24 August 2007

Words Fail

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have separate bank accounts, with a joint account for bills. Since we make roughly the same amount of money, the bills are split 50/50 through the joint account, and the rest of our personal paychecks are for ourselves to spend as we wish. About two years ago, we happily decided together to have a baby. I couldn't conceive, and the doctors put me on a cocktail of hormones. The drugs are not covered by insurance, neither are the ovulation kits and pregnancy tests. This is an expense I have shouldered on my own. It has added up, and I find myself more and more in debt. My husband has seen how much I spend on all of these treatments, but has yet to offer to help with the financial burden. I've tried to be subtle—I once asked him to pick up a pregnancy test on the way home from work, but he has never done it since—but now I just want to scream at him every time I come home with another prescription and he comes home with another man-toy! It's bad enough that I already feel like it's my fault we haven't conceived, but by not sharing in the financial aspects of this process, I feel even more alone. Am I off base to ask him to help pay for treatments for a problem that is "mine"? Or is it just the overabundance of hormones that make me want to freak out on him?

—Barefoot and Not-So-Pregnant
"Marriage" is not the right word.


monix said...

Do you think there might be something suspicious about the "Questions may be edited" warning? Perhaps the office junior spends her time making up these stories.

Susan's Husband said...

That's very close the system SWIPIAW and I use — it saves an enormous amount of arguing about money. Of course, we discuss financial responsibility before undertaking something that's potentially expensive.

SWIPIAW: Let's have a baby.

AOG: OK. That's a house expense, right?


Peter Burnet said...

Man-toy? Yeah sure, I'm a traditionalist, but I still want to hear more about man-toys.

Susan's Husband said...

Check this out, dude — —→
That's a man-toy.

joe shropshire said...

So is this.

Hey Skipper said...

That was close to the system the other SWIPIAW and I used once upon a time.

We put all income into the house bucket, then gave ourselves identical allowances.

That way, I could buy parts for my sheet metal mistress, and she could buy tennis rackets, without having to consult, because the budgetary problem was already solved.

But a couple moves back, we never re-established that system.

Don't know why.

Perhaps the office junior spends her time making up these stories.

Ya think?

Peter Burnet said...

My wife and I operate out of her account and pass the debit card back and forth. It's awkward at times, but it is a form of financial discipline and cuts down on the toys. She is a teacher and can't get to the bank easily, so I go. Usually all is done by machine, but occasionally I have to see a teller and the card must be swiped. You should see the looks I get from the younger tellers when they see I have her card and know her pass number. In their eyes, it is prima facie evidence she is an abused woman, probably locked up in an attic at home. A few times, it has only been through some deft joking about what hopeless romantics we are that I've avoided being ushered into the manager's office.

Oroborous said...

After spending way too much time pondering this problem, (about five minutes), I think that it's entirely possible that the guy in question DOESN'T KNOW that he's expected to pick up half of the tab for conception, even if he's vaguely planning for the house expenses to increase once they have kids, because SHE HASN'T TOLD HIM SO.

In a feminine manner, she's merely hinted that she'd like some support from him, and, at least as she's outlined it in her missive, not in a very direct way either. Picking up something for her from the medical isle at the market could very reasonably be seen as a one-time errand, like buying a bottle of cough syrup.

She says that "we happily decided together to have a baby", but maybe it went more like this:

Her: Why don't we have a beautiful baby ?

Him: Fine. If you want to have a baby, I'm OK with that.

From his point of view, maybe conceiving is her bailiwick, and until the baby's actually born, it's her project. He's not even paying attention to what she's bringing home, any more than he cares what shampoos, body washes, moisturizers, conditioners, gels, lotions, etc. she's got stacked all over the tub and counter.

Meanwhile, she wants him to want to have a baby, and to be intimately involved in the whole process, as if it were his fantasy football league.

Maybe she should try communicating directly with him.


My wife and I tried an allowance system, and that works for some of my siblings and their spouses, but we found it more of a bother than it was worth. We just tell each other what we've bought, and if we cringe from the thought of doing so, then we generally don't buy it.

Maybe the key is that neither of us has expensive hobbies any more.

Peter Burnet said...

As always, execllent analysis of the subtleties, Oro. I'm sure who pays for the tests and out of which account is a matter of great import that holds the key to their lifelong happiness. But we country boys have a more rude and fundanmental question:


No wonder the lesbians are doing so well!

David said...

Monix: There are reasons to suspect that the letter is too good to be true. First, they seem to have an odd, though not impossible, health insurance policy. Second, it's a little hard to believe in a wife "going into debt" without the husband being involved.

But mostly, could a woman really be this stupid? Does this guy brag to his friends about the doormat he married?

Oroborous said...

As always, execllent analysis of the subtleties, Oro.

Gee, thanks. Tweren't nothin'.

But mostly, could a woman really be this stupid?

Well, yeah.

Without regard to whether this particular situation is real, there are both men and women regularly revealing themselves to be as thick as a plank, sometimes on national television. (Or at least on nationally-syndicated programmes).

monix said...

I had a number of interesting temping jobs as a student in the 60s. One was to pretend to be 'the manager' in the tax office when an irate customer rang in and demanded to speak to someone higher up the chain. My friend worked in a magazine office and had to write the letters for the 'agony aunt.' I've been sceptical about these things ever since. I really, really hope that the people on Trisha and Oprah type shows are low-paid actors, the alternative is horrendous!

Susan's Husband said...

Ah, after reading Oroborous' comment I realized a key difference between my set up and the couple in the story — no non-house debt is allowed. It's so basic to me that I forget few others see it that way.

I mentioned this to SWIPIAW and she thought the guy was a total moron if he didn't notice that his wife was undergoing radical hormone therapy.

I agree with Oroborous, though, that he is dumb enough to not distinguish between those treatments and random personal care products. Sounds to me like we're better off if neither of them successfully breed.

David said...

My conclusion is that the guy isn't dumb at all. Immoral? Absolutely. Irresponsible? His picture's in the dictionary. Manipulative? World class. Married? Only technically.

erp said...

David, so glad you're back. That last comment -- perfect. That's why you were so missed.