A young man mismanaged his finances. He became an alcoholic and needed lots of money to fund his habit. The whole family suffered due to lack of finance. Soon his wife started to work to help with household finances. They were on the brink of losing everything.
The young man underwent de-addiction and managed to recover to some extent. He has been sober for a few years, and their financial area is showing improvement. But the wife is still bitter. She has to travel long distance to and from work, she is unable to spend quality time with her son. She wishes to be home and later start a business. But she needs to work for a few years still to be able to pay off their loans.
This is the fourth area in a marital relationship. The Finance area. This area is fraught with pitfalls, disappointments, conflicts and frustrations. Unless both the partners believe in transparency, there can be mistrust.
The norm now is working couples. So there is double income. If the attitude is, “I want a working wife so that I can pay off my loans”, then the wife is going to feel used. Unless she loves him, realizes he is genuine and she wants to help. But there are couples where the husband manages the finance, he decides which bills get paid and what investments get done. The wife has no say, sometimes she needs to juggle her finances just to be able pay some of her bills.
In most families, the wife is not encouraged to help her parents financially. In fact it is downright frowned upon. She needs her husband’s or his family’s permission. And there are other families where the new bride’s jewels are taken to pay off certain loans. If she does not earn, she has no spending money. In some families, even an earning wife does not get any spending money. If she does, she will have to account for it, every single purchase.
The trend has changed a lot. Most women are working and they do have financial freedom. But when young people marry, each needs to know what the other earns and what are the major expenses. The investments and savings need to be joint, and with joint discussion.
I have met several couples where the wife does not disclose her entire income. She holds back some amount since she is unable to trust her spouse with her total income. She believes sharing a part will be enough. The entire income need not be shared. Some amount for personal expenses can be set aside. Though it is not mandatory to disclose all the personal expenses, it helps the relationship when there is voluntary disclosure. The trust factor gets a boost.
A lady came to me saying her husband is into business. That is what he claims. He says he is not doing so good in business, so he cannot contribute towards household expenses. But he goes on trips with his friends, has an expensive car and his wardrobe is quite flashy. The wife is frustrated; any requests for money turns into a raging fight.
After counseling, she decided to start a non-cooperation movement. Since he is not contributing or caring for the family, he has to do his personal chores. She will not pick up after him. He has taken offense and refuses to eat at home. This is not bothering the wife, the stalemate continues. How long can he hold out? This time the wife is willing to wait and watch. She is surprised at her own lack of concern for him. She has started to realize the home needs contributions by both the spouses.
What the couples need to understand is that the marriage is a partnership where both need to contribute equally. If in one area the contribution is unequal, the difference can be made up in another area. This has to be worked out by both. Whatever pattern is acceptable for the couple in question can be adapted. This pattern need not match any other marriage. The contributions have to meet the give and take part of each spouse.
Each area is important. One spouse does not want to spend time with his wife. He prefers being glued to his laptop. So he accuses her of being fat, she does not attract him. This is hitting her at her personal and emotional area. There isn’t much social life. The wife is terribly hurt and depressed. How can this relationship grow healthy?
It takes time, effort and energy to build a relationship. Conflicts can happen, provided they stay healthy. The need to make the marriage work has to turn into a want. Then each spouse will automatically work towards making the relationship meaningful.