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

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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. 181
    Tiffers

    He 100% shouldn’t have to pay for her kids rent, food, etc. She also doesn’t say how much child support she gets. I’d be livid if my boyfriend expected me to pay for his children when they’re already being paid for by another woman.   It’s entirely possible that after child support and paying for her children’s portion of the bills, she’s contributing 600 for herself to live there.   Also.   I work 2 jobs.   My boyfriend works one. But i work half as many hours as he does.

     

    As for the chores. He should be 100% cleaning up after himself at the very least.   That is bullshit. I’d make sure he knew that his laundry etc is now on him. Stop doing it.

    As for the finances.   He’s not responsible to pay for anyone but himself and his child. I’d encourage him to get another job so he can have emergency funding/ savings.   But not to support the kids.

     

     

  2. 182
    Brooke Jones

    Sounds like he knows what to say or do to keep the attention off of paying more of the expenses in the house. Being nice and giving flowers is used to keep her distracted from the obvious. I have definitely been there and that will eventually run out. She’s already starting to resent him now.

  3. 183
    Veronica Dep

    My partner is a typical lazy Yorkshire man is the same he does   nothing he doesn’t work and gets paid caring for his mum only to take her out shopping   I pay all the bills he doesn’t   contribute he is very lazy and I have to tell him so mani times to do jobs around the house which never get done I’m sick of him he has shaved his head and looks ugly his mum and sister who is a lesubian are rude to me whenever they call to speak to him they don’t ever talk to me I’m slowly loosing interest in him

  4. 184
    Aiah Z

    As a young woman in my twenties who is still in the US university system where I hear every single day how we women are the equal of men, and how men should let go of their toxic, outdated masculine ideals and embrace staying home, raising kids… I can’t muster much sympathy for this woman (original poster). Her boyfriend was previously renting a room. There’s nothing wrong with that. Whose idea was it for them to move into a house? If he’d wanted to assume the financial responsibilities of a typical Western house, he’d likely have been living, previously, in a house. It seems unfair to me to expect him now to pay half the expenses of living in a house unless it was his idea to share the house in the first place.

    On my university campus I started a men’s perspectives and support club. I am the first woman on our very old campus ever to have done this. I did it because the way our culture is evolving to treat men is abysmal. We portray them in popular culture as bumbling buffoons who need children or us women to teach them how to do the simplest things. They’re often the punchline of genderist jokes. They’re very often the victims of unjustified physical violence unnecessary to fictional plots and too often in real life. And let’s not even talk about the admitted prejudices in our educational and legal systems. Add to these the social biases of what many of us consider “real men” to be and it’s no wonder that suicide rates among men in our culture continue to climb.

    If the poster’s boyfriend is so kind and loving but money is such a large issue for her, then she ought to be frank with him and let him know it has become a deal breaker for him. They’ve already discussed the matter and he’s said what he’s willing to do. I feel confident that if the genders were reversed, people wouldn’t be so sympathetic towards the original poster. I’m sure there are a lot of women out there who’d be ecstatic to have a boyfriend who treats them so well and who’s faithful and emotionally present, regardless his finances. While I agree partners ought to share household responsibilities, if someone is making more money, is already receiving child support (while the other partner is paying to support children), and the first partner wants to live a certain lifestyle (living in a more expensive full house than a smaller, more affordable apartment…), the person who has more money should expect to pay more or look for someone whose finances are more suitable.

  5. 185
    Ashley

    That’s $600 more than what I get. I have 2 jobs 2 kids with the father. Still have to cook clean and watch the kids. The kids father moved into my home and doesn’t want to pay for anything but food. Is that fair?

  6. 186
    Carrie

     

    Evan,

    I feel totally compelled to call you out on your statement, “These days, my wife doesn’t work at all.”

    How could you post such antiquated rhetoric?

    How do you think this makes the stay at home parent feel?

    This line of thinking is detrimental to the committed hard work done day and night of the stay at home mother or father. It also exploits this physically and emotionally taxing role in the most degrading manner possible.

    Is it actually too hard to say, These days, my wife works full time in our home diligently caring for our child and our household?

    If she were not executing this job you both would certainly be paying someone else to do it. I do believe this is the definition of  ‘working’ sir.

     

    PS, It’s 2019

     

    Shame. Shame.

     

    1. 186.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Sorry. The outrage police doesn’t preside over this website.

      You KNOW what I meant:

      My wife doesn’t work for MONEY.

      Obviously she works her ass off as a stay at home mom.

      Shame on YOU for willfully misinterpreting what I wrote to try and call me out for my retro views, which don’t actually exist.

  7. 187
    Carrie

    Your post did not communicate even in the slightest how a stay at home parent is a valued contributor, albeit not in a monetary fashion.

    YOU happily pay for mom and me classes is one clear example. It should have read, WE pay for these activities from my salary.

    I did not read into your statement.

    How our Country values stay at home parents starts with how we talk about it. It must change. You can help.

    Outrage police indeed.

    1. 187.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Actually I pay for everything. While we argue on the internet, I’m paying for my wife to celebrate her 50th birthday with her best friend on a four day staycation. I am paying for another one with her high school friends in two weeks. I am also paying for our house, our retirement and the kids college funds. I even pay for my own birthday gifts.

      I’m not complaining. I’m only pointing out that your above statement is incorrect. “We’re” not paying for anything. I am. My wife would tell you the same thing.

      Any interpretations you have of my marriage or how I value and treat my wife based on one line in a seven year old blog post are, to say the least, limited.

  8. 188
    Jeremy

    The word “we” is one of the most mis-used words, especially in the context of marriage. My wife is constantly trying to get me to use that word to describe who pays for what. It’s not that I pay, it’s that WE pay. No. While it is true that, from a legal POV, the money I earn belongs to both of us, that does not change the fact that I am the one who earns it. That does not devalue the work she does, it simply accurately describes where the money we have comes from. In the same way that WE were never pregnant and WE never birthed 4 children – SHE was, SHE did – I pay for almost everything.

    My wife is not a stay at home parent – she works half-time – but her salary is about 1/20 of mine. I value her immensely for who she is and what she does – but that does not change where our money comes from.

    Why does it matter, Carrie? It matters because there is a huge psychological difference in entitlement when “we” are paying for something versus when “he/she” is. There is both more care before making the purchase, and more gratitude afterward. I express gratitude (and subsequently happiness) to and for my wife for doing what she does. Because I acknowledge that SHE does it. Not me, not we. Gratitude leads to mindfulness, leads to maintenance of love and happiness. I know that you worry that when the word “we” is not used that the husband shows lack of gratitude for his wife, but I think it’s the opposite – that she lacks gratitude for him. Gratitude shouldn’t be fake – we should appreciate each other for what we actually do, what we actually contribute, not what we don’t.

    1. 188.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      What he said. I woke up thinking “WE didn’t get pregnant” and was going to post it until I saw this.

      Like you, I am extremely grateful for my wife and probably thank her and tell her I love her 5x more than she tells me. But then, I’m a words of affirmation guy and she’s an acts of service woman.

      Always astounded how people see fit to lecture me about my own marriage when both my wife and I are very happy with each other and our dynamic. Must be what happens when you take a few lines from a blog post and twist them to their most negative interpretation.

  9. 189
    Jeremy

    Sorry for the double post, but this is something I feel so strongly about. I think it is important to give each spouse their due, to express gratitude for what they provide. I try to thank my wife regularly for all that she does – “thank you for taking care of the kids, for arranging their schedules, tending to all their needs, taking care of the household duties, preparing, organizing, creating a home.” Perhaps I don’t say it enough, but I make an effort to say it often. But my wife pretty much never thanks me for what I provide. Oh, if I do something different and specific she’ll thank me, but not for what I do on a regular basis. “Thank you for my home, my car, my clothes, my hot running water. My ability to live my life as I chose, my ability to not work full-time in a paying job so that I can do what I’d rather do and be home much of the time.” She doesn’t thank me for these things because she thinks of those things as a “WE” job. If “we” earn the money, why should “I” be grateful? In fact, one time my wife seemed happy and I asked what she was thinking about. She said, “I was just thinking about my life, and how grateful I am for it.” And I replied “that’s great that you feel that way. But can I ask – grateful to WHOM?” She was first surprised by the question, and then angered by it. The anger angered me.

    Let’s please not mis-use the word “we”. Let’s give credit where credit is due – there’s more than enough credit on both sides.

  10. 190
    Jeremy

    @Evan, it’s an availability bias thing, I think. Mrs Happy just posted that thinking about how all the emotional labour is on her makes her angry and resentful, and that she is reading a book on the subject which is making her even more angry and resentful and perhaps sapping her libido. She should read a book about being a man who supports his family after she’s done this one to balance things out. Because I guarantee that few are the marriages where the woman does all the work. She just does all the work that she sees. She sees what’s available; doesn’t see what she doesn’t see.

    When we were leaving our Florida vacation a few months ago, my wife was packing the suitcases and was upset. “Why are you upset,” I asked, “Didn’t we just have a wonderful vacation?” “Yes,” she replied, “I’m just pissed off because all the work of the vacation is on me. I was the one who packed the suitcases, planned what we needed, what all the kids would need, all the logistics, and here I am packing the suitcases again. Why is it all on me?”

    “Is that what you think,” I asked, “is that how you feel? Do you remember how I offered to pack the suitcases but you refused because only you know how to do it? How I offered to pack them up just now but you don’t like how I fold? Did you consider who PAID for this vacation?”

    “Yeah, you paid for it,” she said, “but what’s that to you. It just takes a minute to write a cheque.”

    “A minute to write the cheque,” I replied, “and how long to earn the number on it?”

    Shit, the availability bias is a bitch. The more we hear about the overworked wife, the less we acknowledge what we don’t hear about.

  11. 191
    Marika

    Carrie

    This post, this question, is about money and who pays for what. I have the utmost respect for stay at home mothers and re-read the post to find the part where Evan was disrespectful towards them. He wasn’t. By working full-time and taking all of that responsibility he is respecting the role of the stay at home mother. If you’re familiar with his work more broadly you’d know he sings his wife’s praises often. I recall elsewhere he talked about his job being 9-5 and hers being 24/7.

    This is just one post about money you misunderstood as something disrespectful. Shame.

    Jeremy

    From memory, and I could be wrong, Mrs Happy makes more money than her husband. So she can probably relate way more to how you feel than the numerous examples you give of your wife’s availability bias.

  12. 192
    Jeremy

    Hi Marika. It’s not about who makes more or who does what. It’s about one spouse believing that they do ever so much more than 50% of the total. Whether that person is male or female, a caregiver or a breadwinner, doesn’t really matter. In such a situation, either the person is legitimately doing more than their fair share (in which case the marital responsibilities need to be renegotiated), or are not but are instead mired in bias. The word “we” encourages such bias because it obscures who does what.

    My wife would tell you that I often complain about financial stresses. But what she wouldn’t tell you is that I believe myself to be doing all the work in our marriage. Because I don’t. I don’t go out with groups of men who discuss how their spouses are child-like, don’t read books to make me feel resentful and less libidinous. Don’t claim that the work I see is all the work there is, and that I’m doing all of it. Don’t claim that I need my wife to use the word “we” in all that she does in order to make myself feel more powerful.

  13. 193
    Adrian

    Hi Jeremy,

    You said, “I offered to pack the suitcases but you refused because only you know how to do it? How I offered to pack them up just now but you don’t like how I fold?

    Why do you think people do this? Is it conscious? Are they doing it so they CAN later on throw it in our face?…

    If so does that mean they really secretly enjoy the complaining and satisfaction of feeling like they do more than the actual help you offer?

  14. 194
    Marika

    Hi Jeremy

    I don’t know Mrs Happy’s marriage at all, but I think we need to consider the possibility this may be the case: “in such a situation, either the person is legitimately doing more than their fair share (in which case the marital responsibilities need to be renegotiated), or are not but are instead mired in bias”

    I’m glad you wrote that. I’m glad you do recognize sometimes that may be how it is. That it’s not necessarily always about bias. Mrs Happy (and the OP in this post) may have legitimate cause for complaint. As you do.

  15. 195
    Jeremy

    Adrian, I think there are a few reasons for the behavior I described, none of which are nefarious (throwing it in faces later).

     

    First, controlling and perfecting one’s surroundings is a protective mechanism against shame and emotional dysregulation.  See Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” for more on this.  Essentially, when a person is feeling down about themselves or worries about being judged and shamed, one way they might protect themselves is to make their lives look too perfect to be judged – judged by themselves, judged by others.  Fold the laundry just so, decorate the house just so…look and be perfect so no one can accuse you of not being good enough.  Especially not yourself.  This is insidious and common.

     

    Second, it relates to the ways people might want to be loved, what they want to be valued for.  My wife has a particularly hard time with this, because she feels that I do a lot and that she sometimes can’t compete.  Even though it’s not a competition, even though I try to make her understand that she is enough, more than enough, to me.  She wants to show me that there are areas I need her for, areas I can’t do as well, things she needs to do because if I do them I’ll be worse off – things I’m better off having her for.  She doesn’t understand that I am an abstract-oriented personality – that her attitude is more important to me than the concrete things she does, especially the nit-picky details that don’t interest me.  But it takes an abstract-oriented person to understand this….like almost all the people on this blog.

     

    Third and finally, some people are not able to attain inner peace with disorderly surroundings.  They see a sock on the floor and can’t concentrate on what’s on their mind, can’t relax.  They see a room full of clutter and want to throw out everything they haven’t used in the last month.  Others (ahem) are completely unaffected internally by their surroundings, and might prefer a bit of disorder.  We think in webs, not stacks.  So to such people (cough) it makes no sense to fold laundry that you’ll just pack up and launder when you get home.  You just stuff it in the suitcase at the end of the trip as fast as you can.  Some people would find that vexing, even disturbing, to their inner peace.

  16. 196
    Mrs Happy

    It’s so entertaining reading about myself on this blog, and randomly coming across my name.  Makes me giggle.

    I don’t know if I’m mired in bias.  At this point I cannot step outside the situation to objectively evaluate that.

    Yesterday in the wake of having, the night before, flown back to Sydney and arrived home in the dark evening, with a child with food restrictions who couldn’t be catered for at airports, to find my husband hadn’t made either she or I dinner, and it was way past her bed and dinner time, I was furious.  Just livid.  It was the lack of thought which riled me, his inability to think, hmm, they’ll arrive x pm, not having eaten, why don’t I have something prepared and they can wolf it down before we put our overtired young daughter to bed.  I told him I was angry, then while I put my young son down to sleep, and instead of putting my daughter down as he should have, he crashed pots around cooking dinner- a too-late dinner she (asleep) couldn’t eat by the time it was cooked, and I was too furious to eat.  Plus, weirdly, I didn’t really want dinner, I’d eaten stacks of choc on the plane – I wanted him to have thought of us, and put effort and time and mental bandwidth into imagining how hungry and tired we’d be, and, before we arrived and lots more had to be done, prepared dinner.

    The next day (yest) he sent a subject line ‘grumpy’ email (me or him grumpy, I didn’t know or care).  I lost it.  In the context of reading Hartley’s aforementioned ‘Fed up’ book, I wrote a list, at 3pm, of the things I’d done for others (kids, family, friends, random strangers in the park), just that day since 5.30am waking.  It totalled 33 points.  (By the end of day it’d be 50-60 points easily.)  My return email to him ended with a bitchy comment about how so far by 3pm, he’d just, for others, a) minded the kids until 8am while I exercised, then b) gone to work (i.e. 2 points to my 33), and so far, on his paid work day and my stay-home-with-kids-it’s-school-holidays-I’m-not-at-paid-work-today, he’d earned $800, and I’d earned, doing just 2 work tasks in virtual non-existent time between playdates, school mum socialising, park visits, tantrums, food prep, grocery shopping, housework, etc., $6000.  I explained I was thus not inclined to keep to the social mould of doing these 60 things a day, being his ‘helpmate’, so as to free up his mind space for the importance of serious male breadwinning and career progression, as society scripts; or much fussed if he was ‘grumpy’.

    I’m exhausted.  I think I earn more, do more, give more, and then am expected by society to give again and again and again, to everybody, including be a “better” wife to my husband, while hiding how that makes me feel, and presenting an attractive, polite, and socially acceptable front, and I’m over it.

    I also never get “hey thanks for working your teens and 20’s away into the nightmare they were, so we can now all live this life of utter luxury” sentence from anyone in my family.  My earning potential is all taken completely for granted, as is the assumption it is everyone’s money.  My immediate and extended family didn’t know me then (teens and 20’s) so didn’t see what it all cost me.  And it is their money – if my kids didn’t exist, I’d return to my preferred, much more interesting and stimulating, but much lower paid, career path.  So I know exactly how J/CB feels.  And I’ve always been irritated by the “we are pregnant” BS sentence, so I’m very glad to find some kindred spirits on that one too.

    As you can see, the book IS riling me up.

    1. 196.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Mrs. “Happy”: I feel for you. I don’t have any answers since it’s not your boyfriend but your husband. From the outside, I don’t like the dynamic at all and think you guys need therapy. It’s entirely possible you married the wrong man. You don’t have to be stuck for life. Finally, keep in mind that two wrongs don’t make a right. Your 33 point list sounds a lot like this guy who tallied up all the reasons his wife refused to have sex with him…and got pilloried by women on the internet for doing so.

  17. 197
    Mrs Happy

    Evan @ 196.1, good points, and do I realise all that, and I’m not proud of the 33 point list or my email’s ending sentence, but people do things when heated which aren’t always wise.
    It’s interesting to think about how it’s more culturally acceptable that he be grumpy because I yelled at him, than I be angry because I think I do too much, and how socially unacceptable and uncomfortable my 33 point list is. It’s another facet of the emotional toll we place on women – be happy, considerate, polite and pleasant, even when you’re feeling extremely irritated and overburdened. He was partly grumpy because I didn’t praise him for cleaning the house while I was away. I saw the clean house at the same time I realised there was no dinner cooked, so thanks didn’t stand a chance. My thinking was also, it was his and family mess in our house, I had no desire to praise him just for doing some of the general housework that needs doing, I don’t get or expect praise for doing general housework, also don’t see it as a job I should own thus thank him for doing.
    I think I’m probably allowed to write my 33 point list?; it illustrated my point and summarily replied to his “what do I need to do to help and prevent you being angry” email to me. Really I am in control of my own emotions (or not) and own that anger-control job. But generally what he needs to do, is own half of the 60 points on the list, and not leave all the mental load of running a home and family to me. And I think most men don’t even realise there is a 60-point mental list, every single day, even holidays, even weekends, necessary to ensure the smooth running of a family, and that it takes a huge intellectual bandwidth cost and energy toll. I essentially have a lower functional IQ because of all this mundane stuff in my head each day, and that is a loss to me, which I actively feel, and which helps prevent me doing something big I want to personally do, and getting further in my career.
    Anyway, so I gave him one 33-point list covering 9.5 hours only in my head. Considered it education regarding the average wife’s mind.
    He did not marry a stay-at-home helpmate woman, he married a successful senior career type, so he knew what he was getting into. He never expected me to do the 60-point list daily, he like most men (and myself) never realised it would spring into existence once the kids were born.
    I was sort of trying to compare him not even thinking of cooking us dinner, with all the things I think about, to do for others, all the time. It would be impossible for me to fail to prepare dinner for half my family upon their evening return from travelling, so I had a difficult time even understanding his mind, and this often occurs – something incredibly obvious to me, just doesn’t occur to him, and I find it bewildering and annoying. But it happens generally with others too, so I’ve learned to live with it. I’d be occasionally impatient with anyone I lived with.
    And the harsh fact is, the marital tradeoff is usually, man earns most of the money, woman does most/all the other stuff; because I have to do both, as does every woman who earns more, it’s sometimes frustrating.
    To his credit he is the most involved father I’ve ever witnessed, and a man who truly keeps trying, a bit too much really, and is in many other ways, 33-point list aside, a good fit for me. I’m not an easy partner to have. He wants therapy, I’ve been batting the suggestion away, because I can predict the steps which will be suggested, and I’ve little left to give.
    When we find a replacement cleaner and housekeeper I can give the household part of the mental and task load to her, and I’ll be less burdened.
    Anyway to the blog readers I apologise for my venting.

  18. 198
    Jeremy

    Dear Mrs Happy.

    I understand you, my friend. I understand your frustration, your anger. I understand what you did, why you did it. It is hard, so hard, when we’re so exhausted, when we’ve done so much – ALWAYS done so much, always watched the world and others, wondering how they do so little. We take pride in what we do, the burdens we carry that others can’t…and then feel taken advantage of. Because while we might think that others will look at us and learn how they should behave, instead others look at us and become accustomed to having things done for them by us – the exact opposite of what we intended. Am I in the ballpark?

    I have no answers for you. I don’t know how much of what you’re experiencing is bias and how much is legit. I expect there’s some of both, but I don’t know the ratio. I do know a couple of things to consider, though, that I hope might help. A story:

    My brother believes his wife is a waste of space. Harsh, and he’d never admit it overtly, but that’s how he feels. He earns 5x what she does, works longer and harder, and she does no household tasks and few emotional tasks. She was brought up to believe that cooking and cleaning are menial tasks unfit for a modern woman, and so my brother comes home after gruelling days at work at 9pm, makes his own dinner, checks that the kids have eaten something, and makes their meals/lunches for the following day. And he feels much like you do – taken advantage of by a parasite. And yet…….and yet one time his wife DID try to make him dinner. Spent a Sunday cooking and preparing. And when she served him the food she’d made, he did nothing but criticize. “This soup is too bland.” “This chicken is disgusting.” “This cake tastes like ass, burn the recipe.” That was years ago. He still complains that she never cooks for him, and I ask him what he expected. If you slap someone down when they make an effort, don’t expect further efforts. You may be frustrated that she never cooks, but if you want her to cook you gotta praise the hell out of the effort to encourage more effort – as painful as the praise may be to you, it’s an investment in the future! If you want to grow a garden, EW, you gotta plant some seeds, water them, and sometimes feed them bullshit 🙂

    You made a list of all the things you do, you earn more money, you’re reading a book that’s feeding your confirmation bias. How much is bias, how much is real? A suggestion – sit down and make another list – a list of what your husband has done this week. And don’t think of “go to work” as one thing. When I go to work, I help 30-40 people every day, deal with staff issues, deal with financial issues, etc. If my wife were to make her own list and write “he went to work” as just 1 thing, she’d be doing me an injustice. If you can’t write such a list because you don’t know what he does during the day, ask him to help you. Tell him that you’re trying to overcome your bias, trying to take his perspective, and you need his help to understand him better. If, having crafted this list, you still believe your marriage is unfair, a re-negotiation of tasks might be in order. And, unfair as it is, you will likely have to be the captain of the renegotiation because you’re the one who knows what has to be done. He doesn’t, and it sounds like he isn’t intuitive (like most men are not). If you spell it out, he’ll likely do it. Try not to be resentful for having to spell it out. Because even though I know that spelling it out is more emotional work for you, is unfair for you to have to do, it is the way out of the quandary – the way to be able to legitimately make lists that better balance. I wish that for you, happiness and balance.

  19. 199
    Jeremy

    Oh, and 1 other thing, Mrs H.  One needs to be realistic when re-allocating responsibilities – a person will never do, in the long-term, a task they care nothing at all for.  My 3 year-old goes to sleep earlier than the other kids and insists on sleeping with her door open.  I must have told the older kids to be quiet umpteen times when they go up to bed so as not to wake her, but it never sticks.  “Thump thump thump thump…CRASH!!!…Click!….Lights….Buzzz…..(from other room) “Whaaaaaa”.  Drives me nuts.  But as often as I explain to them to be quiet, to turn the knob of their door before closing it, to wait until the door is closed before clicking on the lights – they just don’t do it.  ‘Cause they don’t care.  I live with it ‘cause I can’t change it…..accepting that I can’t change it gives me some peace with it.

     

    People think differently.  Some people naturally prioritize others, others themselves.  Some people think in stacks, others in webs.  Look at your job description, “senior executive” – a person who thinks in stacks would picture a woman in a corner office, making money and bossing people around.  A person who thinks in webs would picture a woman who spends her days decapitating the elderly.  And given your childhood career ambition of “assassin,” it seems to fit the bill 😉

     

    *BIG HUG*.  The sun will set, and the sun will rise, and tomorrow will be a new day, full of possibility.

  20. 200
    Adrian

    Hi Mrs. Happy,

    Why did you just focus on what he didn’t do? Why not focus on what he did and tried to do?

    Why not just leave him if it’s that bad? (This is where Jeremy jumps out and condemns me for even suggesting divorce or you say oh no our marriage is great).

    But I just personally feel like if someone reacts as STRONGLY as you did to a mistake and if someone throws it in my face that they MAKE MORE, DO MORE and then refuses to get marital help… Then I wouldn’t want to be with a person like that.

    You said once he knew you were upset about him not making food he tried to make it. You DIDN’T say he got angry or he argued, he went and tried to correct his mistake… YOU didn’t accept it. You said he wanted you to acknowledge he cleaned the house… YOU thought it wasn’t even worth mentioning.

    You said he sent an email that had the sentence “what do I need to do to help and prevent you being angry” Again he reached out and you SMACKED it down! Then let him know that you have 33 points more than he does and he doesn’t even make a fraction of what you do financially.

    Again I know I will be attacked by the other commenters or even Evan for this but that doesn’t sound like someone I would want to with. There is obviously an unspoken feeling of I am the more important one in this relationship.

    The fact that he suggest counseling lets me know that this is not some one time or rare occurrence.

     

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