Lately, my spouse and I have been struggling with finances. I work a full time fairly well paying job with decent benefits while my spouse has spent his time at home raising our children and going to graduate school. This is a decision we made together, though really didn’t know just how challenging it could be. As medical bills, car payments, and heating expenses rose our ability to cover everything dropped. Meanwhile, I’ve been dating a man who makes a better income and is in a double- income- no -kids situation. The disparity between partners incomes whether married or dating is prone to cause issues and strife.
How couples deal with and discuss finances has a big impact on their relationship, how they’re treating each other, their stress levels around the children, heck even how often they’re having sex. I feel like if there is one thing that drives a wedge between people the most it tends to be money. Who’s making it, who’s spending it, what’s it being spent ON? And even couples who have been together many years can still have differing views on if you should spend extra on the organic vegetables, or if Billy really NEEDS another pair of sneakers right now.
For me, first there is my husband Allan. While we both agreed I’d work because I made more while he stayed home, he finds being a stay at home dad less than fulfilling. It is difficult for him to overcome the age old social indoctrination of the man providing for his family. The tougher our monetary situation gets, the more he feels like he isn’t “doing his part” and is riding on my coat tails. I value his time with the children, and around the house, but I cannot make him appreciate it the same way.
“I should be DOING something.” He always says.
“You are”, I’ll reply motioning to our three children, and he’ll give me an eye roll while turning the thermostat down on the heat to conserve.
Allan and I agree it’s time for him to look for work outside the home, but it doesn’t stop the complications between us. I have to keep myself from pestering him too much about how many jobs he’s applied to, while also bolstering his ego that he WILL find something. He has to try not to sink into a depression about the lack of work and not resent me for being able to provide for us all while he cannot. With the first job interview he got we ran into a heated argument, I was feeling frustrated and said he’d have to take it, he already knew that and just wanted a little compassion. For a long time, I’ve felt like money spent on food could flow like water, because everybody needs to eat. Allan always felt I shouldn’t be so free with the grocery budget but let me be heavy handed with it. Here, we’ve managed to compromise and I’ve started to buy non-name brands (big step for me, its true) and cut down in some areas. Allan in the meantime, is looking for work and trying to keep a positive attitude, which isn’t always easy.