Love and Money
February 8, 2008 2:12 PM   Subscribe

My husband of five months and I have different attitudes towards money. He’s more money conscious that I am, at least, that’s what he calls it. I think of his “money-consciousness” as a cross between minor cheapness and money obsession. I am right now at a crossroads in the relationship and I don’t know how to solve it or whether I should even continue it.

His behaviors:

- On our first date he insisted we split the bill. Ever since he’s behaving in a way that means that we always have to be even. Everything has to be split evenly, if I owe him money, he makes sure to remind me to repay it, etc. While he insists on us being even – the insistence is only on the occasions that benefit his interest. If the imbalance is such that I pay for it and if I tell him not to worry about it, he never protests or insists that he should return money to me/pay me back. One example – we were splitting the cost of groceries, I suggested that we adjust the percentage from 50/50 to 60/40 since he’s a man and he eats much more that I do. He essentially ridiculed me for this idea. Another example, we were splitting the cost of Christmas gifts for our parents, at some point he started acting weird and instead of splitting the cost of digital camera (for my mom and dad) as we agreed on, he suggested he’ll pay just for the memory card (about 45 euros). When I asked him if he was serious, he asked me: “What? It’s not enough?” We fought. I found his response just wrong on many, many levels – he didn’t really see anything wrong with it.

- Recently, he told me that his aunt has given us an amount of money (about 10,000 euros) to start our life together (buy furniture for the new apartment etc.). He said she gave him the money and told him to spend it on things we need – the attached card is addressed to both of us. Immediately he started planning on how to spend it – some should go to furniture and the rest towards a new car for him (b/c he needs one). When I jokingly pointed out that he shouldn’t be so fast with spending it b/c it’s for both of us, he sarcastically asked me if he should wire me half of it. The next day he expressed some doubts whether the money was in fact for us because she actually gave it to him and after all she is his aunt, not mine. We got in a fight (to me it’s not the matter of money, since I didn’t expect it and don’t really need it, but what infuriated me is that he said it was for us and then went back on it – it makes me feel like he’s greedy and would screw me over for money)

- A few times I heard him say that he would do something slightly unethical for more money. For example, he was entitled to a tax relief but needed to obtain a copy of my lease. It looked like for various reasons he wouldn’t be able to get a copy. To which he suggested that he will just fake the lease and submit it with his tax statement. Other examples include getting paid twice for an interview and not returning the money after noticing the mistake. Then wondering whether he should return it after the company contacted him asking for refund (we’re talking about around 500 euros). These things bother me – I find them dishonest.

My behaviors:

- I don’t think we need to be even all the time. I think that with time it evens out anyway. If I see something he would like – like a nice watch for 200 euros, or a book for 20, I will buy it for him and give it to him without any occasion. Lately, due to his behavior, I feel like I don’t really want to spontaneously get things for him anymore.

- I am relatively responsible with money. I have a lot of savings (as does he) and neither one of us has any debts. We both earn quite a bit, although his salary is higher. We have separate accounts and no joint assets. I do not have the cutthroat attitude to get more money and search for occasions that would make me richer like he does (on some level I admire him for this attitude b/c it will assure his wealth but on another I despise him when he applies this attitude to me).

- When push comes to shove, I tend to have too much pride and say – You can stick your money. Take your aunt’s 10,000 grand, I’m not entitled to it and I don’t even want it. You’re haggling with me over splitting the cost of Christmas gifts for my parents? Screw you, I’ll pay for everything myself – I don’t need anything from you. He usually doesn’t protest and I think is secretly happy about me telling him not to contribute.

Additional Background:

- He comes from a family that was never very affluent but at the same time not poor (parents are both teachers – they lead a comfortable life, but nothing too crazy). My parents are rather rich and I will potentially inherit a lot of money (currently though, I am completely on my own and don’t receive any money from them, apart from an occasional Christmas/Birthday gift). I think some differences in our approach to money may come from what our families have (or don’t have) and the inherent sense of in/security in this. However, even though I can find this an extenuating circumstance, I find his behavior very off-putting. I feel like I can’t trust him with money – I am at a point where I want him to sign a postnuptial agreement specifying that all gifts/inheritance received from my family will be solely mine (because in case things go bad, I feel that he’ll try to get every last penny out of me). On one hand I feel he’s backed me into this corner with his behavior – on the other I feel like this is not a way to live nor to start your marriage. It disturbs me that my normally trusting and easygoing brain is sending me signs that I should protect myself just in case. This makes me actually rethink whether we should stay married (it is such a contentious issue for me and so strong of a sentiment) even though I love him very much and have no doubt that he loves me.

So here I come hive mind, to ask for advice on how to change this situation. How to show to my husband that his behavior is wrong? Also, to verify whether it is in fact wrong or am I some naïve, oversensitive drama queen. Maybe everyone is the way he is and I’m just the odd person who just simply doesn’t know how to take care of her business and has a deluded vision of what is right. (In that case, please provide me with advice on how to be more assertive about money and how to be more more like him). Also, any insights from people who were in similar situation and managed to change it or failed at changing it, would be appreciated. Any advice on changing his or my behavior that will lead to a happy ending would be great.

My throwaway email address is metanony@yahoo.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (55 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
My best friend is the world is a completely normal guy who's great to be around... until something deals with money. Then he begins to act just as you described. "Thrifty" is a nice thing to call it. A "parsimonious penny-pinching tight-ass" is what I've settled on. You should see his tax returns. He has every receipt from everything at any point at time during the history of the universe. He has claimed everything I can think of as a business deduction. If he ever gets audited it will be the fight of the universe.

Some people are just this way, I suppose. I don't have to date my best friend however. I strongly thing these people will *never* change. If you can't live with this (and I don't blame you) it would be wise to move on.
posted by unixrat at 2:24 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


One bank account for both of you. Only one bank account for both of you. No accounting of who puts what in.

That's the way my wife and I do it, and it works quite well.

Also, psychotherapy helps a lot. It sounds like you two should do that. Know this. There are three difficult issues that you will face in your first year of marriage:

(1) Religion
(2) Money
(3) Family

You're already hitting one of those. Hell, the issue with the aunt up there hits two of them. You're going to have to deal with each of these carefully if you want to build a lasting marriage.

My wife and I are seven months in. It's a blast, but it's certainly hard work. I don't think it'd be rewarding if we didn't work at it. Listening to your problem, I think your husband doesn't understand his silly obsession with money. A therapist can help him understand. If I were the psychotherapist for the two of you, I'd suggest that you should handle all the money; but I don't think that's a notion you should bring up with him alone, unless you can do it without him misunderstanding.

It sounds like you two haven't worked out a way to talk about these things yet. You both need to sit down for a long time and find out how you can-- without fighting. You might sometimes disagree, but you need to learn to discuss and resolve disagreements like this one, which is a big issue for every marriage, with a minimum of collateral damage.
posted by koeselitz at 2:33 PM on February 8, 2008


You can't change another person, unless they want to be changed. Until/unless your husband gets some kind of "reward" for behaving differently, then he won't.

If I was in your situation, and having having doubts about the future of the marriage 5 months into it, I'd be thinking strongly about moving on. Money issues aside, this isn't a good sign.
posted by Solomon at 2:33 PM on February 8, 2008


50/50 to 60/40 since he’s a man and he eats much more that I do.

No offense but you sound like the cheap one here.

The next day he expressed some doubts whether the money was in fact for us because she actually gave it to him and after all she is his aunt

That's roughly correct. If she wanted to give you 5k euros she would have. Instead she gave him 10k euros.

digital camera (for my mom and dad) as we agreed on, he suggested he’ll pay just for the memory card (about 45 euros).

Yeah, sounds like this is family split. HIS aunt, YOUR parents, etc. I think both of you need to just sit down and discuss monehy. I think you need to be less judgemental too.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:34 PM on February 8, 2008


He insisted you go dutch on the first date…and you wound up marrying him? I'm surprised he got a second date out of you.

Your husband's attitude towards money, I would say, is not mainstream. Do not adjust your behavior to be more like his. And before you mentioned it yourself, it occurred to me that he'd scrap for his share of your inheritance. Based on what you've told us, that instinct seems spot-on.

I'm sure there are other aspects to him that make him worth being around, but the picture you've painted here is of an entirely loathsome man.

I suppose you could talk to him about why he's money-hungry in the way he is, and explain to him that it bothers you a lot. Getting him to change that attitude would be tough (and I have no insight into how you'd do it), although it would benefit both of you. Failing that, you'll have to learn to put up with it or walk.
posted by adamrice at 2:36 PM on February 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


It disturbs me that my normally trusting and easygoing brain is sending me signs that I should protect myself just in case.

You should listen to your brain.

The grocery thing sounds a little weird to me, but I'm not in your relationship. In my house, groceries are paid out of the joint account (except for meat, which my partner doesn't eat - I pay for that myself, and that's fine by me).

His aunt gave you (by "you" I mean both of you, as a married couple) money for house stuff. It might be his aunt, but it seems like her intention was for the money to be used for your dual benefit. If she'd wanted to give the money just to him, she would have, right?

My partner and I have a joint account, and separate individual accounts. If I want to buy a book for myself, or as a present for my sweetie, I use my money. If I'm buying groceries for the house, that comes out of the joint account.

Some people put exactly the same amount of money in a joint account. Some people use a percentage of income - say, if one person makes 30% more than the other person, they put more in the house account. If you're living together and have joint expenses - rent/mortgage, groceries, etc., it just seems easier to arrange things so that those payments come out of a joint account.

If you started a joint account, and money from each of you was automatically transferred from your individual accounts every month (or whatever's convenient), wouldn't that be easier than keeping track of/nagging the other person about "Groceries were 50 euros - you owe me 25, okay?"

I don't know quite what to tell you about his behavior around backing out of agreements, except that it's not okay to say "Let's split the cost of X" and then renege on that without discussing it (calmy, and without sarcasm or snark). That's not what grownups do.

Swallow your pride (it tastes terrible, I know), and model adult behavior for him. Money can and does cause wicked problems in relationships, as you now know.
posted by rtha at 2:39 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you should go with your feelings. IMO, relationships where the happiness of one partner is contingent upon the other partner's ability to change are, in a nutshell, doomed.

FWIW, like unixrat, I also know a guy like this. Whips out the calculator when the restaurant bill comes to make sure everyone pays their share down to the penny. Bills his significant others for "their share" of the heating costs and breakfast cereals. In the two dozen years I've known him, the only change he's made is to become even more stingy. And he's just gotten divorced for the third time.
posted by jamaro at 2:40 PM on February 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, some anecdotal stuff, since you asked for that:

My wife and I are different, in that I'm a totally hopeless fool when it comes to money (and most logistical or practical life-type-stuff) and she's quite organized. But it's similar in some ways. I had to drop a lot of my pride along the way to accept the fact that she's simply better at handling certain things, and that I can still bring something to the relationship, it's just not that. It's hard but necessary for people who are newly married to learn to step aside and let the other partner handle things in certain times, and step up and handle them at others. It was very hard to hear her say: "Jeff, you're just no good with money, and we need to handle this differently." It was, I think, just as hard for her to say it without being angry or disappointed, as a real act of caring. Now she takes care of all the money; I do things to help, but mostly I do what she tells me to, and that way she can organize it and make sure that the right things can get done.

In the same way, I think he's going to have to learn to accept that you both have equal status on every money issue. As a friend of mine said: "There's no 'me' money any more. When you get married, it's all 'we' money." That's a good motto to remember and to live by. On the other side, yes, there are going to be things that you're going to have to learn, too, and it'll be just as much a struggle to stay open and honestly accept changes. It's a two-way street.
posted by koeselitz at 2:41 PM on February 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's not uncommon (although I can't comprehend it personally) for married couples to keep finances strictly separated and do things this way, although usually it's by agreement and not unilateral. To me, this behavior is selfish, and marriages can rarely handle the strain of unequal selfishness. If he can't see your relationship as a joint venture with shared assets, but you do see it that way, things are not going to get better. Especially if you have a kid... nothing kills a marriage (let alone a child's self-esteem) like arguing over who's not kicking in their fare share of the kid's room and board.

You are not being oversensitive. You have reasonable expectations about what a marriage means. It seems that he has a different vision, and I agree with unixrat that the odds of him changing are extremely low. You're already fighting about it. If he cares more about the balance sheet than your feelings now, that is not likely to improve as the marriage ages.

You can accept this as just something about him you don't like, or you can move on... and it sounds like you've already made up your mind. Differing money perspectives is a very difficult thing for a marriage to overcome.
posted by ulotrichous at 2:43 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, before the "more inside" I had ... preconceptions. Apologies, but this guy seems a bit loony.

No joint account? Are you two actually married, or are you his tax break? What kind of prenupt do you have? Ms. nobeagle and I have personal accounts as well as joint accounts, but we deposit our money into the joint account, and any transfers to personal accounts are pre-agreed, and for the most part minimal. Since we've adopted Ms. nobeagle hasn't had time to do any outside work, and I'm the sole income source. We expected this. I have no qualms about my paycheck going into the joint account. We each have an agreed upon amount that we can take in cash or transfer to personal accounts and do whateve we want with it. The rest of the money is joint. We don't account for who puts in what - it's "our" money. Regarding 50/50% vs. 40/60% - if your money goes into a joint account that's a moot point.

Regarding right/wrong, I think that your situation is uncommon. I'll note that you went into marriage seeing what his behavior was like around money; did you have conversations that lead you to expect it to change? Ms. nobeagle and I had joint accounts before the wedding, as we'd promised to stay together before we could legally marry.

If you want to try to change his behavior, I would say to address it from the perspective that you don't feel that you're part of a partnership. It should be you two against the world. Right now it's Him against the world, and you against the world, with a (mostly honored) cease-fire between each other.

Well, at least it should be in my mind. However, it takes two people to make a marriage, and the marriage will be different for each two. It sounds a bit like defining the marriage might have been skipped for you two. You two might have to go back to pre-marriage steps, even if you're already married and find out what's up.
posted by nobeagle at 2:43 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine being married and having separate accounts. "His money"/"My money" just does not compute. Joint accounts, joint decisions.
posted by sanka at 2:45 PM on February 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Solomon: If I was in your situation, and having having doubts about the future of the marriage 5 months into it, I'd be thinking strongly about moving on. Money issues aside, this isn't a good sign.

I don't like to respond to other comments in ask.metafilter, but I have to in this case. As someone who's newly married myself, let me assure you in the strongest terms possible: having doubts and thinking about the choice you've made is natural during the first year of marriage, and I have a feeling that if you don't go through that, you're probably asleep. It's a huge change, and, as I said, you have a whole slew of issues to work out with another person who's not you; the first year is the time when you go through all of it, and you realize what's going to change, what's not, what needs to change, and what you have to live with because it's worth it. You're going to think sometimes about whether it's worth it. Don't turn off that feeling; just be productive with it, and try to make your marriage into something worthwhile. If time proves that you've married the wrong person, you can deal with that then. If time proves that you're both able to build something fantastic and strong, well then, congratulations. All you can do now is keep your eyes wide open and take that plunge-- and I wish you the best for it.

jamaro: I think you should go with your feelings. IMO, relationships where the happiness of one partner is contingent upon the other partner's ability to change are, in a nutshell, doomed.

I know you're upset, anon, and that's why a lot of his infuriating behavior came out on screen. But the amazing thing about human beings is that they change all the time. The thing that makes them better most consistently is love. Keep loving him and keep working with him, give him a chance and keep communicating how you feel with him, and you may be amazed by what he's capable of.
posted by koeselitz at 2:49 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


You seem to have divergent and perhaps unexplored ideas on the blending or not blending of finances in a marriage. Totally separated finances seems fine for some couples, totally merged seems fine for other couples, and many in-between solutions exist, too (such as merged finances with equal individual allowances). What seems like the necessary element is an agreement between the members of the couple, and I'm not seeing that agreement here. If you can't forge that agreement, the marriage isn't going to work, in my opinion.

Your description leaves open the possibility that you thought you two agreed on a structure, but that he keeps pushing the boundaries of it. If that's case, then I'm not sure what to tell you because you really need to have your spouse on your side and I don't know how deal with a continuing situation where he's not. Sorry.
posted by NortonDC at 2:50 PM on February 8, 2008


Is this man selfish in other ways? Can you see him putting you first, in any situation? He can still love you a lot but be a completely selfish person. If so, you may end up very hurt (like I was).
posted by Eringatang at 3:01 PM on February 8, 2008


Tightness by itself would not disturb me too much, but the one-sided quality of your husband's penuriousness is almost certain to be fatal to your marriage sooner or later, and that fatal day is almost certain to be a mercy when it finally does arrive.

If you don't want the bother of ending it yourself, just tell your husband you've been disinherited and he'll probably end it for you.
posted by jamjam at 3:17 PM on February 8, 2008


Frugality is a virtue in a spouse, a great asset really, but this guy sounds extremely selfish. I think you should divorce him.
posted by thomas144 at 3:25 PM on February 8, 2008


The first thing you can do is to give up joking about money and monetary fairness at him. If that's a sore spot for him, poking it is in poor taste. And, "Are you serious?!" is probably a phrase you should avoid.

It's pretty clear that you guys need to sit down and have a serious, non-aggressive talk about money. But to set the stage for that, you need to commit to dialing down the drama as far as you can, and that may take some time. Both of you should drop the habit of blaming and ridiculing the other. You don't need to do that to stand up for yourself. It's not exactly the money that would sink your marriage, I think, so much as it is the contempt.
posted by sculpin at 3:29 PM on February 8, 2008


You don't trust your husband.

It's sad, but 5 months into this you've realized that you cannot trust him to be fair with your assets. Don't bother with the post-nup; they are generally worthless. Instead ask your parents estate planner to make the money as untouchable by your husband as possible. They may set it up in a trust for you, etc. This is not a new situation to people who handle wills and estates; they'll know what to do. That takes care of you inheritance.

You still won't trust your husband. And really, if you can't trust him what else matters?
posted by 26.2 at 3:32 PM on February 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Is your spouse named "Ebenezer" by any chance? Going Dutch on a first date is a red flag if he did the asking. And it now sounds as if he is trying to nickel-and-dime you to death.

Is this man kind and giving emotionally and in other ways? Or is he just as tight with emotions as he is with money? Does he resent having to do things for you - care for you when you're sick, prop you up when you're feeling down, give you rides to work, etc.? If he's selfish in these other ways, too, that's a bad sign.

I would suggest couples counseling. I can't tell you whether to stay or go, but a trained professional might be just the ticket to help you work out these money and other issues in your marriage - or leave, if they are just not solveable.

I feel like I can’t trust him with money – I am at a point where I want him to sign a postnuptial agreement specifying that all gifts/inheritance received from my family will be solely mine (because in case things go bad, I feel that he’ll try to get every last penny out of me). This is a huge HUGE red flag for me. I would trust my gut instincts on this one. No matter what you do about your marriage, you should take precautions to protect yourself financially - you don't want him to try to take you to the cleaners if things do go bad.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:39 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


5 months into a marriage, ya'll should be smacking each other on the ass, and with a lecherous grin saying "Oh I know how you can repay me", while the other laughs and replies "Promise?"

Instead you're well off and arguing about how to pay for groceries. While it's easy to say he's the one at fault, I gotta wonder what made you blind to all this stuff before, you know? He's been like this from the beginning, the very first date, so why is this a hassle now, after getting married? Perhaps a marriage counselor is in order, 'cause money is just a symptom for some other problems.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:45 PM on February 8, 2008


I have to agree that this is all a giant red flag 5 months in to a marriage. Yes, as koeselitz says it's normal to be scared or have doubts. But it's not normal for them to be about such obviously serious show-stoppers.

You should seek couples counseling, and I don't recommend that at the drop of a hat like a lot of people. If you can't resolve this your marriage is in trouble; money is one of the single biggest reasons marriages fail.

Frankly, I'm shocked this didn't come up before you got married which is the time to learn these sorts of things. I wish you could tell us what it was like before marriage but since you're anonymous I guess that's not going to happen.
posted by Justinian at 3:47 PM on February 8, 2008


I think the biggest threat to your relationship is your (and possibly his) growing resentment.
I think your best bet is to start off with talking to him about how there's a very real chance that how things are going that the relationship will fail. (try to talk about it evenhandedly as just a difference between two people, not about right or wrong)
Hopefully that will give you two a common ground to start from solving this problem.
At the same time there's the issue that anything you give attention to grows. So I'd advise you two to spend time and energy on the things that made you want to be together.
posted by jouke at 4:05 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe this kind of thing is more common in Europe.

26.2 has a very good idea, although his idea appears American-centric. There may be some wrinkles in the law of wherever the OP is found that would have to be considered.
posted by megatherium at 4:06 PM on February 8, 2008


I want to provide a counterpoint to everyone who says you should have only one account and all the money goes in there. My parents did that and it was a source of major, major resentment and ended horribly. I'm not saying that's how it'll turn out for you, but if there is already some resentment about money in the relationship, then this will exacerbate it, especially when the inheritance comes into play. My partner and I have been together 20 years and still keep our own money. We do split things approximately 50/50 and it's never been a problem; if one of us was out of work for a bit, the other stepped up to the plate, and we can both play with our own money as we see fit. That might not work for you either, but I did want to provide another perspective to the one-account-only POV. It's not the only way to do things.

I do think his behaviour is strange, but the only thing that's really throwing up a red flag for me is the dishonesty over the double payment and faking the lease. That is one reason I say that I do think you need to somehow quarantine your inheritance when it comes, but get your relatives to get some professional advice on it.

Most of all, I think you need to give up the joking about money - he is obviously sensitive about the issue and he might think you're jeering at him for it. This is part of a normal behaviour pattern when people are early to a relationship - you're finding out about one another's buttons and hot spots, and I think you're getting a red flag to leave that one alone. You do need to talk about it, but seriously, not jokingly. The 60/40 thing does sound like a ridiculous thing to have brought up; were you being serious or was it another joke? Either way, it's niggardly, and it gives your husband the OK to be equally niggardly. It seems like you make fun of him to show him how strange his attitude is, but either it's not working or it's working against you, because it just makes him feel worse and more stubborn. You need to sit down and talk about it honestly - and ask him how he feels. We're getting your side of it here, and he will have another.
posted by andraste at 4:12 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's messed up. "Mine" and "yours" are the way roommates talk, in my experience.

I do know married couples with separate personal accounts, but groceries? You've got to be kidding me. Is he going to bill you for extra toilet paper, assuming you use more?

The thing about the aunt's money is a screaming sign, in my opinion. Such covetousness runs counter to the idea that you're in this together. Again, in my opinion, but you asked.

Sit him down and talk. To me, it sounds like you must work this out, and he changes to understand his behavior must change, or what the heck happens next? Because if he refuses to see he can't treat you this way over money - what's next?
posted by sacre_bleu at 4:12 PM on February 8, 2008


Echoing everyone else. This is extremely, extremely weird to me. I understand that married people sometimes have separate accounts, but I figured only when one of them had problems spending too much money. I can't ever envision that working for me, or for anyone long-term.

And your husband's behavior kind of goes beyond that. Like, way beyond that. Even in a joint account situation, there is some give-and-take, some understanding that things will even out in the other end and so this time it's this person's treat. Hell, that's how it works with people who are just dating and aren't even married yet.

I think your concerns are very well-founded. I think you should do something (quietly) to ensure your assets are protected--talk to a lawyer and/or your parents' financial advisor. And go to counseling. You guys are too early in the marriage be having this big of an issue. Ideally, this would have been sorted out before you tied the knot.
posted by schroedinger at 4:17 PM on February 8, 2008


If you ask your husband to sign some sort of post-nup, expect some tension. The first thing I would figure out if I were you is whether such an agreement would even be enforceable in the relevant jurisdiction. Estate planning advice may or may not be relevant depending on the controlling legal issues.
posted by psmith at 4:19 PM on February 8, 2008


Well, my very first thoughts were:

1. I hope she has a pre-nup agreement; and
2. What the fuck is he going to do if/when she has to go on maternity leave and doesn't have her own income?

I realise that you're only five months in, but I would have to assume that you had *some* inkling of this behaviour before you signed on the proverbial dotted line.

Personally, we don't have a mine/yours thing going on in our house (we didn't when I was working, and we certainly don't now that I'm home with two kids). However, I do know several couples that have THREE separate accounts. One that they each maintain from their 'previous' lives, and one joint one they keep going for all sorts of household stuff. Would he be amenable to something like that, or would that be another source of obsession (as I suspect it might be)?

WRT the whole thing with the Aunt and the wedding gift, well, that's just a forbearance of nothing good. He actually said he thought he'd keep the money himself because she handed it to HIM? Oh. my. fucking. GOD. He had the balls to say that to you? Does he realise that you know where he sleeps? That would have been enough for me to really give pause to the entire situation (and it was a wedding gift!). You're a better woman that I for not hauling off when he said that to you. Seriously. The man just vowed to take care of you for the rest of his life and pulls shit like that...

I do agree with koeselitz that it's entirely normal to doubt yourself during the first year or so of marriage - and in fact, it's probably healthy to do so. However, doubt and trusting that voice inside yourself are two different things. When the red flags are surrounding you no matter where you turn, they're there for good reason. I think I would be constantly worried that your husband would not only be jockeying for a better financial position over me, but that he'd be doing with *everything* in my marriage (whose family, interests, feelings, etc. are more important).

At the end of the day, marriage is all about equality and being on the SAME team, not opposing ones. And with the picture you've painted for us, I just don't see it. The sheer amount of defensiveness that I think you must need to get through living with him must be truly exhausting and defeating. The saddest part of all, the person that you would most naturally turn to for solace and sanctuary is precisely the one causing the strife and discourse in your life.

As somebody posted up thread, Money, Family and Religion are the biggest arguing points in most marriages. Here, you're not even six months into a committed relationship and you've already gone pretty far down one, if not two, of the roads. Obviously we don't know your husband, but it seems to me that he would balk at any type of therapy - certainly at the cost, but also probably because he would think there's nothing wrong with his way of thought. So, that kind of leaves it in your court. Do you *want* to live this way or are you looking for a way out? What was your intent in asking the HiveMind? Are you looking for validation of your suspicion in that he's not right in the head when it comes to money? Or are you hoping that somebody will offer up some sort of nugget of magical advice on how to suddenly make this all go away and be fairyland perfect?

If you were my sister, I'd tell you that you deserve better. It sounds like there's a serious lack of respect going on. And if it's started SO early, I suspect it will only devolve over time. I don't even *want* to think about how nasty things might get when the time comes that your parents pass on and their wills are probated, should you remain married to this person.

Good luck and Godspeed.
posted by dancinglamb at 4:23 PM on February 8, 2008 [7 favorites]


These two comments say it all:

One bank account for both of you. Only one bank account for both of you. No accounting of who puts what in.

really, if you can't trust him what else matters?


If you aren't ready to trust the other person with all of your money, and vice-versa, why on earth are you married? Your relationship has serious problems if you're bickering in this way.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:24 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


In ten years are you going to resent all the time you spent having to deal with this, or sucking up his unfairness?

I went through something similar and I got completely and thoroughly screwed financially, and then broken up with. Homicidal pretty well describes how I felt.

Kick his ass to the curb. I don't care what other qualities you think he has right now, he isn't worth it. Women are champions at making excuses and rationalizing relationships. Don't be that person.
posted by tejolote at 4:36 PM on February 8, 2008



I don't like to respond to other comments in ask.metafilter, but I have to in this case. As someone who's newly married myself, let me assure you in the strongest terms possible: having doubts and thinking about the choice you've made is natural during the first year of marriage


I just wanted to repeat this for emphasis. What you're feeling is perfectly natural. You've made a big commitment, found what you think is a major flaw, and now your mind if building this into a much bigger thing than it is. In this case you're going to have to put aside your doubts and figure out a solution that works for everybody. (You'll get all sorts of DTMFA advice in this thread. That's just the green talking. Ignore it.)

And that said, your husband's behavior isn't Nobel-worthy but it's hardly unreasonable. He probably feels very strongly, in a way that you, having grown up wealthy, can't understand that money=freedom. The solution is a joint account that you both make deposits to every month and that all common bills and needs are resolved from. After that, his money is his money and your money is your money. You can still buy him gifts but do it with your own money and don't expect anything back (that's why they're called gifts).

That said, since he is your husband it's his responsibility to respect your feelings and make sure you're happy. If you're not happy with something he's doing then tell him. Don't accuse him of anything, don't use insults like 'cheap' etc. just say "I'm not happy when you do X, Y and Z. It makes me feel like A, B and C." You've already provided three clear examples in this thread and your fear that money will become between you is legitimate. Tell him what you'd like for him to do different and then compromise.
posted by nixerman at 4:41 PM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just to provide a counterpoint to some of the comments, having separate finances is not necessarily problematic for a healthy marriage. My husband and I have never had a joint checking account, nor do I think we ever will. We frequently split bills and/or switch off who pays for what, and this has been working very well for us for over 9 years. The major differences that I see between our situations are that: a) my husband and I discussed our attitudes towards money, etc, *before* we were married, and we came to our arrangement because we both felt strongly that it was best for us; b) our separate finances are mainly motivated by pragmatic issues, not because we feel either of us "owes" the other. I have my way of managing my checkbook, my husband has his, and they're not compatible ;-) It's easier to pool our resources when we need to than it is to have to regularly figure out "who took what out when and how much do we have left."

So I guess I want to say that you can have a perfectly content marriage with separate finances if you both feel the same way about money and agree on how it's going to work. It doesn't sound like you and your husband feel the same way at all. I agree with the others who have suggested communicating about this ASAP. If you don't think you or he will be able to handle this conversation in a calm manner, then perhaps a neutral 3rd party (counselor) is called for. If he refuses to work with you on this, I think you have a very rocky road ahead, all first year marriage jitters aside.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 4:42 PM on February 8, 2008


I can sort of relate to your husband. Though I'm not quite that bad, I'm around there. But I'm also aware of my behavior and how others feel about it and can compromise. I'm sure (hope) if you sit down and talk with him and tell him how you feel he will try to work on it for you. Don't ever expect him to totally switch it up, but he does have the ability to be slightly more generous and let go a little more.
posted by bindasj at 4:49 PM on February 8, 2008


My wife and I have been married for 22 years and we've never had a joint bank account. We've never had any formal understanding about who pays for what, but I pay for most of the bills - she saves a LOT more money than I do and is basically putting our son through college. Because I pay the daily bills, and she saves money, she often will pay for the big ticket items such as a new car, because she's got the cash. But there is no formal agreement about anything. I can't imagine being married to someone who was not generous towards me.
posted by thomas144 at 5:16 PM on February 8, 2008


brandon blatcher: He's been like this from the beginning, the very first date, so why is this a hassle now, after getting married? Perhaps a marriage counselor is in order, 'cause money is just a symptom for some other problems.

anon: He essentially ridiculed me for this idea....
anon: When I asked him if he was serious, he asked me: “What? It’s not enough?” We fought.

To me, the big problem here is that you have not been able to productively talk about this. It makes sense that you have differences and that you have to experiment a bit to figure out what systems will work and will not work. How is your communication and joint problem solving in general?
posted by salvia at 6:35 PM on February 8, 2008


Cheap only gets cheaper over time. Have you discussed how to deal with a lesser income if children come along? What would happen if you became ill and couldn't generate income?
If every other aspect of the relationship is good, go to couselling. Otherwise cut your losses. It is hard to live watching pennies if you don't need to. Your husband needs to find his inner generousity, if he has it.
posted by readery at 7:06 PM on February 8, 2008


He sounds like my ex-husband. His motto was, "what's yours is mine and what's mine is mine."

We didn't live together before marriage so there were no joint accounts. After we married, the joint account lasted for about 2 months. He would hit the atm machine and "forget" to tell me about the $1500 he withdrew. I was the one to sit and write out the bills. He would use the debit card for everything! Once rented a movie for $3, yep, put it on the debit card. I bounced more checks in that 2 months than I did the last 20 years. I was freaking out!

I thought the problem was resolved when we went back to each having our own accounts. He took responsibility for certain bills, as I. We bumped along for several more years until I was turned down for a credit card (no interest 12 months, washer and dryer for us). The free credit report had some disturbing info. My dear husband had opened several credit cards using my social security number as the primary, he was an authorized user on these accounts. Yes, I would get the mail everyday, the statements were emailed to an account I was unaware he maintained.

The warning signs were there, the cheating and lying about money. He would join a music club, receive the first 15 cd's, then call the company and berate them for not sending the items and cancel his membership. Making fun of me when I wouldn't cheat on our tax return. The final straw was when he forged my name on a line of credit on our home. The $25,000 was gone within 24 hours. To this day I don't know what he did with the money.

Those red flags are there for a reason, don't ignore them as I did. Best of luck to you.
posted by JujuB at 7:12 PM on February 8, 2008


Everyone else is giving you financial advice, but basically, this made me really, really sad. You're not happy. You're getting less happy by the minute. If I'm reading it correctly, it's not the money itself, it's the lack of generosity of spirit, a feeling that he, as your spouse, is not looking out for you, but looking to screw you out of something.

My husband and I have separate finances (and a third "house budget" account) and it works out fine. But that's because I trust him and he trusts me.

This is not a cute personality quirk, but if he were just trying to get to your inheritance, he would likely play nicer. Still, protect yourself. And then, go to couples therapy with him to discuss why you felt the need to. (Tell him you'll pay for it.)

Resentment kills love. The first year is hard, but that's when you learn to set the patterns you'll live the rest of your life by. And this isn't working for you. You can work out an elaborate deal with money on everything, but you have to ask yourself if you'll resent that you need to at all.

My heart goes out to you. Good luck.
posted by Gucky at 7:19 PM on February 8, 2008 [7 favorites]


No, I don't think you are a naive oversensitive drama queen. More so than the money and lack of generosity I think the lack of communication and especially the ridicule (a pretty clear sign of contempt) indicates major problems. The aunt's gift was definately to both of you, I would be horrified (and feel disrespected) to discover a gift of mine to a couple had been spent only on one partner. You said you wanted to change what sounds like a pretty ingrained character trait. It is never a good idea to think you can change a person, either you accept them for who they are or you don't. You wrote a pretty long unhappy post but only one line about loving him and him loving you. Do you maybe need to get away for a weekend to get a bit of perspective on your relationship?
posted by saucysault at 7:49 PM on February 8, 2008


he told me that his aunt has given us an amount of money (about 10,000 euros) to start our life together (buy furniture for the new apartment etc.). He said she gave him the money and told him to spend it on things we need – the attached card is addressed to both of us. Immediately he started planning on how to spend it – some should go to furniture and the rest towards a new car for him (b/c he needs one). When I jokingly pointed out that he shouldn’t be so fast with spending it b/c it’s for both of us, he sarcastically asked me if he should wire me half of it.

A loving spouse, who has truly committed to a lifetime partnership, includes his partner in big ticket decisions (much less decisions inspired by a gift meant to "start our life together"). Exclusion from such decisions, and then ridicule (sarcasm) when questioned about it, sends up a huge red flag for me. WTF.

It can be overcome if he's willing (as you obviously are) to admit the possibility that some of his behaviours could be less than optimal, and if he actually sets about working with you to talk about where you as a couple can improve your words and behaviours toward each other. Couples counselling would be helpful. If he ridicules the idea of counselling, or says that you're the one who's irrational, or otherwise refuses to consider the possibility that he might benefit from reconsidering some attitudes or approaches, that's not a recipe for a stable, healthy marriage. Well-matched, considerate partners are happy to grow together and learn from each other.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:55 PM on February 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


This does not sound good. Read over what you just posted and pretend it's someone else. Does that sound normal to you? You sound very unhappy, and I don't blame you. This is just my opinion, but it sounds like he is more than money conscious, he sounds selfish, and to be frank, he seems like a real asshole. You've only been married five months - it's not going to get better. You should still be on your honeymoon. I'm with those who suggest taking a step back and reevaluating your relationship. Don't be like me and waste half of your life waiting for him to change. It's not going to happen. Oh, and read each and every one of these answers to your question. I'll be thinking of you. I wish I could be more positive and helpful.
posted by wv kay in ga at 8:16 PM on February 8, 2008


I think he's way way out of line. I doubt you'll be able to change him. As with virtually all AskMe questions, please see a therapist, by yourself first, with your husband if your therapist thinks it's a good idea. You don't need to tell your husband why you are seeing a therapist.
posted by callmejay at 9:08 PM on February 8, 2008


Is he generous to/considerate of you in other, non-monetary, ways?

If no, then think about whether you are content with that.

Either way, I'm with those above who say:
1. Trying to keep a $10K wedding gift for oneself is not normal behavior. It can be normal to be cheap, or to avoid spontaneously buying things -- but trying to keep a wedding gift for yourself? It sounds like he doesn't see you as a team.
2. Calm and open discussion, maybe with a counselor who can help keep a discussion on track and away from resentful fightiness.
3. Independently: financial planning for yourself, to protect your assets (it sounds to me like you're right about protecting your inheritance -- trust your gut on that). Even if you open a joint account, keep a separate account of your own as well.

Might be of interest: Some previous discussions of how to handle having separate accounts etc in a marriage, lots of anecdotes about the variety of ways others do it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:22 PM on February 8, 2008


You've been married five months? I'm surprised you got married at all.

It seems like you've got a serious issue in your views on money. And I do realize these situations are created by two people, not one. If you want to spend your life with a man who'll nickel and dime you over everything then stay married. But I think you'd be better off divorcing now instead of having some horrid money battle after you get your inheritance, potentially seriously compounded by children.

Yeah, I know all AskMe relationship advice comes with DTMFA but, honestly, the fact that you've got this strong feeling of resentment when most couples would still be in a bit of a honeymoon period is a HUGE warning sign. There are other fish in the sea and blah blah blah, it's just not worth it.
posted by 6550 at 9:39 PM on February 8, 2008


In many (most?) American states, everything that either person in a marriage owns is "community property" -- it belongs to both of you. I'm not sure what the law is where you are.

My wife and I have had joint checking and savings accounts the whole time we've been married.

We each have slightly different attitudes about spending money, based on our upbringings, and we had some disagreements in the past, based on our differing attitudes and income levels). But we eventually sorted the major issues out.

At this point, we discuss all major new purchases with each other. We also each have weekly discretionary income ("allowances," but we don't really call it that) that we can spend as we see fit (they are at different levels, to reflect the fact that we do not earn the same amount of money). We did not both agree about this "allowance" idea at first, but eventually we settled on a formula that satisfied both of us.

Now we each track our own weekly spending on discretionary stuff (which includes clothes, books, music, movies, eating and drinking out, taxis, haircuts, music gear [for me], etc.). Sometimes I deduct a little money each week over several weeks to prepare for a large purchase. Occasionally I overspend and have to take money from the following week. But it seems to work. And we no longer are incurring credit card debt like we used to -- in fact we've incurred almost no new debt since we started this system. (We are still paying off old credit card debt, as well as student loans.)

This is a lot easier than budgeting, which I made some stabs at in the past, but which we never really succeeded at. As long as both parties are honest, and the weekly discretionary spending levels are reasonable, based on the couple's joint income and fixed expenses, it works out.

The thing that makes money a difficult topic in a relationship is that it is connected to control. Neither of us likes to feel controlled, but neither of us is a freak about controlling others.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:10 PM on February 8, 2008


It would be one thing if he was fanatical about things being even, all the time. I have a friend who is like this, and I generally chalk it up to an overdeveloped sense of fairness/OCD (I've been reimbursed a quarter he borrowed, as an example). But this guy is acting like the four-year-old who thinks everything he can plant his grubby paws on is his.

Trust your gut, at this point. Do you want to end up robbed blind at the end of the relationship because you decided to be the "bigger person", "put the relationship first", and "trust" someone who has already shown that he doesn't deserve to be trusted? The fact that he's such an ass about money, all the time, and that when you turn his behaviour around on him (like with the groceries) he flips out shows that he absolutely does not look at this as your being in this thing together.

I have no idea how post-nups work, but if you feel it's a safe road to go down with him, yeah--have one filled out and make your continued marriage contingent on his signature. I'll bet you every last dollar in my savings that he'll flip out, and show that "what's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine" attitude once again. While it's fine for him to do, he'll probably see you treating what's yours as yours as a betrayal of the highest order.

(Personally, I'm in the DTMFA camp, but I've also known a lot of assholes and tend to cut my losses pretty quickly.)
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 10:20 PM on February 8, 2008


(Only nine states are default community property, Alaska is opt-in community property, and Puerto Rico is community property. Most of the US is not community property.)
posted by katemonster at 10:27 PM on February 8, 2008


It's simple, leave him before you have children
posted by mattoxic at 11:21 PM on February 8, 2008


1. Don't save, invest!

2. My parents used to have endless fights about this before they got divorced. I suggest creating three separate bank accounts: yours, his, and a joint. A fixed percentage of both people's incomes should be automatically transfered into the joint account each month. The joint account is to be used for investments, family savings, and large purchases that benefit both people. The rest of the money should go into the respective personal accounts, to be spent in any way the owner desires. Purchases that benefit one partner more than the other parter should not be purchased with the joint account (i.e. sports car for him). The joint account cannot be touched without both parters' consent. Smaller ambiguous purchases, such as groceries, should be purchased by the male. What the hell happened to chivalry? Would he support you for the rest of your life, if you suddenly had a debilitating accident and became permanently bedridden? Make sure he's willing to do his job before you even think about having his kids.

3. I suggest holding off on kids for the time being. You may decide that this aspect of his personality is something you're willing to compromise about, or you may decide to leave him down the road. In any case, I'd try not to get myself tied down in the short term.

4. Why did you marry him? Shared bill on first date? I'm embarrassed for him. And you still decided to see him again...
posted by BeaverTerror at 1:32 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was in an eleven-year relationship where we always had separate bank accounts, but we NEVER (not even once) had an argument about bills or money during that entire time. (I realize this is a statistical anomaly.) We were loving partners – whoever could afford it paid for it, without any hang-ups at all. I ended up paying for more than half of living expenses, but the details didn't matter. What did matter was the real love, trust, and emotional support that we shared during those years.

If your husband was just obsessed about being 'fair', including making sure he always paid his share even if you forgot or didn't care, I'd just chalk it up to an obsessive trait which you could learn to deal with in a loving marriage. Instead, he sounds like greedy, dishonest asshole who's out to get as much as he can get.

I don't believe in people splitting from committed relationships without an honest attempt to work things out. But, in this case, if he values money more than a loving partner, DTMFA. Seriously. People I've known with his selfishness took years (and a string of failed relationships/friendships) before they grew up. Some never grow up.

Of course, I've never met the guy, this is just an anonymous Ask.Me question – he could be a wonderful person and might change his ways if he was hit with a clue-stick a few times (such as realizing he's jeopardizing his marriage). I wouldn't bank on it.
posted by D.C. at 1:40 AM on February 9, 2008


Yeah...my husband and I have separate accounts, but that's more for procedural reasons, not because of "mine" and "his." I think that specific issue isn't really the point.

Your husband's planning of how to spend the 10,000 makes him sound crazy about money, but also really domineering. Without more information it's hard to say what's going on there, but ask yourself-- does he try to make decisions in other areas? What color to paint the walls? Where to go on vacation? Because if he's like that in other areas, you should probably seriously consider a divorce. On the other hand, if this behavior is really just centered around money, it might be more amenable to therapy.

Regardless, talk to an attorney about protecting your assets sooner, rather than later.
posted by miss tea at 5:06 AM on February 9, 2008


Married 8 years, in a relationship for 13 yrs with Mrs Arcticseal. We maintain both separate and joint accounts, primarily because we were living in 2 different countries when we met. First date I forgot my wallet, she paid and she still wanted to see me again!

What works for us is what everyone else has been saying: it's not my money anymore, it's our money. Even if the money is in your own accounts, we're in this together.

We have what could be termed a 50s marriage when it comes to finances, since we're expats with my work. My wife works and keeps her money, I take care of all the expenses etc. since I earn more. But we've rarely, if ever, argued about money.

I get all sorts of warning vibes about this guy, first thing that came to mind was the husband in Joy Luck Club who split everything 50:50 despite earning significantly more than his wife. That's just plain wrong, everyone contributes what they can to a relationship, be it money, effort or other immaterial goods.

He doesn't sound committed to you, and you should guard yourself financially. Communicate with him that this isn't the way you want to live your life, and you should both work at finding a solution but be prepared that sometimes it just doesn't work. If there's no sign of improvement in his behaviour, then DTMFA.

Don't brign kids into the picture until the relationship is on an even keel. Best of luck.
posted by arcticseal at 5:45 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


nthing do not have children with this man (unless he miraculously changes).

I'm scared for you. This would be a dealbreaker for me. Seriously, how DEPRESSING!

Please take care of your assets, no matter how easygoing you are. You can bet that somebody so pathologically obsessed with money has given more than a passing thought to your inheritance one day being partly his. It would be odd if he hadn't.
posted by mjao at 6:59 AM on February 9, 2008


Oh arcticseal, thank you for mentioning The Joy Luck Club. That character jumped into my mind too, and that scene when the wife's mother visits and sees the husband's financial pettiness, and asks her daughter if she's happy, and the daughter starts crying. But I forgot to bring it up in my answer.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:57 AM on February 9, 2008


Your husband is showing his true character every day as he graps for small bills at the expense of your shared happiness and comfort. At five months in, you can get out of this marriage without too much emotional or financial damage, and with, eventually, a feeling of personal accomplishment for recognizing the danger you were in and protecting yourself and any unconceived children from further harm.

The feeling of having been misused in a relationship, knowing it, trying to work things out and getting misused much more before the relationship ends nastily is a terrible feeling. If you walk away now, you make the best of a bad (turning worse) situation.

If you do want to get counseling, I'd suggest solo rather than couples to start.

Good luck and clear thought to you.
posted by Scram at 10:17 AM on February 9, 2008


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