`m in a satisfying relationship with a fine person. I`m very interested in learning about your challenges and in offering what I can.


Professionally: Licensed Psychologist. Marriage and Family Therapist. Coach.Author. University Lecturer. Personally: I'm 71. I've probably made all the big mistakes, er, learned the big lessons.I've forgiven myself and made many apologies and I've made it into a good, stable, sweet relationship. I now have a perspective on midlife.

Please check out my book, Rabbis in Love, at Also my blog at The Rabbi book was done as part of a research project. My collaborator, Marilyn Bronstein, and I wanted to interview couples with very successful marriage and also we wanted to talk to people who cared as much about their spirituality as love. Maybe being able to love and be spiritual were one and same, we thought. So we found a rabbi couple and the interview was so astounding that we interviewed nine more rabbi couples. One dropped. They'd revealed too much. It's a fascinating book and, Jewish or not, religious or not, these couples do a lot of things right and there is a lot to learn from them.

Masters in Counseling Psychology, Alfred Adler Institute Doctorate in Consulting Psychology, focus on family therapy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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