Am I selfish for asking for more input in our financial decisions?
February 26, 2011 1:17 PM Subscribe
Help me understand financial partnership in marriage. Snow flurries within.
posted by Kitty Stardust to human relations (90 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
My husband and I had our first real married person fight. It began when he balked at lending me $10 to buy cat food. There is a huge disparity in our incomes. He makes in 1 month more than I make in a year. Since my job is so low-paying (university adjunct instructor) we’d agreed, despite my discomfort with the proposition, to set up a joint account into which he could deposit money I could use for things I needed. Well, I’d just paid several bill plus bought a wedding gift for one of his employees with the joint account and there wasn’t much left in it at the time I asked for more money for food. His stance was that he shouldn’t have to pay for the cat food since the cat is “my responsibility” and I probably spend too much money on my cat’s food anyway. He did give me the $10 after asking me how much it costs me every month to feed my cat.
Oh yeah, this was two days after he told me he was buying an airplane.
I was hurt by his penny-pinching and I mentioned it to my therapist. My therapist recommended I talk to my husband about our finances, since he feared we were setting up a precedent of uncooperative behavior. When I did bring it up to my husband, the conversation eventually devolved into a common refrain I hear from him: that I’m selfish and “uninvolved” in his life.
To his credit, he pointed out to me that he had given me almost $1500 that month to pay for my bills. I have to pay at least $400 a month in student loans every month, plus I buy groceries for the household with that account. My own checking account usually just covers my commuting costs with a little left over to buy myself lunch or whatever. I never have extra left over to put into my savings account.
Also to his credit, he asked for my opinion on the plane. I said I wasn’t going to tell him what to do, but I would just point out that we could do more practical things with that money. Privately, I doubt my dissent would have resulted in his deciding not to purchase the plane. Also, I fear being blamed or held responsible down the line for getting in the way of his dream of owning the plane.
What really upset me was that he can afford the frakkin airplane (which could pay both of our student loans) yet acted so put about $10. I hoped our conversation could open the door to our acting more as a team in financial matters, to which he claimed that he does everything for me while I fail to reciprocate by being interested in his life.
There are two issues here. The first is the financial one, which I suspected would be a problem for us. I have historically had a lot of trouble accepting financial assistance since I find it so often becomes a means of control. I would rather have my own money and not have to ask him or it. In fact, he has really had to push me to ask him for money when I need it instead of trying to sort it out by myself. I don’t think I lead some sort of extravagant lifestyle. Am I really being selfish?
The second issue is the constant return to the idea that I’m remote, uninterested or uninvolved. I’m one of those INT people. Not terribly demonstrative but I make sure to send him sweet text messages, get him cards and tell him often that I love him. When I asked him what would make me more involved in his life, he was unable to articulate that for me. He said some vague things about pouring him a glass of water or picking up his plate when we’re done eating dinner, which makes it sounds like in his mind “involved”=housekeeper, but he tells me this is not true. I ask him about his work, we talk about blogs he follows, I often invite him to talk to me about any issues he has. To me, this demonstrates involvement. Oh yeah, and I overcame my commitment phobia to get married to him. I don’t know what else I can do to be “involved.” He said what he really wants is for me to “be more considerate.”
Anyway: TL;DR: Am I selfish for asking for more input in our financial decisions? How can I show my spouse that I consider us a unified front?
Amendment: I am asking him to come see my therapist with me next week.