I have been with my husband for 16 years and married for seven years. I’m 50 now and feel like I’m raising another kid.
I do everything: cook, clean, fix the house, while raising my 5 year old granddaughter. My husband earns very little and is barely able to pay his share of the rent. I work three jobs while he sometimes sits at home and does nothing around the house to help out in any way.
I love him very much, and he is very affectionate! I’m not sure what more I can handle. I have a strong work ethic but have exhausted all of my savings due to some medical bills and expenses he has had over the past year and a half. How can I ever move on?
-The Broken Old Lady
Dear Broke (Not So Old) Lady,
Maybe your husband is nice. Maybe he’s affectionate. But anyone who just sits around while their spouse works three jobs AND runs the household AND raises a 5-year-old doesn’t strike me as loving.
Tell your husband the following: “I love you very much, but I’m at the breaking point. I can’t cope with three jobs and all the household chores besides babysitting. I’m so stressed about having zero savings. I can’t do anything anymore. What can you do to take some of the pressure off me? »
I don’t expect your husband to be full of ideas right off the bat. But at least by asking him what he can do, you plant the seed in his head that you expect him to be part of the solution. Because as things stand, his solution to every problem is you.
Pay close attention to how he reacts when you put that out there. Does he at least recognize that it’s a problem that you’re stressed on the brink? Or does he insist that there is no problem and that he is working as hard as he can? Because if it’s the latter, what he’s telling you is that his needs come first, even if he doesn’t say it in that many words.
Try volunteering with your husband for some tasks. When something breaks, don’t jump to fix it. Tell him you don’t have time to cook, so he takes care of dinner. Let him experience discomfort. If he won’t cook dinner after you ask him to, consider taking your granddaughter out to dinner so your husband has to fend for himself. Yes, it will cost extra money, but I think it’s worth getting the message across that you’re not your husband’s mother.
Being on the same page in terms of work and budget is going to be the hardest part. Even when you love someone, sometimes your work ethic and your respective priorities go completely out of whack. Being in a relationship with someone who lives well day to day is tough when your financial goals go beyond keeping the lights on and not getting kicked out. No matter how you divide the monthly bills, the weight of anything that could go wrong rests squarely on your shoulders.
Ask your husband to tell you how much you contribute and spend together. Try to advocate for replenishing your savings. Expenses you’ve had over the past year and a half are great examples of why you need an emergency fund. If you can convince your husband to replenish your savings, that’s a good place to start.
But he has to be the one to step things up, and you have to make that clear. You have no more time and energy to give. Even if your husband does not have specialized skills, the possibilities of side gigs and part-time jobs abound right now.
If he refuses to budge, you have a big choice to make: is being married to your husband more important than becoming financially solvent? Because without an effort on his part, I see no way for you to stay married and move on.
Robin Hartill is a Certified Financial Planner and Senior Writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].