Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Family finances, causing me unnecessary grief

(11 Posts)
Anormalfamily Mon 29-Jul-13 12:59:40

I've been lurking a while here, reading quite a number of threads on family finances and, like me,,the people posting seem to be women who feel unfairly treated. Here goes:
I can't really put my finger on it, but dh seems to be a tightwad. He has plenty of spending money for himself and is generous with maintenance to ex (while moaning about it to me..) but I can't shake the feeling that he's not treating me fairly. He does contribute to bills etc, but I'm sure he uses a calculator to work out exactly how much to pay to our joint account!

He earns a bit more than me (it does make him feel superior but he also does housework, so no complaints there) but prefers spending to saving. I like saving and it seems that's a good thing. But if i buy something for myself, from my own money, he gives me the impression (no actual denunciation) I'm spoiling myself or worse, I'm using potential family money. I never make him feel bad about his spending, btw. When he "acts" a bit guilty I say he deserves it.
I buy him and dsc generous gifts and in general make sure no one feels hard done by or left out, dh is almost the opposite!
When I get an expensive present I'm expected to give one back. Any other stuff I buy for him or house is taken for granted.
Sorry for waffling, I'm just a bit confused. Should I continue being a good example or am I being a mug? Have just bought him expensive birthday gift, I love doing that, but he will go on and on about things he buys me... He's quite greedy in other ways too, i used to find that a bit endearing, not so sure now.
It's like I'm the "mother" whose job it is to look after him And I'm to be grateful for whatever he does for me/ gives me. My teen ds is more subtle than that and I lecture him occasionally on generosity of spirit and sharing is caring etc.
Any good ideas on how to broach the topic with dh more directly?
I see his dc now copying his entitled behaviour quite blatantly and that has caused me real worry. I tell him about that and he's shocked,,but sees no connection to his own behaviour!!! Is that even normal?
Any advise gratefully received.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 29-Jul-13 13:19:06

You're being a mug smile Seriously, it's normal to show appreciation - I have no problem with that - but what you're describing is some kind of conditionality/entitlement which seems very one-sided and rather odd. By 'greedy' do you mean 'spoiled'? Does he always have to have the latest/best/most expensive?

FWIW I'd stop buying generous gifts if it triggers this odd behaviour. If he goes on about his gifts I'd have to cut him short... 'OK, we get it, you're generous... can we change the record now?'

Do you have full disclosure of all his income? Do you ever sit down as a family and work out budgets? (Even if you're not scrimping to make ends meet, this is useful) Do your DCs 'earn' their money for chores... do they understand the value of it?

Anormalfamily Mon 29-Jul-13 13:35:36

Hi, thanks for reply. The greedy refers mostly to food actually, and dh does have a bit of a weight problem. I'm sure he never wanted for anything growing up, no trauma I mean.
He doesnt over spend, just usual guy stuff, pc, tv, but nothing outlandish. It's the dc that require the more impressive stuff, I'm able to handle mine, but dh seems pleased when his want the top notch stuff, as if that reinforced their superiority too. Does that sound mad?
We do a minimum of budgeting together, have a fair idea of what we each earn and contribute to a pot (seems the most fair considering we each have kids from earlier marriage).
I'm pretty sure I've taught mine the value of (not) spending or spending within your means. Dsc haven't got a clue, but I'm not their mum and so don't lecture them. Chores is a bit tricky but doable on average!
It's difficult to actually come up with a good example, its more about a feeling I've got to account for stuff, or earn it, but dh and dsc are entitled?
Ds and i are definitely not included in their bubble! But as its transparent I couldn't actually point to,it (but would like to burst it)...

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 29-Jul-13 14:32:47

"dh seems pleased when his want the top notch stuff, as if that reinforced their superiority too. "

I think the fact that there is a thriving business in excessively expensive consumer goods for children says that a lot of parents like to show off their 'success' vicariously through the labels their kids wear or the possessions they have. I think it's often a sign of huge insecurity on the part of the parent ... I am what I can afford my kids to have. Turns the kids into little trophies and, if you're not careful, spoilt brat Verruca Salt types that no-one wants to be with.

It's difficult when you're talking about a grown man and step-children but if you feel there is some basic unfairness going on I think you have to push past the childish guilty act you described earlier and say that it's important to you that everyone in the family takes a more responsible attitude to money... earning and spending.

Cabrinha Mon 29-Jul-13 14:47:16

You need to be totally open and upfront about this with him.
There seems to be a lot of you saying that it's nothing direct, it just makes you feel... well, I'm not saying you're wrong because a lot of things are subtle but real. But - you have to decide to be responsible for your feelings. He cannot MAKE you feel anything.

Start off by working out a fair split on finances - it might be fair anyway, as you say. FWIW, I'm very generous, but I still worked out to the penny my share for the joint account.

I got fed up with expensive gifts. A different situation - I felt expected to buy to same sort of value as exH, but generally disliked what he was getting me - despite being v clear what I didn't want! In the end, I told him that, as we both had credit card debt at the time, we should set a cap.

Talk to him - give him reasons. For example, explain that him wanting you to see him as generous (if that's what it is) takes the shine off the gift for you.

Be practical - if you feel that you're criticised for spending family money, be sure to agree what goes into family account, and make a point of keeping spends separate. Then when you but something you KNOW it's personal spends. Work out what he says / does that makes you feel criticised. Then, when it happens;
1. Remain responsible for your own feelings - don't feel you've done anything wrong
2. Pull him up on it, every time. "H, when I buy something and you <joke about cost / roll eyes> it looks like you're criticising me and I don't like that - so please stop. No need in the first instance to explain that he spends as he pleases. Just tell him you don't want to feel criticised, and does he mean to be critical?

Cabrinha Mon 29-Jul-13 14:50:08

Agree with Cogito on the guilty act - why are you encouraging it by massaging his ego with "you deserve it?". In future, shrug and say - buy it, don't buy it - up to you.

ImperialBlether Mon 29-Jul-13 17:00:53

He doesn't sound very nice. Are you committed to being with him long term?

He's pretty entitled isn't he? He deserves the best, his children deserve the best, but you and your child don't. Hmmm I wouldn't be happy with that.

I take it you buy less than him, as he has more money? And he then thinks you're spoiling yourself and spending money which the family could use? Is that his family or your family, because in his head he doesn't see it as the same family, does he?

There are some people with a generosity of spirit which is so appealing. He hasn't got that, has he?

I'd be rethinking if I were you, but be warned, if you split up, he will do whatever it takes to get the better financial deal.

Anormalfamily Mon 29-Jul-13 17:01:55

Thanks, some really good pointers here.
I have told dh on numerous occasions that he is not to criticize me, and he'll stop... And then criticize me for something else, or my ds.
This is probably something that should go on the stepparenting board. But then again, the dsc are not the problem! Dh is.

Massaging his ego. Another good point. Hadn't seen it as that. But of course that's exactly what it is. I suppose I see he's being insecure, particularly when spoiling dsc and not disciplining them (I'm not talking punishment, just pointing out rudeness would be fine, but I do that myself now).

Re the gifts, I suppose I want to say I care, I see you like this and I want to make you happy. End of story. Then when I get something Im made to feel that its really special, I'm lucky to get it and its bestowed with something approaching charity, ffs, not love! Definitely not an endearing trait.
Will do the shrug next time!
This may sound crazy, but sometimes it feels I'm in a 60s sitcom. Husband jokes condescendingly about little wife's shopping trip and the goodies she has bought herself, or feels all powerful by bestowing some gift upon her for which she is to praise him lavishly... And maybe dh would get to be that retro man if I were a kept woman who merely blinks her eye lashes all day and whose sole purpose is to keep him sweet!!
I work f/t, take care of the domestic front incl dsc, am attrative, an academic (not that any of that should matter) but somehow in his eyes I'm a dim drudge. Ok, words are failing me now...

ImperialBlether Mon 29-Jul-13 17:06:19

I'll give you the words... just repeat after me, "This relationship doesn't suit me and I'm off!"

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 29-Jul-13 17:11:28

"Husband jokes condescendingly"

I think that nails it... condescending. Do you ever just look him in the eye and tell him to piss off with this condescension? Do you think - by being financially sound, attractive, academic and domestic caretaker - you're just as a big a trophy in his materialistic, keeping up with the Jones, cabinet as the stuff he buys his kids?

Anormalfamily Tue 30-Jul-13 08:40:26

I'm going to take the trophy remark as a compliment!
No, I hadn't thought of that. But it makes sense. His kids are rewarded by being "good" (by both parents), this can be getting high grades, being popular, or just being appropriately 'snooty', or just complying with their parents view of the world. And yes, their world is very materialistic.

I have been standing up to dh a lot recently and challenging his extraordinary views, it has been a bit disconcerting as I'd hoped he'd snap out of whatever neurotic fantasy he's been wallowing in. But it turns out he really is that shallow! He gets a bit PA then, and even when he is condescending I see the act for what it is. It's like a script he's picked up and uses to help him navigate the adult world of relationships.
Like,,oh oh, wife making complaint, must use tone of condescension to stall her a bit. Add some drama to confuse her perhaps. He's not threatening, more pathetic really.

I have no problem negotiating the adult world, btw. I choose not to take part in the rat race because I don't want to spend my time around rats. Dh seems keen to make his mark though, financially speaking, and hs kids are being groomed for better things...

I asked him at the beginning of our relationship if he could be happy with my priorities (people over stuff) and he said he shared them, I chose to believe him.
After that little monologue, all I can do is ask him if he wants to alienate me even more and well call it a day, or he acknowledges we have drifted apart and reinvents himself.
I've tried detaching, it doesn't work for me, I'm afraid. It's why I ended marriage to dh1, I'm either part of a team or I'm not in the team. I can't be sidelined and expected to cheer.
Thanks for reading! It's so comforting to exchange views with such "together" people.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now