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. 21
    Anthea

    The fact is that a LOT of men feel that way, rightly or wrongly. That is just the way it is. I’d bet a lot of women are not prepared to maintain a household for another woman’s children either — maybe for the occassional weekend visits, but everyday is a bit of an ask.
    @19…Im currently engaged to a wonderful man with two teenage children 14 and 19 living with me on my farm FT 24/7…Bio mum dosent want them…not even for an overnight stay! I pay for everything as my fiance is facing property court proceeding, family court for custody and a massive accountants and tax bill all mixed into one big debt…
    I told him…Ive got your back…we are in this together. I am essentially supporting him and HIS children. Bio mum pays nothing. Your partners attitude worries me when effectively his contribution wouldn’t even feed him, and he has said he wont pay anymore? You are supporting another child and Im not sensing there’s a committed partnership here.
      

  2. 22
    Henriette

    No way should he have to pay 50%, considering that she has children living with her.   However, he’s currently only paying 1/6th of the total while doing next to no housework and that is ridiculous.     Have a gentle talk with him and explain that he   needs to help more around the home and/or increase the amount of money he puts in to the monthly kitty.  

  3. 23
    Gabri'el

    I agree with Evan 100%, it’s more about the fact that he doesn’t do anything about the house, than it is about the money, he has a lazy and selfish character when it comes to helping out around the house and being a responsible adult around children.
    But my comment is for the people condemning him for his financial attitude. My older brother is in a similar situation so maybe I can help a lot of the readers understand where her boyfriend “MAYBE” coming from emotionally and mentally. The boyfriend was living a bachelors life, because it seems to me that he doesn’t have custody of his child, which was why he could live in just one room; my brother also has no children of his own, but his much older girlfriend does. So to help her out with her 4 kids, he traded in his 2 seater for a van, which cost more gas than his sports car; he moved out of my parent’s house and instead of renting an apartment, he rented a house, because they need the extra room, and it’s her kids who mess-up the house (as children will naturally do), and of course 4 children will eat a lot.
    I’m not sure of the age of the original letter writers children, but I’m thinking that when he makes comments about not helping cook, clean, or pay rent, it is because he see’s her kids as being the reason for a messy house, lots of dishes needing to be washed, and them having to get that expensive house. Again, I’m agreeing with Evan, I’m just giving a possible reason from what I have seen personally. I think her true problem is that she doesn’t know what the definition of a “wonderful nice guy” is, because it seems to me like this guy is just NOT ready to be a boyfriend to a woman with children, which may be why the letter writer only spoke of him paying child support and not of him having his child come to stay on the weekends

  4. 24
    Gina

    Sounds like the boyfriend has got a sweet deal: Someone to work two jobs, pay most of the bills, do most of the housework, and have sex with him when he wants? Heck! For that kind of arrangement I’d be a sweetie, treat you like gold, and bring flowers too! My late mother use to say, “The way that you start out in a relationship is the way things will stay unless YOU decide to take the necessary steps to change it.”   
    If he’s not willing to compromise, then either stay with him on his terms, or move out, get an affordable place for you and your kids, and simply let Mr. Wonderful court you.
      

    1. 24.1
      sk

      Couldn’t agree more!

  5. 25
    Kiki

    I can not imagine that this conversation will go well, whichever way the lady words it. I read here that Evan constantly gives advice to women not to judge men by their wealth, earning ability etc., but by how they treat their women. While this sounds both  logical and fair, I have not seen in real life, a happy long-term  couple where the woman has significantly greater earning power than the man. Here I am disregarding the Madonas, and talking about ordinary people. A big difference in earning power usually comes together with a big difference in ambition, drive and competitiveness. These are masculine qualities, and it works really well when the man has them, but not the other way around.
    In the short run, especially when being in love, women would disregard these differences, at their own peril. Then, when the smoke settles, and they realize that they have ended up with an underachiever, resentment will keep building up.
    Men in those circumstances think – well – she knew what kind of a guy I am, and she wanted me at the beginning, but not any more. Women think – if only he would try a bit harder for me…
    I am very pessimistic about the possibility to solve this imbalance through conversation, if at all.

    1. 25.1
      Camavery

      Awesome comment

    2. 25.2
      Chelle

      Kiki- You hit the nail on the head, it’s highly unlikely that this conversation will go well at all. One other commenter stated that the “issue” is the other mans children, not how much money he can realistically contribute to the household.

      If he gave a damn, he would cut the truck loose and pick-up a 2nd job to make a difference in   the imbalance of household expenses. She’s only asking for rent, utilities and food.

      @evanmarckatz – Thoughts? She’s probably used to living a lifestyle significantly higher than his for sure. He should have addressed his concerns with allowing her to leverage the payments to $3000+ a month before diving into those figures before moving in, as he clearly knew he could only contribute $600/month.

      Would we be having the same conversation if expenses were around $2000/month or less probably not. She feels like he’s taking advantage of her and in some ways he is by allowing her to almost fully finance their lifestyle instead of minimizing expenses because he knows he can’t afford the life they are currently living.

      This problem falls on her lap.

  6. 26
    josavant

    OK, I’ll be the first to say it: this man is a leech. He’s worked it out so he has to pay only $600/mo for a fine residence, home-cooked meals, someone to clean after him, and someone he can have sex with on a regular basis – while the woman pays $3000 a month?   How can he possibly be OK with that unless he is a leech.  
      
    The OP says he’s “nice.” big whoop. Anyone can be nice, it doesn’t cost a thing. Anyone can especially be nice to someone they’re taking advantage of on a grand scale like this guy is doing.
      
    OP, here is my suggestion. Kick this leech out of your house and out of your life. Replace him with a roommate and charge him or her $1000/mo.   You get an extra $400/mo, and you don’t have to clean and cook for your new roomie. it can’t get better than that.

    1. 26.1
      ShivaD

      Lol I so agree with everything you said

  7. 27
    Frimmel

    First off you need to find a cheaper living arrangement and cut down somewhere on expenses. $3600 a month seems kind of crazy to me without knowing the area of course.
      
    Anyone telling this guy to make more money should bear in mind that anything more he makes is going to lead to an increase in his child support. So you might look at that as part of the reason for being unmotivated to work more at paid employment. Particularly when the part that doesn’t go to the ex will be expected to go to supporting another man’s children. (It seems likely the expensive housing is partially to get her kids in a good school.)
      
    As to not doing house work. I suggest it is part of the alpha attitude that made him attractive to her in the first place. Doing more of the chores will likely make her lose even more respect for him and since it likely means more care for another man’s kids. Well, we can see the lack of motivation once again.
      
    Seems pretty standard woman trying to change a man stuff.
      
    If we further consider that this guy has already been through the ringer he’s probably not ready to get hit by a truck again by getting in too deep here. He probably did the good beta provider thing and it still landed him renting a room and not seeing his kids (guessing on that.) The whole situation is probably just a big ugly reminder of what he lost in the first place. He just doesn’t know how to cut the cord on the mindset that got him into the mess.
      
    If we take the attitude Cory expressed in #12 and consider the LW’s man probably bought into that hook line and sinker (I take the regular flowers as evidence of at least a small chivalry streak and “blue pill” thinking) only to still end up divorced and expected to get more work in order to help raise another man’s kids because he doesn’t have any money left from supporting the kids he doesn’t see?
      
    I think she’d be doing him a favor to break up with him.

    1. 27.1
      AMarie

      A portion of any increase in income will go to his OWN child- THAT is a good reason for him to be unmotivated?   Gross.

    2. 27.2
      Dorielle

      I do so cynically coubt that a man refrains from pulling his weight around the home in order to not lose respect !!

  8. 28
    Dawn

    it’s a little late, but my first thought on reading this was “didn’t you guys talk about expenses before you moved in together???”  

  9. 29
    Goldie

    I feel so idealistic reading this thread. The silly idealistic me assumed that the man had agreed to move in with the LW and her kids. That he had accepted them at least in some capacity, otherwise he wouldn’t have agreed to move in? I mean, I see a lot of comments there referring to her kids, the way he supposedly sees them, as if they were a tumor on her body, a DUI or a police record that’s not allowing her to drive and jacks up her insurance premiums, or any other kind of major inconvenience, that he really cannot stand, but has to put up with. “Another man’s kids” really? These are the children of a woman he loves. They also are the two people that he has knowingly agreed to move in with. I am not saying that he should buy them new cars and send them to Ivy League schools on his dime, but assuming that he doesn’t want to cook because the food will just be eaten by another man’s kids, so why bother… God, if it’s really that bad, I say break up then!
      
    I guess I just can’t relate. Granted, I haven’t had to live together with a SO’s kids, yet. With my recent bf, his kids were grown and out of the house and I only saw them on occasion. But I miss them, and honestly consider it one of the worst downsides of our breakup, that I will never see them again. Never did it occur to me to think of them as, “another woman’s kids”.
      
    As for the finance breakdown, here’s my two cents. For ten years, my ex-husband and I kept a spreadsheet where we added up all family-related expenses and split all those down the middle. Meaning, if I wanted to buy myself a new pair of shoes, or if he wanted a new set of fishing equipment, the other person would not have to pay half of that. But things like mortgage, utilities, family dog, family electronics, furniture, food for the family, those were the expenses that we divided in two. Any new expense was up for discussion – if I wrote something down as a family expense, and my husband thought it was something that only benefited myself, and that he shouldn’t pay half of it, he could always say so and explain why. We’d discuss and come to a decision that worked for both of us. Maybe LW and her bf can do the same. They can leave the kids’ clothes, school supplies and related expenses out of the spreadsheet, and only include those expenses that benefit both her and the BF. Then split them 50-50, 70-30, or any way they’d like. I actually wouldn’t want a bf to pay for anything at all that is meant strictly for my children, because then he’d get to call the shots on how I raise my kids and what I do for them. He’d then get the right to say things like “your son doesn’t need braces” and I want that to be my decision, not his.
      
    Also, agree with everyone else, $3600/month is pretty steep for what the LW says is a small house, unless they live in an area with very expensive real estate. Maybe they can find a way to cut down on the expenses a bit.

  10. 30
    Selena

    @ Goldie
      
    LW says the $3600 is for rent/utilities/food only. Those expenses obviously benefit not only the couple, but the kids as well.   The LW doesn’t like the split they have now. Can’t say as I blame her, but she has to support her kids whether he lives there or not. He’s supporting his own through child support payments.
      
    She said he wouldn’t give her more than a third   (even if he had it) and she is apparently resentful of that? Why should he have to support her kids (by paying more in  rent/utilities/food) ? She’s not helping to support his.
      
    It kinda sounds to me like she wants him to pay 50%, (as if he were  her kids father living with them)   but that’s not really fair to him. Especially since it appears a considerable amount of his income is already going for child support as it is.
      

  11. 31
    Ruby

    The OP wrote: “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”
      
    The $3600 isn’t just rent, it also includes food and utilities. If the rent is around $2000/month (easy in a decent neighborhood in a large urban area), that leaves $1600 for food and utilities. The food bill could be around $600/month or more for two (hard to divide that when there are her two children in the mix, not to mention food for his kids if they are visiting dad). That leaves $1000/month for utilities, which may not be all that high if you are including heat, phone, electricity, cable, water.
      
    Frimmel #28 rote:, “I suggest it is part of the alpha attitude that made him attractive to her in the first place. Doing more of the chores will likely make her lose even more respect for him and since it likely means more care for another man’s kids. Well, we can see the lack of motivation once again.”
      
    This man doesn’t sound alpha at all. No, she wants him to do his share around the house. She’s losing respect for him because he doesn’t do anything. She writes that he is “trying to find some extra jobs on the side, but not very hard.” Doesn’t sound like a driven, alpha-type to me.
      
    In my estimation, this woman doesn’t have 2 jobs, she has 3 – managing the entire household being the third one. Do people still believe that managing a household with 2 adults and 2 children is not a full-time job?

  12. 32
    Ruby

    Also, the food bill may be a lot higher if the OP doesn’t have much time to cook and they are eating out a lot. And we don’t know how much child support she actually gets, or if they have other expenses like health insurance or mediical bills.

  13. 33
    Goldie

    Guys I know that $3600 is food, rent and utilities all together. It’s still high in my opinion. Sorry I should’ve been more detailed in my comment.

  14. 34
    Goldie

    Have to add this in response to Selena:
      
    “Why should he have to support her kids (by paying more in  rent/utilities/food) ? She’s not helping to support his.”
      
    Actually, if he couldn’t live alone on $600/month, this means she is indirectly helping him support his. The fact that he lives partially on her money, is what allows him to give his money to his children. So yeah, she’s helping. Not that I see anything wrong with it, I am a big believer in working as a team and helping each other out.

  15. 35
    Marie

    This guy is already splitting a lot of hairs, even including allocating future money he doesn’t yet have or wants to earn, saying he wouldn’t pay anyways.   No matter how “nice” he is, doesn’t sound like he’s ready for the responsibility of seriously dating a woman with kids.   Too many disclaimers he’s putting out there.   I’d have a serious discussion with him about the breakdown of the chores and finances and if he continues to make excuses he’s probably not a good match for you.

  16. 36
    Frimmel

    Ruby in #32 re: Alpha
      
    Alpha isn’t just entrepreneurial go getter stuff. “I don’t do dishes” is alpha because it is a cocky, I’m too important to do the dishes thing. Women like guys who they perceive to have higher status. Women also want to tame the bad boy. Yeah, yeah, NAWALT.
      
    An attitude of the housework being beneath him will be attractive to many women both as a status perception and as a tame the bad boy challenge. Hence Alpha. As soon as he caves and does the dishes he’s lost both his higher status and bad boy to tame allure. (Hypothetically of course, as I’m not privy to all the details.)
      
    To get away from “game” talk. To me they seem to me to want the life they had before splitting with their children’s other parent but unwilling to face the reality that they can’t. Neither of these people took a hard look at why their prior relationships went wrong and appear to be repeating many of those habits and mistakes.
      
    I suspect that no amount of doing the chores will correct this because chipping in with the housework isn’t the real problem.

  17. 37
    Goldie

    #37: “An attitude of the housework being beneath him will be attractive to many women”
      
    WOW. I truly learn something new every day. There’s nothing that irritates me so much, and so fast, as the sight of a man, who is supposed to be my partner, sitting on his arse and taking it easy while I work around the house to feed and clothe him, a grown man. Am I the only woman who feels that way? Can’t be, since someone on this thread has already compared this situation to feeling like you have one more child on your hands. Which is exactly how this makes me feel. Pretty far from seeing that man as an Alpha, no?

  18. 38
    Selena

    @Goldie
      
    Most of the commenters also think it’s high – and part of the reason their split looks so one sided.
      
    I wonder what her monthly  rent/utility/food bill was prior to them getting a place together. Between her 2 jobs and her CS was she affording something similar? Or did she think with another income (his) would enable them to rent in a better neighborhood?
      
    She writes: 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?
      
    I see this as her definition of a “real man” is one who pays the bills for her AND her kids. Despite her getting child support from their father.   And I can see why he wouldn’t want to do that on top of supporting his own kids.

  19. 39
    Selena

    @Goldie #35
      
    Apparently he was able to support himself on $600 a month when he was renting a room before they moved in together. Now, yeah, it looks like she is carrying him for an extra $300. Which is why *I* think he needs to get another source of income, or they both need to make sacrifices for a more realistic budget.

  20. 40
    Selena

    My guess is that she would like him to do more around the house, but the real problem is his small contribution towards expenses compared to hers. Even if he did ALL the cleaning and most of the cooking she wouldn’t see him as a “real man” without the $$$.

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