I Have Trouble Taking Money From My Husband

My husband is a wonderful man and an excellent spouse. I’ve extolled his virtues on M.O.M. on so many occasions that I’ve had to stop for fear of being accused of idol worship or braggadocio. After all, with 50-60% of all Christian marriages ending in divorce, wouldn’t it appear conceited for me to talk about how wonderful my husband is? What cockiness!

I’ve openly discussed the issues that Marshall and I have had over the years, but I can honestly (and gratefully) say that those issues have never included the following:

  1. His not having a job
  2. His not helping with the children
  3. His failure to communicate

Like any relationship, Marshall’s and mine has had its own unique set of challenges over time. At the moment, our challenge is that I have a hard time accepting money from my husband. This is more my dysfunction than his, but it still affects him indirectly.

Last night I got off of work at BS&W and midnight. Did I want to be at a shoe store that late into the night? Absolutely not. But I needed the money to pay for a project I’m working on, so I had to put in the hours. When I got home at 12:30 am, Marshall was still up waiting for me so he could at least see me. I said some brief words in greeting, got into the shower, crawled into bed, and fell into a coma. The next morning, Marshall asked me why I was working so hard. I explained my reasons.

“Well do you want me to just give you the money so you don’t have to work so hard?” he offered.

I balked at the very notion of him giving me money for a personal project. Like many marriages like ours, I stay home to look after the kids and he goes to work. His income pays for EVERYTHING. It wasn’t always like this, of course. I had a job once, and a good paying one too. I’ve lived my life paying my own way for everything. I couldn’t accept money from my husband.

“No, no,” I said quickly. “This is something I have to do on my own.”

“But it’s not a lot of money,” he countered. “And I just got a check from a project I’ve been working on…”

I repeated that I wanted to do this on my own and went back to doing dishes or eating chocolate – I can’t remember which.

I don’t know if this is a problem that other married women struggle with, but my single friends have assured me that I’m stark, raving MAD.

“Ah. Isn’t this what husbands are for?” said one (a Ghanaian).

“Girl, us single gals are TRYING to find a guy to pay for stuff,” said another (a White girl from the South).

Recognizing that my perceived insanity was not cultural (after all, an African AND an American had just told me I was being foolish) I decided to talk to my husband about it. Maybe there was something wrong with me?

moneyHe knows that I have an abnormal relationship with money, because I didn’t grow up with much. I was more often than not on the receiving end of a gift, and it’s made it hard for me to accept generosity from others. I hate feeling like a charity case…and when I spend my husband’s money, I feel like it’s just that: charity.

“Babe,” I began, “I want to talk about why I can’t take money from you…or why I have a hard time at least.”

“Okay; but I already know why that is,” he said sagely.

“Eh? Why is it then?”

I barely knew myself. How could he possibly know?

“Because you’re a first born and self-sustainer,” he said simply. “I’m the same way. I couldn’t live on anyone’s handouts.”

Self-sustainer. I wrote that down on our whiteboard. That was a new term to me.

“Okay, cool. Then you understand,” I said. “Well, I feel bad that I can’t take your money. I think it would make me less of a woman.”

“How is that? Every time you use your debit card you ‘take my money’.”

He laughed in that way that makes me feel like an idiot. I immediately bristled.

“Ah! When I use the debit card, I’m using it to feed the kids or buy something for the house. I’m talking about going shopping for myself, or in this case, needing $x00 to fund my project.”

“That’s because you’re selfish,” he replied.

“What?”

How could I be selfish? Wasn’t I being the very opposite of ‘selfish’?

“Yes, selfish,” he continued. “You need to write down ‘value’ on the board too. You don’t think that I value you you enough to try to make your life better, or work for the children and all the stuff we do have.”

I found it hard to argue with that, so I used the best defense I could conjure: The one time that he said something that made me feel less than valued. It had to do with the car he’d just bought in October.

“Remember when you told me YOU had worked very hard to afford that car? I felt like you were saying that because I didn’t have a job that generates as much money as yours does that I was not as valuable.”

“Well, Malaka, I did work hard to pay for the car…but that’s not what I said to you. Don’t misquote me.”

“I’m just saying that’s how I felt.”

I quickly realized that I was failing to make my point. He was showing me the absurdity of my sentiments. All the same, I still harbored them. I told him as much.

“Look, here’s the thing. What I really feel bad about is that I should be able to spend your money because I’m valuable to you, but I just can’t.”

He paused and nodded. He understood. He said that made him feel good.

“Why?”

“Because I know that you won’t try to jack me and have checks bouncing all over the place.”

I snickered. I hate bank overdrafts.

“Malaka, it’s not like you haven’t taken money from me in the past, when we were dating.”

“But I always paid you back,” I countered.

He said he didn’t remember being repaid. I assured him I did. I’ve never been one of those girls who could take money from her boyfriend because my parents taught us not to be that chick. You never want to be in debt to some guy, especially for something you could afford yourself. I have never been able to abide the idea of a man taking credit for my accomplishments!

By the end of the conversation, Marshall encouraged me to look at the money I was offering as an investment, and not a gift. He said if I REALLY had to, I could look at it as a loan.

“If you really feel like you need to repay a loan to your husband,” he smirked.

“Shut up.”

I thought about it. I could take the money as an investment…but then something occurred to me.

“If it’s an investment, you’ll be looking for a return on that investment, won’t you?” I asked.

“Babe,” he said, cutting me off, “a return on investment doesn’t have to be monetary. My ROI could be you getting more sleep, not having to work more hours, you having a better day, us having better sex (because you’re not so tired), or you just having a smile on your face more often than you do.”

I had one friend tell me that I need to get off my “feminist soap box” and take my husband’s money. I’ve earned every cent in stretch marks and a scarred uterus.

“Calculate the cost of that,” she said.

I hear what everyone is saying. I really do. The world is crooning “You should let me love you/let me be the one to give everything you want and need” – but all I can hear is Kanye hollering “She ain’t nothing but a gold digger/She’s a trifling friend indeed!”

Surely other women struggle with this, right?

Right?? Talk about it here…or tell me I’m mad. ↓

 

  • eknor

    A great article. I’m not married as yet but I have to reflect some traditional West African sentiments here. To allow your husband the opportunity and grace to provide for you and to gift you money is a compliment; one of the few we give to men. I don’t think it takes anything away from you, in fact it can only empower you once you receive with grace. You’re a GOAL digger not a gold-digger clearly so accept his monetary gifts! Enjoy them!

    • A GOAL digger. I love that!

      Thanks for offering a new perspective. I should allow him to compliment me as you say. I shall try as I know you will when you chose to marry 🙂

  • Sorry, you are mad -____-

  • lalaroses

    You’re VERY mad…

  • Nana Afoah

    Malaka, you’re mad!!!!!!!!!

    • Heh. You people will give me a complex ooo. Ha!

  • Oh God, that man is so luck. Some women think there are more than entitled to every little penny of their husband. Please bring me a lady of your kind

    • Bwahahaa!! It’s not the blessing that you think it is ooo, my brodda. I’m sure my husband would tell you that he suffers to show me affection. It’s easier to impress a woman if she’ll allow you to impress, abi?

  • Ebenezer Mr Scrooge

    I used to say leave Marshall and marry me, now I say leave Marshall so I can marry him… Such a fine man… Christian marriage??? Are you talking about the one that propagates all that TheTwoShallBecomeOneTalk??? Such absurdity!!! If it were me, conversation at home would be something along the lines of, “hey Darling, I just realised you drank 0.58 litres of milk bought with MY money, I’ll have payment back with a risk premium of 14% above the Dow Jones, that will be $wx.yz. Love You”
    (walking away humming) she has a Big Ego, a whale sized Ego……

    • Heh. Mr Scrooge. You can’t have my husband. Go and find your own husband! I’ll deal with milk and inflation in my own house. 😉

  • A-Dub

    One day I hope to have your “problem”

  • David S.

    I may be the one dissenting opinion here. It’s great that your husband is so willing to provide for you. He’s a wonderful man. But I can see why you would want to do this one on your own. There is something to be said for the pride of knowing you can still put in a grind and make the money you need for the things you want to do, even if having a great husband means you don’t have to. You are not mad. Okay let me walk that one back. You are definitely mad but it’s not this thing that makes you mad. So your husband goes to bed a few nights without you. He will live. My advice would be: set limits. Don’t let this become a permanent thing. Set aside X number of days in a week where you won’t work crazy hours so that at least you will see your husbands face sometimes. Decide that you will put in the crazy hours to get $X00 dollars and then when you set aside that money STOP! And most importantly you need to recognize that there are and will be some situations where you do have to ask your husband for money such is the sacrifice you made when he became the breadwinner. Only you can say if this is one of them.

  • Monetary problems are the bane of many a marriage, but your brand of this problem is very rare. I have several married friends of mine that complain their husbands DON’T give/offer them money and that seems to be more common. You, Malaka are a different specie all together! I would suggest you stop thinking about it, take what Marshal offers you with grace and come back home NOT tired and give him the amazing sex he deserves for being so awesome!

  • MartinT

    I agree and support DavidS’ response above. In the end, life is a balancing act, if we want it to be fulfilling and rewarding. That applies to marriage as well. The problem with a blog like this is that we get to hear your perspective loud and clear, even Marshall’s responses and perspectives are all shared with us through your lenses. It would be good to hear his self-talk, those things that he sometimes screens out when he talks to you. We all have that. I have a wife who is in some sense like you, and I appreciate her tremendously. However, there are times when it gets too much, then I first experience this feeling of frustration and anger. At those moments I make an effort to talk to her openly about my feelings and usually that helps, and she usually acquiesces and accept what I call an “allowance.” From a Christian perspective one can explain it in the following way: Christ died for me because He loves me and He doesn’t expect anything from me in return, except for accepting His offer of fellowship and eternal life. However, out of gratitude for what He has done for me, I willingly offer my life as a sacrifice in His sevice, not to please Him or to squeeze some more blessings from Him,but out of gratitude for what He accomplished for me on the cross, and He accepts it gracefully.