Woman's Fiancé Does Not Want Her To Get Her Doctorate So That They'll Be Able To Live 'Debt-Free'

“I feel like he is trying to hold me back from my dreams.”

Engaged couple arguing. Srdjan Randjelovic / Shutterstock.com

In a post on Reddit, a 33-year-old woman admitted she was struggling to make amends with her fiancé after a recent fight. When she revealed to him that she’d been accepted into a doctorate program after already completing a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, he was livid.

Like many others in the current economy, he has been seeking a “debt-free” future and is concerned because his intended's academics have already left her with six figures of student loan debt.


A woman’s fiancé told her not to get her PhD so they could live ‘debt-free.’ 

“Right after the lockdowns, he got really into financial TikTok/Dave Ramsey blah blah blah and insisted we both become debt free,” she wrote in her Reddit post. “We both agreed, but he took it super seriously — selling everything (people were actually worried about him) and getting essentially a second full-time job. To his credit, he paid off about 60k in a year.  Meanwhile, I've been finishing my 2nd master's and have been accepted into a PhD program.”

college student studying in library DAPA Images / Canva Pro


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Especially with a wedding approaching and their finances combining, she explained that her soon-to-be husband has been badgering her about paying off her debt. 

Instead of pursuing another degree, although prestigious, he wants her to start working and pay off her loans so they can live “debt-free.”

@90shomeschooler Replying to @mdsamsam21 I think extreme frugality can be just as damaging as materialism, but it’s just my opinion 🙂 #exfundie #exfundamentalist #quiverfull #exhomeschooler ♬ original sound - Lydia

Of course, there’s a type of freedom that living debt-free allows couples — from the luxury of travel to funding weddings to starting a family. Studies even reveal that couples without debt experience less financial anxiety and, in turn, have more fulfilling relationships. 


However, extreme measures for living frugally and paying off debt — the “Dave Ramsey-esque” way — can have severe consequences on mental health, relationships, and lifestyles. So, is there truly a universal “right and wrong” for what’s best?

This woman feels like she’d be “sacrificing her 30s” — which she’d prefer to use on building her education, attending events, and spending time with their friends — if she declined her doctorate acceptance and focused solely on saving money and paying off her debt.

She shared that her fiancé paid off his debt, but she still has around $160K — ‘I am in pretty high debt, but expect my future salary to be $200K in 3 years.’

While she admits their financial differences and overall “political views” have differed throughout her engagement, her announcement about getting accepted into a doctorate program unexpectedly angered her fiancé.

“When I told him I was accepted to the doctoral programs, he lost it. He said a ton of hurtful things about me not growing up,” she wrote. 


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While doctorate programs (depending on the field of study) often boast higher salaries after completion — between 18% and 20% higher than bachelor's and master’s degrees — she acknowledged it would be a three-year process. Not only would she be making much less money in the early stages of their marriage, but she’d be contributing less to paying off her loans.

“Currently, between student loans (125k), my car (25k), and credit cards (about 10k), I am in some pretty high debt but anticipate my salary to be around 200k in 3 years or double what he is currently bringing home,” she adds. Many commenters immediately criticized the woman, arguing that her right to an education is important, but that she needs to consider the financial burden it could place on her fiancé once they’re married.


Commenters wondered about the health of their relationship, especially considering their ‘financial incompatibility’ and ‘political differences.’

“I feel like he is not supporting my dreams and may just have a problem with the fact that I will have a PhD while he has a master's. I also think political differences are becoming more apparent (he says things like, ‘You're dumb for waiting for student loan forgiveness’).”

While financial incompatibility might seem relatively harmless at first, when you enter into a committed relationship with someone, it becomes more complicated. Between 20% to 40% of divorced couples name financial incompatibility as the main cause for their separation — so clearly it’s important.

Couple looking over finances. Wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com


“It is your life, and you need to make the decisions that are right for you,” one user wrote. “Flip side of that is I would never marry you with that much debt because your spouse can become responsible for it. Your significant other may feel the same way. Seems like you are not on the same page about life goals and need to think about that before getting married.”

At the end of the day, this woman should feel empowered to pursue the education she wants without burden. However, considering she’s engaged to be married, he should have a say about their financial situation while she pursues it. That might mean a compromise where she delays her plans or separation from each other altogether, but it definitely doesn’t mean pursuing it “against his wishes,” as she suggested.

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.