We have to wait to get married

Hello Meredith,

I have been seeing a wonderful man for almost six years. The first year was a friends-with-benefits type of situation that turned into a relationship and has lasted since. He is gentle, affectionate, romantic, responsible, funny, and kind -- just a good man who is good for me. He is also very attractive to boot. We are both on the higher end of mid-20s.

We have chosen to delay getting married because of a financial situation. It is not the wedding (we both want a very small wedding) or the ring (I would be thrilled with any ring he chose with care and meaning). It is my student loans.

I am in public interest and qualify for the public interest loan forgiveness program; after 120 payments the remainder will be forgiven. My payments are income-based because I do not make a lot of money, and there is the rub.

If we marry, my monthly loan payments will triple. He also has student loans but they are substantially smaller. We have enough to live but we are not going on vacations or going out to eat every week, and the additional payments will be a strain.

I was depressed realizing it didn't make sense to marry for 10 years, but I am coming to terms with it. My extended family is not so understanding. They have said that if I really loved him, the money wouldn't matter. This is incredibly hurtful to me, and also the basis of my question. Is there any truth to this? I feel like I cannot possibly love someone more than I love him, and this is not my first relationship. I personally think that if I really love him, what's the matter with waiting until it makes sense? But these relatives have all been married and I haven't. If I really loved him, would I say to hell with the six grand a year and do it anyway? Can you reassure me about how I should feel? How do I deal with these relatives while being firm but not rude?

– Too Cautious, Boston

I want you to make an appointment with a financial adviser, TC, because there might be some loan loopholes that only a professional can find. It's a good thing to do anyway, especially if you really want this guy to be your life partner. Sit down and have a pre-martial discussion about money. Talk about everything.

If this really can't be fixed, you have two options. One is to continue the status quo and to assure your relatives that you're happy. Tell them that your happiness should be their only concern. That's not rude. It's the truth. You have a great life. That should please them. Remind them that if your financial situation changes, you and your boyfriend can always change your minds about getting married. Maybe it will be more affordable in a few more years.

Your other option is to have a party. Maybe a religious ceremony (if you're affiliated) or just a big old barbecue. Do the paperwork for the marriage later but celebrate your love now, just like you would if the loans didn't exist.

For the record, I'm with you. I believe that you can have a fantastic lifelong partnership without ever having a wedding or signing the official paperwork. And I absolutely believe that you love him as much as other people love their spouses. The stress of coming up with a few hundred extra dollars a month is enough to make any new marriage pretty miserable.

Go meet with the financial professional and see what you can do. And while you sort it out, just tell family and friends, "We’re just so happy. You don't have to worry about us." Because that’s true, right?

Readers? Should the money matter? Should they really wait until her loans are paid off? What should she tell the relatives? Should they be pressuring her? Anyone in a similar situation? Help.

– Meredith