DH and I have been married for almost 9.5 years. We married when I was 21 and he was 22. Truth be told, he has always been a little on the immature and naive side, but I have stuck with him because of his many other good qualities (and he does have many). But having to always be the only responsible adult in our family has been a recurring headache.
Periodically, DH has done something extremely immature and irresponsible that just made me want to scream “WTF?!” I don’t even say the F-word–it’s on my no-no-list–but he makes me want to say it. For example, last year, he spent a large chunk of the money in our bank account on work expenses without telling me. He did this on the first of the month, right as our rent was due. I looked in the account on the 3rd or so and was shocked to find that there wasn’t enough money in there to cover rent. I was livid. It takes his boss forever to reimburse us on work expenses and I’ve told him a million times I don’t want him making them, but he keeps doing it. (His irresponsible boss could be the subject of a whole other post.) And he did not even tell me about this large expense. Had our landlady tried to cash the rent check, it would have bounced. How is it that I am married to a 31 year-old man who does not understand why paying rent on-time is important, or why reporting large expenditures to the person who does the budget is important?
It used to be that these irresponsible things happened maybe once every 3-4 months. It was annoying, but manageable. And then I got pregnant, and it feels like these irresponsible things began happening every week. To summarize a few of them:
- In September of last year, his boss switched him to commission-only pay. I was extremely wary of this and sensed that his boss was only doing this to cut corners and use him, and told him that we would have to see how it goes, and if his paychecks were consistently sucking, he would need to look for another job. He brought in decent paychecks in October, November, and December, but for most of 2013, his paychecks have been low. These past four weeks they were absolutely terrible. They amounted to him making $6-$7 an hour—and he is gone working this job M-Sat, 12 noon to 9 PM. (Minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25.) I confronted my husband about this and pleaded with him that we cannot survive on such low wages, that he needs to look for a different job. He replied, “I’ve thought about it. I’m not going to do it.” I said, “Did you not hear me? We cannot survive like this!” He said, “I’m not quitting my job. What are you going to do about it?” At that moment in time, I realized I was not talking to a partner and equal. I was talking to a petulant teenager in a grown man’s body who saw himself as daring the parental authority in his life to punish him for his rebellion. The need to support our child(ren) apparently meant nothing to him.
- In February, a new female co-worker was hired who lives in Chicago proper. She does not have transportation to work (in my view, this makes her choice of employment nothing short of idiotic. “Do you have transportation to the job?” is always question #1 when applying for a job; if not, whether or not you get the job is kind of moot). DH leaped to the rescue and offered to drive her to and from work M-F (though she later cut back to M-W-F). He did not clear this commitment with me when he first made it, nor did he divulge the full extent of it to me. It was only gradually that I realized that it puts an extra 55 miles on the car every day that he drives her, and that each day costs us $11 in gas and tolls. He originally promised me that she would begin paying for the gas and tolls as soon as she began getting paid. She paid for 2-3 weeks, then stopped. He has since admitted to me that she is broke and can’t even pay for the gas and tolls. It also means that he is gone for an extra three hours every day.
- On top of having given this woman over $330 in free gas and tolls, he has loaned $249 to his boss and allowed a local martial arts studio to make fraudulent charges amounting to a total of $87.50 on our account (he doesn’t want me to file a charge-back against them). So, in addition to making very poor money at work, he is just acting as an ATM to his co-workers and business acquaintances.
This past week, I reached my breaking point. I told him that I wanted the rides to stop by this Friday (today), and that I wanted him to either drop back to part-time and look for a second job, or look for a different full-time job. I told him that if he would not do these things, I would separate from him. I pleaded with him that I do not want our children to grow up in poverty, that I want them to at least be able to live in a real apartment community where there can be other children to play with, that I’m tired of renting from crappy landlords who take on low-income tenants and then steal their security deposits with frivolous damage charges and refuse to make repairs to the apartment.
He made a half-hearted promise to look for a different job. But he was insistent that the free rides to his female co-worker continue. So separation it is.
If you’re wondering why I have not been working, it is because: (1) I’ve been in graduate school, (2) we have just one car, and (3) his 12 noon to 9 PM schedule makes it pretty much impossible for me to schedule work around. Also, public transportation in the North Suburbs of Chicagoland absolutely sucks. So I was content to make due with his meager paychecks until I could finish school.
I’m not content anymore. His financial irresponsibility has reached unacceptable levels. I deserve better. My child(ren) deserve better.
There are so many other good things in our relationship, I hope to God that spending some time having to be responsible for his own finances causes DH to grow up and realize why he cannot have a job that pays such meager wages or give away our money like an ATM. But I cannot count on that and have to prepare to take care of me and mine.
I guess this blog is about to become about my adjustment to being a (mostly) single parent and (mostly) single pregnant woman. Stay tuned.