by Meredith Winnett
One of my guilty pleasures is reading the Dear Abby section of the newspaper. I like to read what the person’s issue is and try to solve it myself before reading Abby’s answer. I’d like to start my own advice column but sometimes I’m a little too sarcastic and that would lead to my failure. That being said, if you need advice, feel free to email me!
However, this is not what I’m blogging about today. I read a Dear Abby that concerned me a little. A man wrote in about his two sons-in-law and how they manage money with his daughters. Apparently, it’s the social norm that, even in marriage, the money you earn is yours and your spouse cannot tell you how you spend it. Abby explains this trend as “marriage mirrors society”, meaning our generation has been raised with a 50% divorce rate so we always know in the back of our minds, there is a good chance our marriage can fail.
The man who wrote in said that his sons-in-law think of the money they earn as their own, and not the couple’s money. The sons-in-law often make major purchases without asking their wives and sometimes go out with their friends and spend a ton of money. He added that he and his wife had been married for 40 years and they had always considered the money each had earned to belong to the couple, not the one who earned it.
This letter was full of red flags to me.
First, you shouldn’t go into a marriage already prepared for failure. That makes no sense. It feels to me like you’re saying to your spouse, “I love you, I want to be with you forever, but forever may end in 10 years when I get bored of being married and mess up.” Yes, divorce is a possibility. But doesn’t it seem pessimistic to enter a marriage thinking it’ll fail? If I’m marrying someone, this is my last thought. I don’t think I’d ever marry someone if I was thinking the marriage wouldn’t last.
Second, I believe in traditional marriage values. No, not only one man and one woman because gay marriage is totally cool in my book. What I mean by traditional marriage values is: don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t abuse, etc. One of the additional values I believe in is “what’s mine is ours”.
Think about it: we live together. We have shared expenses. The electric bill is no more mine than it is my husband’s. The groceries are no more my husband’s than they are mine. We share a bed and a kitchen and a bathroom and a backyard. (Oh do I hope it’s a big backyard.) It makes sense for a couple to take the money they earn and put it towards things they both benefit from.
Now I’m not saying that individuals in marriage cannot take some of the money they earn to treat themselves. I mean, you EARNED it. There may come a time when Forever 21 has a sale and I want to blow $150. (Can I still shop at Forever 21 when I’m not a 20-something? What’s the protocol on this?) There may be a time when my future husband wants to go buy … tools? (What do guys buy when they have extra money? Besides the point.) This is all ok! Just as long as you’re not spending $150 at Forever 21 every paycheck because that’s greedy and not to mention insane.
I was discussing this with my boyfriend before. We put ourselves in a hypothetical marriage where we live together and have a mortgage and bills and all that other gross adult stuff. I asked him to imagine he just received his paycheck, cashed it, and went for a night on the town and somehow blew the entire paycheck. Meanwhile, I’m at home and there was a minor fire in our kitchen. Well now we need a new stove. There is no getting back the $500 he just spent. The new stove is now coming entirely out of my paycheck.
This brought me back to the point I made about a pessimistic marriage. So you’ve mentally prepared yourself for divorce and that means you won’t share money with your spouse. Well, because you won’t share this major expense with me, I now resent you and feel like you owe me money. Ok this is never good in a marriage. This resentment will make us distant and possibly lead to the divorce you’ve been preparing for since before we were married. All because you won’t share with me. The tactic you used in preparation for divorce led to divorce. That seems nonsensical to me.
Now this is all very hypothetical, but it could happen. Maybe I took the letter out of context, but I did address a point I believe in!
And before you go asking questions, my boyfriend and mine’s hypothetical marriage is nowhere near ready to become an actual marriage. Give us like 20 years please. Gross.
Rant over. Any thoughts? Let us know in the comments!