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How should married couples conduct their financial affairs?

  • 17-09-2022 9:04pm
    Registered Users Posts: 8 Weesie

    I am married 10 years & my husband has always refused to talk about finances. Until recently, I had no idea what he earned, what he spends, what he saves, what his pension entitlements are. However, I recently went to file a personal tax return & saw from his payroll details that he is earning twice my gross salary. He has always insisted on splitting everything 50/50 - childcare, mortgage, bills, property tax, ordering oil/gas (he will let us run dry, until I pay my 50%). I work full time & in addition to our split costs, I seem to always be the first to put my hand in my pocket for kids clothes, extracurricular activities, summer camps, the cleaner (which he was reluctant to get & has paid only once). I have also paid for all of the furniture, beds, soft furnishings, bed clothes, tvs etc. in our home. I'm not forced to do it; but if I didn't our home would be empty & look like student digs. We are both in our early 40s, with children under 10. In addition, I have also paid for the majority of Santa & birthday presents (for our kids & the parties they are invited to).

    I am a public servant, so my pension (which isn't great, being the post 2013 Single Public Service Pension Scheme) is deducted at source, but I have no savings and quite literally not one cent left to myself at the end of every month. I buy my clothes in Pennies, use cheap creams/shampoos and don't really go out very often. Personally, I don't feel that this is right or fair. I'm in my early 40s, am educated to Masters level, I work really hard and have a gross annual income of €75,000+.

    I have tried so many times to discuss this with my husband. He shuts down completely and either walks off or just say 'yea' and nothing changes. I have suggested counselling, sent emails, letters, texts - but nothing changes.

    I am so hurt at this stage, that at times, I can't bear to be in the same room as him. I feel totally miserable and disrespected, yet he is living his best life - spending his money on his hobbies, pastimes, social life.

    There is no question of spending money on a family holiday abroad or furnishings for the house. Those conversations go absolutely nowhere.

    When we purchased our first home, we had to set up a joint account, but all he will put into this is 50% of the mortgage repayment, a few days before its due. The rest of the month, its either empty or overdrawn.

    I really need advise as to what my rights are. I know this entire scenario sounds crazy... I'm not depressed and I don't have low self-esteem. I come from a loving 2-parent family, where my Dad was a compmete gent & prioritised his family. My parent's were so generous that they gave all of us money for our first homes, paid for our weddings, universities. Family was always the priority in my home growing up. The situation that I now find myself in seems to have evolved, as we have floated through the last decade, taking the good times as they came. I always thought things would change when we we married, had kids, bought a house together, matured, became more successful in our careers... but that has not happened.

    My husband is an amazing father & my 2 kids adore him. But his disrespect and lack of trust in me has caused irreparable damage. Yet he seems to have no clue... & thinks all of this is normal. If I'm in bad form he makes references to my period, being tired or stress at work, almost turning his actions and their affect on our marriage back on me. He'll also bombard me with OTT, inappropriate affection to try keep me quiet and make the tension go away.

    I really don't know what to do at this stage. Should I spend the rest of my life, with him in the driving seat and me losing myself bit by bit, for the sake of my kids? Deep down he actually is a nice guy, he loves his kids and I think he loves me. But it's like he's living in the 1950s and he believes that's the way life should be.

    Any advice would be so greatly appreciated....



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,721 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge

    As regards the relationship I don't know enough to comment but we always had a joint account that wages go in to and all expenditure comes out. It's just joint money. No mine and yours. Likewise, savings and investments, house deeds, etc are all joint. Its how we feel a marriage should work.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Weesie

    Thank you. That's also how I was reared and what I want in my own life.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,510 ✭✭✭Wheety

    Me and my wife both get paid into a joint account. Everything is paid from that, groceries, mortage, all bills, car costs like fuel and maintenance, tax, insurance. Basically all joint expenses are paid from it.

    We each take a weekly allowance from the joint account too. This is quite a low amount as the joint account covers almost everything. Suppose it works as we're both WFH so lunch expenses aren't a big thing now. Lunches at home are covered with groceries.

    We're very open about finances, as I think you should be in a marriage. We know what each other earns and savings etc.

    What happens if your husband dies unexpectantly, would you know where to start looking at his assets?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Weesie

    What do you mean? I seriously I'm a bad way and just seeking insight as to what's normal for other families in my position.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,360 ✭✭✭Jequ0n

    Why wouldn’t he be behaving like this? You have been enabling it all along. I’d do the same for as long as I got away with it.

    You don’t sound happy so maybe it’s time to get some backup (friends/ family) consider your options. Don’t do it on your own.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 25,952 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    You are being financially abused. Contact Women's Aid for advice.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,686 ✭✭✭✭Donald Trump

    That's not living in the 1950's. Living in the 1950's would have been more like you staying at home and him out working, but you managing the household money.

    It certainly seems like an odd set up. Given that you have kids (and presuming they are also his kids) then those kids would likely have affected your career options and your earning power today. That is another area where you appear to be contributing 100% and him 0%. He might not take that into consideration, but the Family Court would in the event of a separation/divorce and subsequent maintenance proceedings.

  • Administrators, Social & Fun Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 76,353 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Beasty

    The thread was moved (by another moderator). You had originally posted in the Site Feedback forum, but a mod has now moved it to the more relevant Relationship Issues forum

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,415 ✭✭✭FintanMcluskey

    Joint accounts where all money is pooled into are a death sentence for life and passion IMO.

    A joint account where a set amount is paid into each month to cover mortgages and bills etc is all that's needed.

    I don't know what my partner spends nor do I want too.

    Some people also have diabolical money management skills, another reason to avoid joint accounts.

    There is a gross annual income in the OPs house of €225,000 if my sums are correct, money should not be an issue, how the account becomes overdrawn each month is a bit odd

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,418 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    the joint account for expenses is the way to go, put in proportionate to what you earn and then each have their own savings account ….

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  • Registered Users Posts: 197 ✭✭shalom

    This. What your husband is doing is as bad as an alcoholic and a chronic one at that. It is called meanness. It is also a form of control. He knows what he is doing and the effect it has on you and the family. While he is aware of it, he is also in some sort of denial about the whole thing. Especially since he can walk away and let you to sort out what ever has to be sorted for the kids etc. I could go on more here about him, but it is you that is more important.

    My first piece of advice, you can't and won't change him, but you can help yourself. I'm not going to advise you to leave him or anything like that. But adapt and other services have a lot of experience in these type of situations and can offer very good support and solutions without you having to leave your husband.

    That would be my advice right now, phone them or make an appointment and they will help you. Sometimes when all of this is going on inside of your head it can make you feel mad and without any support or advice we can feel broken.

    >mod snip<


    @shalom exchanging PMs, although well meaning, on the back of posts in PI is strictly against the Charter here. Please do not do it going forward.


    Post edited by Hannibal_Smith on

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,721 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge

    In a marriage we found a joint account for all funds the only way to go. Trust and partnership. Rearing children and running a home are joint ventures. We spend what we want without needing to decide if it's appropriate to the joint account or an individual's account, or having to get approval. What one person earns compared to the other is immaterial in marriage.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,215 ✭✭✭Sunrise_Sunset

    I know lots of married couples and some combine money and others don't. Maybe half and half, but that's a guess.

    You are both high earners, and although he's earns significantly more, you are still in the high earner category in my view. Therefore I'd think you'd both have enough to split everything 50/50. He absolutely should be contributing at least 50% to ALL expenses, not just some. However, he's not obliged to contribute more than that. It might be nice if he did, but definitely not obliged to. I think it would be a different story if you were a low earner, I think in that case I'd be expecting him to pitch in more.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Weesie

    Thanks for your feedback. It's mostly left empty, sometimes overdrawn when insurances, property tax come out. I have no additional resources, as we have quite a large mortgage €450k + and I cover any extras that our children need or want. I'm not willing to let them suffer & they attend swimming, irish dancing, basketball and also did a number of summer camps.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,514 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner

    steve harvey (off the telly) is right . he says ever couple should have 4 accounts. a joint account for the day to day bills , an account for joint savings like holidays , revovtions etc, and 1 account each for their own interests.

    your biggest issue here is that you were never in the loop of what he earned.

    i think the split should be proportional . he earns twice what you do so he should pay more. thats fair

    work out what the actual bills are and split it up from there

    you mention bed liinen, furniture etc etc. i wonder what his opinion is on that. does he see that as you buying stuff thats not neaded. my father has a running joke with my mother that he will rush in and sit on the new chair or couch etc so he can say he used it before she changes it. front sitting room used for max 5 days a year but they have went through 6 couchs in 30 years

    its hard to be sympathetic to someone on 75k a year with a husband that insists on paying half of all the bills

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,215 ✭✭✭Sunrise_Sunset

    You need to write down all household expenses for a couple of months and track exactly how much he is contributing. Once you take into account all the extra spending on the kids etc that you're doing, at least you can go to him then and show it to him, and say he needs to contribute 50% to these expenses, in addition to the rest of the bills. With both of you being high earners, I don't think it's fair to expect him to pay more than that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Weesie

    Thanks for your feedback and I realise I'm earning a really good salary. I studied for 8 years to get my qualifications & worked very hard to be where I am. That's why I find it very difficult to have no capacity for saving or to have no opportunity for any form of personal spending. I would do anything for my kids... But they have 2 parents & as I said earlier, in spite of my earnings, I am on the breadline every single month.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,686 ✭✭✭✭Donald Trump

    Cut the cleaner out of your expenses. And tell him it's his job now to do the cleaning seeing as how you are running around after the kids. You might find more agreement with the concept of getting a cleaner in soon enough

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,039 ✭✭✭Deeec

    Your situation is not normal at all. You are a married couple yet he still behaves financially like he's single.

    My husband and I have a joint account and both our salaries are paid into it. We trust each other and are open about our finances. That's what marriage is about. We don't begrudge each other personal expenditure either. It works well for us.

    The fact that you are married so long and you didn't know anything about his finances is very concerning. If he is so hidden about this what else is he hiding.

    You and your children are suffering due to his selfishness. I agree with others in that this is a form of control and abuse.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,670 ✭✭✭...Ghost...

    Just because you're not spending the money directly on yourself, doesn't mean you're not spending recklessly. A lot can be unnecessarily spent on the kids. They don't need the best of everything. You'll just spoil them. Better they have a mother not stressed about money.

    Write down EVERYTHING you spend money on for a couple of months and then see where it's going. It does sound like your husband is an @sshole though. Be sure he is covering the essentials at 50%

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,721 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge

    If he's earning double what she is, and there isn't a joint account for everything, then he should be contributing 66% to the joint expenses.

  • Registered Users Posts: 491 ✭✭SwimClub

    Tell him you've done a lot of soul searching and you're going to quit your job and stay home full-time and look after the kids and the house

    There is no point in you working because you spend all your time away from home and have nothing to show for it at the end of the month, it's no life.

    Make it believable, see what he says......

    Either this is what he wanted all along or it might shock him into adjusting the finances. One way to find out!

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,712 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    Is there any way the original responses to the thread from when it was posted in Feedback can be restored? Because the OP got some very good advice there that still stands.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,342 ✭✭✭mojesius

    Your husband sounds like a right scab to be honest. I don't understand why anyone would hide their earnings from their spouse.

    Are you saying he earns 150k per annum gross and won't spend on a holiday abroad for his family? What's he spending his money on?

    If he won't change, you need to change things for your own sanity and financial well being. Bring him to buy the kids Xmas presents/things needed for the house etc. Don't enable his behaviour anymore by stepping up to cover for his stingyness

  • Registered Users Posts: 727 ✭✭✭WildWater

    Personally, I find that appalling and I couldn’t live like that. Nor would I want to live like that. We all know marriage is complex, but at the most basic level it is about respect. Without respect there is nothing. I think disrespect is like a cancer to relationships. It undermines everything. You used the word ‘disrespect’ yourself. It’s just my opinion, but the situation you find yourself in (have grown into?) is fundamentally based on disrespect. This isn’t a finance issue, it is a respect issue. The big question for both of you is can you move your relationship (back?) to one that is founded on respect. If you can, then you have a chance at resolving your financial and I guess other issues.

  • Registered Users Posts: 919 ✭✭✭thegame983

    That is nonsense. This isn't some CEO who married a till-girl. They are both well paid. He may well be a prick and worth leaving, but the notion that he is obliged to pay more than 50% is wrong.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,859 ✭✭✭growleaves

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,859 ✭✭✭growleaves

    If you do decide to define yourself as an abuse victim you're about halfway to divorce I'd say so think long and hard about this one.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,670 ✭✭✭...Ghost...

    Everyone couple has their own arrangement. In my opinion, if both are earning enough as individuals to cover half of essential household expenses, then they should only be paying their fair share, which is 50%. Just because one earns twice than the other, doesn't mean they should have to pay more. The higher earner has most likely worked very hard to be in that position and can choose to pay more, but shouldn't be obliged to. I'd pay more if I earned more, but that shouldn't be expected in this world of equality. What if the OPs hubby decided to go jobshare and earned less than her? Should he pay half, or less than half because he now earns less?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Weesie

    Yes that's exactly what I'm saying. Our kids are 5 & 8 and we've never been on a family holiday abroad.