I know that it's 2017 and gender stereotypes should be a thing of the past, but there still is some of that stigmatized husband/wife "marriage role" nonsense that lingers for many of us. It definitely still lingers for me and my husband. You see, I'm the breadwinner. I make almost double what my husband makes in a year. Because of this, things can get weird. And when I say "weird," I mean awkward. And complicated. And tense. We're working through it (let's be honest, it's mostly my issues) as best we can through each mishap and argument and compromise.
One of the pain points for me is just the simple issue of buying stuff. There are many times when I am hanging out at the local Home Goods (as one does on any given day, of course) and I stumble upon a duvet cover that is calling my name or I find the perfect LBD at Nordstrom for a very reasonable price. My first thought is, "I want this! And I work hard. So I'm going to buy it!" My second thought is, "Wait, should I talk to my husband about this? How would I feel if he spent $100 on something and didn't tell me?" My third thought is, "Wait no, I make more so like, it's my right. This is technically my money, right?"
Wrong. I am always so wrong.
When my husband and I decided to tie the knot, we agreed that we would merge our bank accounts and what was mine would now be his. And vice versa. So there was no "my money" anymore. I couldn't justify this duvet or LBD anymore. If I was going to think about making a large purchase for something that was more of a "want" than a "need," I needed to show him the same courtesy that I would want and get his "ok". After all, he worked hard too. I couldn't just discount his dollars. I couldn't itemize it. We were one bank account now. On the good days, I can consult with him and we can make a big purchase decision together.
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But then I started freelancing again, which started a whole new world of mess.
My husband and I have a monthly budget, and we like to stick to it. So when I started freelancing, I always saw those earnings as "extra money." I decided that it would be different from our regular money. This was extra money that I was making and it was mine. This whole "my-extra-money" situation got hairy when I suggested that maybe I keep this extra freelancing money in a separate account. That did not go over so well. I didn't have any sneaky or malicious intent behind this, of course. I was actually trying to avoid arguments and long discussions about purchasing things. But, understandably, it made my husband feel weird. Especially since we had agreed to always keep our finances together. Even though I saw where he was coming from, I truly felt this could be a problem-solver instead of a problem-maker.
For example, a favorite singer of ours is coming to town in the spring. I wanted to buy tickets to their show and get some super nice seats. While our "regular" budget wouldn't allow for this, our "extra" couple hundred a month would! I saw this as a perfect solution! And instead of having this extra dough complicate our current bank account, I would just keep it separate. Hubby wasn't so keen on this and so, another self-reflection needed to occur. Why did I need to keep justify my spending and my earning? In the very back of my head, why did I still feel like I had some sort of right to buy more just because I made more? It was so archaic to think that way.
We were equals. We shared our incomes. The gray area is so foggy and messy and blurry that sometimes I get lost when trying to even articulate how complicated it is -- it's that complicated! Though on the bright side, we'll work through it as best we know how and I'll continue to second, triple, and quadruple guess myself before going ahead and making that impulse Home Good purchase.