On Feeling Out of Control

Question:

I left my six figure income to be with my boyfriend where I wouldn't need to work (he makes enough and is retired from his job with money still coming in).

As a partner who gave up my earnings to be with him I was worried how things would "work".

  • If I need to buy a birthday present for my mom does he pay for that?
  • What if it's my shout for drinks on girls night?
  • Do I have a reasonable budget for new clothes?
  • What about my retirement account?
  • There is a business course I'd like to take, it's $5000, how do we decide if I get to take that or not? (No problem with him taking a $3000 paragliding course and buying a $1500 camera - no "permission" needed or discussion on whether or not he "could")

It feels like ultimately he "wins" because he has the money. If he doesn't want to go somewhere I want to go (for a vacation, as an example) I feel like he will get the final say - and can I jet off without him? On his dime?

\When I try to make my own money and grow my business I work too hard and cause tension in the relationship. He wants my time, but hasn't ever been really clear on just how much. He also wants me to be happy.

So that really is it in a nutshell - the control comes down to money. He has the majority of it, we aren't married, I don't have access to his money and I don't feel like it is "our" money. (Not because of things he says, but because I know it is HIS money). I guess that all comes down to owning my "worth".

 

Answer:

What you’re experiencing is not at all uncommon.  I’m a stay-at-home mom (also trying to grow a business) with a full-time-working husband and I, too, have struggled with this issue, asking myself those same questions during times of doubt and uncertainty.

Money is an incredibly complex and deeply rooted topic.  Our beliefs around financial independence, wealth, and what all of that means get formed early on in childhood and we’re usually quite unconscious about how they’re affecting our lives as adults.

For example, I grew up in a household similar to mine now -- my father worked while my mother stayed home with the kids.  The message I adopted for myself was that this this a reasonable way for a household to run; the flow of money comes from the employed and trickled down through the spouse and children.

So much of what we experience NOW depends on our earlier stories, as well as the beliefs that were shaped when you were single and “more independent”, not to mention the other identity shifts going on with your profession and where you live. Throw in the dynamics of your current relationship, which is always another rich layer of our emotional lives …. needless to say, there is a lot going on.

What I can suggest is this: first, as with any healthy relationship, the core of it is usually built around communication. I encourage you to share these uncertainties with your mate and encourage him to be candid and honest about his perceptions of the money flow within the relationship.

Ask him those questions you listed above, and do so from a space of love and curiosity.  Share your struggle around how to answer those things and ask for his help in coming up with a solution.

Let him know that you’re going to BELIEVE what he says -- and then do that.  It’s incredibly important that you separate out what HE thinks from what you’re thinking, and trust him when he tells you what he feels and believes about the situation.

Then, take control back over what you’re choosing to think and being aware of how your own thoughts are driving your discomfort. Consciously separate the reality from what you THINK about the reality.

Thoughts like, “he WINS because he has the money”, “he will get the final say”, and “I work too hard and cause tension in the relationship” are all beliefs and thoughts which are fueling your doubt.  Interestingly, it sounds like they’re all coming from you and not based on anything he has said or suggested.

Finally - allow yourself some space and time to consider your relationship with money and financial independence and how you want that to look in your life. If you find that your boyfriend is comfortable “sharing the wealth”, so to speak, are you? How do you want the flow of money to work within your own life and circumstances?

The reality is that there is money in world. How you choose to think about that money is completely, always, totally under your control.


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