Personal Finance: You And Me And Money Makes Three


Slate is doing an interesting survey on how couples manage their money. But when I went to fill out my form, I got self-conscious.

While the survey’s not about judging, it forced me to think about our finances, which is something I try to avoid doing. I’m not just talking about my innumeracy, which is profound (and my fiance has discovered to his fascination that the word “investment” makes me yawn spontaneously) but about certain circumstances of our relationship that are, well, unresolved.

See, like many people, he’s been out of work, on and off, for the past few years. Initially, this wasn’t a problem: I didn’t mind holding down the fort, financially speaking, even if it meant our lifestyle might be spartan and our neighborhood remote. For a while, everything was fine. I congratulated myself on my sweet-natured supportiveness. And then, one day, I got resentful. Every night he stayed out late — because he could — playing instruments or working on inventions, became infuriating. His sleeping in while I worked the next day was even more so. If there were dishes in the sink (and there were) I became furious; I stopped doing any chores, feeling like I was doing enough. I’d read that men are emasculated by these situations, but that didn’t seem to be an issue. Indeed, he seemed A-OK with everything! Maybe I should have been glad he was so evolved; I wasn’t. Our small apartment became a battleground; I was endlessly self-righteous. Yet day after day, he needed to be reminded that even though it looked like I was watching Top Chef, or looking at gowns, this was my office, dammit, and at their offices people don’t take breaks to have sex or read “Weird but True” aloud.

I knew we should be communicating, and have assigned tasks, and create some kind of game plan for him, but I was too mad. Besides, why should I have to do anything? I wish I could say we talked it out or met with somebody or made some smart, adult decisions. Instead, he got work, my rage subsided, and things went more or less back to normal.

On a survey, this turned into a series of matter-of-fact yes or nos; but I quailed at the thought of anyone knowing the childish specifics of our money “management.” I’m embarrassed to even admit it here. It often feels like all my friends are suddenly adults — responsible and magically in the know — while I’m still floundering around, living somewhere between “today” and “someday.” I’m interested to see the results of this and find out how true that really is. Either way, it’ll be an education — and I think that’s what I need.

How Do You Manage Your Finances As A Couple? [Slate]

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