My Live-In Boyfriend Doesn’t Contribute Equally To Our Joint Expenses, And I’m Starting To Resent Him

My Live-In Boyfriend Doesn’t Contribute Equally To Our Joint Expenses

My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years. We’ve decided to rent a place together. We have been living together for 4 months. He rented a room in a house previously and I rented a small house with my two children. Now we are renting a small house together. With his child support, truck payment, etc…. it leaves him only $600 to contribute to the household. That leaves me to contribute the rest, which is about $3000. That is just rent, food, utilities. I work two jobs and he works one. He says he wants to help but is unable. He is trying to find some extra jobs, on the side, but not very hard. He doesn’t cook or clean either. He is the nicest, most wonderful man I know. He treats me nice, he never expects anything from me. I am starting to resent him though. I don’t know if I am right or wrong to feel resentful. Even if he made more money he says he won’t pay half because, in all fairness, I get child support and he shouldn’t have to pay half. He says he will pay a third. I can’t help feeling he is treating me like a roommate and not his woman. If he is a real man shouldn’t he want to work together to build a life? He tells me everyday how much he loves me, he brings me flowers when he can. He never yells at me or criticizes me. Should I just keep paying and just let him pay what he can? He never goes out or spends foolishly on himself. He really doesn’t have enough.

Money is a big topic on this blog.

We’ve talked about how some women take advantage of good-hearted low-earning boyfriends.

We’ve talked about how some women expect men to make more money, even if they make a good living independently.

We’ve talked about how some women refuse to even reach for a check.

These are all arguments I’ve made for equality. In this day and age, with women earning more college degrees and masters degrees, it’s anachronistic to expect men to ALWAYS pay and ALWAYS earn more.

But Lisa’s question really cuts to the heart of women’s issues around money. What happens if you’re dating a man without skills, without ambition, and without the desire to be a better provider?

This is not about who earns more. This is about two things: what’s fair and what you’re comfortable with.

This is my client’s worst nightmare – even though I can’t see any of my clients dating a man with a truck payment and $600 to spare each month. So let me begin, Lisa, by expressing my admiration and sympathy to you. You fell in love with a man based on what’s in his heart and not in his wallet, and that says a lot about your character.

The question is whether it’s enough.

My answer to you will be a gender-blind one, because that’s the way we need to begin to look at financial issues. This is not about who earns more. This is about two things: what’s fair and what you’re comfortable with.

Objectively, this arrangement isn’t fair. But then, in a gender-blind society, who said things had to be fair? I made about four times what my wife made when we met. Would it have been fair for me to ask her to split our rent in half? No, it would not. We split it based on our means to pay. I could have resented the fact that I made four times more than her, but I chose not to. I wasn’t with her for her money or ability to split costs. I was with her because of how I felt in her presence.

These days, my wife doesn’t work at all. She stays at home with the kids, goes to Mommy and Me classes, swimming classes, MyGym and Disneyland, all of which I pay for. Do I resent her? Not one bit. This is what she wants to do, and I’m fortunate to have the means to allow her to do it. This is the bargain we struck as a couple. This is the bargain any woman can strike with a man, as long as she doesn’t resent him for earning less or being a stay at home dad.

I’m guessing every reader here had the same initial reaction to your email, “Lisa, you poor girl! Dump him!” I can see where that impulse comes from, but I don’t think it’s acknowledging your deep feelings for your boyfriend. You’ve spent two years with him. You say that he’s the “nicest, most wonderful man” you know.

In order to salvage this relationship, a few things have to happen.

First, you need to have an authentic conversation with him. You need to start by acknowledging how much you love and appreciate him. Then you need to acknowledge that you’ve been feeling a little bit of resentment. You’re not proud of it, but you’re owning it.

Next, you can break it down for him. You contribute five times more to the household than he does, even though you only make X dollars more. Even though you appreciate his pre-existing payments, that’s imbalanced and is a serious burden for you to carry alone. Get his acknowledgement of this fact.

What you’d like to do is sit down and do a budget of how much each of you makes and would like to pay the rent and bills proportionately, whatever that means. This would include how much money you make from child support and would exclude how much he pays in child support. We’re talking about take home pay only.

There’s nothing wrong with marrying a poor guy if you have the means to support him. There IS something wrong with marrying a poor guy who doesn’t have a sense of fairness and appreciation for your efforts.

If it still comes out to $600 for him and $3000 for you, you can suggest a work around. He can sell his truck and buy something cheaper, if that’s possible. You can go to Mint.com and look at how to better balance your budget. But the one thing that is going to have to change is how much he contributes to the household in non-monetary ways. He’s gotta do 50% of the cooking and 50% of the cleaning at a bare minimum to ease your burden as the primary breadwinner.

Make it clear that you don’t resent him because he makes less than you. Not everyone can have a high paying job. The reason this feeling is building up inside is that you feel taken for granted. And if the roles were reversed and he was paying $3000/month AND doing all the cooking and cleaning, he’d probably feel resentful, too, no?

His reaction to this conversation will tell you whether you have a relationship worth preserving. There’s nothing wrong with marrying a poor guy if you have the means to support him. There IS something wrong with marrying a poor guy who doesn’t have a sense of fairness and appreciation for your efforts.

Please come back and let us know how that conversation goes.

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Comments:

  1. 121
    Selena

    Thank you Lisa for the compliments. :)
     
    I pulled quotes from your posts to juxtapose next to Nicole’s because I wanted to illustrate to her what “fair” and “having each other’s back” really looks like in a family.  It’s not always about who makes more, who has more expenses, or splitting things even-steven; it comes down to what works. And appreciating what you have.
     
    May you and your partner have a long and happy future together.

  2. 122
    Evan Marc Katz

    Very dramatic, Zaira. And pretty silly. In your world, men use women to carry babies and must always contribute more financially. There are no circumstances in which a man can contribute less than 50% of the income, because if he does, that mean’s he doesn’t love you or love the baby.

    I’m not saying you should be with a deadbeat dad – not at all. I’m saying that your attitude only leaves a small percentage of men who can pay for you completely while you quit work entirely. Stop focusing on percentages and start focusing on how he treats you as a human being: does he listen, is he loyal, does he make you laugh, does he have your best interests at heart, does he want a future, is he financially stable himself? If the answer to those are all yes, and you still get upset that he can’t afford to pay for over 50% of everything (because, you know, that means he’s disrespectfully renting your body), you’re gonna need a lot of luck to find a man who wants to support you and your one-sided entitled ways.

    I know you were giving advice to Angie, who shouldn’t have been allowed to post her question at all. So here’s my advice to Angie: a) he’s not your husband. He’s your boyfriend. My wife was $40K in credit card debt when I met her. Was it my job to pay it down because I made five times more? No, it was not. I paid for our meals and travel. She paid down her own debt. b) if you don’t like your boyfriend’s behavior, find a new boyfriend. You may discover that the one you gave up wasn’t all that bad. Finally, c) you can try to renegotiate your 50/50 split of household expenses to something fairer (I agree it’s unfair), but since you’re the girlfriend and not the wife, you don’t have the same leverage. He hasn’t committed to you, and you haven’t committed to him either. Ultimately, expenses should be allocated on a means to pay basis. He makes 5x more than you, he should pay 5x more. It’s only fair – when you’re married. You can open up this conversation with him and see how he reacts. If he’s a fair person, he’ll acknowledge your situation and renegotiate to make you happy. If he doesn’t, you can leave him. Just don’t take any of Zaira’s overdramatic rules to heart. You have a good boyfriend. Time will tell if he’s a keeper.

  3. 123
    Nicole W

    Selena #118
    I’d appreciate it if you would stop assuming things about me. I could do the same and assume that you will put up with anything just to have a man next to you. I could also assume your standards are very low. But I won’t. Your experiences in life allow you to accept this as being fair and mine don’t. It’s really that simple, so we can agree to disagree. Why I’m not married isn’t any of YOUR business, so we don’t need to get into that! 
     
    It’s clear to everyone that Lisa’s man was being very unfair to her initially. That makes me feel that he would have been happy to live off of her if she hadn’t spoke up! Now, I still don’t think he is being fair as he is able to give more and chooses not to since “the kids aren’t his responsibility” and he “will never pay more than 1/3″.  You can make all kind of excuses for that, but it comes across as mean spirited to some.  

  4. 124
    Nicole W

    Karl T #103
    I am not gonna keep repeating myself. I already stated that if I were Lisa, I would divide up all our expenses (including his child support), and share them. You choose to skip over a lot and keep repeating that 25% is more than fair. It is, if you are an opportunist. That’s my opinion and it’s not going to change. I have also stated that it isn’t just about the money. It’s more the fact that he doesn’t want to lift a hand around the home or help her children in any way shape or form. And please don’t tell me he is working 72 hours, because he was the same when he wasn’t working 72 hours. The stinginess and mean-spirited attitude in this relationship is actually worse than his cheapness. 
     
     

  5. 125
    Selena

    Nicole #124:
    I’d appreciate it if you would stop assuming things about me. I could do the same and assume that you will put up with anything just to have a man next to you. I could also assume your standards are very low. But I won’t.
     
    Nicole, in your previous posts on this thread you DID make those assumptions about me, as well as calling me a penny pincher. It’s your own little “digs” that prompted me to point out the hypocrisy in your own writing.  Usually I don’t get personal with commenters, I prefer to look at what the Letter Writer has to say, what appear to be the facts. Throughout your comments it’s clear you deliberately didn’t want to address some of the facts.
     
    Why I’m not married isn’t any of YOUR business, so we don’t need to get into that! 
     
    Absolutely true.  Do you understand though, that not having the experience of living with a partner, having your own family, makes your ideas of what that should look like, possibly different from those who are actually living the experience like Lisa?
     
    It’s clear to everyone that Lisa’s man was being very unfair to her initially.
     
    No. It was in fact very unclear why he had only $600 to spend on expenses. Why she was working two jobs. How much money she had coming in and how much he had going out and why. Lisa came back and clarified about those things several times. You just didn’t like her take on her own situation. Even she in her original letter didn’t demonize the guy for his smallish contribution.
     
    In her words: He tells me everyday how much he loves me, he brings me flowers when he can. He never yells at me or criticizes me. Should I just keep paying and just let him pay what he can? He never goes out or spends foolishly on himself. He really doesn’t have enough.
     
    SHE understood he was doing the best financially he could at the time, even though it felt disproportionate.  She later admitted it was the grocery split that bugged her and that was resolved. But you don’t care that this couple found a proportional split that works for them. You keep using this thread as a vehicle to expound on what wouldn’t work for YOU.  Maybe you should write your own question to Evan.
     
    Now, I still don’t think he is being fair as he is able to give more and chooses not to since “the kids aren’t his responsibility” and he “will never pay more than 1/3″.  You can make all kind of excuses for that, but it comes across as mean spirited to some.
     
    By now we all know what Nicole’s definition of fair is.
     
    To others fair, reasonable, logical follow a different definition and can be fluid upon circumstances. And not in the least mean-spirited.
     
    Nicole, LISA is happy with how her previous dilemma has been resolved. Why can’t YOU let it go?
     
    I will cheerfully disengage from further debate with you if you stop provoking me. Deal?
     
     
     

  6. 126
    Goldie

    # 120
     
    “I don’t want to live with a man who does not realise the rent of my body to create his future babies is priceless,  the rent of my breast to feed his future babies is priceless, my health risked to make his future babies is priceless.”
     
    Wow, when you put it this way… So by the same token, how much is the rent of his genetic material to create your future babies? Also priceless?
     
    Also, trust me, you do not want to go down this route with a man. If you market yourself to your future husband as a priceless baby machine, then don’t be surprised when he tells you that you cannot work outside of home, go back to school, tells you how to parent the children, tells you how many babies to have and when, and all around calls the shots when it comes to you and parenting. After all you’ve already told him that your greatest asset, one that comes with a “priceless” tag, is making babies. Good luck with that.

  7. 127
    Joe

    I get the impression that Nicole thinks the boyfriend should pay 100% of the household expenses.

  8. 128
    Clare

    I actually really don’t get the impression that Nicole feels the boyfriend should pay 100%.  I think it’s just a different view.
     
    Not everyone feels that things should be split down the middle, or allocated according to precise proportions and percentages. I happen to be one of those people. I don’t want a relationship like that. I want the opportunity to be generous, and to experience generosity.  I really enjoy being generous within my means to those I love, and I am drawn to men who are the same way.  There may be times when I pay more than my share, and there may be times when he pays more than his share. I believe in an abundance mindset.  I don’t ever mentally count pennies, and I wouldn’t want to be with someone where I got the impression that was what they were doing.
     
    I’m not sure if this is what Nicole was saying, but this is how I feel.
     
    I am very happy for the OP that things have worked out for her in way she is happy with.

  9. 129
    Nicole W

    Clare 129
    You are correct. My general sentiment is the same as yours. I do feel in this case that Lisa’s man should cover approx half the expenses or at the very least help more around the home. As Evan said, you negotiate and sacrifice more for a spouse. This guy acts more like a roommate than a loving boyfriend, so I wouldn’t be sacrificing anything for him. I would have ran like hell if a guy told me he would never pay more than 1/3. I don’t need any financial help from the men I date, however the stinginess and selfishness that remark imparts would turn me off completely. I am also drawn to generosity. I also agree that there are times in a relationship when the monetary split changes. That’s fine if the other person has your back in other ways and at least acts like they appreciate your help. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. 
    Selena 124
    I’m sorry that you feel provoked when faced with differing opinions. That wasn’t my intention, and I am entitled to continue sharing them as this is a public message board. I havent dug at anyone (well except maybe Karl who I honestly feel is an opportunist). I didn’t call you a penny pincher. I did suggest that you must split pennies with your partner in the same manner Lisa does, since this so normal and acceptable to you. I’m not going to debate you sentence by sentence Selena, as I have already pointed out the reasons (based on Lisa’s words) why I think this man is stingy. 
    I don’t think I’m being unfair or illogical or wanting as much money as I can get (your words) because I require more out of a partner. You did get one thing right though. I prefer not to date someone that makes significantly less than I do. I have studied and worked very hard to provide a certain lifestyle for myself, and I prefer to have a partner that can do the same for himself. Wanting a partner with similar ambition and goals doesn’t mean you want all their money, dear! It just makes things a lot less complicated. 
     

  10. 130
    Joe

    So you want the guy to cover half the expenses even though Lisa has 2 kids.  What if Lisa had 10 kids–would want him to cover half then, too?  How about 20 kids?

  11. 131
    Julia

    @Joe
     
    20 kids? hyperbolic much?

  12. 132
    Karmic Equation

    Joe,

    What do you think about Angie 101′s situation? I’m curious about your and other men’s take on her situation.

    Angie 101,

    I was in a similar situation with my 6yr ltr, only I was the one making more money.

    I made 3x more than he. I only had him pay 1/3 the utilities and no rent, as I owned the house and the mortgage was in my name. I liked to eat out more than in, so most times, I would pay for all our meals. Sometimes he’d chip in. I paid for the toiletries and cleaning supplies. If we needed tools in the house I didn’t have, I bought them. He supplied the brawn to fix all the stuff that needed fixing. I did the laundry and the occassional vacuuming, he cleaned the toilet and bathroom (on around the same schedule I did the vacuuming, which, sadly was not as often as I should have, having 3 dogs. lol)

    I always wanted to make sure that since I had plenty, that he didn’t have to ask me for money to do things for himself (eat out at lunch with his work buddies, buy new shoes or clothes when needed, etc). So I willingly took less from him. I knew that since he made less than I that it was wrong to ask him to give pay half, even of the things he should have paid half on (e.g., utilities).

    That’s what happens when you love someone. You don’t want them to do without if it’s within your power and doesn’t cause you any harm. Asking him to pay half would have harmed him and that was wrong.

    Maybe your bf is a nice guy. But not intuitively helping you when he can seems to be red flag to me.

    Maybe he’s just stupid and a quick convo would flick on the light bulb in his head. But if he knows and doesn’t care, I’d say you’re better off cutting your losses now and finding a man who has my mindset about inherent fairness and understands what you’re supposed to do when you love someone.

    Good luck.

  13. 133
    Rose

    To me if you are living together as a couple or married the money just goes onto joint account and it is shared money.
    They become step children once you make a comitiment to move in. Oterwise what are you? A room mate? FWB? Lodger getting free sex?
    He can’t give you what he hasn’t got and visa versa.
     

  14. 134
    Goldie

    Nicole W 130
     
    “I would have ran like hell if a guy told me he would never pay more than 1/3. I don’t need any financial help from the men I date, however the stinginess and selfishness that remark imparts would turn me off completely. I am also drawn to generosity.”
     
    So you would be drawn to a guy if he told you he’d pay 100% if he made 500K/year, even though he never has made 500K a year and never will? Talk is cheap. I’d look at the guy’s actions. So far Lisa’s bf, one, agreed to pay a TON in child support – not many men would do that; and two, agreed to a compromise after he and Lisa talked the situation over. So far so good.

  15. 135
    Karmic Equation

    @Rose 134

    “To me if you are living together as a couple or married the money just goes onto joint account and it is shared money.”

    Married perhaps, but definitely not if you’re only living together.

    If you actually have done this yourself, then you’re a trusting soul and possibly too naive for your own good.

    A Joint account into which we both throw in 1/2 our net income would be acceptable, if THAT is what you meant, I would agree with you. Anything else, I would say you’re naive or have no significant income or savings to be concerned about.

  16. 136
    Goldie

    This thread is starting to remind me of Nights Of Cabiria :)

  17. 137
    Rose

    Karmic. I get what you are saying and agree in hindsight. I pesonally would not live with any man without an engagment ring and wedding date booked.

  18. 138
    Angie

             Apologies, Evan. I am new to the blogging world. As a result, I am unfamiliar with the logistics and etiquette of using a discussion board, so to speak. I do know that people become irate when one posts a new question on a separate thread if another individual has a similar question. Second, I reasoned that 100 comments were sufficient to answer the OP’s question– why not throw in what I’ve been pondering lately. Oopsies! point taken :)
            I would like to respond to the comments presented to me:
    First, I chose to use birth control. He also uses condoms every time. I decided to take that extra precaution. Second, why act like he is using my body for His fun? I assure you, I am joining in on the fun as well. Free sex? FWB? Roommates? None of those characterize our relationship. I don’t believe that I need to be married in order to have a lasting, committed relationship with someone. Granted, if he wanted to get married (which he does), I would be more than happy to say “I do.” My point is that, just because two people are not married, it does not mean that one person is getting used. I happen to believe that commitment is commitment, regardless of marriage. We have discussed that moving in together is the next step in our journey together. 
            Having said that, I acknowledge that he is a great guy. He is there for me every step of the way. Yes, he listens. yes, he is loyal. He definitely makes me laugh.  He is always a shoulder to cry on when I have family troubles. Having said that, I know he is also stubborn. He tells me it annoys him that I complain a lot. Yes, I’ve cried over the intensity of the schoolwork. There have been times when I felt like dropping out. But at the end of the day, I know he would drag my behind to class and tell me to stop being silly. I think (and it’s just my opinion) that he doesn’t understand. His parents paid for his education. They paid for his first car. They also paid for his gym membership, and his healthcare. I had none of that. We come from two very different places. Ultimately, we have to attempt to understand one another and communicate our wants and needs. Off to decide how to bring this up to him!
     

  19. 139
    Katie

    Sorry, Evan, I didn’t mean to piss you off with the changing roles for a fortnight thing.  I didn’t mean to imply you weren’t happy or that you needed to or anything.  I didn’t seriously think that you’d do it anyway – it’s just always kind of nice to get Mrs K’s insights too as we know it’s a successful and solid relationship you have.  I read all your blog stuff regularly (I’ve read some articles loads of times) and I wasn’t at all meaning to imply that you don’t appreciate each other, or that you don’t spend enough time on family stuff.  I remember almost word for word the blog entry where you tell us you knock off work at six every night and never work weekends (I think from the is there any point in dating an alpha male entry) so it was in no way a criticism or meant nastily.  I’m truly sorry if it didn’t come across in the light hearted, appreciative of both you and Mrs K way that it was intended.  I’m a bit socially challenged and don’t always sound like I mean to sound.  Please, know how very much I look forward to all of your entries, how very much comfort I gain in my sad hours from reading your material and how very sorry I am to have irritated you with my comments.  I promise I did not mean to and intended only to be light hearted, plus it was nice that time that Mrs K did an entry – like seeing the other side to a very golden coin.  Love Katie x

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