Though conventional gender roles are undergoing massive change in society, the husband is still the one who is expected to bring home the bacon – in other words, pay for the bulk of household expenses. Many men may resent this, especially if their wives are earning as well as even higher than them. While the exact division of expenses in a marriage is largely a matter of personal dynamics, there is no doubt that an arrangement which is not equitable is bound to leave at least one of the spouses feeling short-changed. So if you feel that your husband isn’t doing his bit towards domestic financial responsibilities, here are a few things you might want to consider.
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Identify your priorities
As soon as two people get married, they should sit together and identify major financial priorities. Paying off a mortgage or putting aside for a yearly vacation might figure foremost on the minds of newly married couples. However priorities may change few years down the marriage and once they have kids, they might start thinking about saving money to pay for their college. Conflicts about money usually arise when partners have differing priorities. So while your husband may believe in splurging on his own interests like a new sports car, you probably feel that his money is better spend on domestic expenses or long term debts like a mortgage. It is here that your maturity as a couple is called for. While your husband needs to understand his responsibilities to the family, you too need to allow space for his personal indulgences.
Consider different ways of looking at money
When you begin to disagree with your husband over managing and spending money, keep in mind that you both may have been brought up according to differing financial philosophies. While your family may have been great believers in living debt-free, your husband’s college education may have been smoothly sponsored by loans. Again while your parents drilled in the importance of working and saving for the future, probably your husband’s folks always lived for the present and saw no need to save. This could explain why he spends more on personal or spontaneous purchases and lays little store by keeping something aside for a rainy day or even contributing to all family expenses. Whatever be your attitudes toward money management, make sure that you can meet your priorities as a couple and be satisfied as individuals.
Keep lines of communication open
No matter how justified you are in demanding that your husband do his bit for the family in terms of finances, avoid nagging at all costs. As soon as he hears you go into the whining mode, he will mentally switch off and you will only end up tiring and frustrating yourself. Even if you let him know that you are speaking in an informed way may be no good. Beating your spouse with an expert will only cause him or her to be defensive. So avoid tell your spouse everything the financial experts say, and how they're all on your side. Instead try the path of honest communication is in order. Tell your husband what you want and why. Let him know that you're excited about getting out of debt so the two of you can build wealth, and that you will appreciate if he contributes more so that you as a family will be able to save more, give more and live more.
Focus on the residue
Before you get upset over the notion that your husband is not meeting his financial responsibilities to the household, bear in mind there is no foolproof formula for dividing household expenses. Perhaps when you started living together, you agreed to split expenses proportionate to your income. But now that your husband is out of work, you feel that is unfair to have to pay most of the bills. Or perhaps right after marriage you agreed on a 50-50 split for your household expenses. But now that you see that your beloved has tons of disposable income, you don’t see why you should pay for half the expenses from your far more limited income. It is also likely that you are angry at the fact that your husband has to meet his own financial obligations like child support or alimony to a former marriage and thus has less money to pay for your own family expenses. Perhaps in instead of focusing on expenses and income, you can focus on what is left. A practical way to go about this is to ensure each party deposits enough into the household account so that both are left with an equal amount of disposable income. So regardless of the income, both are left feeling equally squeezed or flush as the case maybe. And neither you nor your husband has reason to be secretly envious of the other's higher or lower contribution.
How to share costs
Though it is not possible to come up with a completely equitable division of household costs right upto the last cent, you will be greatly helped in your expectation that your husband meets his dues, if you can track all your expenses – individual and joint – for at least a month. Keeping an account of expenses for a month or so should give you a good baseline from which to craft a cost-sharing plan. How you go about dividing those expenses will depend on your relationships and your financial situation but unless you know how much you are spending on what, it is practically impossible to come up with a fair arrangement. Next you need to decide whether usage matters, or income, or both. In a marriage, dividing expenses by income is usually the norm – for instance the one making 70% of the income paying 70% of the bills. Look through websites or apps for smartphones which can help you figure out other equitable formulae about who pays for what. Finally consider some trade-offs. Not every contribution has to be monetary. If your husband works at home for example and is responsible for higher heating bills, he could chip in more for the utility bill, or he could offer to take care of the housecleaning. Someone who's laid off could do the same or take responsibility for fixing the evening meal. Like in all situations, your approach to calculating the trade-offs will be differ based on the nature of your relationship and your financial situation.
Protect your credit
However if your husband absolutely refrains from taking any responsibility for household expenses by claiming to be unemployed, or euphemistically “in between jobs”, you will need to maintain your financial integrity. You should avoid lending him your credit or debit card, no matter how great the temptation. Also keep PIN numbers of such cards to yourself since he may easily ‘borrow’ them and then conveniently forget to tell you about it. For the same reason, don’t give away passwords of your online bank accounts and other financial resources. Above all keep your bank accounts separate and should your husband request you to apply for a joint loan or sign as a guarantor on some investment, refuse politely but firmly or at least have the document checked by your own attorney or accountant.
As far as your household expenses are concerned, if you are being forced to bear it all alone, all extraneous spending needs to stop. If you have debt of your own, start paring it down. If you have multiple cards, pay the minimum due on all accounts, and then add an extra payment onto the one with the highest interest rate. When that balance is gone, increase your payments on the card with the next highest rate, and so forth. It will take time to be completely debt-free, but as long as you're paying the minimum on every card, you'll keep the credit-raters happy, and by paying a little more each month, you'll be making headway on getting out of debt.
Finally if all your efforts to make your husband pay his share in family expenses have resulted in nothing, see a counselor. A marriage is a sharing of both the privileges as well as the responsibilities of a long term relationship and if your husband is completely refusing to do his bit in terms of finances, most likely there are relationship issues which need to be addressed. Once you have got a hold of this part, consider seeing a financial adviser who will be able to help you and your husband thrash out a division of expenses which seems fair and reasonable to both sides.
Talking about money is not always a pleasant thing but is necessary if two people are to share a life together. The key to solving money issues lies in effective communication between you and your spouse so that you both can work as a team towards accomplishing your financial goals and at the same time imbibe a sense of individual empowerment.