Finances can often be a relationship killer. In my relationship we have struggled with this in a few not so make it or break it ways but they happened nonetheless.
The first time: As you all now know, I grew up in a house with a very generous father. Don’t get me wrong, my mom works her ass off, but as an easy example whenever we went out to dinner we always chanted, “Thanks, Dad!” It was just the culture set up by my parents in our house that Dad seemed to take care of most, if not all, dinners, social events, etc. Now I have no idea if later on my mom gave him money or whatever but this is what I grew up seeing on a regular basis. You also all now know that my fiancé is very similar to my dad in this regard. When we first started dating there seemed to be a mutual understanding that he was wining and dining me aka paying for all of our dinners, dates, movies, day trips, bar tabs, etc. As I got comfortable, it seemed I got too comfortable with this dynamic. I recall a clear tipping point when we were out with a friend of mine and when she pulled out her wallet I pushed it away and said, “He’s got it.” This did NOT go over well and nothing was the same since then. I was then looked at like a spoiled, unappreciative brat. It took a lot of conversations and soul-searching on my end in order to articulate where that had come from and why I had said it. While I don’t defend the snippy arrogance that the comment had in the moment, I do defend what I perceived as normal up until that point. To me this was what happens – the guys takes care of the girls. Duh. Anyway, I’ve grown since then.
The second time: When I moved to DC I had my savings and a job at a bar. This money is what I used to pay $1700 in rent every month, plus utilities, plus expenses, etc. but once football season was over this often proved difficult. I can recall days where I literally had $30 to my name. Now I understand there are people who have it worse than I, no question that I always knew if I needed it I had my parents but I didn’t want to need it so I never asked for it. With that being said, once I got a new “day walker” job at a company with a regular pay check, benefits, and bonuses I had to shift gears again. We fought this time over the fact that now that I had money why was I so stringy in spending it? I recall the tipping point of this argument as well: my building was fob access only and on nights where my then boyfriend, now feyonceeee, would come home late from work I would either need to go open the door for him or the security guard would need to actually be there and be awake to let him in. We fought over whether or not I’d spend what was it, maybe $75 for an additional fob. Seems ridiculous to me now but at the time it was the first time in my life I had my own money and I wanted to just sit and stare at it sitting in my account. This was the time when I had to actually let him know just how broke I was and how now it seemed like I wanted to hold onto every dollar I’d ever made!
Jumping ahead to more present days, my fiancé makes more money than I do. In fact he makes a lot more money than I do and it isn’t until you are actually engaged that this starts to matter. It matters in a way that you actually have to start talking about it in a real way and put it all out on the table. You have to talk about what each of you is willing to spend money on since most of it will come from one half of the relationship. This, as you can imagine, presents a possible problem for someone as opinionated about our future as I am, i.e. buying a house in Chevy Chase. In some of these discussions I’ve been forced into a few reality checks that basically sum up to, “Unless you can bring home more bacon, we won’t be able to afford X, Y, Z for a few more years.” Now this post is not meant to dive into our financial situation but rather shed light on my realization that I either I don’t get everything I want when I want it or….I have to bring home more bacon.
In these discussions, as it is human nature to make it about yourself, he sometimes says I make him feel like he isn’t enough but really what I’m feeling is that I’m the weak link. I’m the weak link, he knows it, I know it, and our non-existent house in Bethesda knows it. It’s pretty much the worst thing ever. Now I know my dad is reading that sentence and is outraged but financially, for the time being, it is the truth. Key phrase: “for the time being.” At this time I don’t have the ultimate resolve to this problem but what I do know that is that so help me God, I will not be the reason we can’t afford to send our kids to private school or go on vacations. It is a call to action for myself. The answer is not today or tomorrow but it is impending because I really cannot imagine not living the life I’ve always known and better.