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Not financial abuse, but not quite right either?

(77 Posts)
errrnotsure Mon 25-Apr-16 16:59:52

I'm starting to feel increasingly uncomfortable about the financial balance in my relationship. Came to a head in a heated converation with my DH last night and i was very upset, but after sleeping on it, i decided to get the advice of mumsnet, and try to look at it all in a more rational light. Please be honest with me.

Background - I'm a sahm. DH works in a well paid professional role. I've been a sahm since DC1 was born and we've since had DC2, both are pre-schoolers ATM. Before we got married we had discussed having a family, and i had always made my position clear that if financially possible i would like one or both of us to be at home with them in the early years at least until school age. My DH was on board with this (or so i thought) and luckily when I had DC1 we were in a position for it to be feasible for me to SAH.

Prior to me leaving my job at that point we were both earning approx similar salaries and contributed 50/50 to a joint pot for all joint outgoings. Anything left over was our own disposable income.

Since I've been at home, I manage the joint account, into which DH puts enough money each month to cover all necessary expenses - mortgage, food, bills etc. In my personal account i receive Child Benefit (which i use for kids clothes and activities etc) and £100 a month from DH for myself. This was intended so that i had a bit of money to buy coffees, clothes etc without having to ask DH for it all the time. I was happy with this. If i ever need extra for something big, i just ask and he transfers it to me via bacs. In the past 4 years Dh's salary has nearly doubled, he has been promoted and done really well. I have been pleased and proud of him.

A recent pay rise made me realise that we would no longer be entitled to claim Child Benefit, so i sat down with him to discuss finances, and my idea was to combine everything into both names, with us continuing to use the joint acct for joint expenditure, to make our savings joint too. Currently all ours are in his name - apart from the kids savings which are in mine, but obviously i don't touch them. We would keep our personal accounts for disposable income and we would place an equal pre-arranged amount each month into them. I feel like this will be fair as currently DH spends about £100 a month on lunches alone. Hes not a spendthrift, but he does obviously have more access to disposable income than i do and he does not have to ask anyone if he needs extra money for anything. Side note - he never says no, and we are generally on the same page about what we spend vs save, it just the principle of who has access IFSWIM?

He's not happy with this idea. He would like to continue as we have been, except he puts the equivalent of the child benefit money into the joint account and i use that.

When pressed by me, it became clear that he is not comfortable with me having total access to all income. I told him i feel financially vulnerable and he cited the fact that we are joint owners of our house. This was a contentious issue when we bought the house (before we were married) as DH put a lot more more money into it than i did because of a parental bereavement which left him with a lump sum inheiritance. I did put some money in, and obviously we got the mortgage based on two salaries, plus i paid into it 50% repayments for nearly two years and contributed to renovations as well.

Summary if you've got this far (sorry). I feel it is a trust issue, i want to feel he trusts me and that we're a team, but he clearly doesn't - at least with money?

Otherwise we have a generally happy marriage, beautiful healthy children and i don't want this issue to overshadow our relationship. I always thought that marriage meant sharing everything, but maybe i'm being unreasonable? If keeping separate personal finances is important to him, should i be okay with that? I have had the benefit of being able to look after my own children for a few years, something lots of people don't get to do. I just feel sad about the whole thing, its really not what i imagined, and i'm not sure if i should just accept it and adjust things accordingly? What happens if he ever gets sick/disabled/older and i end up being the main wage earner? I can't imagine wanting to do things this way if it makes him feel the way i do now.

I'll most likely be back at work next year when my eldest goes to school. I doubt i will catch up with his earnings anytime soon, so now there will be an imbalance for a long time I imagine. Also because he is the much higher earner, i expect my career will continue to take a hit throughout school years.

Should i be asking him to contribute to my pension? Or should i be offering to split the mortgage into joint tennants in common with his original investment ringfenced? I don't know which way is up anymore and i'd like us both to be happy.

Help me navigate this please - i'm not sure what i should do at all?

Iliketeaagain Mon 25-Apr-16 17:07:22

You could suggest that he transfers what child care / cook / housekeeper would cost.

And yes you may have had the benefit of staying at home with your children, but he has had the benefit of you supporting him to go ahead in his career, hasn't had to worry about taking time off when the kids are sick or when the nursery is closed or even having to make sure he leaves work at exactly on time to pick them up.

GraysAnalogy Mon 25-Apr-16 17:14:39

You could suggest that he transfers what child care / cook / housekeeper would cost
She isn't an employee, I hate how this line is trotted out when it comes to things like this. He could easily counter with her then transferring half the rent, bills etc smile
That isn't even the issue here. The amounts aren't the issue. She has whatever she asks for. It's the access that's the issue.

errrnotsure Mon 25-Apr-16 17:18:54

I'm fully aware that he has been able to progress so well and so quickly at work in part due to the fact that i am at home, so he never has to say to work that he can't stay late, or can't go to a team drinks, or can't work away in a regional office/foreign country etc..
But although hes aware, i'm not sure he really is if that makes sense?
I expect a lot will change when i go back to work, especially if i push to ensure we handle the childcare equally around work, but that makes me sad also, that he doesn't realise what a great set up we have now, and how much my being at home supports him and makes his life easier?

GraysAnalogy Mon 25-Apr-16 17:21:45

It sounds like this is a bigger problem rather than you having access to the accounts.

It seems you feel he doesn't appreciate you and what you do, is there anything else he does that suggests this to you OP?

LucyMouse Mon 25-Apr-16 17:28:47

It seems as though he doesn't feel that you "deserve" the same amount of money as he does. Why not? You should be a family team, as you have clearly stated in your OP.
I think this is financial abuse btw. He has all the power in this game.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 25-Apr-16 17:30:14

There is a financial imbalance in your relationship actually of many years standing. Presumably his salary is paid into an account to which you have no access. The power and control when it comes to finances is really all his and he is enjoying that. Its also pretty much pants that he transfers a set amount to your account in the first place; am I right in thinking that this joint account you write of would run short otherwise?.

Does he not think or regard all money earned by him as family money?.

I would also agree that the access is the issue here. I also think he is using you as a free source of labour.

errrnotsure Mon 25-Apr-16 17:35:52

I just feel depressed that i've become such a fucking cliche. Even when i decided to stay home with the kids I was convinced it wouldn't change the power balance in our relationship, but i just feel like an idiot.

He doesn't say anything to make me feel like this, i think there's just an underlying assumption that his time and efforts at work are more important than mine because they bring in the money that enables everything else. Although he would disagree if you said it like that, I definitely feel that's the case. Maybe I'm being oversensitive?

I've worked since i was 16, provided for myself, put myself through uni, travelled the world, and never taken anything off anybody else. This is the first time in my life i've put myself in such a vulnerable position, but i thought it was ok because its my husband and we love each other. The reality is i still feel like i've lost my power and independence. I thought the sacrifice was worth it to be with my children, but i'm questioning that a lot now.

Wombat87 Mon 25-Apr-16 17:36:23

I am not in this position, but knowing my DP I think he would be the same as yours if this was us. He'd offer me all the money I wanted to be placed in an account for me, a joint account and joint savings and the kids. But he wouldn't ever agree to having it all in one and he would want his privacy. It's difficult because I know how you feel vulnerable in terms of actual cash. Perhaps you could ask him how he'd approach this feeling you have without you suggesting the parameters and build on that. Maybe he'd feel more comfortable?

Thurlow Mon 25-Apr-16 17:36:35

I agree. It's not outright financial abuse but it is worrying that he doesn't see his income as the family income, which it is.

I don't quite know what to suggest other than another rational conversation where you explain how it makes you feel that because you are looking after his children all day you are somehow worth less money.

Hopefully if he is, as you say, an otherwise good man and this is the first thing to have reared it's head, a calm and honest conversation should help fix it. If not - well, I suppose at least you know where you stand.

FATEdestiny Mon 25-Apr-16 17:38:54

I'm a SAHM. Previous to children DH & I earned approx the same and both professional careers.

We have:
1 joint current account that everything is paid into/from
1 joint savings account
2 ISAs (1 each in our sole names) - the monthly transferee into each is equal and comes from joint current account
3 credit card accounts (each in single names) but we both have a card to each account.

So we both have access to all money, regardless of who earned what. It's joint, family money.

In actual fact I manage all of our finances even tho I earn nothing blush

Akire Mon 25-Apr-16 17:40:35

I would not feel happy with this, you get £25 week pocket money on yourself but this is probable mostly spend on kids too, right? So coffee cake out for you and drinks and snacks for the kids. Suspect your actual treats on self is very much lower.

Do you know how much he spends on himself? If it's £100 lunches alone that's fine if you can afford it but then if it's on lots of treats too that's not fair. Even if he's not spending but saving hundreds every month then what's the long term plan? Do you even know his balance? Does he have plans in his head for where he sees money going?

I would definitely push for pension contributions for yourself all very well him having s good one but if you split up or he dies you will not see that benefit.

errrnotsure Mon 25-Apr-16 17:46:48

I like the idea of broaching it again and maybe asking for suggestions of how he would like it all to work? Just not sure where to go after that if he just suggests our current system?

It still feels like i'm asking him for his money - which is crazy i know!

errrnotsure Mon 25-Apr-16 17:50:55

akire i take your point about the pensions and regardless of what else gets decided i will make sure that we start paying the same into my pension pot as we currently pay into his (i have an old work one with not very much in but its a personal one so i could continue to contribute without work contributions).

And yes - i do spend a lot on the kids and not much on myself, but to be fair to him, he doesn't spend much on himself either. Just drinks and socialising really, and hes a great dad who spends most of his spare time at home, so its not excessive.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 25-Apr-16 17:52:50

It still feels like i'm asking him for his money - which is crazy i know!

But you are not, you are asking for an equal share in what he should now regard as family income. Its not just his and for him to transfer some money to you in the form of an allowance, that to me is bloody demeaning.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 25-Apr-16 17:54:54

I was wondering when you were going to mention that he is a great dad. He is not a great husband to you or father to them for that matter if he is treating you, the mother of his children, like this.

Who makes the financial decisions re larger purchases like for instance furniture, a car and holidays?.

snowman1 Mon 25-Apr-16 17:56:26

I definitely think it is a control issue too. I am in a similar situation originally we had the same salary but since kids, he is earning loads more, in part due to an international move which was really only feasible if I gave up my career entirely. My intention is to go back to work, but like you, it will be at reduced earnings. I would remind him that if you divorce, you will still get roughly half, the sum he brought to the house will not be ring fenced (even if you change the contract). If he dies you will also hopefully get everything too, do you have mirror wills? He should be paying into your pension too. At this point I have access to everything bar an old uk bank account, all the savings are in my name as a non-taxpayer in both countries (not insignificant as we sold our house when moving abroad). Anything less would be a failure to acknowledge what I have given up for his career and our family. I like you, also consult on larger spends but if I want a hair cut or need new shoes, I just buy them.
It is definitely not the norm in your situation to have so little control and I would say it is financially abusive, sorry. He either trusts you or he doesn't - it's pretty clear by his actions that he doesn't.

Friendlystories Mon 25-Apr-16 17:56:58

OP have you spoken to him about the way all this makes you feel as opposed to the financial practicalities? I would be wanting to address his lack of trust first and foremost, if there is an element of financial abuse doing so would shine a spotlight on any abusive tendencies and leave you better placed to decide where you go from there.

GeorgeTheThird Mon 25-Apr-16 17:59:13

SAHM usually does change the balance of a relationship, however much you think it won't.

You need to think about tax, OP. Because pension payments are paid out of net income, then grossed up, it makes sense for them to be in your DH's name as he is a 40% taxpayer and will get more tax benefit than you would. As you are married you don't need to worry , if you split up you can get a pension sharing order. (Cohabitees do need to worry and get pension in their own name even though less tax efficient.)

Savings should be in your name as you won't get taxed on the, admittedly paltry, interest.

snowman1 Mon 25-Apr-16 18:01:11

the other point, might swing it for him, is that if he dies suddenly, you will have access to nothing - his accounts will be frozen until the will is sorted (potentially months) and will leave you with no funds at all. You can't access his account. I was a financial advisor, you would be suprised the number of older people this has happened to

Crabbitface Mon 25-Apr-16 18:01:40

LIke previous poster I am a SAHM.

We have a Joint Account - Everything is paid into this and our mortgage, bills, direct debits etc come out of it. Once a month money is transferred into -

- Another joint account for daily expenses which I have full control of - this is mainly for food and bits and bobs for the kids.
- My personal account (we have equal amounts)
- His personal account
- DS savings account
- DD savings account

We also contribute to a pension for myself. All money is family money. We tell the kids that we are a business and I'm the Operational Director and he is the Technical Director grin.

This is the only way it work for me.

Crabbitface Mon 25-Apr-16 18:04:38

snowman Very good point - would he also have to make a living will to give OP access to accounts. I'm pretty sure I read a story about a woman and her daughter who were left in dire straits because her husband had an accident and was in a coma but as everything was in his bank account and she had no access she couldn't pay anything.

Wombat87 Mon 25-Apr-16 18:05:03

I think make it clear the current system isn't working for you so it has to be different. I know what you mean about feeling vulnerable. I would too.

Wombat87 Mon 25-Apr-16 18:05:24

I think make it clear the current system isn't working for you so it has to be different and see what he says. You can work back from there. I know what you mean about feeling vulnerable. I would too.

Wombat87 Mon 25-Apr-16 18:06:54

Also. You are asking for his money. And so you should. You gave up your career and opportunities for your children. Which was something you'd both discussed and agreed. Good luck!

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