Ask Carmen: Leaving a career for love

Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes.

More folks are getting married -- or remarried -- later in life and there's something about blending more-mature finances that can bring up a lot of questions.

We're going to head over to Connecticut and talk to Susi who is 54 years old.

She is engaged to someone who, let's just say, has done very well in his career. But Susi also has a great corporate job that pays six figures and has done well with some of her investments, so she wants to know what the next step should be when it comes to merging money, pre-nups, or if she should leave her job.

“I want to make sure I am doing the best that I can with the assets that I have,” Susi says.

Carmen says: “If he’s asking you to drop a career, and to give that up, there’s a price you’re paying for that … for every year that you’re giving up your corporate year. It’s not just one year salary. It’s pensions and [retirement accounts].”

To hear more of Susi’s questions and Carmen’s advice, hit the play button above

About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.
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My mother was in a similar situation and was counseled to insist upon some financial support in the prenup if the marriage ended. The woman is giving up her career and future income and should be compensated in such a situation. I know this is uncomfortable to discuss, but is absolutely necessary! I say this as a guy. In my mothers case , it did end in divorce and she was not able to return to her job and needed the income to live on.

If he loves you, he will want you to be independent and accomplished and respected by your professional colleagues. And if he has a healthy personality, he will not feel threatened by any of that. Instead, he will feel validated because he was able to win the heart of a quality woman, and he will understand that nothing reflects more highly on a man than the happiness of his wife.

No, no, no! Suzy! Don't you know that one version of hell is marriage to a retired man? that he/she who has the money rules? : You cannot imagine how much you would miss the professional world where you and your opinions matter, where you are thinking and learning all the time, and where you feel valuable and a contributing member of society? And you would rather be a domestic manager? big deal! You are far too young to give up on your independence. If he insists otherwise, you are seeing a level of control that will only escalate. Good luck!

Clio, you've laid your response out clear and clean. Brava!

Don't want to sound bitter or angry, but unless you are already a millionaire, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT leave a six-figure job for a relationship! 54 is way too young to quit, and you will likely not get a job this good again if things don't work out. I am sure work is not always fun and leaving sounds enticing, but I think odds are very high you'll regret doing it someday.

In a nearly identical situation, I married the man, a prominent lawyer in our small Montana town. After the marriage, he forced me to use up all of my savings, helped himself to the tax benefits that I brought into the marriage and stashed the marital savings into private accounts. He surreptitiously destroyed my copy of our prenup which protected my premarital assets (and which he had drawn up), then said he just couldn't remember whether a prenup actually had been signed, and went after my assets. I was able to have the marriage annulled but not able to recover my assets or any of the marital assets. A Will can be changed to exclude you without your knowledge or consent, it's a cheap and easy lure. Your fiancee already shows clear signs of emotional and financial ambivalence and lack of commitment. I hope you're more prudent than I was; emotional and financial betrayal leaves scars.

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