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


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 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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  1. 61

    Starthrower 59, this is exactly what I’ve been saying on here, and people seem to react like I have three heads 🙂
    Then again I agree with marymary #60: even people who have already had the experience, cannot think in advance of all the possible ramifications. My ex bf, prior to meeting me, had had both 50% custody of his own kids, and a blended family where he lived with a woman and her kids. You’d think he’d be prepared for anything, but we still ran into issues. He wanted a lot of 1:1 quality time on weekends. Well my then 16yo son also happened to want to spend some time with me on weekends. But I cannot clone myself, or be in two places at once. I was running ragged trying to give them both what they need, and there was still a lot of resentment on both sides, at least until my son got a gf and suddenly wanted me out of the house on Saturday nights. He was actually a little disappointed when bf and I broke up 🙂

  2. 62

    Reminds me of of the saying, “Men get into a relationship hoping things stay the same. Women get in hoping things will change.”
    I’m sure they both share some blame. But I’m also a guy so I tend to think expecting change is more unrealistic compared to expecting things to stay the same.  

  3. 63

    Wow! That is some interesting comments!   I am Lisa and I agree with all of you.   To make things more clear, he rented a room in a house for $450/month includes utilities plus his food was about $150.   My rent is $1700 and that’s cheap compared to other places.   Food is about $1000/ month and utilities about $300.   There is no cable, just Internet.   We never eat out.   Gas for car, cell phone, medical benefits, bus passes, school supplies, seasonal clothing….. It all adds up.   His children live in a different province so he never sees them.   He chose to leave and sends $1600/month for his 3 kids.   He makes $1800 every two weeks and yes, truck payment is recent.   He pays a third of rent and utilities which I am fine with.   My resentment is the groceries…… He eats more then all of us therefore a third is not enough.   He works 8 hour days Monday to Friday. I work every day but only 6 hours. He does yard work and fixes things if needed. I do everything else.   I love to take care of him and he gives me a lot of emotional support.   It would be nice if he could help more financially with the groceries and also with some cooking and cleaning.   it is true he sees that the cooking and cleaning are mostly because of the kids and although he is nice to them, he sees them as not his and he shouldn’t have to cook or clean after them.   after he pays his child support and I receive mine, with our income, we each bring in about the same into the house. He has credit cards, truck payments, but I don’t have any so that leaves me paying for most everything. He has debt and it accumulated after we moved in, not before. He has made it clear he will never pay more then a third, his little room was cheap he rented therefore why should he pay more then that. We had a discussion and he has agreed to contribute $900/month now plus buy the meat.   That seems fair to me.   Thank you for all the great input! It helped me feel I was making the right decision  

  4. 64

    Lisa, glad you clarified some things. I still feel your BF is getting off easy with $900. After paying you $900 and his $1600 child support, he still has $1100 left over. Surely he can help a little more so you don’t have to have 2 jobs. I personally would want half the rent. I can’t understand how someone would date someone with kids and not want to help with the support and day to day maintenance of the children. It strikes me being selfish. Anyway, I’m glad you are happy. That’s all that matters.  

  5. 65

    If all a man would add to my life would be sex and words, then I would not allow him to meet my children.
    I would date him away from my family and only if he would take me on dinners, theatres, trips where he would treat me like a princess and where we would laugh a lot. Where he would take me out of my stressing family life reality for a few hours or days.
    At least, I would know it is HONESTLY all about having a family free, children free, responsibility free, burdens free, cleaning free, cooking free, educating free, relaxing time for BOTH of us.
    THIS would be FAIR enough, if sex alone would be what I want from a man. Which it is not.what I want.
    If I find myself alone in educating my children and in cooking and cleaning the place we all live in, and pay all their and my expenses on my own and with their Dad’s legal contribution, then why do I want a stranger living with us? What does he bring to the plate?
    Sex and words?
    I can’t have sex with a man who watches me struggling alone in life and does not feel the pull to ease my struggle, who does not feel interested in my children education and well being and who, yet, feeds himself with the warm vital energy my children and I fill our nest with. That would lower my self esteem. And it would give a cheap example to my children of what type of treatment they can accept in their own relationships.
    And I would feel suspectfull that he organises a living arrangement with my family where he would pay less or exactly the same than when he lives alone so that he can buy a truck. I don’t want my family to be utilised to save money to buy a truck when he is not supporting us with anything.
    I don’t want a man who strategises that living with me won’t cost him a single dime more than living alone and will cost ME more than if I live without him. How am I supposed to feel when he wants the extra cost of living together to be on my back and away from his? Where is the love?
    Men who need a roommate for financial reasons and friendship and sex can pass their way. I want a lover, a cherishing partner, a husband, a boy friend, whatever it is called. I don’t want a sexual live-in friend or a business live-in partner. Because I just don’t want it and because it gives such a wrong message to my children.
    I would indeed end up feeling resentful.
    Resentful against my own choices, though, not against him. He does what is best for him and my job is to do what is best for me. When I accept situations that do not honour my feelings, it is my own responsibility.
    Anyway, I would feel resentful, indeed and I would share my feelings and my dream of a loving nurturing nest. You never know, sharing dreams sometimes inspires a man to be part of the dream and sometimes heals him. My dream could heal this man.
    If not, I would move back to my type of place that I can afford. It would leave the open space for the next man. I would not let a man inside my family until I meet the man naturally pulled towards supporting me, a man who feels happy to feel me happy.

  6. 66

    Man loves woman => man wants woman happy and not stressed out, not even by her own kids. Man will do everything doable in his immediate surrounding to create a safe, loving nest for his woman.
    Example: man sees dirty kitchen after kids stomp out of it. Man picks up and cleans because it is the place he lives in and as a responsible healthy clean citizen, he feels responsible for the place he lives in and because this is the love nest he wants to honour for his female. Man picks up and cleans his beloved sacred nest, happy to make his woman’s life easier and to support her in her mission as a mother. Her burdens are his burdens. They are family.
    Or else why would I chose him among the millions of men in the world?
    Woman and man have a meeting with kids from both sides and say:
    “this woman and this man are creating their nest with you all in it. This woman and this man are to be respected and obeyed and trusted equally as equally creators and guardians of our new nest, regardless which one is the biological parent or not.
    In short, whenever one of us adults tells you to pick up and clean after your snacks in the kitchen, just do it, don’t wait for the biological parent to come home and repeat it to you. The biological parent will not register your complain that his/her partner spoiled your fun.
    Man is no cleaning slave to woman and woman is no cleaning slave to man and none of us adults are cleaning slaves to the children.
    In this nest, we both hold the parental authority to guide you in cleaning and in how to use the house.”
    This way, when woman’s kids stomp out of the kitchen, man has the choice and authority to call them out on it and make them clean their mess, and thus to support his woman in her educating mission, or he can chose to let them go and clean their mess himself, whichever works on the moment. In either case, he honours his manhood by taking responsibility for what is happening in his own love nest. He participates in improving the quality of life of his beloved female.
    Or else why would I chose him among the millions of men in the world?
    Sometimes woman comes home tired and hungry and man cooks for her because taking care of her makes him happy. That’s why he wanted to share a house with her in the first place. To take care of her. To pamper her. To feel he is the man of the situation.
    He knows she will feel totally at peace when her children sit with them at the table and share the meal. So he cooks enough for the whole family. It feels natural to him, coz they are family.
    Or else what is the point in sharing my family with him?
    I don’t want my children to feel like they are a dead heavy weight in their own home, in constant contact with a man who makes them feel they are not his problem, he has nothing to do with them, he wants to wash his hands off them, all he wants is sex with their mother.
    I don’t want them to end up feeling worthless. A home is sacred, it is where we are a family and we all feel concerned by each one’s well being and we all participate in making each one feel important and cared for and we all help each other.
    The man who wants to cook and clean only for himself and to spend money only on himself is allowed to do so in his rented single room. Let him stay there. Why would he even have the privilege to sit at my family’s dinner table when he is adamant in his reminding me and my children we are not his family and he does not want us to become his family.

  7. 67
    Karl T

    The responses still baffle me.   
    Nicoleinfl #65
    How the hell is this guy selfish??   Even the OP says she is fine with him paying 1/3.   I totally don’t get the people who think the guy owes half.   The OP doesn’t have to contribute a dime towards his kids, why do those of you still feel he needs to cover 50%???   They both have kids to be responsible for, why do you have so much trouble seeing that???   Or do you come from the entitled camp who thinks that men should always take care of everything???   

  8. 68
    Nicole W

    Zaria #67
    Your quote below sums it up really well! He needs to move back to his room or date someone without children.  
    “The man who wants to cook and clean only for himself and to spend money only on himself is allowed to do so in his rented single room. Let him stay there. Why would he even have the privilege to sit at my family’s dinner table when he is adamant in his reminding me and my children we are not his family and he does not want us to become his family.”  

    Karl T #68
    You’re barking up the wrong tree! I’m a professional woman who makes a very good income. I support myself VERY well! I don’t need a man to support me at all. However, that’s not the case with the other poster. She is working TWO jobs to pay the rent, while her live in barely pays anything. Worse, he doesn’t want to cook or clean up after the kids. That’s selfish. I assume anyone that is in a longterm relationship would want to treat their significant others children as their own. And if you read my prior post, I suggested they take ALL their monthly obligations and share them (that would include his child support payments as well). Nothing unfair about that. You seem to be one of those men that are happy to sit back and let a woman take care of you! Man up!

  9. 69

    For me, its less about the money and more about the house work. Or making the work burden less for both of you. When I have lots of work on then my boyfriend does the cooking and cleaning. When I have more money – I pay more.  
    I am happy with the idea of working more and paying more. What does not sit right with me is the expectation that housework is always women’s work. I think women should start jumping up and down about that too.  

  10. 70

    Karl T  is right.
    Also, a lot of you are cherry-picking certain info given, while ignoring other info, to support what you want to believe:   that this guy is a lazy, cheap, and selfish slob.   The problem with this is when it causes some of you to give bad advice that could inspire the OP to approach the situation in a way that sabotages an otherwise (according to the OP) good relationship.

  11. 71

    67 Zaria- your final para is perfect, I agree with Nicole W. THIS is all about valuing yourself and your  loved ones  and putting a good heavy boundary into place.
    “The man who wants to cook and clean only for himself and to spend money only on himself is allowed to do so in his rented single room. Let him stay there. Why would he even have the privilege to sit at my family’s dinner table when he is adamant in his reminding me and my children we are not his family and he does not want us to become his family.”
    I don’t want my children to feel like they are a dead heavy weight in their own home, in constant contact with a man who makes them feel they are not his problem, he has nothing to do with them, he wants to wash his hands off them, all he wants is sex with their mother.”

  12. 72
    Karl T

    Nicole W #69,
    I’m not sure if you’re the same person as nicoleinfl, but you both seem to have the same opinion so perhaps you are.   In any case, I have no idea why you talk about your self and how you support yourself???   I’m talking about this post, why are we suddenly discussing you???   I don’t care how you dice it, having him contribute 50% and then have her pay to help support his kids or have him pay 33% and she doesn’t have to pay anything towards his kids….it’s the same thing!!!!   You say he should pay 50% and she is responsible for helping to pay for his kids, BUT she is NOT paying for his kids.   You speak one thing, but your math speaks another.   You speak about this situation as if he had no kids and she is the one with 2 kids.   This situation IS fair.   You seem to have no regard for his responsibilities he has to his kids.   Both of them have kids, it’s not a situation where he’s gonna cover hers.   She gets child support money, did you conveniently forget that????   Your remarks are way off base.   Even the OP doesn’t have an issue with the payment of 33% because she is a logical person.   As for the other things, sure he should give her more money for groceries if he’s eating more and switch up chores more, but those were not the main focus of the OP’s original complaint.   The main complaint was about the monthly contribution.   I find it amazing how the OP has come here and cleared some things up and yet you still cling to chastizing this guy.   

  13. 73

    There are three incomes coming into the house.   The OP, the boyfriend and the father of the children therefore 1/3 is fair.   The boyfriend comes home from work at 5 and the OP at 3.   She might as well make supper right?   the kids are in juniour high so they take care of themselves for the most part.   He is nice to them and if they need help he will help them. I am not concerned about the kids.   They have their dad and being already 13 they don’t need another.   The boyfriend never complains and never expects anything.   I have to cook supper anyway so why not one more? It is odd that he does no housework at all but because the kids are older, there really is not much housework to do.   He has since got a better job and works 12 hour shifts 6 days a week.   I work every day but only 5 or 6 hours a day.   Since writing the letter things have changed a little.   He still pays only a third, he doesn’t lift a finger with housework or laundry or clooking but he works long hours and on his day off he should relax I think.   if I don’t have time to make lunches or supper, he never complains, he will just eat out or make an egg and toast.   He never criticizes my kids or tries to discipline them, which I appreciate! He isn’t a “family” type but I guess that is why he chooses to send money instead of seeing his own kids.   He is going to contribute more towards groceries and that was may biggest issue so problem solved.   Great comments though! Thank you everyone!

  14. 74

    @Lisa 74 – Thanks for checking back with us – it’s always great to hear from Original Posters.  

  15. 75

    The higher HIS income, the higher child support he will have to pay. Thus, this may be a reason why he doesn’t want to earn more money.
    Honestly, what Evan suggests is excellent. I must say though, there is a possibility he will not accept that proposal. Why? Please read below.
    As per the letter the issue seems to be that both have different lifestyles / attitudes towards life.
    He is willing to live in a small room, thus needing only to work enough to cover costs. Inferring from the letter, he doesn’t seem to be a very ambitious person.
    She on the other hand opted for the house, thus needing to work two jobs at the moment. Among other reasons, she seems to be very ambitious.
    You cannot change people! Either she accepts him for who he is or she finds someone else.

  16. 76

    Lisa, I just read your reply after I posted my comment. Glad to hear the biggest issue has been solved. 🙂

  17. 77

    What I don’t get is this: Lisa said he spent $150/month on food before moving in with her.   Now with one man, one woman and two kids in the house, the food bill has ballooned to $1000/mo and he “eats more then [sic] all of us”?   Did he suddenly develop a requirement for filet mignon at every meal?   Has he blown up to 400lb?   The math doesn’t add up.

  18. 78
    Nicole W

    Karl T #73,
    I am both Nicoles.  
    YOU suggested I wanted a man to take care of everything…that’s why I mentioned that I support myself very well.  
    Your math skills are lacking. He wasn’t paying 33% when he paid $600 and still isn’t now that he is going to pay $900. I’ve never heard of any couple including MINOR children when dividing up rent/groceries etc. Very cheap in my opinion.
    Again, I stated that if Lisa is happy then that’s what important. For me, that wouldn’t work. If he wants to be that chintzy, he can move back into his little room. He will not enjoy my entire home and the benefits that come with “living in” for 25% of the total expenses. That’s my take on this. Too bad if it bothers you. Many women feel the same way. I discussed it with the ladies I worked with (we are all well paid registered nurses), and many of them agreed this guy is getting away with murder. Only an opportunist would be okay with this arrangement.

  19. 79

      He isn’t a “family” type but I guess that is why he chooses to send money instead of seeing his own kids.  
    How is it living with a man who isn’t a “family” type when you have a family? I understand he is very nice to you but if he cares very little for his own children and for yours, how does that make you feel?

  20. 80

    Lisa, thanks for your updates! Glad to hear the problem is resolved. To other commenters that said $900 is still too low – it’s not $900, it’s $900 plus meat. Meat is expensive. $1000/mo total for food for a family of 4, where one is a grown man, and two are teenage kids going through a growth spurt, sounds reasonable to me. One thing I still don’t get though – if he really eats more than everybody else, then how come “he sees that the cooking and cleaning are mostly because of the kids”? But as long as he does yard work and repairs, I guess it kind of doesn’t matter.

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