Dear Dr. Darcy:
My wife complains that I’m too controlling with money. She even goes so far as to accuse me of being a financial bully. Let me tell you my side of the story:
Before we were married, my wife had terrible credit. She didn’t pay bills on time. Hell, she didn’t even open her mail for weeks on end. So when we bought our house, my name had to be the only one on the mortgage, otherwise our rates would have been too high to include her because of her poor credit rating. And because the mortgage was in my name, I needed to make sure that it was paid on time every month which is how I took over paying the bills. OK, maybe I went too far, because after I took over paying the bills, I decided to put us (OK, mostly her), on a budget. She calls it an allowance and says she feels like I’m acting like a father to her. I don’t think I’m acting like a father – I think I’m acting like a responsible adult. Recently (and I believe this is out of spite), she’s become disinterested in having sex. How can I get her to see that she’s withholding sex out of spite?
Whether she’s withholding sex out of spite or because no one wants to sleep with Mean Daddy, the issue (in all likelihood) is directly related to your less than democratic way of handling the finances. So to me, it seems as though you need to get clear on this correlation – not her.
Look, I don’t blame you for wanting to pay the bills, particularly given her history of poor credit and the fact that your name is on the mortgage. But imposing a budget/allowance on her does have a patriarchal feel. I think in hindsight, we both agree that it wasn’t the most sensitive way to establish family solvency.
Here’s what you need to do. I want you to make 2 lists: A list of money that comes in monthly and a list of money that goes out monthly. Ask for a family meeting with her to discuss the finances. Begin the discussion by summarizing your understanding of her feelings around the ‘budget’ and express to her your intention for the meeting: You want to collaborate on how money is spent in the family. Show her both lists and ask her for her ideas on how much money should be allocated to each expense. She’s going to make suggestions that are different from yours. Do your best to compromise wherever possible. My guess is that before long, the sex-freeze will begin to thaw because she’ll feel more empowered, more adult, and more respected.
Writer’s Stats: Male, Bi.