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To think Tim Lott is out of order and his wife is right?

(52 Posts)
GettingVerySleepy Sun 14-Jul-13 12:35:16

Tim Lott thinks its only right that he has more disposable income and more decision-making power about household expenses than his wife because he earns more (even though he freely admits she does more of the cleaning, cooking and child are than he does). Besides, she has more power in the home because she takes care of their children so it's only fair hmm

"This week I am going to write about the biggest taboo in relationships I know. Not sex, not death, not bodily functions. I'm going to write about money. Money in marriage is incendiary. It involves issues of power, feminism, patriarchy, trust and much besides. I have tried to write this column once before and had it flatly vetoed by my wife because she felt that the ground I was treading on was too dangerous.

This column appears only after an emotional and sometimes painful back-and-forth about the subject. She accused me of sexism, while I suggested she was using double standards (I asked her, in her imagination, to switch the gender roles to see how it would look then).

My wife works as a part-time associate lecturer and, like many part-time workers, who are predominantly women, tends to be discriminated against in terms of financial reward and employment opportunities. I, on the other hand, am reasonably well paid for challenging but not backbreaking work.

My wife does more of the childcare, cleaning and cooking than me. This is predominantly for practical reasons. She is physically at home for a lot more of the time than I am and, with a part-time career, she has more hours available. She also tackles all the laundry, having rejected my offers of participation in that area after I shrunk a cashmere sweater, pegged it out incorrectly and turned a dazzling white load grey.

I have somewhat more disposable income than my wife ? because I earn significantly more than her. Although I cover a good deal of the family, holiday and household expenses, she doesn't feel this gap in resources is fair. But I am not quite sure what might make a better alternative. The idea that when you get married all your finances merge into one, strikes both of us as rather archaic. We both want to have our own money and bank accounts, rather than everything being in just one joint account.

The income inequalities also mean that if there's a big expense, like a foreign holiday or house improvements, I tend to have the last say. She feels that infantilises her, as she needs to "ask me". But we both recognise that in any circumstances where consensus is required ? such as large expenditures ? we need to ask each other anyway.

My wife says that my having more money than her makes me feel powerful. She's right ? up to a point. It gives me an area of control, although I don't think I use it in order to control. I just think that some form of imbalance is inevitable.

When it comes to the house and children, my wife enjoys virtually total authority. She believes that she has earned that authority by putting the most effort into it. The power gravitates to her and she feels more comfortable with that arrangement.

Likewise, I believe there is bound to be a certain discrepancy over the amount of authority in financial matters so long as I generate most of the income. That is not to say I call all the shots or use the money to control my wife. I don't. There is just a discrepancy, and some measure of inequality in all marital arrangements is unavoidable. We get by.

I would say we have relatively few arguments about money. But it's tricky. There is a lot of counselling out there for emotional and familial difficulties in a relationship, whereas so far as I am aware there is very little practical advice on how to run family finances. And yet a number of studies identify disputes about money as causing more arguments in a relationship than any other issue.

Personally, I think the main solution is generosity of spirit and faith in the other person. I may be falling short in both these departments ? in which case it isn't only the bank account that needs a top up. It's my trust fund."

CoalDustWoman Sun 14-Jul-13 12:40:01

I'm surprised Tim Lott still has a wife.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sun 14-Jul-13 12:41:28

Given that the column is freely available online, I think the OP needs to be edited to give a link to it rather than copying and pasting the whole piece - you shouldn't do this.

On topic, I agree - don't see what his objection to pooling all the money is if it's all about 'generosity of spirit and faith in the other person' hmm

HandMini Sun 14-Jul-13 12:43:24

Read some good MN rage on this

Onesleeptillwembley Sun 14-Jul-13 12:43:34

I think Tim Lott probably secretly feels inadequate due to having a small dick.

Wuldric Sun 14-Jul-13 12:44:34

There's another thread on this here

The thing that I absolutely do not get, is that he has a total lack of awareness that his behaviour is abhorrent.

GettingVerySleepy Sun 14-Jul-13 12:47:19

Oops, sorry, I did search but apparently didn't do it very well.

Wuldric Sun 14-Jul-13 12:58:55

I have had the germ of an idea. I'll post it on the other thread as well.

It's all very well us sitting here fuming at him calling him a cunting arsewipe under our breaths. But that won't help him and more importantly, it won't help his downtrodden wife who is clearly not an equal partner.

He must have the vestiges of decency. After all, his wife has not actually left him. So why don't we invite him onto MN? Not to lambast him but just to talk to him about economic equality and equality in the home. This wouldn't work if we all mouth off at him, but surely we could do a bit of gentle re-education?

What do you think? Should we ask MNHQ to invite him on?

Lweji Sun 14-Jul-13 13:03:58

The thing that I absolutely do not get, is that he has a total lack of awareness that his behaviour is abhorrent.

Most abusers probably feel they are in the right too.

NoComet Sun 14-Jul-13 13:10:13

Mrs Lott LTB and leave the children with him too!

A couple of weeks of a 100% child care would work wonders.

RedHelenB Sun 14-Jul-13 13:15:51

I can sort of see where he's coming from though. Take the thread about MIL wanting a once a month commitment to coming to see gc. All replies acted as though the final say was the Mum's not the Dad's. I think 50/50 in all aspects off a relationship is impossible to achieve, so that must mean one partner is more dominant than another - if the aspects in which this is shared out are more or less equal it seems fair enough to me.

janey68 Sun 14-Jul-13 13:43:37

Id be more interested in hearing his wife's response rather than just entering into a pointless typical MN slagging off.
Presumably she's getting enough out of the relationship to stay in it. Sometimes what appears to be an imbalance looking from outside a relationship is actually a kind of equilibrium both partners are happy with. His wife for example works part time (their children are school age btw.) Maybe she enjoys having some work free, child free time. Maybe she enjoys having greater control over things to do with the home and children. After all, I know a number of women like that. They happily allow their husband to be the major decision maker over things like holidays and big spends, and see it as a fair trade off for the fact that they as the wife get more 'me' time. (To clarify, I'm not talking about families with young children needing full time care; I'm talking about those with school age kids )

Finally you have to remember tim Lott is writing this to make money! I'm sure his wife gets to benefit from that too (even if he makes out ( probably laying it on thick for journalistic purposes!!) that she won't get much of a say in how it's spent

SoniaGluck Sun 14-Jul-13 13:49:28

But janey there is an imbalance. He admits it and says she has pointed it out. Even if he is exaggerating, which I accept he may well be, the fact is that he wouldn't be able to earn so much and have a family if she wasn't doing so much in the home and with the children.

There's your imbalance. What she does enables him to do all he does.

Lweji Sun 14-Jul-13 13:58:22

MN slagging off?

Have you read the comments in The Guardian? grin

neunundneunzigluftballons Sun 14-Jul-13 14:11:30

What I find interesting is that he is reporting his wife's views on the matter in a purely informative and non empathetic manner. It is like on an intellectual level he knows she has issues with his approach but on an emotional level he cannot seem to understand her point of view so I think he clearly lacks emotional intelligence.

From what he has written that it sounds like they have a very unbalanced relationship where he cannot equate her practical contribution with his financial contribution. That said I am sure in most relationships one person is responsible for a lot of the large scale decisions but they respectfully consider the other partner's point of view when making them. Sadly if that is the case in this relationship he did not take the time to articulate that in his article which actually makes him sound pompous and arrogant and overall I consider him to be totally disrespectful of his wife in writing about their relationship in that manner.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Sun 14-Jul-13 14:15:48

I was waiting for this to come up! He sounds abhorrent, financially abusive and not very bright, quite frankly. His poor wife!

janey68 Sun 14-Jul-13 14:15:55

Sonia- I don't think you can automatically conclude that he wouldn't be able to earn as much if she worked more. We can't possibly know that. I just think that most of what goes on in a relationship isn't seen from outside ( and why should it be?) I know quite a few couples who have what wouldn't suit me at all, but it clearly suits them. I wonder whether for (indirect!) journalistic purposes mrs Lott is protesting rather more loudly than she really feels!
Yes, there is an imbalance but it cuts both ways- he makes it clear that she has more control over decisions about the home and children.
My take on it is that he's describing how for some couples, imbalances work because overall they both get what they want from the relationship

Fwiw it wouldn't suit me- I wouldn't want to feel that DH and I had such different roles and responsibilities, as I have said on many a thread, we are both equally capable of (and interested in) earning a living, caring for the children and cooking the dinner. But if such a set up suits other couples (and in this case writing about it helps pay their joint bills!) then surely that's their business

Lweji Sun 14-Jul-13 14:27:00

janey, according to her she's not getting what she wants.

Abra1d Sun 14-Jul-13 14:31:09

'So why don't we invite him onto MN? Not to lambast him but just to talk to him about economic equality and equality in the home?

Is there anyone MN doesn't think it can lecture? Kate M. on how to bring up her baby? Tim Lott?

SoniaGluck Sun 14-Jul-13 14:32:13

janey Maybe you can't automatically conclude that but it's a reasonable assumption.

In our case, for example, DH was clear that he wanted a marriage and children but he had a job with very unsocial and long hours. It was also unpredictable - he wouldn't know from week to week what days he was working, let alone what hours.
In order for him to have the family life he wanted, I had to take control of the children and the house. He contributed when he could but, a lot of the time, he wasn't physically there. So I had "more control over decisions about the home and children" by default. It really didn't feel too much like having any power, tbh. My ability to earn was pretty much zero for several years

My DH is very fair, fortunately, and could see that my contribution was just as important as his (albeit not economically) and never used the fact that he was the one earning to insist on having the final say on decisions. Our major decisions were always made jointly. But a different man could have insisted that it was his money and then our relationship might have looked very much like that described by Tim Lott.

janey68 Sun 14-Jul-13 14:33:57

But she may very well be getting what she wants- or at least enough of what she wants to make the relationship attractive to her- she is simply (along with her husband) seeing the benefits of writing a controversial bit of copy. That's what I am saying. Presumably his wife is an intelligent and capable woman. It just seems a tad patronising to feel sorry for her as if she has no choice in any of this

janey68 Sun 14-Jul-13 14:37:20

Sonia- writing is about THE most flexible career going! I think it's a bit tenuous to say his wife couldn't possibly lecture full time because of the demands of his job. I suspect the reality is that she's actually quite content with her part time work and his greater earning power. It wouldn't suit me but it takes all sorts

SoniaGluck Sun 14-Jul-13 14:49:51

As to writing being flexible. Yeah, I see that. But he might be one of these anal bods that insists on going to an actual writing office and putting in a full 8 hours or whatever.

As you said earlier, we can't know.

And some men (looking at you, FIL) can be very precious about their work time. hmm

Ultimately, he has said that she is unhappy about the balance in their relationship and, unless she chooses to speak for herself about it, we have to take his word on how she feels.
And now I've just typed that, it sounds wrong all by itself.

janey68 Sun 14-Jul-13 14:54:45

Hmm can't really see your point about the work hours. Even if he shuts himself away in his office for 8 hours to write, that's a perfectly normal days work- in fact less than most of us with a commute! I really don't like this idea that's bandied about sometimes that one partner doing a totally normal job, prevents the other partner from doing one...

anyway the key point is that I suspect mrs Lott is comfortable for him to write this article and probably a lot more comfortable than he makes out. Nothing like stirring up a bit of controversy to sell papers..

janey68 Sun 14-Jul-13 15:01:00

Sonia- I guess what I'm saying is: people tend to choose the relationship that suits them. Your husband made it clear that he saw his demanding career as a priority, but presumably you were equally happy to let your career take back seat and have more time and responsibility with your children? If you had had strong feelings that you wanted to maintain your career equally, then I presume you would have made this clear and either re negotiated or decided not to have a family together ?

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