Sometimes people make commitments within the context of a given moment, or within the confines of a current relationship. And then when the circumstances change, it gets confusing to think about what promises must be kept.
Reddit user superb-minimum-86yg found himself dealing with this exact issue.
The Original Poster (OP) asked:
"AITA for refusing to pay for my ex-wife's singing and acting lessons?"
And so OP turned to the internet for their thoughts.
"My ex was a stay at home mom when we divorced so I agreed to pay for her to go back to school so she could get a job to support herself with a four year deadline."
"She took some community college courses and did well. Her plan was to become a CPA. She liked going to school and being around younger kids (she's 38)."
OP soon found out the circumstances were shifting in ways he hadn't anticipated.
"She announced on FB that she was inspired by her young classmates to change 'direction'."
"I thought she meant she was going to beca teacher. Nope. She now wants to become an actress and a singer. I asked about school and she said she was going to school - acting and singing school. Not college."
"I asked her how she planned to pay for that and she said I was."
OP felt this didn't fit into the scope of his original commitment.
"I laughed and said I'm not paying for that. It's a bit more than community college but can get WAY expensive. I told she's not going to be the next Taylor Swift or Jennifer Lawrence at 38."
"She got angry that I was going back on my agreement to help her get a career going. I don't have to pay for her education. I did it to help the mother of my kids."
But it didn't stop there.
"Update: I tried to have an honest and serious conversation with her. She says that she could have 'made it' had she not had kids 'early', (at 27 lol) and she's not 'old'."
"She wants a career where she can 'redeem' herself."
"I even started to think maybe I should encourage her to move to LA and I just become a full-time single dad."
Reddit users chimed in using these acronyms:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You're The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Many fell firmly on the OP's side.
"Obviously NTA. She's your ex for a reason. She's also an adult (questionable). At most you can offer to pay for basic needs until she gets a job. Anything beyond that is too much." - haircombsnightmare
"NTA. The terms of your agreement were pretty standard - helping her get a degree SO THAT she could get a job to support your children. There's no guarantee of a job with what she's now asking you to pay for her to study." - rileygreyy
"NTA, especially when you have children to feed. At 38, singing and acting should be a hobby, not a career. I wouldn't pay one thin dime."
"I was a paralegal for general practice attorneys for 8 years so I have heard a lot of crazy things. This one is right up there with the worst." - Brainplague_II
"NTA Your agreement was to pay for school so she can get a job. Drama school is not going to get her a job that she can support herself with."
"Give it time. She's been hanging out with people who are generally a decade or more younger than her."
"Most probably still have all their hopes and dreams intact without the reality of debt, bills and children. Of course they are encouraging her to pursue her dreams." - AnyConstellation
Though some felt there was a way to encourage her creative pursuits while also encouraging her to keep her commitment to get a job to support herself.
"Or if it's singing that she's really passionate about, community choir! I love to sing, but know it's not realistic to make it a profession."
"So one night a week from mid-August to mid-May (with a 3 week break at Christmas) I practice with a community choir and we have concerts 4x a year." - PracticalLady18
"Honestly I'm glad I did because I consider these people a second family, made so many great friends and met my partner as he's a family member of one of them." - NinjaFocks
And many felt that the implication of the original offer was clear, for her to be able to get a job to support herself and her children, and trying to break into the arts was not part of that deal.
"Why not finish her degree then she can pay for her own acting and singing classes? Or maybe take an extra curricular class while still finishing her degree? NTA she seems flighty." - Pretty_Dragonfruit72
"OP isn't paying so that she can follow her dreams. He's paying so she can money up and get to work to support their kids. She'll have to sacrifice just a bit more..."
"It's not tough at all, it's very simple: she's willing to deprive her kids of having a mother able to earn her own money in order to chase after her dreams." - LongLiveTheBBS
"NTA. You're paying for her to provide for your shared children. Not so she can find her passion and have to ask you for more money down the line because she hasn't 'made it'. You're not a scholarship." - monarcho_capitalist
The internet was pretty unequivocal. The OP was not the a**hole.