by JEANNE FLEMING, PH.D. and LEONARD SCHWARZ
Question: The man I love is married to another woman. He wants to leave her, but he says that he can’t afford to get a divorce - that he’ll lose his house and end up with huge child support payments. I have the resources to help him out. But I’m wondering, is it ethical for me, his girlfriend, to subsidize Danny’s divorce?
Answer: There is nothing unethical per se about helping a boyfriend with the expenses that weigh him down. After all, what are those resources of yours for if not to help you find happiness with the man you love? Trouble is, what you’re considering doing is not so much helping Danny with a financial problem as encouraging him to end his marriage. And that’s not right.
Had Danny gotten divorced before you came into the picture, your easing the financial burdens of that divorce would be an act of kindness. But while Danny remains married to and living with his wife, your bank account should not be playing a role in his thoughts about his marriage - and, to be frank, neither should you.
True, these things happen, and your question is about money and ethics, not marriage and ethics. But on either score, what matters is that Danny’s married. And until he isn’t, you shouldn’t be giving him reasons - romantic or financial - to leave his wife.
Questions? Email Money Magazine’s ethicists – authors of “Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check?” (Free Press) – at FlemingandSchwarz@right-thing.net.