Help me get what I need from my live-in boyfriend!
September 18, 2010 10:12 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I have been living together officially for about 4 months, and our relationship is only about 8 months old altogether. It's worked out fine for the most part, but now we're moving to a new place and I'm about to reach the end of my rapidly-fraying financial patience rope. (advance apologies for length)

So we decided to "shack up" after a very short time of dating, for a number of reasons: 1) I lost my job and was panicked about money 2) He had been living in a house with several buddies and the lease was up, and his buddies were scattering all over the place 3) He was over pretty much 99% of the time anyway.

For the most part, this has worked out well. I was out of work for a couple of months and to my surprise enjoyed playing "housewife" (cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc.). The problem was that it wasn't like he was "supporting" me - he started a new job right after I lost mine, and he doesn't make great money, plus it took about a month to get his first paycheck, and meanwhile I had drained my savings paying rent, plus my car payment, plus the bills, etc. I had been credit card debt-free for years but busted it out again to pay for gas, groceries, and used it for my boyfriend to get a couple new "toys" with the agreement that he'd pay me back.

Other caveats: He doesn't have a car/license at the moment, leaving the burden of transportation for me. He takes the bus occassionally and has no problem doing so, but I still drive him/us EVERYWHERE. This also makes it so that I'm the one who buys all the things on those "quick trips" to the grocery store simply because I have the means of getting there. My car is leased, and mileage is getting to be a problem, especially since I've started working again, but far from home.

The bills are already all in my name, since it was my place to begin with, so now when he gives me his half of the bills (after I bring it up several times, and make little sheets for each of us detailing what we need to come up with every month) I still wind up paying those few extra bucks that we didn't count in, for a $44 electric bill that I told him was $40, etc. I know that's not a lot but it adds up.

I'm very, very stressed out about money. I'm angry that I have credit card debt again and that I can't seem to get out from under it. He's a pretty easygoing guy (I guess it's easy to be easygoing when this stuff is all getting taken care of for you) and always tells me to relax and that things will get better.

So, I guess what I'm asking is, how do I get more assertive when collecting money from him? I can get so fired up when I'm at work and want to go home and walk in like gangbusters and tell him that this is bullsh*t, I'm sick of being the only one who's responsible, etc. but then as soon as I see him, I get all soft and start to feel bad for even being angry at him. It's nothing he's doing on purpose, it's me, but still.

It's starting to take its toll on our young relationship - I'm always stewing and stressed, he's working a lot of hours and working very hard and tired, I hate this job I'm at now and stressed that I'm basically "breaking even" (I don't make good money either). Combined, our income is pretty decent and we're looking to move into a new, bigger/more expensive place, that by all accounts we should be able to afford. I need him to meet me halfway and have told him as much, I told him just last night that I'm tired of handling this myself.

It would be one thing if the "roommate" part of us was good too, but I'm the one doing all the housework, the laundry, the driving, the bookkeeping, buying the shampoo and soap and groceries, and feeling guilty if I ever ask for a penny. So I often feel like the man of the house, the housewife AND the girlfriend trying to be as fun and happy as I was when we first met, all at the same time. It's exhausting.

This is just as much my fault as it is his, as I have one of those "take care of everyone" personalities and it's driving me crazy.

I hasten to add that despite this (all of this) we're pretty damn happy together. We laugh a lot and genuinely care for each other. I can't imagine my life without him. I just want to know how to be more assertive, how to get my needs met, and how to make our household run fairly for both of us.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Sit down together, go through the last few months bills and do a budget. Then, when you know what everything costs, set up a joint account that you both contribute to every month that will cover the budget. Pay for all joint expenses out of that.

As far as the housework, sit down and draw up the list of chores and ask him which half of the list he wants to do.
posted by IanMorr at 10:27 AM on September 18, 2010

The bills are already all in my name, since it was my place to begin with, so now when he gives me his half of the bills (after I bring it up several times, and make little sheets for each of us detailing what we need to come up with every month) I still wind up paying those few extra bucks that we didn't count in, for a $44 electric bill that I told him was $40, etc. I know that's not a lot but it adds up.

This part is easy. Stop telling him the $44 electric bill was $40. Make a spreadsheet ledger that has the ongoing balance of how much he owes. The few dollars that add up will actually add up there. Use some sort of electronic payment or checks to get paid exactly.
posted by grouse at 10:28 AM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

You need to tell him everything you've told us here. Write it down if you have trouble having the conversation. But you need to tell him how you're feeling and what you need, specifically. It sounds as though you've told him in general terms that you're upset but haven't given him any concrete facts.
posted by decathecting at 10:30 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow, you have gotten yourself into a mess. If you don't take care of it right now, you are going to end up married to someone who is not your partner and be unhappy until you get divorced after a rocky and unhappy ten years.

Oh sorry, that was me.

You have to sit him down and talk with him. Men cannot read minds, and they have no idea how a woman thinks. It isn't fair to assume that he understands that you are doing the housework (he probably has a much lower dirt threshold than you), that you expect him to pay for half of everything, and that you are not satisfied with the way things are.

Make a list of the bills, and ask him for his half on the 15th of the month (or whenever he gets paid around that time) and include groceries and fun money. Tell him you need his half of the rent at the first. Explain to him the stress the money situation is causing you. Be sure to include part of the lease on your car...if you are driving him everywhere because you feel obligated, it is my opinion that paying 25-30% of your lease is fair, and would be the sweet boyfriendly thing to do. I have a feeling he isn't exactly chipping in for gas either, and that should be included as well.

And not that I am saying all relationships end in marriage, but if you are willing to live with someone you must consider the fact that you might end up married, or accidently having his kid. I got pregnant with twins while on the pill.

Is this the way you want to be treated by your life partner? If not, you need to nip it in the bud now. Things do NOT get easier when you get married, except through hard work. Due to time, stress, and life in general relationships get stressed and go through really difficult periods.

If you are this unhappy and you have been together less than a year, it doesn't bode well for your relationship in the long run.

The crux of the biscuit? You have three options;

1. Fix it now.
2. Run like hell.
3. Be miserable.

I like the first option.
posted by CoffeeDregs at 10:32 AM on September 18, 2010 [17 favorites]

You think he's not being fair to you for not meeting you halfway, but you're not being fair to him because you haven't fully laid it all out on the table. You have to do that first. You're sabotaging the relationship if you can't be honest with him - this really sounds like a communication issue. It's pretty easy for someone to not realize everything another person is doing for them if the other person never tells them all the things they're doing.

If you can detail all this for us, why can't you detail it for him? He's worth way more to you than we are.
posted by flex at 10:32 AM on September 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

"we're looking to move into a new, bigger/more expensive place"

I don't have any relationship advice, but this line sort of stuck out to me when you're apparently having trouble affording your current lifestyle.
posted by Diplodocus at 10:33 AM on September 18, 2010 [22 favorites]

The bills are already all in my name

Oh man, I was in this situation once and my credit report STILL has not recovered. Please don't make the same mistake I made.

we're looking to move into a new, bigger/more expensive place, that by all accounts we should be able to afford.

I really, really, really don't think you should do this. I'm probably projecting a bit due to my own disastrous past experience, but seriously, he has pretty much no reason to straighten up and take more responsibility. You've shown him that all he has to do is nothing, and you're going to get frustrated and handle everything. If you're planning on moving soon anyway, find yourself a really cheap place that you can afford on your own, and tell him he's going to have to do the same. I'm not saying you should break up, but living together means sharing the responsibilities, and he seems unwilling to do that.

If you absolutely insist on living together, don't move to a MORE expensive place of all things, and DO insist that he put some of the bills in his name. Don't take no for an answer on that. And don't continue to manage everything, including the household stuff. Let his laundry pile up for a few weeks, instead of throwing up your hands and saying, "FINE, I'll do it AGAIN." You've already told him how frustrated you are, he doesn't seem to care, so it's time for consequences.
posted by Gator at 10:35 AM on September 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

It seems as though the money problems are not all caused by your boyfriend, and I think you need to acknowledge that. You're the one who was out of work for a few months. With or without your boyfriend, you would have drained your savings and used the credit card. You're the one who bought the boyfriend a "couple of toys." You're the one who chose the not-financially-so-smart option of leasing a car (as opposed to buying a car second hand or taking the bus). So, you're mad at your boyfriend for not paying half of the expenses, which I get, but you have to realize that you are part of the situation, too.

If the two of you want to maintain a car, then you should split the expenses. If the two of you (or you alone) can't afford a car, then bus it is.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:41 AM on September 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

Yours seems to be more of a communication problem than a budget problem, and there's good advice upthread. I agree strongly with IanMorr's suggestion of a joint account - definitely consider setting one up, with debit cards, and pay all your joint expenses through it. In addition, your boyfriend may find it much easier to "own" this problem if he can see it laid out plainly. Set up online access to the account - and be sure you have some online tool that will make it easier for both of you to grasp at a glance how all the $3 shampoo purchases and $40 fill-ups add up over the month.

You can use your bank's online site if it's good, or you can plug it into an external site - my husband (then cohabitating-boyfriend) never really took any interest in our spending or budgeting until he had clear, easy to use views of how we were spending our money. We didn't have the level of friction you two seem to be facing, but still made a huge difference for us.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:47 AM on September 18, 2010

Pardon the assumption, but you both sound really young. Based on this assumption, I think it's entirely rational to think that the rational solution (make a budget, follow it) won't work, as even many married adults have problems doing this.

You need a non-rational solution to this, like getting a place all your own again. Yes, it's cheaper to live together, but you're not ready for this and neither is he. Surely he has some other guy friends he could get a house with? It would be more fun for him and you wouldn't be forced too early into the role of wife/mother to a guy who's undoubtedly great, just needs to grow up a little.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:51 AM on September 18, 2010 [7 favorites]

Here's what I would do. Sit down and go through all the bills and do your best to split them 50/50. e.g. Rent = Gas + Electric + Internet OR Gas + Electric + Internet = Cable + Car Lease, etc. Do this by putting the values for 3 or 4 months in Excel and averaging them. Once you've got the sides of the equation fairly well balanced, put one half of the equation under his name. You pay the ones under your name, he pays the ones under his name. If it's not possible to get the bills to totally line up or there are some that must stay in your name (e.g. car lease), make up the difference with groceries or gas money. It won't come out perfectly even every month, but it will remove the money stress. Don't remind him about paying his bills at all. They're his and under his name, and if the power gets turned off, well aren't you lucky to know NOW that he's the sort of person to let that happen?

I would also like to suggest looking into getting an account with Mint. It will track everything and make it into nice pie charts and everything so you can see exactly where your money is going. If he's a visual person, it might get him to snap out of it and realize that he's not doing his fair share.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:01 AM on September 18, 2010

Its easy. Put the bills in his name.

He will be very motivated to do the weekly / monthly budgeting with you.

Set up joint accounts for bills, grocercies, etc.
posted by zia at 11:25 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why is it his fault that you tell him the wrong amount for the electric bill? And why did you buy him "toys" when you were out of work? Why would you expect him to support you financially? Both of you are certainly at fault here, and it doesn't sound like you're talking to him about how you're feeling. You two need to communicate and hash out what each of you is assigned to do in the household. Put some of the bills in his name.
posted by amro at 11:28 AM on September 18, 2010

Mint is a great idea. In reality, it hasn't worked 1/2 the time for me. YMMV.

You would be able to track your spending habits and set budgets, but it would just be for your side of the financial equation, unless you combined bank accounts, which I DO NOT recommend at this point in your relationship.

I agree that it sounds like a communication problem. Before the 2 of you sit down, figure out exactly what part is bothering you, whether it be the driving to the store for the little things, him not being proactive enough, etc.

Talk about it and come up with some real-world, concrete solutions and put them into place. If something arises that bothers you, from now on, let him know right then and there. Something like, "hey, sarah (one of our 3 dogs) isn't taking her metronitozol, I've tried cheese, peanut butter, etc, but she spits it out. Any suggestions?" Then she says "yeah, I'll pick up some pill pockets from work." Awesome, case closed, no stress. (Sorry, one of the issues on my mind last night, figured I could use it as my real world example here).

This is an easy one right now (well finances are one of the biggest relationship killers there are). Take care of it and develop healthy communication habits now though.
posted by TheBones at 11:34 AM on September 18, 2010

I know you've been together for less than a year, but a joint bank account could be a great solution. If not a literal account, you could do a jar 'o cash type thing.

Every purchase or expense that is joint, comes from this shared account, that you each contribute equally to each month. Write checks from this account to pay rent, buy groceries, gas, car payment, etc. Any money leftover can be moved back to your personal accounts at the end of the month, or subtracted from next month's payment.

Ideally you wouldn't be accruing lots of cash into this account, and if a bad breakup ever came, there wouldn't be lots of cash for either of you to steal. It's also good to set a budget and both have a motivation to stick to it.

Also, the "merry housewife" thing is toxic toxic toxic to relationships. Stop it. I know it's an easy role to fall into, being modeled for us women in every form of media since the moment of our birth. You wonder why he's so laid-back and not taking on responsibility? You've more or less taken on the role of his mom. This isn't a good way to have a mature, sexy, adult relationship.

If you do have kids together one day and choose to be a stay at home mom, you're going to be your children's mother, not his mother. It's an important distinction to make.

I'm one of those people who also likes "domestic" things too-- I enjoy cooking, don't really mind cleaning, etc. I don't think that's a bad thing at all. It's just a personality trait. Some people don't think of their homes as anything more than a place to sleep and would rather eat out every night. Thats ok too. There is a distinction between "domestic" and "aping the role of mother". If you want to take care of something, get a pet. If you like having a nice home and a live-in-boyfriend, you need an equal partner who wants to share these responsibilities with you.

When I slipped into this while also unemployed, my boyfriend and I made a rule. No one cleans by themselves. We go shopping together, and most nights we cook together too. If one person wants to treat someone else to a meal or a scrubbed bathroom or clean clothing, it's done as a gift that the other person is grateful for. This way you don't get into a rut where you're unappreciated for your work.
posted by fontophilic at 11:42 AM on September 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

You are going to have to ask for what you want and communicate to have your needs met, otherwise you are going to be miserable. Split the housework and cooking 50/50. You are both employed and there is no reason you should burden yourself with all these tasks. You are not his mom.

Alternate nights for cooking dinner. If boyfriend doesn't know how to cook, this is a good time to learn. Even if he makes scrambled eggs or grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, I feel like that still counts. My husband didn't know how to cook when we first moved in together. Over time, he's become an amazing cook. It took lots of time cooking together and encouragement.

Do the housework together. Divide the tasks up and they'll get done faster.

Regarding financial incredibly transparent about your bills and how much stuff is costing you. Put his name on the bills too. If he is using your car or you are driving him around all the time, he should pay for half of that too. Make him sit down with you to do the book-keeping. You could each keep your own personal checking accounts, but get a shared account as well. Each payday, you both stick $100 or so into this account. Stuff like groceries and household incidentals can come out of this account.
posted by pluckysparrow at 12:40 PM on September 18, 2010

Here is my advice. I gave it to my children and my nieces, I'll give it to you - never move in to an apartment that you cannot afford on your own. I know you love this guy to bits and you think you'll be with him forever, but if you're having money troubles now, and things go bad in a few months and suddenly you're in a "bigger, more expensive" place then your money problems are going to be so much worse.

As for asking him to pay you back for past debts - those toys you bought him? Again I'll pass on the same advice I gave to my kids... Never lend out anything you expect to get back -- and that includes money -- especially to friends and SO's. If you can't afford it, don't lend it out. Money is the fastest way to ruin a relationship. If you don't want it to ruin yours, forgive the past debts and work on being more assertive in the future.

I'm with other posters who say that you guys need to work on your communication - from this day forward let him know that you can't carry the load anymore, that it's putting a strain on your finances. If you're not confrontational about it then I'm sure y'all can work it out.
posted by patheral at 12:54 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You are not his wife.

You're "playing housewife." Your complaint, to me, seems to be that he is not playing husband. Continuing to play housewife will not spur him into playing husband.

One of the ways not to get your needs met by a guy is to go over-and-above doing things for him that he hasn't even asked you to do. He will not instinctively reciprocate. You shouldn't be cleaning up after him, or cooking three meals for him, or buying his socks, or doing his laundry, or driving him places, or buying him toys. He thinks you're being nice, while you are stewing with resentment, silently waiting for him to return the favor(s). He won't. You can ask him to, but there's a huge likelihood that your "request" will come out as a demand accompanied by all your negative feelings.

You guys really shouldn't be living together. My first thought reading your question was that your three reasons for moving in together were really bad reasons to cohabitate. You chose a permanent solution to temporary problems. And your first problem, the money stress and panic, has only gotten worse.

Save your relationship and your financial sanity, and get different places. Then, when you've been together for longer than four months, are both in secure financial positions as individuals, and are looking to take the next step in a long-term relationship, should you think about moving in together again.
posted by thebazilist at 1:10 PM on September 18, 2010 [13 favorites]

In the short term, I think you ought to move in with roommates where the emotional baggage is....absent. You have a financial mess, and possibly an emotional mess on your hands.

With straight up roommates, it's not personal if they don't pay the bills, and you feel no emotional need to bail them out. Repeatedly. If they can't hang with their obligations, they move out and you find a more responsible roommate.

Of course, communication is the long term solution in this relationship. However, that isn't more of the same kind of communication you have been employing. Understand that conversations about money are emotionally charged for lots of reasons, and you would both be well advised to figure out what money means to each of you. I would suspect that the answers will be different.
posted by bilabial at 1:27 PM on September 18, 2010

Don't get a joint bank account.
Get some/all/a share of the bills transferred to his name.

Instead of buying him shampoo, etc., pay off your credit card debt.
Can you work a 2nd job?

He might be a great guy, but I think you're being taken advantage of. You're his girlfriend, not his mom, not his maid, not his personal assistant. A guy who loves you doesn't let you drain your savings and rack up credit card debt just because you can.

When one partner's not employed, I do think that person should pick up the slack at home--which you did. But now, you're back at work, he's at work, and a household budget needs to be worked out.

He needs to pay you back for the "toys" now.

If you can ignore the religious part, I'd suggest you start reading/listening to Dave Ramsey.

And without playing online shrink--I'd suggest that you ask yourself why you let yourself be a bit of a doormat. If he's going to dump you because you ask for gas money, he's not the right guy.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:36 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of the ways not to get your needs met by a guy person is to go over-and-above doing things for him that he hasn't even asked you to do.

Fixed that for you.

This is not a gender problem. This is not a relationship problem. This is a "how to be an adult" problem.

People cannot meet your expectations if they don't know what you expect.

Additionally, knowing what you expect is not a guarantee that they will do what you want/need. They may be unable to, or unwilling, not matter how well you communicate.

Thebazelist is right, without communication and other solid foundation work, living together is a recipe for disaster.
posted by bilabial at 1:38 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't tell: are you asking for help and he's telling you to chill out, take it easy, or are you barely asking and feeling guilty every time you do ask?

This is just as much my fault as it is his, as I have one of those "take care of everyone" personalities and it's driving me crazy.

It's good that you have a sense of what you're contributing. Your post sounds fair-minded. Sometimes, though, it slips into this funny bitterness ("I guess it's easy to be easygoing when this stuff is all getting taken care of for you"). I can't tell if that's justified because of his responses, or if that's just you wishing he was stepping up more without asking.

In terms of whether the bitterness is justified, it does suck to have to teach someone to be an adult. On the other hand, people have different styles of dealing with life, and there's always some amount of friction as partners in a new relationship get their styles into alignment.

feeling guilty if I ever ask for a penny

Yeah, do not feel guilty. Just be matter of fact. You're doing him a favor. When I was the housemate who didn't do the bills, I really appreciated them doing the math. And when they didn't tell me, I felt nervous about having an outstanding debt of unknown quantity.

So, I guess what I'm asking is, how do I get more assertive when collecting money from him? I can get so fired up when I'm at work and want to go home and walk in like gangbusters and tell him that this is bullsh*t, I'm sick of being the only one who's responsible, etc. but then as soon as I see him, I get all soft and start to feel bad for even being angry at him. It's nothing he's doing on purpose, it's me, but still.

The problem here is that this is all wrapped up in emotions. Guilt, anger, getting soft, he's easygoing, etc. Meanwhile, with you being so focused on these interpersonal exchanges, you're neglecting your own needs, such as your need for a secure financial situation. With those being ignored, they are getting much more strident.

Fundamentally, it is your responsibility to get your needs met, and sure, it'd be nice if he was automatically going above and beyond to make sure he's paying his share or more, but I'm not hearing him doing anything that is seriously impeding some attempt by you to get your needs met. Probably, as far as he's concerned, things are basically fine. He probably doesn't know that forgetting to write a check the first time he's asked totally stresses you out, or that you're stressed about having covered this or that little grocery expense. So, this could turn out to be surprisingly easy: you look at your needs, figure out what approach would work to meet them, and then just calmly say, hey, I'm stressed out but here's a system that would work better for me, let's try doing things this way.

So, I'd handle it this way:
1. Focus on what those internal needs are. You want to be paying down debt, for example. By how much every month?
2. Communicate with him about that, focusing on what you need going ahead, not on some past wrongs or how you wish he was automatically doing these things or whatever you think might be going on in his internal headspace.
3. Set up a system that works.

"Bob, I've been feeling really stressed about money lately. I hate having debt. I'm really worried about my cash-flow and expenses, and I think since we just started living together, we haven't quite finished setting up a system for sharing the costs and the work equally. So, here's what I was thinking we could try..."

You could even ask for help with this whole guilt thing: "one place I really need your help is in keeping this system running. I don't want to have to ask you for money every month because for some reason, I feel guilty about it. So, I'm happy to be the one to create the spreadsheet, but then I'd like you to write a check on the first of the month when you also write your rent check." (Or whatever.)
posted by salvia at 1:49 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

What we did was work together to come up with a comprehensive joint budget, open a joint account and each deposit the same % of our income such that combined it equaled the monthly total. That way I could pay all of the bill, buy the groceries, fill up the car, etc. without him having to remember/think to write the check or bring money. (When we moved in together there were stacks of unopened bills. He had the money, he just never remembered to deal with them). I have a much higher anxiety level about money than he does, so I got the relief of writing the check myself without the resentment of paying for it all myself. Also, this way you can jointly save up for fun purchases as well.
As far as household chores - another frank discussion along the lines of the budget. This is what needs to be done. These are things I hate to do. These are things I don't mind. THese are things I enjoy. Find out where those task lists line up and delegate accordingly.

I think living together is kind of a hard thing to learn and getting the right balance takes a lot of work and discussion. It is not going to automatically or magically happen. These are conversations that you need to have together.
posted by munichmaiden at 1:53 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have been through something similar and even after a much longer period of time, never resolved these sort of issues with a partner. My advice is that it gets down to not these specific issues, but whether or not the two of you are able to have rational discussions in which they are resolved.

For example, if you bring up the issue of unequal housework, a good outcome is that you both agree on how this will get done. You might agree on a chore roster, you might split the chores between you and agree how often they are done, you might decide to get a cleaner. But if you have a discussion in which you lay out how this is affecting you, and he will not work with you on a resolution (it doesn't have to be right on the spot, but say, within a week, you have at least agreed on something to try and see if it works), I suggest you question whether this will work for you in the long run. I know that is hard, and I also know it is easy to make all kinds of excuses for someone.
posted by AnnaRat at 8:07 PM on September 18, 2010

You've already got plenty of good advice in this thread, but one thing that I really sense in your post is that you are getting frustrated with being the one to be in charge of all the grown-up stuff. You have the running list of what bills are due and how much in your head, and you are the one to ask him for the money. I bet you have a running tally in your head of what housework has been done recently, and what needs doing, and when. I bet you are the one to notice when you are running low on certain groceries and that stuff needs picking up. This is all going to make you feel like he isn't pulling his weight even if he does everything you ask him to.

Part of this might be that he moved into *your* house, where you already had systems in place. For that reason, moving into a new place together might help. It would at least be a great opportunity to make a fresh start on things like chore rosters, bills, etc. But if you are struggling financially, for god's sake don't move into a more expensive place. Why don't you look for somewhere cheaper?

The other thing you need to do is either automate systems (like bill paying - maybe auto-deduct a certain amount from each of your pay checks to go into a third account that all the bills get automatically paid out of?), or assign responsibilities for keeping track of some things to him. E.g. maybe you jointly decide that he is in charge of keeping groceries in the house. That might involve him asking you to buy stuff when you go out, but you don't have to think about it any more: just do what he asks. And you might take that same responsibility for e.g. your pets. Or the housework. Or something.

The passive aggressive way is to just let things go wrong, and wait for him to step up. E.g. stop cleaning, and wait for him to get grossed out and do something. Or stop cooking dinner, and wait until he gets hungry and either cooks, or at least suggests something for you to cook together. I've played that game before, and it works, but it's also a recipe for having a grumpy household. Much better to talk about it all like adults.
posted by lollusc at 9:04 PM on September 18, 2010

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