Thursday, December 16, 2010

Who's financing this relationship anyway?

"You're lucky my financial situation isn't where I'd like it to be..." my Gentleman told me last weekend, "Because if it was, if I knew I could give you and this family all that I'm planning on providing, I'd be putting pressure on you to move back to Louisiana."

I love that he wants to take care of me. I love that his goal is to make sure I want for nothing and that he can take care of everything.

I don't TRUST it though.

I tried to trust that my ex-husband could take care of us when I became a stay-at-home mother after years of being a major breadwinner in our marriage. It felt good to me to take a break. But soon, I was learning of reckless hidden spending.... not to mention the history of debt we'd just paid off. I felt like I had to babysit our money. It was tirelessly frustrating.

Then we separated and I had to find work once again, this time with an added limitation of a career that required NO travel since I now have 2 children that I parent (mostly) alone.

My ex-husband and I agreed early in our marriage never to fight about money. We knew that financial issues were one of the primary causes of divorce. We actually avoided the topic of money so well that it is STILL difficult to talk to him about it to this day.

Gentleman Jack, on the other hand, is very comfortable telling me about his expenses, what he brings home from his business, how much debt he has...

I keep reminding myself, "Hey, at least he's being honest." My ex didn't inform me of his debt until 6 months into our marriage. That announcement was a shock to me as I had just quit work to go back to school. We struggled for years before I began bringing in mucho dinero to pay everything off. He supported me financially during my college days but I still didn't feel like I could trust him with the checkbook. We didn't talk about it. I just took over and made sure we'd be ok.

Jack has his own financial issues and this time I'm determined to stay out of it. I still have a desire to want to "fix" things and help him get it all sorted - like I did in my marriage. He isn't asking for that and, in fact, insists that I allow him to figure things out for himself. But when I see how it upsets him or he loses sleep over it... it is very difficult to remain outside of it.

Talking about money with him still makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Why is that?

***

Early on in our relationship, I noticed my irritation at Gentleman Jack's desire to talk about money, debt and each of our financial issues. I've also discovered that when I have a strong emotional reaction to something or someone's actions about something, it must mean that it's a problem for ME.

I have to look at the issues I have surrounding money. 

Why?

Resentment.

I'm starting to resent that I don't have more of it!

***

It began innocently enough....

I started resenting the fact that we couldn't go out more, do things more, travel more.... Why couldn't he afford me?!?!

Hello?! *smack upside the head*

"If I believe anything about relationships," Jack always says, "I definitely believe in FAIR."

Why on earth was I expecting him, a single father of two with ZERO financial help supporting his children, to pay for MY fun?

What sort of belief was stuck in my psyche about who should pay for what?

We're both independent, single parents of two children with mortgages, utilities, childcare costs and credit cards. We both have to drive 3 hours to visit each other. We both want to have fun, travel and eat out. We both want to take our children to do all the family friendly places in my big town.

And so we began splitting things, sharing the expense of things (though he insists on paying more often and/or helping)....and then I began to realize that I wanted MORE dollars to do MORE with him.

Initially post-divorce, I felt a simple life with little means was a perfect life for me and my daughters. I feel that's no longer true. I want more. I want to DO more. I want to provide for ME and not depend on someone else. As much as I'd love to be taken care of, I'm not sure I could relax enough to enjoy it. Could I trust it?

***

I will continue to delve into this issue more as revelations occur.

What about you?

Do you have an opinion on who should pay for whom? When dating? In a relationship?

Do you have difficulty discussing money with your partner?

16 comments:

  1. Ewww...that is an uncomfortable topic. I have been a SAHM for so long, but I did end up controlling our finances. I got us completely out of debt (minus home and car loans) and kept it that way all the way through to the end. It is funny that just the other day with the guy I'm dating, he felt the need to "disclose" to me that he's in a new job after being in a much better financial position a few years ago, was unemployed for a little while, went through a load mod, and that even though he has a nice home and vehicles, that basically lives paycheck to paycheck right now. I felt I had to say, "gosh; I hope you don't think that is what I'm here for." He said he knew I wasn't but just wanted to let me know where he is right now to explain why we may stay in some nights, etc.

    Yes; money is an icky, sensitive topic. But one that does need to be addressed.

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  2. This is a big one T! Trusting someone else to manage their money well is difficult. Right now (and it could always change), I think that I would not want to depend again on a man financially. I also feel that working is great for my mind and spirit.

    However, I do let men pay on dates. In some relationships we split everything and in others, the man paid most of the time. But, as with most things, I think that I should focus on my own attitude towards money and not have to trust someone else's. My abundance, like my happiness, is mine to create!

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  3. This is a big issue for me and I have been very uncomfortable talking about money. I was the breadwinner in our house and totally supported the family - a role that my ex was never comfortable acknowledging either publicly or privately so it was never discussed. When I was rewarded with pay increases or bonuses his reaction was generally one of mean-spirited jealousy and me, not wanting to rock the boat just kept quiet. Only now am I beginning to be comfortable acknowledging the wealth I earned and accumulated. My daughter is off to college next year - she will likely go in state and her college fund will in all probability cover four years of expenses. My son will be off to college and in three years and he has a similar college fund. I know some would argue the kids should pay their own in college but regardless, I'm proud I've been able to provide for them. And, I would far rather the money go to them than my ex!

    Don't know how I'll handle money with a new partner but I think as I get more comfortable with it now on my own, I'll do a better job than I did with my husband.

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  4. It's always difficult for me to talk about money; more than likely because I am not where I want to be financially and he makes a ton more than I do. Finanically we aren't equal even though he pays a fair amount in support to his children each month. It's a battle and I wish I could offer insight other than to say I feel the same way.

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  5. T, I'm going to share with you 'most' guys points of view on the subject of money. I have talked with men about this topic often.

    Candidly, money is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't situation" for guys and one that we, as men, can't win. Why you ask?

    (1) as women's independence has expanded they don't want to be diminished to "needing to be taken care of". Most of us were raised by fathers who took care of the family, financially, the expectation was such. Now the sons are grown up and in many cases the woman in the relationship doesn't want to be taken care of...hello!! that's a total change of gears. We don't know how to respond to that

    (2) Many women, especially divorced, have wounds in many areas of their lives brought about my their previous marriages. Finances being one of them. In an effort to be transparent and honest we feel the need to share challenges, to keep from repeating old mistakes and often we do so at our own detriment.

    (3) We get consistent mixed signals from women. On the one hand they want to have the man pay for things, take them out, show them a good time, lavish them with gifts. On the other hand we can't dare bring up the topic of finances or the expectation that maybe helping out is warranted. Unfortunately for many women...

    "Chivalry is dead until it comes time to pay the check". (quote me)

    I hope you appreciate your man's attempts at being transparent with you in this area, I think he is taking the right approach.

    I could go on about this topic for ever, but I wanted to share some immediate male insight with you.

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  6. Money is a tough subject. I thought it would be difficult to talk about it with M, given he makes substantially more than I do (well, a little less of a difference now with my new job, haha...), but it actually isn't hard for us, for some reason. he's very open about it, and he's very generous too, which I think can be (oddly?) a fault of his (at least in the past) as it has burned him before (and not something I would ever take advantage of!). But back to your point, I think it just depends on the people and the amount of financial "baggage" there is. with my ex, he didn't tell me about his 4K in credit card debt for a year...into our MARRIAGE. Um, right. Not cool ;)

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  7. Thank you all so much for these great comments!

    CP - I appreciate you chiming in on this. I am very thankful for my man's sharing about this topic. I am very thankful for his honesty PERIOD. But yes, I definitely need to figure out why it makes me so uncomfortable.

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  8. I'm going out of my comfort zone here and admitting publicly that my financial situation is desperate. I think if I looked at statistics, my two children and I are probably living in the poverty zone. That being said, I did my best to make things fair and even when I was in a recent dating relationship (and the man was fully aware of my financial situation at the time). When he broke up with me, he made it painfully clear that he felt that I didn't do my fair share financially in the relationship and used it against me as during the breakup. This of course was never mentioned at all during the time we were together. I didn't ask to do fancy things or go out to eat a lot. I didn't make him take me places or buy me things. I was content to go for a walk and spend time together. My pride and self esteem didn't allow me to take the money that he owed me for our "family" vacation (I put the whole amount on my credit card when we made the reservations) as a result of this.

    Trust me, I'll know better the next time around.

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  9. Good and hard topic T. Personally for me, it just depends on who makes more. If I make more I will pay more. I will always sincerely offer and won't go unless that is an option. I do not think it is a mans job to pay. It used to make me uncomfortable to let anyone pay for anything for me but I am learning to accept appreciatively now. I think even is good if possible.

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  10. My ex and I were very open about money. We shared absolutely everything. All our money went into a joint account and we paid the bills from there. We never really fought about money; we didn't have enough to actually fight over. lol

    Now, with CBG, since we live separate lives in separate cities, our finances are completely separate. Still nothing to really fight about in that department. I am slightly better off financially than he is right now, and so I am more than happy to pick up the tab when we go out to eat, etc....since I know he would do the same if (when!) the situations are reversed.

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  11. I would stay single. I would keep your job and the SAFETY it provides. A simple life is just fine, thank-you. I say all this because,....
    I am remarried and now I see that he is putting all our investments into his sons name. He thinks it's alright. I had a fully paid for house when we got together. I supported him for 5 years. And now? I am nothing? He has our house mortgaged. Forced me to invest $25,000 into some stupid thing. If you can take care of you and yours, please do so. I will never trust a man.

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  12. Trusting relationships after divorce is hard work, and as you show in this post, multi-faceted. It's not just about letting our heart love or be loved. There are practical matters too!

    I assume I will always pay for everything. And in every relationship, that has pretty much been the case!

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  13. Money is an issue I avoid discussing. He tells me, but I try not to tell him. For me, money is private. And I wish I had more to help out. I'm just used to years of money stresses. May they one day be over.

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  14. Since I've been financially independent since I was 19 and had to put myself through college (three times!) I've always watched my finances like a hawk. So I always took care of the finances in my marriage, and tried to keep SnarkEx in the loop, but she didn't seem interested.

    I believe in being fair, just like CJ. Everyone should pay what they can based on their income. When we were dating, I would usually pay for things because she was a student and I had a full-time salary. When we lived together, we devised a formula that was weighted based on our incomes. We also had a formula when we were married, where we would both pay into the "house" account for household bills, but each of us was given an equal "allowance" for discretionary spending. Incidentally, she was always running out of allowance money, while I had plenty.

    So obviously, this was not something we shied away from. I actually enjoy talking about and planning out the finances.

    Anyway, I don't know if that helps you figure out your issues, but I hope I answered your questions.

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  15. I like the idea of paying based on income. When I'm dating a guy who makes the same or less than I do, I offer to pay most of the time. It's up to him whether he accepts it or not. But lately I've been offering to pay a lot with guys who make a lot more than I do. It might be an independence thing. But I think more than that it's really important to me that the guy I'm with doesn't feel like I'm taking advantage of him.

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  16. I think if you are in a relationship this is something that needs to be discussed, if you are just dating the rules are a little different. And in my particular relationship, he felt that I didn't own up to my fair share. That being said, he conveniently forgot the beer/snacks that I'd bring over for the game, or the bag of groceries that I'd show up with to make dinner for him, or the stuff I'd buy because I know that he needed/wanted it, or the time off from work that I'd take (without pay) because he had some event that we needed to attend. So I didn't pay every time we went out to dinner, but the little things did add up. All of this has been a real learning experience for me and I'll know better next time.

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