My husband has kept switching jobs since I left pharmacy school for 11 years. He has his own account, but he still used our shared account with no contribution. He refuses to contribute to the household. He also has $ 8,000 in credit card debt on his behalf.
He wants my help to start a new business, but I decline because he has already had four failed businesses. He urges me and says I don’t trust him.
I’ve been considering a divorce, but I’m scared. What can I do?
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 woman. You get stuck because every step is a struggle.
So you have to think about what makes you more scared: getting divorced or living like this forever? Because from what you are describing, I think these are your only two options.
Your husband is free to do things on his terms. You work for two. He can play. You have been his safety net for 11 years.
I think you know your problem is so much bigger than your husband’s money and career choices. Perhaps if you had an unlimited supply of money and neither of you had to work, this particular problem would go away. But I don’t think you would have a happy marriage because his needs come first.
In a healthy marriage, there is room for compromise when spouses are not on an equal footing. However, it sounds like you can choose option A, which requires you to work hard enough to bear the financial burden for two. And option B? There is nothing there. If you agree less than option A, you are the bad guy. It is a terrible situation.
What if you decided to switch careers or start a business? Would your husband do what you needed because of his undying belief 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 dropping someone you love on their face is difficult after you’ve been there for so long to fix it all. The very idea of breaking up with someone you’ve built a life with for many years is overwhelming. Things get infinitely more complicated when you have kids together.
If you are hoping to save this marriage – and not feeling completely drained every day of your life – you need to have an honest conversation with your husband about what you need from him. Remember, equality doesn’t necessarily mean you will have the same income. It’s more about each partner putting similar amounts of energy into the relationship.
I have no idea what your previous discussions were like. If you have been focused on not funding what is likely to be another failed business, you may be more productive if you focus the conversation on the pressure you feel to be responsible for everything. If your husband refuses to move or even have this discussion, he is telling you that there is nothing to save.
I think you should at least speak to a divorce lawyer so that you understand your options. This does not mean that you absolutely have to create a file. But sometimes just knowing what to expect makes it less scary. An attorney can guide you through the process and financial considerations such as maintenance and asset sharing. They can also help you determine if you can take action now to protect your finances.
There is always a chance that divorce papers may encourage your husband to take your needs seriously. Maybe he can stick to a job that isn’t perfect knowing that his safety net could be ripped out from under him. But I wouldn’t expect it. Some people are willing to work really hard at being lazy. It sounds like your husband is one of them.
Accept that when you get divorced, life becomes much more difficult in the short term. I would expect your man to make things as difficult as possible. But try to imagine your life five years from now. Finance is certainly part of the picture, but it’s not the only consideration. Ask yourself if you would not be in this marriage would you feel freer and happier. If the answer is yes, you know what the solution is.
Your husband has been telling you exactly who he is for 11 years. Listen to him. If you choose to stay, you will have to put up with the fact that things will be the same in 11 years time.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].