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Dear Stavroula

Dear Stavroula: My Husband Says He Pays Me

December 10, 2022

Dear Stavroula,

I have been married for three years and have no children. Two years ago, we made the decision to come to live in the United States, since my husband has citizenship.

I had just received my degree. Since we came here, I have not been working outside the home but studying to take courses at the university so that I can earn a similar degree because I don’t want to be involved in anything unrelated to what I studied. After all, this was the agreement with my husband when I made the decision to leave my country and follow him to the United States, but since we arrived, my life has become a torture.

He constantly complains that I sit and do nothing, pressures me to take any job, waitress, babysitter, etc. and doesn’t understand that all this for me is very stressful, especially since we don’t have a financial problem. He has his own business that is doing very well and financially he is in a very good situation. So why does he treat me like I’m a burden? I don’t dare to buy anything for myself because the sermon then begins that I should watch my expenses especially now that he is ‘paying’ for me. I don’t want to ruin my marriage, I don’t want to waste the efforts I’ve made here to enter university, and I don’t want to work just anywhere. I do not know what to do. How can I make him understand that I’m not lazy but that I’m trying for something better?
Alexia

Dear Alexia,
Money is not only a means for transactions – it also has an emotional value for people that is shaped from childhood, usually by family experiences. The way parents handle money and their beliefs on this matter, their attitude towards financial difficulties and money management, but above all the way they faced life based on their financial capabilities determines the adult child’s attitude towards money.
A child who has experienced control of his behavior through money is very likely to seek the same in his own family as an adult.

Everyone’s relationship with money, and therefore the meaning they attribute to it, is determined by the way they prioritize their needs. This way is not the same for everyone, it depends on a person’s values and priorities in life. For this reason, when a couple is not on the same page in this component of their relationship, they can hardly coexist.

Therefore, on a first level it would perhaps help to understand, what the values are of the person you are with. What are their priorities in life, what are their beliefs about money – and do they match yours? Do you have the same priorities in life? Do you have shared dreams and shared financial goals? For example, you want to study. Have you talked to your husband about under what circumstances and for how long you will be studying? It would help a lot to discuss and clarify what each one in aiming for in life, what each considers important, and what things they would like to change.

In the event that you have similar opinions with your husband about the values and priorities in your life, try to talk to him calmly and explain to him that it bothers you the way he treats you, the fact that you sometimes are made to feel like you are a burden to him. Show him that you really want to understand the reasons that lead him to this behavior. Is his financial situation actually stable? Is there something that makes him worry, that causes him anxiety, making him to react in this particular way? If so, how could this be overcome, what could be your role so that he too feels calmer and safer?

It would help a great deal to set a timeline for what you want to achieve on a personal and professional level, discuss it with him, and agree on a time period when you can only study and not work.

However, if you find that there is no point of contact, then you may need to rethink your relationship, especially if your partner is manipulative and uses money to control you.

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