“Initially he proposed we have completely separate finances – we each pay for half of the household costs and the rest is our own to keep. I have to sign away any rights to his retirement, his investments, or savings. I expressed objection as that would put me in financial risk – during the years I stay home I won’t have an income and won’t contribute to retirement, he is geographically restricted so I will have to look for jobs near his work (I already have made career decisions because of geographic restriction). He then said he would give me some money every year I stay home (he mentioned 15k a year) and that is all I get in terms of a divorce.”
From that, what I am getting is that he expects that everything will be paid for separately. For the entire length of their marriage, whether it is 5 or 30 years, in the event of a divorce she gets nothing of his retirement, investments, or savings. When she objected to it, pointing out that her entire livelihood is impacted by giving HIM preference, he said that every year she stays home WHEN THEY DIVORCE he will give her 15k. Not now. Only when they divorce.
“I told him straight out I would not sign this. He paused for a bit, then offered to have a joint account for family expenses. All expenses related to the family, such as grocery, children’s educational cost, family vacation, would be covered by that joint account. He would contribute two thirds to the family expenses, and I will only contribute one third to that. Everything else is separate. For example, my clothes, my car payments, medical cost would be on my own. In case of divorce, you keep what you owned and the other person’s retirement, investment, assets etc would not be divided. The only thing that he agrees will be divided is his house, IF I use my wedding gift to pay for half of it.”
When she came back and said that she can’t marry him under those terms, he freaked out and way backpedaled. He blamed his lawyer and took no responsibility, didn’t even answer her when she pointed out that if he brought up those terms to her he must have agreed with them. He said that those weren’t the ‘real terms’. “He then said we would just have one joint account, we would pool our money, and that will be marital assets. He also said the house will be both ours, we would split the equity, any assets purchased during the marriage would be marital assets, and my wedding gift will be mine to use in any way I like. His retirement will be shared and my name would go on his life insurance.”
I’m going to go way out on a limb and say that the FH’s father is sort of a tyrant at home and the mother is pretty conflict-avoidant. I am thinking that the FH grew up in a household where what the father says goes, and I think he wants that same sort of dynamic in his home. The OP seems to defer to him a lot over big issues, and I think he was completely expecting that she would defer to him again in this case. When she didn’t, he threw a tantrum. Then when she showed some backbone, he backpedaled.
I don’t see this as a good thing. It reminds me of someone leaving a toxic workplace and being given a counteroffer. When you say you are leaving they panic because they will have to replace you and train someone else and that takes money and time. In the moment they just want you to stay, but if you take them up on it the rest of the issues are still there, AND they no longer want to invest in you because you aren’t loyal. I forsee that he will continue to try to have the same lifestyle as his parents, and will continue to want you under his thumb.
So in the event that you want to go through with this marriage, it is extremely important that you go through some sort of pre-marital counseling, and I would refuse to marry him without it as the ball is now in your court. It seems that there is a lot to unpack here and you guys need to be on the same page.