The husband is employed. The wife is not. The pay check has his name on it. Is the money his, hers, or theirs?
The latest celebrity couple break-up that may end up in divorce court reminded me of an Oprah show I saw years ago. The socialite wife was defending her reasons for asking for a substantial amount of alimony from her wealthy, soon-to-be ex-husband.
While married, she’d spent much of her life managing his. Their social calendar was full; events to attend, parties to host, volunteering, and fund-raising. She also needed to spend time keeping in shape and staying attractive, i.e. spas, gyms, and shopping. And, their home needed to reflect his position, so she hired decorators, cleaning help, and caterers. She managed it all.
Most of the women in the audience thought she was spoiled and greedy for expecting a sizable divorce settlement – because the money was “his.”
Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, and often being in the company of other stay-at-home moms, I’ve gotten some general pictures of how various couples handle the money.
A few examples (in no particular order) of what different wives/moms have said:
- I pay the bills.
- He pays the bills.
- I’m glad I’m home to get the checks in the mail from his business, because we’d be broke if he gets to cash them.
- He works. It’s his money. He deserves a new car.
- I need to ask my husband if I can buy that.
- I don’t work, so I don’t want to spend too much on myself.
- I’m stressed. I think I’ll go shopping!
- He puts what I need in my account, and if I need more, I’ll tell him to put more in it.
Fortunately, my husband and I agree on most money issues, and the check with his name on it, is deposited into “our” account. I don’t “ask” for money; I’m a little too old for that.
The money does not feel like it’s his or mine – just feels like it’s there to take are of ourselves, our home, our children, and our future.
A few years ago, I read a book titled, The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts. She advocated jobs and careers for women; that skills should not be lost. She also warned that women should not be caught without an income if the husband should leave or die.
While reading it, I was reasonably open-minded and objective – to see her point – and I did see some of it. But did it make me want to change my life; to get an income paying job and be a “working mom” example for my daughters? (I think she touched on that, too.)
No, not yet.
Did it make me afraid?
Without going into personal details, I’ll just say that a few things are “in place” in the case of Husband and me not living out our golden years together.
Many aspects of our lives can be successful based on trust and wisdom, but some people will fail. And if that’s the case, I hope there will be a second chance.
What are some of your opinions on one-income households, joint accounts, separate accounts, alimony, etc?