Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Homedear pennyDear Penny: How do I deal with my husband who refuses to...

Dear Penny: How do I deal with my husband who refuses to work?

Dear Penny,

My husband has constantly changed jobs since I have been out of pharmacy school for 11 years. She got her own account, but she was still using our joint account without any contributions. Refuses to contribute to the house. You also have $ 8,000 of credit card debt in your name.

He wants my help to start a new business, but I refuse because he has already had four failed businesses. He presses me and says I have no faith in him.

I have thought about getting divorced, but I am afraid. What I can do?

-T.

Dear T.

This marriage sounds like trying to run a marathon in concrete shoes. It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job or as a wife. You are getting nowhere because every step is a struggle.

So, you have to think about what scares you the most: getting divorced or living like this forever? Because from what you describe, I think these are your only two options.

Your husband is free to do things exactly on his terms. You work for two. Get to play. You have been their safety net for 11 years.

I think she knows that her problem is much bigger than her husband’s money and career options. Perhaps this specific problem would go away if you had an unlimited supply of money and neither of you had to work. But I don’t think you have a happy marriage because your needs come first.

In a healthy marriage, there is room for compromise when the spouses disagree. But it looks like you can choose Option A, which is working hard enough to carry the financial burden of two. And option B? There are none. If you accept anything less than Option A, you’re the bad guy. That is a terrible position to be in.

What if you decide that it is your turn to change careers or start a business? Would your husband do whatever he needed because of his unshakable faith in you?

However, I understand why this is such a difficult decision. On the surface, it may seem easier because you are the breadwinner. You don’t have to stay in a bad relationship because you can’t afford food and shelter.

But letting someone you love fall flat on their faces is hard after you’ve been there to fix everything for so long. The very thought of separating from someone with whom you have built a life for many years is overwhelming. Things get infinitely more complicated if you have children together.

If you have any hope of saving this marriage, and you are not feeling completely drained every day of your life, you should have an honest conversation with your husband about what you need from him. Keep in mind that being the same does not necessarily mean that you have the same income. It’s more about each partner putting similar amounts of energy into the relationship.

I have no idea how their past discussions have been. Perhaps if you have focused on not wanting to finance what will likely be another failed business, you will be more productive if you refocus the conversation on the pressure you feel to be responsible for everything. If your husband refuses to give in or even have this conversation, he is telling you that there is nothing to save.

I think you should at least speak to a divorce attorney so that you understand your options. This does not mean that you necessarily have to apply. But sometimes just knowing what to expect makes things less scary. An attorney can guide you through the process and financial considerations, such as alimony and asset division. They can also help you determine if there are steps you can take now to protect your finances.

There is always the possibility that receiving the divorce papers is an impetus for your husband to start taking your needs seriously. Maybe you can get on with a less than perfect job if you know that your safety net could be ripped out underneath it. But I wouldn’t count on that. Some people are willing to go to great lengths to be lazy. It seems her husband is one of them.

Accept that if you seek a divorce, life will be much more difficult in the short term. I would expect your husband to make things as difficult as possible. But try to imagine your life five years from now. Finances are certainly part of the picture, but they are not the only consideration. Ask yourself if you would feel freer and happier if you weren’t in this marriage. If the answer is yes, you know what the solution is.

Her husband has told her exactly who he is for 11 years. Listen to him. If you decide to stay, you must accept the fact that things will look exactly the same 11 years from now.

Robin Hartill is a Certified Financial Planner and Senior Writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your misleading money questions to [email protected].


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