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DP (and fil) are against me working

(94 Posts)
WhiteCoyote Wed 20-Jun-18 11:03:41

I honestly never thought I'd have to face an issue like this. I really need other women's voices to help lend strength to my own because I'm struggling to articulate my anger and rage into anything other than furious tears right now.

This is a long post but I've tried my best to fill in relevant details and not drip feed.

DP and I have always split the bills according to percentage earned. There's been times I've been between jobs and he's paid the bills, there's been times he has and I've paid the bills. Who pays what has never been an issue between us, and we were both decent earners.
Rather than have a joined account (which I was against after being stung in my last relationship) we'd take on individual bills that would loosely add up to us paying the fair amount - he'd pay rent and water bill, I'd take on food, council tax, electric, gas, tv licence etc.

We had a (surprise) baby 15 months ago. When we first found out I was pregnant we discussed earnings and what would happen, I let him know very clearly I intended to return to work after my maternity pay ran out, which he agreed to. This wasn't just for financial reasons, I enjoy working and like my independence.
Through my pregnancy and maternity I'd pay whatever bills I could afford and pass whatever ones I couldn't pay onto him as he was still earning full amount and a decent wage.
We can't quite afford childcare, so when my maternity pay ran out at 9 months, the agreement was he'd tell me his shifts in advance and I'd work whatever days he'd be off. DP made a few remarks about how it was too early for me to go back to work. He made a comment about how he hoped I might change my mind during my time off work and want to stay home with the baby full time. This comment absolutely cut me, but I shook it off as me being oversensitive.

Because of his shift patterns, he may work 11 days in a row then have 4 days off, or working a normal week and have a weekend off. It's quite random. Luckily I work with a very good closely knit team who have been very supportive and are happy to work my shifts in around his. I'm very thankful for them and don't know where I'd be without them. He gets his rota every 3 months in advance so when he does, I tell them what days I can work for the following months.

He now pays around 3/4 of the bills and I pay around 1/4, which is fair to our earnings. He earns around 1500 a month and I earn 500 a month. He pays around 1100 out to bills and I pay around 420, so the structure seems perfectly even to me.

A few weeks back, I was due to work a weekend. Our team was very short staffed that weekend and really needed me in. DP realised a few days before the weekend that he'd got his weeks mixed up and he was booked in for shifts that weekend. He immediately text me and told me to cancel my working shifts. I text him back telling him they weren't doctors appointments and I couldn't just cancel them, that we were short staffed and I was very relevant to work that weekend, and he'd have to swap some his shifts around to get cover. He didn't reply.

We have no family and no friends who could take on the childcare for us, it has to be one or the other of us at home at any given time.

The Friday before I was due to work he asked me if I'd managed to cancel my shifts. I told him no. He went off the rails telling me he'd get a disciplinary if he didn't show up for his weekend shifts, that his was the main wage coming in to the house so it was more important he he work. We argued for ages, I told him my wages were important too and still paid of some of the bills, and this was HIS cock up so HE had to fix it. It wasn't my place to take a fall for his mistake. We had a huge falling out, but I stood my ground and told him that there was literally no way I wasn't going to go to work.

I don't want to use the phrase "I won" as there really was no winning in the situation, but essentially I was the one to win and "get to go to work". We got through it - DP rang up work with some bullshit excuse that our son had hit his head and had to be taken to hospital so he couldn't come in, and I carried on working. It smoothed over, but I think we both still held a lot of resentment against each other.

A few weeks later, I met up with his father (along with his aunt and uncle) for a coffee like we do a couple of times a week. DP must have told him what happened because he also flew off the rails at me. He asked me what happened and I shrugged and gave him a watered down version of it, then he proceeded to tell me how in the wrong I was as DP's wage is the one that pays the bills. I corrected him and told him I still paid the bills too. FIL was furious and told me that the person who's earning more should always come first in these situations and that his wife didn't go back to work until the kids were in secondary school.
I'm proud to say that I held my ground calmly and rationally explained to him that that was 50 years ago and not the way it works now, and irregardless - we are RELIANT on my wages too. They're not pocket money. They're paying bills and if I didn't go back to work then how would be find an extra 500 a month?
He replied that if I didn't work, DP could work full time. I told him DP did work full time. He asked me if he did, how did I manage to work four days in a row the other week? I told him that was simply the way the shift patterns worked.
He didn't believe me. He genuinely thinks DP is giving up working shifts so I can work. I will add that DP's aunt was backing me up in the whole conversation, which gave me a bit of heart too.
FIL stated, again, that the one paying the bills should take precedence and we had to work together from now on.

DP did apologise that night for telling his dad about what happened. He did say his dad was in the wrong for having a go at me, but he also said "well he does have a bit of a point about the bills though."

I completely gave up after that.

A week ago, DP asked if I could cancel a shift so he could work a shift which would earn him a £200 bonus. Again, I said no, we're short staffed and the team needs me. He lamented the loss of £200 over the £70 odd I earn working an all dayer.

Again, last night, he asked the same question. The impression I get from both him and his dad is that I returned to work after my maternity to prove some feminist point about women having a right to work.

Women, how do I proceed with this? And keep my sanity?

My FIL is a generous and often kind man, but I haven't been able to look at him since that conversation.
This is driving a very irrefutable wedge between DP and I, and honestly, if something is going to split us up, this will be it.

The past couple of times I have tried talking to DP in a calm and rational way about this I end up bursting into frustrated tears (thus adding to the point to him that I am emotional and illogical about the whole situation).

I wouldn't say he is a sexist person - he's all for women taking on male roles, equal pay, rights etc - so why the fuck is he such a fucking dinosaur about this??

AveABanana Wed 20-Jun-18 11:07:21

If you had the financial security that you would gain from marriage would you feel differently?

MuddyForestWalks Wed 20-Jun-18 11:09:22

Re your FIL - if he pipes up again tel him bluntly that he doesn't get an say in this. If he won't drop it, walk away.

Re your partner, in general I would say that the more opposed someone's partner (I take it you're not married?) is to them workimg, the more important it is that they hang into their job with both hands.

If you started to do some regular weekday shifts would it cover childcare, taking tax credits into account?

MuddyForestWalks Wed 20-Jun-18 11:11:08

Oh and your finances aren't fair. He has £400 a month after bills, you have £80. and in answer to your last question, it's easy for dinosaurs to talk the talk about equality but revert to type as soon as it affects them.

Jamieandwordswo Wed 20-Jun-18 11:11:34

Keep your job. You are going to need the long term financial security.

AssassinatedBeauty Wed 20-Jun-18 11:13:30

He is being sexist though, if he thinks you're illogical and emotional and has contempt for you as a result. You've uncovered some deep seated sexist attitudes towards women and caring roles in both him and his father.

He seems to be ignoring the fact that you working also means you're paying NI and presumably some pension payments too. Also keeping you in work, compared to a long break which would set your job prospects back massively.

As you point out, your contribution is needed for bills now and in the long term. I'd ask him why he went back to work so soon if he thinks that 9 months was too short for you.

Ofew Wed 20-Jun-18 11:15:45

I don't have any words of wisdom really, but I want you to know that I am in a similar situation, and have been contemplating posting on this board about it. My partner and I also had a very equal relationship before kids. We now have 3 DC. I took long maternity leaves and career breaks as I wanted to be at home with them when they were small. I was lucky to be able to go back to a job I enjoyed and pays well. One of our kids is disabled and it is proving very difficult to combine working (even part time) with caring for him. We also have no family near by and our son can't go to normal childcare after school due to his disability. The assumption is that I will give up work, not DP. I do resent this. I can earn as much as he does so it doesn't matter financially who works, and I enjoy my job and like earning my own money. Ideally I would like us both to work part time but he won't.

anyhow, sorry to hijack you thread, I just want to say you are not alone.

mumwhatnothing Wed 20-Jun-18 11:15:59

I would sit DH down with the budget and full breakdown of how your wages contribute to the family.

I would also tell him to grow the fuck up and accept that you have to and want to work. His father has no say in the matter.

If he does not understand the maths of how the budget works then he needs to go back to school. If you gave up work and were fully reliant on his wage alone there would be nothing left after bills at all.

You can also go all feminist on their arses and tell them to shove their dickhead antiquated views up their backsides and accept the damned situation that you can do what you want. But I suspect you might like to solve this amicably.

BettyDuMonde Wed 20-Jun-18 11:20:02

Dependent on what you do, not having a big gap on your CV now will likely set you up for better earnings over a working lifetime.

Taking time off paid work to raise a family is a perfectly valid choice (especially as for many there is little overal net financial gain while you need pre school age child care) but for many women, going back to work can mean going back at the very bottom.

Men have a lifetime of conditioning baggage, just like women do. He’s been modelled a certain type of family life and unexpected fatherhood has probably just hit his default setting and made him unknowingly mimic his own father.

Of course, times have changed and you aren’t his mother, so it’s not unreasonable of you to expect him to examine his default and redefine it for your new family in the here and now.

Love51 Wed 20-Jun-18 11:23:11

Obviously DP is being outrageous, but putting that aside and focusing on the practicalities :
I think a large part of the difficulty here is that you don't have childcare. Weekend childcare is like rocking horse shit, (I can think of the odd family who mind each other's at the weekend, but children rather than babies). Could you get a regular weekday slot so that you can both work that day? Could the inlaws/ fil do you one weekend a month? It is hard when you can't just saunter off to work, but that's the reality of being a working parent - not just mum, parent.
Workplace equality starts in the home!

phlewf Wed 20-Jun-18 11:25:27

I completely agree that you shouldn’t give up work. But I would qualify that with a question about money worries. If your partner lost his job would your full time earnings be able to cover the short fall? I only ask because if there is the threat of your partner losing the job through missing shifts (it sounds very irregular) is that what he’s worried about? Not that I’m excusing the behaviour.
I know lots of women who pay for childcare and therefore don’t make any money from working with the goal that eventually they will. Could you pay for 2 days child care every week for example and then you’d both always be able to work a Monday and Tuesday (or whatever) to take the pressure of the rest of the week?

MagicFajita Wed 20-Jun-18 11:25:41

I'd be livid op. We've just had to have a big talk about my return to work after maternity leave as I was refused a flexible part time return to my previously full time role. We decided that ds should go to nursey while we both work full time and that we split childcare fees. The reason I've explained my situation is because I think your dp and his family are being all kinds of unreasonable.

What about your financial independence, your pension contributions and your career?

Also as pps have stated, you need a change in the way finances are organised, you're being kept in your place and that's not on.

If he's so keen for your child to always be with a parent he should meet you half way , or leave his job that you can work full time. I wonder how he'd feel about that.

Picassospaintbrush Wed 20-Jun-18 11:26:46

Its revealing that FIL is throwing his weight around to impose his preference for you to stay at home, instead of using his time and efforts to help out with ideas for childcare to make your lives easier.

It will take a lot of practice to be able to balance shift work for 18 years but you will manage it, I know lots of people that have done it.

You are just going through the difficult phase of setting out the rules, it does take time. Keep going.

Sarahconnor1 Wed 20-Jun-18 11:35:42

Its revealing that FIL is throwing his weight around to impose his preference for you to stay at home, instead of using his time and efforts to help out with ideas for childcare to make your lives easier

This jumped out to me as well.

SquishySquirmy Wed 20-Jun-18 11:38:06

You are thinking long term - you don't want to lose your job, or use up all the goodwill of your employers by cancelling a shift for the sake of £200 in the short term.

It sounds like the job you currently have is ideal for fitting around your dp's shifts, and that your employers are understanding and flexible (they obviously value you as an employee).
That kind of job is like gold dust!
It would be nuts to jeopardise it for the sake of a bit of overtime for your dp.
And you are already working around him: You're not even asking him to arrange anything around you, just to stick to what he's already told you!

If he brings it up again, maybe point out the long term vs short term aspect? Unless he's completely financially illiterate, he really should understand that £200 (minus £70) one weekend is not worth the risk of losing £500 a month.
With his attitude, I think thank fuck that you do still have your own independent income.

I may be wrong, but would worry that he is being like this because he wants to force you to give up work, and that "mix-ups" and "last minute shifts" are going to keep happening. If they do, consider that they might not be so accidental...

Blanketbox Wed 20-Jun-18 11:39:42

Unfortunately it’s after children come that a man’s deep seated sexism comes through. I earn three times more than my DP, but I would never expect that to mean that I get priority.

He’s not going to get fired over missing the odd shift. Clearly he’s not taking mental responsibility for the childcare, because he’s got a (perhaps subconscious) idea that if he messes up his shift pattern you’ll always be available. It’s important to make it clear (as you have) that you’re not always available.

This is a fundamental issue in a relationship, because it tells you a lot about how much he respects you.

DisturblinglyOrangeScrambleEgg Wed 20-Jun-18 11:40:28

Bloody hell - of course he's the main earner, you work all your shifts around him! That's just cause and effect!

I think you do need to find some childcare somewhere - a childminder once your baby is 1 starts becoming more affordable, if only because then you could start working consistent days (as well as around your shifts) which is a great way to repay your lovely work colleagues, good for your earnings.

YANBU. Expecting to have 'first dibs' on working, even when pre-arranged that your partner is, is unreasonable. It is materially harming your earning potential and to then use that against you is doubly unreasonable.

And as others have said, it's an even split if he has 400 at the end and you have 80, but if you're OK to let that ride in order to feel OK about standing your ground on working your agreed shifts, then definitely pick your battles.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Wed 20-Jun-18 11:46:23

I think PPs who say your DP has reverted to the way his DF thinks are spot on. You're going to have to be explicit about telling him that you are not his mother and times have changed.

One angle that strikes me is that he's still your DP, not your DH. You have zero protection for the hit you will take to your financial independence and your career if you later split up. Child maintenance is for DC. It doesn't compensate for the loss of future earnings or pension contributions.

I would never have put my career in hold because it's not realistic. You need to keep a foot in the door. And despite my happy marriage I wasn't prepared to be financially dependent.

Presumably you discussed all this before the baby arrived. I'd remind your DP of what was agreed. I'd also be telling him how much his volte face upsets you, how unfair and unkind it is. He needs to know that this issue has the power to really damage your relationship.

phlewf Wed 20-Jun-18 11:51:11

Also for the “reverting to model” argument, my dp was thoroughly confused when i was going back to work. It wasn’t done in his circle, mainly because of the cost of childcare. He said “you don’t need to go back to work, I’m happy to support you” and I said “I know but I am” and that was that. So even if he’s never known a working mother (extremely unlikely) that’s not an excuse to behave badly.

WhiteCoyote Wed 20-Jun-18 11:57:03

Thank you all so much for your responses. A lot of you have put into words what I have been feeling, but feel like I've been oversensitive or unreasonable on. I can't tell you what it feels like to know IANBU on these things.

I may be wrong, but would worry that he is being like this because he wants to force you to give up work, and that "mix-ups" and "last minute shifts" are going to keep happening. If they do, consider that they might not be so accidental...
One of my colleagues said pretty much exactly the same thing. She thinks he messes me around on purpose thinking I'll give in and quit my job. I feel you have a point - I don't think he's doing it consciously, but subconsciously, yes I do think this is happening.

No, we're not married, and to be honest I think the situation would be worse if we were - both of them would expect me to do a lot more wifework.

If FIL mentions it again, I'll cut the conversation short and tell him our finances are between us. This is hard as DP has a habit of over-involving him in things, lets FIL go through our paperwork etc when he comes over (not while I'm in the room obviously).

I have very little in the way of both pension and savings and it scares me, a lot. This has also been a factor in me returning to work. I am 23 and work in a high street coffee chain so minimum wage, earnings arn't great. DP has a licenced job and earns almost £12 an hour.

PP you are all correct in saying both him and FIL can only see the short term saving (£200 vs £70) and I'm sorry to say that I have let them grind this into me and it makes me feel guilty - often. Thank you for pointing this out to me, that what I'll get in the long term will be worth much more.

I will write all these very valid points down and insist I sit down with him and go through them with him (without him interrupting for a change). It's given me a lot of courage and hopefully I won't descend into angry tears again smile

WhiteCoyote Wed 20-Jun-18 12:00:27

And yes, I do think we should be looking for childcare 2 days a week. His response has always been "well we work it ok around us" but the fact it it's not working ok anymore.

My family live 150 miles away and his FIL is in no way capable of looking after our active toddler. We have no other family (his aunt and uncle are elderly).

DisturblinglyOrangeScrambleEgg Wed 20-Jun-18 12:04:46

I am 23 and work in a high street coffee chain so minimum wage, earnings arn't great.

OK, but it's something, it's NI contributions, it's probably a pension, it's sick and maternity pay entitlement, and it's experience on your CV. As it's a national chain, then there are probably places to go within the chain for greater responsibility and money as and when that becomes possible - it's worth it.

I thank all my stubborn stars that I kept working when I had the kids - sure, it was pretty relentless while they were babies, but a few years on it all gets easier, and I still have my hand in and can earn a fair wage.

BettyDuMonde Wed 20-Jun-18 12:12:37

Also, regarding maintaining financial autonomy for the long term despite the current imbalance in incomes (due to his work being prioritised):

Always keep an eye on the housing situation - don’t allow your rights to your home to become secondary to his rights. If you are renting, be sure your name is always on a tenancy agreement, if you own, make sure your name is on the deeds. Whenever you move house, make sure your name is there.

This isn’t out of mistrust, I don’t say this out of paranoia. Even if you are together happily ever after it’s really important for ensuring your status as equal in the relationship - it’s not you ‘under his roof’.

(At the moment, it’s best for our family for me to stay at home and just do a bit of freelance. However, I never worry about the income/power balance because I have the enormous luxury of owning our house outright, in just my name wink)

MagicFajita Wed 20-Jun-18 12:15:38

I'm glad you're going to put your foot down op.

Even if you were willing to give up your job there must be a few conditions , you must get married , he must put away the amount you've lost in pension contributions in an account in your name and he must agree/put away money for potential retraining for when you do return to work as you will have missed plenty and may not be as employable. Also you want the same amount in spends each month (your spends are not for the baby , they are for you) , as your contribution is as valid as his.

If he's happy to do all of that then you will transfer a portion of your personal allowance to him to help boost your family income and you will look after your joint child while he has the freedom to earn as he pleases.

I personally wouldn't give up my job without these conditions being agreed to.

MrsDarcyIwish Wed 20-Jun-18 12:15:40

Stick to your guns, op, respectfully and firmly, and keep coming back here for support if necessary.

Regarding your long-term financial situation, now is the time to start thinking and planning for the future.

You love your job and are good at it but are on minimum wage and are limited in the number of hours you can do for the next few years. Is moving up the pay scale a possibilty where you are? If not immediately, perhaps in a couple of years? Does your company have management trainee schemes, that sort of thing? This sort of opportunity might only be available on a full-time contract, but it could be worth looking into. Or perhaps a supervisory or training role for new staff?

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