Personal Finance

My husband earned less than me for a decade, so I paid more towards our expenses. Now I want him to repay me

Dear Moneyist,

My husband and I have been married for 19 years. During the first decade, our income was comparable, and we contributed equally to our expenses with not much put aside for a rainy day. In 2012, I started earning two-thirds more than my husband. We decided to share expenses according to our incomes. So he pays one third and I pay two thirds.

My husband’s pay has increased considerably since then, although he still earns less than me. I told him to pick up the slack and pay more until my extra share is paid off because I know he can afford it now. I have built three houses, all paid off and stashed money for our children’s 529 plans.

The Moneyist: I’m 24 and dating a 64-year-old man. He wanted to get married, but I discovered he never got divorced. Have I been conned?

He gives me a fixed sum towards the expenses, saves the rest of his money, and expects me to pay all the other expenses. He was in the military. So the kids can use his GI Bill toward their education, but that does not amount to much compared to my contributions.

I have not even added any interest, just the initial outlay. This has become a major issue in our marriage. Otherwise, we are happily married. Am I unreasonable for asking him to pick up the tab, and put his savings towards paying me off the extra money I contributed towards our lifestyle?

Distressed spouse

The Moneyist:‘I feel very bitter’: My late father gave my sister power of attorney. She kept $100K of his savings. Should I pursue legal action?

Dear Distressed,

Until death and until expenses are repaid without interest do us part.

That is not the kind of vow you usually hear at weddings, and with good reason. It would stun the guests. You entered into a partnership with the man that you love, where you both contribute to your future and your children’s education. You do this in the hope that one day you can both look back on your life, and perhaps enjoy your grandchildren, and feel the warmth of your memories of many years of marriage. I don’t think either of you signed up for this.

Counting every cent, and keeping a ledger disrespects your husband, demeans your marriage, and turns your commitment to love, honor and respect each other into a sordid business arrangement. You are the village shopkeeper who knows everyone’s business, and your husband is a hapless customer who runs up a tab. Every time he comes into the store looking for a loaf of bread and a liter of milk, you lick the top of your pencil and studiously add it to his bill.

The Moneyist: My wife and I live with my dying mother. My brothers and I will inherit her home. Should I ask her to sell it — and move in with me?

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with an arrangement where you both pool a percentage of your incomes to personal savings, joint savings, and to your life together, and your children’s futures. I want to be very clear about that. But asking your husband to repay money that you contributed to your children’s 529 plans and homes because he earned less than you robs you both of the joy of creating a life together with unconditional love and support.

Your question goes far beyond your marriage and your finances, and your husband’s financial contributions and his personal savings account. I have a few questions? Does this need to count every bean have its roots in your childhood? Did you feel taken advantage of as a child? Did your parents fight over money? Did one of your parents pay for everything while the other parent deserted your family, or took no responsibility for anything?

Your husband is not cheating you. You, however, are cheating yourself.

Read The Moneyist’s archive of letters here.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected]

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