Relationships and money

I was reading Four Pillars today and he has a post about couples and financial management. I was going to post about my friend anyway and this leads into the story.

My best bud has been married for 3 years and she and her husband have never lived in the same town together. He "comes home" every weekend but he works elsewhere. This is hard, and my friend wrestles with this situation a lot. Financially though it has meant a huge rift. They don't share all the house costs or expenses equally- his pay cheque pays for her truck payment and his living expenses (he lives in a hotel or camp when away and his company pays for it) and hers pays for the mortgage and all the household expense. A year ago she asked him to set up a joint account with her, but it has never been used. She pays $500 a month in RRSP contributions, all she can do if she wants to have grocery and gas money, while he contributes nothing. There is a deficit of about $600 a month that he should be paying in contribution to the house. She has tried to talk to him about it, but says he gets very defensive.

The shoe is going to drop soon though. Her financial planner told her this week she will not reach her goals if she can't save more, and she can't save more unless the household expenses are split 50/50. Why has her husband not stepped up to make the payments? Good question, I don't know, but he is not a complete jerk, more likely ignorant, and when it comes to finances, maybe lazy.

She is so angry at the situation though that I am worried that it may actually permanently affect their relationship. How can she go about correcting this situation in a way that does not seem angry or threatening to him? Has anyone else been through a similar experience?


  1. four.pillars said...
    Thanks for the link.

    As for your friend?...offhand I can't come up with anything. I'll think about it.

    Any idea where the husbands extra money goes?

    Clifford said...
    I really liked one of Violent Acres posts "A Peaceful Marriage is Not always 50/50".

    I think part of the breakdown with one of my ex's was that she happily accept things that I did that were in her favour, but any time things tipped the other way, she immediate invoked the "this isn't 50/50 fair" rule (e.g. its ok if I pay for more meals out, but not ok if she does the dishes two nights in a row). I started keeping things more equal and things went downhill from there :-).

    Perhaps the husband feels he's contributing in other ways? What are *HIS* finanical goals?

    In this situation, I think I'd be pretty hurt if my wife was more upset that I wasn't handing over a bigger check when I came home instead of the fact that I'm gone so much of the time ("I don't need you, but I *DO* need you paycheck").

    Plus, as Mike asked, I'd wonder where his extra money goes (he should look into changing jobs if almost all of his money goes into living expenses when he's on the road).

    Relationships like this are tough. I've know quite a few men who lead "work away from home lives" (I like to call them "sailor lives"). Just about all of them have broke up with their wives eventually (the one notable exception hit the point where his wife said "the bush or me" and he chose her, but you can get him talking wistfully about working out in the bush any time you care to bring it up).

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