Finances, Obligation and Anxiety

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:25 pm

I have an Real Life issue I've been struggling with for a while. I've been hesitating putting this out there, since it is a personal relationship issue (and my partner occasionally reads the board) but I could really use some insight from you trusted folks. Any advice or guidance would be welcome.

I and the Boy moved into our place about 9 months ago, and right now we do a 55/45 split in bills. The Boy is in graduate school. We've known for a while that looming on the horizon, his program requires that he do a 20-40 hour/week unpaid practicum for his degree. In the beginning, we talked about a compromise where I took on the majority of the bills, and he paid out a smaller percent of his share from his acquired savings (like a 60-40, 70-30 thing.)

Well, in October, he lost his job. He then had to dip into his savings from October to January. Thankfully, he found another position, but it means him paying out the percentage of the bills during his practicum is no longer possible. The practicum is set to begin in the fall and will take approximately an entire year.

We are starting to look for a new place to live that would be cheaper. However, having a dog severely complicates matters, as it makes finding cheaper rent very hard. I sat down and finally started to crunch numbers, and I just.... don't think I can do a 70/30 split anymore. If I budget for only the things I absolutely have to pay (rent, utilities, car insurance and payment, gas; I'm not even including food), I'd be losing about 50-60% of my paycheck.

I have a lot of anxiety around money. I think I could probably win a $30 Million lottery, and I'd still feel like I didn't have enough. The idea of being the sole bread winner and having such a tight budget line really terrifies me.

However, conversations about money with the Boy in the past have been... difficult. There have been some suggestions that the only reason I can't fully support him is because I am too greedy; during one fight, he explicitly said I could take on all of our bills if I just stopped spending so much money on sewing. (It's actually food I spent the most money on: $700 just for food, versus $300 on average a month that covers all of my hobbies, clothes, personal care products, etc.)

Perhaps I am too greedy. I feel.... resentful, at what I think I perceive (not saying it's true, just that I perceive) is an attitude that I have an obligation to take on most or all of the bills. I do make more money; he won't be able to work during the practicum. Am I being unfair? Aren't we supposed to be a team? Is it avaricious of me to think of it as my money? But something inside of me really recoils in horror at the idea of doing the majority of the financial heavy lifting.

I've sort of tried to breach this a few times, especially during the months when he was unemployed (sitting down to make up a budget, suggesting we eat at home more, looking for more compromises) but nearly every suggestion has either been undesirable to him, or agreed upon and then kind of abandoned. Additionally, there is something about the way I discuss money, no matter how gently I try to put it, that makes him feel attacked and defensive, like I'm saying he sucks or is a moocher or I don't care enough to support him.

I'm feeling kind of terrified right now. Thanks for at least making it to the end of a super long post. :-)
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Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:58 pm

Oh, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. I'd wondered about your Rants post. I don't think you're being unfair. I don't think you're being avaricious to think of money you earn as "yours" rather than "ours," especially in a non-marital relationship. I don't think it's reasonable for you to be asked to give up reasonable expenses for hobbies to support your partner.

Are you looking for advice? It's not clear to me if you are, and I do have one suggestion and perhaps a couple of questions that could lead to others.
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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:02 pm

eselle28 wrote:Oh, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. I'd wondered about your Rants post. I don't think you're being unfair. I don't think you're being avaricious to think of money you earn as "yours" rather than "ours," especially in a non-marital relationship. I don't think it's reasonable for you to be asked to give up reasonable expenses for hobbies to support your partner.

Are you looking for advice? It's not clear to me if you are, and I do have one suggestion and perhaps a couple of questions that could lead to others.

Advice would be very welcome. Especially as if I did just try to breach the conversation, and it went... poorly. I tried asking if there was any wiggle room, or any other options (more loans?), and what sort of plan he has if I should lose my job or if I got hit by a bus or something. (In other words, without me, how was he going to pay for his practicum) and see if we could work more towards the middle from there. He got angry (I was stupid enough to say "help him out" with bills), and stormed off...
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Post by Mel on Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:06 pm

This is a tough issue (I think finances are either the number one or one of the top few topics couples are most likely to fight about), and I don't think any of us can tell you how fair you're being or similar without knowing every detail of the situation (and even then, fair is somewhat relative Razz ). So, these are just some thoughts that may or may not be useful:

I do think that when you commit to being in a serious romantic relationship with someone, you are committing to, as you put it, being a team. Finding a way to make the two of you work even if that means making sacrifices when unexpected problems (like losing a job) arise. I mean, really, the only other option is breaking up, right? Because neither of you paying the bills isn't going to allow you to stay together.

That said, in a balanced relationship the sacrifices should be taken by both partners. And I think that if the sacrifices are required because of a goal one partner wants to obtain, that partner should also be willing to take on more of the load of that sacrifice. Your boyfriend is in grad school by choice; he's in a program that requires this practicum by choice; presumably he's doing it because it's something he wants to have. Well, if he wants to have that, then he needs to accept that there are some other things he may want that he isn't going to be able to still have--like, maybe, eating out more than X times a month (where X may be zero) or other financial compromises. I don't think it's fair to expect him to give up all unessential activities, because everyone needs some "play" time to unwind and destress, but he should be willing to find compromises that may mean cutting down on those activities or finding cheaper ways to do them. He certainly shouldn't expect you to give up your primary recreational activity completely, or to give it up at all if he's not willing to cut back at all.

Staying together may mean that you do need to do some cutting back for that year as well, though, since he will have some expenses still and, as above, you can't stay together unless all the essentials are getting paid for somehow.

I can definitely understand being afraid of taking on the full financial burden and of feeling there's so little wiggle room. I'd imagine the best way to tackle the first is to come up with a plan with your boyfriend of what your financial division will look like after he finishes his practicum--once he gets a job where he's making enough to contribute at least as much as you do, I think it would be reasonable to ask him to take on a higher chunk of the bills for some predetermined period of time to balance out the sacrifice you made on his behalf, for example. Tackling the second issue would require working out some of those compromises and ways of cutting down your current expenses so there is more wiggle room. ($700 a month on food sounds like a lot to me, for example. Is that because of the eating out?)

Of course, both of those only work if your boyfriend is willing to talk about this with you and work things out rather than getting defensive and avoiding the subject. I'm not sure how you've brought it up in the past, but the framing I'd suggest would be approaching it as a team thing. Finances are tight and are going to get tighter, and you need to work out together how the two of you can ensure you get through that time. Draw up a monthly budget together, that sort of thing.

I also think it'd be reasonable for you to put your foot down about certain expenses. E.g., the eating out thing--if it's your money, you can just refuse to go out. Tell him you'd rather stay in. What's he going to do, drag you out the door? Don't let him abandon adjustments he's agreed to either. When he does that, or refuses to compromise or make his own sacrifices, he's the one who's not being a team player, and he's the one who should feel guilty about it, not you.

Don't know if that helps at all?
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Post by Enail on Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:08 pm

Ugh, Marty, that sounds really stressful. Financial stresses are such a gnawing sort of worry.  

I agree with Eselle that asking you to give up pretty moderate hobby expenses to make ends meet is quite a drastic thing to suggest/ask of you, and especially when other money-saving options haven't been well-received.
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Post by OneTrueGuest on Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:15 pm

There is a lot to unpack here.

First and foremost a real money conversation has to happen and the two of you that has to do with more general ideas. What are your plans for the future? How are you going to handle savings? Retirement? I wonder if it's possible to have such a conversation with a third party to mediate?

Now as to the more philosophical question you are posing, about teamwork. The thing about a team is that that doesn't mean 50/50. A team is a supportive unit that helps each other in order so that the team thrives. Take bike racing. A biker will take the front which is the hardest position so as to ease the burden for those biking behind. Now yes, they do switch up, but for that while it is one person bearing the lump share of the work so as to benefit the team as the whole.

Another example is the typical housewife/husband bread winner dynamic. The two people in the couple perform very different tasks and one ears the money while the other doesn't, but together they are working for the benefit of the household.

There's a difference between roommates and living with someone. And if you really are a team then you will find times when there will be an uneven distribution of funds at times depending. It isn't like your boyfriend is sitting at home watching TV, not doing anything and expecting you to do all the work. He is working towards his future and eventually this won't be a permanent situation. And one would hope if let's say you got sick or something he would support you with your inability to work.

There is nothing wrong with being the person who supports a family financially. And there is nothing wrong in sacrificing some of your own hobbies to be able to afford to do so. If the end goal is two solid incomes in time that will build your team up in a very comfortable way, a little sacrifice now could definitely be worth it.

So. The question you need to ask yourself is do you want to make the sacrifice? Do feel confident that the sacrifice will result in a better situation for your team? And does your boyfriend understand that you are making a sacrifice in the first place? I think the latter is important because you will need to feel emotionally supported just as he needs financial support. Because everything you say is also true. It's hard to sacrifice our wants. It's hard to sacrifice our financial security. Especially when it isn't for us personally. This is why people need to think long and hard before moving in together, before getting married. This is why people need to talk about finances ahead of time and continually throughout.

Which brings me back to my initial point. The two of you need to have an unemotional discussion about money. About a five year plan. About the plan for this year. About your far distant future. I think if you had a real plan and could see beyond your sacrifices for this year that might make you feel way better because you'd see how things would even out in the end.

So yeah. It's a very complicated situation and I deeply empathise with your feelings. It's why I live alone and have a cat. Even getting the cat was a big decision because I wasn't sure I wanted to sacrifice things in order to be able to afford him. I am very selfish at present. And honestly I can't even fathom supporting anyone right now (especially with how little I earn). I get it. I really do. I'm not saying any of these conversations or that the concept of a team alone is straightforward and easy. It's just necessary.

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:17 pm

Mel wrote: I can definitely understand being afraid of taking on the full financial burden and of feeling there's so little wiggle room. I'd imagine the best way to tackle the first is to come up with a plan with your boyfriend of what your financial division will look like after he finishes his practicum--once he gets a job where he's making enough to contribute at least as much as you do, I think it would be reasonable to ask him to take on a higher chunk of the bills for some predetermined period of time to balance out the sacrifice you made on his behalf, for example. Tackling the second issue would require working out some of those compromises and ways of cutting down your current expenses so there is more wiggle room. ($700 a month on food sounds like a lot to me, for example. Is that because of the eating out?)

It does help, thank you. And yeah, the $700 is almost entirely from eating out. In addition to working full time, both of us also go to school part time. He's at class Mon, Wed and Fri nights, and I'm at class Tuesday nights and doing homework pretty much the second I walk in the door otherwise. Both of us also live about 45 minutes away from our work places; we're usually gone 10 hours a day, which means crock pot is out.

I have tried recently to stop going out as much, and eat more at home. I did see a slight change. I'm just not sure myself how to balance the time it takes to cook with all the other obligations, especially since cooking means dishes, which means more cleaning. It'll happen where I buy groceries, then get too bombarded with work/school/chores to cook, and by the time I get around to making food at home, the groceries have gone bad and I have to go buy more...

In other words I have no fing idea how people manage to cook healthy meals at home on both a tight budget and limited time.

Mel wrote:
Of course, both of those only work if your boyfriend is willing to talk about this with you and work things out rather than getting defensive and avoiding the subject. I'm not sure how you've brought it up in the past, but the framing I'd suggest would be approaching it as a team thing. Finances are tight and are going to get tighter, and you need to work out together how the two of you can ensure you get through that time. Draw up a monthly budget together, that sort of thing.

Yeah, that's something we're discussing in therapy, because it seems any kind of criticism I have of him, regardless of how small or how gently I put it, results in some kind of defense. There is apparently something super abrasive about me but we have no idea what; if I try to be calm, I'm condescending, if I don't use the right sort of words, I'm disrespectful and controlling. When he was unemployed, I suggested a few times cutting cable; I'd be willing to continue paying the same amount, so any decrease would only benefit him. But he balked...

It does help though, thank you.
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Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:22 pm

Oh, so you're a place where it's not even possible to get the conversation started? That's rough, and it makes things tougher.

I'm not sure how you're currently dividing expenses in terms of who actually pays for what items, but since you've mentioned that the solutions you've suggested have either seemed undesirable to him or haven't been things he could stick to, I wonder if it might be helpful to have variable expenses (especially food, since you've identified that as an area where cuts could be made, but also cable and other shared entertainment) be more on his plate and the fixed expenses (rent, utilities) be more on yours. I would say that I've used this method, but that's not actually quite true since I was the person in your boyfriend's position rather than yours. I didn't like it, but it worked because it removed the option for me to not bother budgeting. It also was, well, less bad than some other options, because at least I had control over what I cut back on.

But it sounds like the first real step here is getting past the point where he believes that having you pay 70% of the bills for the next year is a viable option and to a point where he's willing to actually be a partner to you in budgeting. I'm inclined to suggest putting simply not purchasing some things and letting necessity get him to a place where he's willing to have a conversation about what's for dinner and who will be paying for that, but I'm not sure if that's either financially or emotionally feasible.

So, maybe coming at it from another angle, are there times when you have successfully initiated difficult conversations that you could look to in thinking about how to initiate this one?
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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:30 pm

OneTrueGuest wrote:  
So.  The question you need to ask yourself is do you want to make the sacrifice? Do feel confident that the sacrifice will result in a better situation for your team?  And does your boyfriend understand that you are making a sacrifice in the first place?  I think the latter is important because you will need to feel emotionally supported just as he needs financial support.  Because everything you say is also true.  It's hard to sacrifice our wants.  It's hard to sacrifice our financial security.  Especially when it isn't for us personally.  This is why people need to think long and hard before moving in together, before getting married. This is why people need to talk about finances ahead of time and continually throughout.

Well... all cards on the table, I don't know if the sacrifice would result in a better situation. For him, definitely. For the two of us? Maybe. For me? Absolutely not.

A big part of this that makes the whole situation so much messier is that before his period of unemployment, I was a lot more optimistic about taking on the financial burden. I saw myself as taking on the 70-30 split, with him picking up a lot of the housework/cooking. Like I'd still do big jobs like vacuuming, but he could do the every day stuff like meal prep and kitchen cleaning.

However, during the employment we ended up getting into a lot of fights about cleaning. In order for chores to get done, I had to repeatedly ask/nag him to do them. And any "special" chores (like cleaning the carpet due to pet issues) had to be requested as a favor, not an obligation, "just because (Marty) controls the money doesn't mean you get to boss me around." I still found myself doing quite a number of household chores, sometimes just out of exasperation. I'd suggest applying to places, and almost unilaterally he'd turn me down (because even though I'm in IT and he was applying for IT jobs, I don't understand how IT hiring works and what skills he has.) Near the end out of desperation I asked if he could maybe apply to like Target, or a gas station, or something, just work part time. He then accused me of trying to sabotage him going to school, the idea being those sorts of jobs wouldn't let him off for evening class. (I suggested night shift jobs, and he turned those down because then he'd be too tired for "real job" interviews during the day.)

That period kind of eroded a lot of hope that financial support could be traded for home support, or that there'd be a better financial future. Looking ahead, the big prediction I make is that I will always need to be carrying at least 50% of the household chores, no matter how much more I pay in bills, and will always be the one expected to make the sacrifices, if I don't completely put my foot down.
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Post by Enail on Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:48 pm

That...sounds like something you guys need to discuss on a big-picture level; how do you each see this relationship working, what do you each expect to be responsible for.  It seems like maybe you're doing the 'accounting' differently, that he doesn't see your contributions as unequal (perhaps there's an invisible work thing going on where he's not counting some of your contributions, maybe there are contributions that he's making that you're not seeing, maybe there's a gendered component) - or that he doesn't believe contributing equally is important to your relationship.  Either way, it seems like something you both need to know and to agree on in the larger scale.
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Post by waxingjaney on Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:10 pm

DTMFN is looking like a viable option here.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:07 pm

Not currently able to find it, but there was some advice thing circulating hereabouts at some point that included a phrase like, "you can love someone, and still want things from them." That goes for him, and it also goes for you.

His expectations of you do not mean he loves you less, but that is not an excuse for him not to reevaluate what he is asking of you. Your love for him does not give him a pass on this, nor does it preclude you from wanting things from him.

It is also perfectly acceptable and reasonable to end a relationship on the basis that one of you can't get an important thing you want. A relationship can fail with or without "love" involved.

You already know all these things, but I figured it couldn't hurt to restate them.
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Post by Enail on Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:18 pm

I think that was on the old forum, NT.
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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:22 pm

I hate to be negative, but his responses sound really manipulative to me. If there is literally no way for you to bring up the issue of making changes to the financial arrangement, and every way you bring it up is "wrong" and he starts a fight about the "wrong" way you're bringing things up, then it seems like he's gotten pretty adept at avoiding ever having to address the actual issue you want to address. Maybe the next time you try to talk about it, when he goes off about how you're talking about it "wrong", maybe just agree and go on? Like, "I know I'm wrong in how I say it, but we still need to talk about the budget and finances." If he can actually discuss the budget instead of forcing the conversation into "why Marty is wrong in how she talks about things" territory, then maybe some actual progress can be made. But it sounds like you're walking on eggshells to try to have what is in reality a very ordinary and necessary conversation, and that's not right.
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Post by Conreezy on Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:43 pm

I'm in a very similar situation, Marty, in your boyfriend's place.

In other words I have no fing idea how people manage to cook healthy meals at home on both a tight budget and limited time.

I have this problem, as well, and what helps is cooking large meals that last for a a few days.  It doesn't make for the most interesting menu, but lowers the amount of times per week I have to cook.  

In order for chores to get done, I had to repeatedly ask/nag him to do them.  And any "special" chores (like cleaning the carpet due to pet issues) had to be requested as a favor, not an obligation, "just because (Marty) controls the money doesn't mean you get to boss me around."

I just had another round of that fight. My wife and I have a very hard time seeing what the other considers a priority, and it creates a lot of perceived deficiencies in how productive I am.  Sometimes I miss what she thought needed to be done in order to do something I hold more important.  

Other times I just lose motivation in the face of homemaking's never-ending monotony. Razz

He then accused me of trying to sabotage him going to school, the idea being those sorts of jobs wouldn't let him off for evening class.

That does seem unnecessarily defensive.

If there is literally no way for you to bring up the issue of making changes to the financial arrangement, and every way you bring it up is "wrong" and he starts a fight about the "wrong" way you're bringing things up, then it seems like he's gotten pretty adept at avoiding ever having to address the actual issue you want to address.

Yeah, this is an issue. I balk at my wife's way of bringing up problems all the time (she can be myopic and condescending as all hell), but that's secondary to her actual issue, which needs to be addressed.

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Post by ggobsessed on Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:27 am

"There is apparently something super abrasive about me but we have no idea what; if I try to be calm, I'm condescending, if I don't use the right sort of words, I'm disrespectful and controlling."

Is your boyfriend the only one who thinks there's something super abrasive about you, or is that an issue with other people in your life? Because, ok, if there IS something abrasive about you, it just seems like he is handling it in...not the most useful way. But, secondly, are you even sure there IS something abrasive, or is it possible that he just doesn't handle criticism - or what he perceives as criticism - too well?

Aside from that, it might be a good idea to talk about how much you're BOTH spending - if eating out is your biggest expense it is his biggest expense too.

It just sounds like you're in a bit of a catch-22. He earns less than you and resents it that you want to cut back on spending.

And yet I can understand his perspective too, perhaps. As maybe he doesn't feel entirely supported by you. Is that a discussion you have had, could have?

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Post by ggobsessed on Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:28 am

"There is apparently something super abrasive about me but we have no idea what; if I try to be calm, I'm condescending, if I don't use the right sort of words, I'm disrespectful and controlling."

Is your boyfriend the only one who thinks there's something super abrasive about you, or is that an issue with other people in your life? Because, ok, if there IS something abrasive about you, it just seems like he is handling it in...not the most useful way. But, secondly, are you even sure there IS something abrasive, or is it possible that he just doesn't handle criticism - or what he perceives as criticism - too well?

Aside from that, it might be a good idea to talk about how much you're BOTH spending - if eating out is your biggest expense it is his biggest expense too.

It just sounds like you're in a bit of a catch-22. He earns less than you and resents it that you want to cut back on spending.

And yet I can understand his perspective too, perhaps. As maybe he doesn't feel entirely supported by you.  Is that a discussion you have had, could have?

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Post by OneTrueGuest on Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:52 am

Okay.  Well there's even more to unpack now (it's kind of like Mary Poppins's bag I guess, it goes deeper and deeper).

I must say that his blame and defensiveness I'd find very tricky if it also did not come with apologies and acknowledgment of his bad behaviour.

I would like to ask a few very personal questions and feel free to utterly ignore them:

1. What about the relationship makes it worth saving?  What are the good things?  What would make you willing to sacrifice things for him in order to keep the relationship happy and healthy?

2. What does he sacrifice for you?  And how does he show appreciation to you?

And lastly . . .

3. Is there any part of yourself that would be interested in ending the relationship if you felt it was possible for you to find someone else and someone who treated you better?  (since I know you feel like he's your last hope, that's why I ask the question. I'd like to know if you feel you have no choice but to be in this relationship)

I realise none of this has to do with money, but right now I think the fundamental issue is one of respect.  You don't feel he respects you and he doesn't feel you respect him.  I don't like how he places all the blame on your shoulders and seems to take none himself.  But that can also be the specifics of what you've told us.  So I guess I'd like to know what about this relationship is worth working hard to find a solution to a very complicated problem (both the financial part and the communication part)?

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Post by UristMcBunny on Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:32 am

It sounds like you're trying very hard to be understanding, and gentle, and patient, and to bring things up in the right way and to work as a team... and he is not in the slightest. You've tried to be as gentle and understanding and calm as you can, and his response is to ignore what you're asking for and criticise the way you're asking. That doesn't speak to me of someone who respects you very much.

So. Have you tried NOT being reasonable and gentle and kind? Have you tried allowing him to see how frustrated and angry you are with him? I don't mean frothing and cruel and bullying, but loud and firm and utterly unmovable.

I'll be honest, the mister and I had some problems at first. We were still kids in many ways - I was 18, he was 20, he'd been brought up in a financially secure middle-class, but abusive environment and then had been homeless and had never really been taught or had the chance to learn about budgeting or housework or how adults are supposed to interact, so he had a LOT to unpack. At first, he really didn't handle adult conversations about household stuff well at all. Now, we're in a place where we both actively encourage the other to bring up and air issues they have. But in the past, there have been times when it's taken me getting Righteously Angry to shake him out of some creeping shitty behaviour.

But ultimately, the issue here is not with you. The issue is that the person you're with will not listen, will not have an open, calm, adult conversation about budgeting with you, and expects all of the burden of HIS choices to be taken up by you. What needs to change isn't your approach. It's his attitude.

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Post by Mel on Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:01 am

I want to emphatically second everything Caffeinated, OTG, and Bunny have said. Regardless of whether he likes how you bring up a subject, the subject still needs to be addressed. And him refusing to even discuss the subject of finances or division of household labor in a constructive way (i.e., that results in decisions that alter the situation and are actually followed through on) is a much more dismissive and disrespectful thing, and much more harmful to your "team," than your not finding some perfect way to phrase your requests for the discussion.
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Post by reboot on Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:41 am

Mel wrote:I want to emphatically second everything Caffeinated, OTG, and Bunny have said. Regardless of whether he likes how you bring up a subject, the subject still needs to be addressed. And him refusing to even discuss the subject of finances or division of household labor in a constructive way (i.e., that results in decisions that alter the situation and are actually followed through on) is a much more dismissive and disrespectful thing, and much more harmful to your "team," than your not finding some perfect way to phrase your requests for the discussion.

And these are not questions that can be set aside or ignored as minor annoyances. They are fundamental to a functioning household. My guess is that he is criticizing your delivery as a way of avoiding the topic because it is not an easy one and maybe the status quo is what he likes, so by avoiding discussing this he can avoid change.

I think you might need to get a bit stern, even, "Listen. We need to discuss how to work this out now because we cannot keep going on this way. What ideas do you have to make this happen?" If he goes on about your tone, say, "I am sorry that my delivery makes you feel this way. However, that does not change our need to discuss this. Why don't you take 2-3 days to come up with some ideas and we can discuss this on $day." And then drop the topic until the prearranged time.

Unfortunately, if he still remains resistant to discussion or does not want to discuss the matter on $day, you might need to tell him that this situation is not sustainable and if he is unwilling to partner in this discussion with you, the partnership will have to end.
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Post by reboundstudent on Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:52 pm

Thanks for all of the responses, guys! It's a lot to think about, and I really appreciate the thoughts and support.
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Post by kleenestar on Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:53 pm

Oh, wow, that is a really sucky situation. I think others have given you really wise advice, so I just want to tell you that my heart goes out to you. I've been in your situation before and it feels absolutely awful. Mr. Star and I went through a period in our relationship where I was working two jobs and he was unemployed, and it's the closest we've ever come to breaking up. I would explain that if he wasn't working, I was happy to pay the bills but I couldn't also do all the housework - and I'd come home day after day to a messy house and expensive takeout. We managed to work out it, in part because I made it clear that I would leave him if this situation continued, but I have many friends who couldn't do so. It's really awful to feel like your partner is only a partner when it's convenient for him, and it erodes your long-term trust in the relationship. It took me and Mr. Star a long time to recover from that awful year. I really hope that you are able to work this issue out, and I'm thinking of you.
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Post by Guest on Thu Feb 05, 2015 4:25 pm

I'll add to what kleenestar said that this basic problem is the issue that basically killed my marriage.  When we married, we both had jobs, and then he got fired.  Since I was pregnant, it started as "he'll stay home with the baby for a few months" and morphed into a decade of me paying all the bills, cooking all the meals, managing the kids' schedules and homework, and paying a cleaning service to handle the cleaning he couldn't or wouldn't do.

These issues are very, very real, and an unwillingness to accept that he's a partner in the problem and needs to be a partner in the solution is basically a relationship-killer. If you always shift your priorities to his and the opposite never happens, it doesn't take very many of these situations before there's nothing left for you.

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Post by LadyIkaros on Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:31 am

Just chiming in in support of you putting your foot down. The way you describe your boyfriend's behaviour really gets my hackles up.
Sure, there are many different ways of handling relationships, money and mutual obligations from completely seperate finances to one big joint account. It sounds like you guys are somewhere in the middle, and of course it's fine to agree that one partner will shoulder more of the financial burden if that works for you. The thing is though, it's not working for you, and you're not agreeing, he's just demanding - and apparently feels that he gets to decide what constitutes frivolous expenses, (your interests and hobbies) and which ones you should pay for (the things he wants). That's some fucking gall right there.
Try looking at this in a lifetime perspective: He's right now investing in further education that will presumably lead to better paid jobs in the future. Except he's actually making you invest in it - and that can be a sound investment if you two stay together. But what if you don't? Aren't you a fairly new couple? How will you feel if you support him through this, and he then takes off with his shiny new degree when he's done?
(I know there are never any guarantees in relationships, and I'm not trying to make the argument that couples shouldn't be prepared to support each other, but I think looking out for yourself and for not being taken advantage of is sound strategy - the pattern I just described was, according to my parents, quite common when they were young and women still tended to get shorter educations than men: The woman would work and shoulder most of the expenses for the many years the man in the relationship went to university. And when he was done, he'd dump her).
Also, like others here have commented, the fact that you can't bring up any problems without him getting defensive? Major red flag. I'm sure being the financially dependent one who doesn't pull their weight right now feels really bad. But handling those feelings in a constructive way is his responsebility. Right now it sounds like he simply sulks and throws temper tantrums at anything that isn't convenient to him - so that you'll fall in line and do what he wants.
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