Live-in boyfriend trading chores for rent?
I have a problem I hope someone can help out with. Its a question of what is financially fair in a live-in relationship. In my head its complicated but will try to keep it simple. Here is the background:
I am a divorced mom of 3 school aged kids and have a live-in boyfriend of 4 years. The first 6 months after he moved in, he was very generous financially because he had the funds from a large settlement he had recently received. He bought me a $3500 car and gave the kids a great Christmas (about $2500), bought the kids a pool ($800) so I did not ask him to contribute to the household finances.
After about 6 months to 1 year, his contributions dwindled. After 4 years his only consistent financial contribution is paying for my and one child's cell phones, which are on his account. Otherwise, he springs for groceries once in awhile if I am low on money, once he paid the garbage bill, and he paid for a couple large ($300) car repairs I needed. He also does the "manly" stuff around the house like mow the lawn, plow the driveway, fix a clogged sink, etc. He feels this, and his past contributions are sufficient for his "keep" because he says "you have to pay rent and utilities anyway for you and the kids" and "I don't eat that much".
Six months ago, after renting for 5 years, I decided to buy a house. My kids needs came first - like I wanted them all to have their own bedroom, but I kept him in mind and bought a home with some land and outbuildings, which was something he liked for his hobbies. Before closing on the house, I was short $4600, which he gave me. He was not working at the time we moved, so he did 90% of moving a household of 5. Alot of mowing is required for the land that came with the house, and although I had a lawn tractor, he voluntarily bought a new/better one to make his job easier.
Aside from what I already mentioned that he has provided, I pay for everything else, cook, clean, do the laundry, even pay for his personal things like shaving supplies, soap, shampoo, and deodorant. When my finances are low I bring up the possibility of him paying a set amount of "rent", and he gets irritated and brings up everything he has paid for in the past, and the $4600 he gave me for this house and the money he spent on a new lawn mower. Then he gets mad and says "what are you behind on now?" or chastises me for spending money on the kids. And he will repeat the fact that regardless if he is here or not, I have to pay the mortgage and those bills anyway. Is mowing in the summer, plowing in the winter, doing odd jobs around the house, paying my cell phone bill and sporadically paying a small bill here and there (only when my checking account is empty) fair in exchange for room and board, laundry service, and 3 big buildings with storage and 5 acres of land to play with? Whats right? Whats wrong? Are we being fair with each other? I flip flop on this constantly. I hope someone can help me sort this out.
The purpose of a relationship is... HEALING.
FREEDOM.... is not just the permission and space to do what we want, it is the ability to be open and honest in our relationships, allowing us the inner freedom and security. To know that we can do what we want. To trust those we are in a relationship with (not just partners). To be ourselves.
Equipping ourselves and those we care about with as much knowledge to fuel making the right decisions helps everyone learn to trust themselves, and you can trust that the right ideas are communicated, available, understood and will be considered.
There isn't any relationship in our life that can thrive without growing together like this.
I need a partner that is going to look at our relationship as a team effort. Meaning, if I bring up a concern, I want him to look at it as something that we need to solve in order for us to be happy. He cant see it as a win lose conversation or an inconvenience for him to talk about or as if any one is in trouble!! He has to want to alleviate any stress that I bring up. Before you get upset at him for not being this way, understand that he is conditioned to being this way, defensive in nature. Men sometimes need to just fix problems and move on and they hate the thought that they are the problem when they have focused their mind on what they think is fair for them to do. This is where men and women differ. Men think in a straight line connecting their dots of considerations and their actions. Women make extraordinary designs with one focus on work another on our children another on our husband.... we think on multiple levels of considerations. Have you ever seen pictures of HINDU GODDESSES? They have many arms to portray our ability to manage lots of things simultaneously.
I think that you made a lovely decision to move to a home to create space for your children. Did you include your boyfriend in the process or did he just pay when you were short? This might be in part the reason why he is so defensive, and says things like, what do you need for cash now? He may not mean to be this way, we all like to be aware of our expectations. It gives us some control over our lives, knowing what we need to do.
Because this stays on your mind, it has to be addressed. Start off with that. Say to him...
If there was something on my mind, that was bothering me, simply because I am not focusing on it properly, would you work with me to sort it out?
I would say it all as if you were troubled and weakened by it... because you are, you just keep trying not to be.
I would say that its unfair to not know what is expected of one another and that it should be made easy, so that you can enjoy one another.
Have you heard JUSTIN BIEBERS CD PURPOSE. There is a lot in this CD, that goes much much deeper than what it seems on the surface.
The song COMPANY. "Can we be each others company" can also imply the creation of a business. For any business to succeed it needs a proper business plan to follow. Our relationships are the same.
A question that you need to ask yourself first before pursuing any of this is....is he in this relationship because he loves you and loves your children as if they were your own. There is no sense in you doing all of this work ... with him... if he doesn't. I don't mean just help out around the house and provide gifts for them. I mean, really love them. Raise them. Expand their horizons. A role model. Care. Is kind. Treats them with RESPECT.
FOCUS FIGHTS FEAR... AND CONFUSION
I might create a very accurate chart of the financials....to see if you have reason to feel he is taking you for granted.... but remember...
IF YOU lost your job.... would he take care of more expenses?
It is impossible for me to assess... if he LOVES you, LOVES your kids, has a positive attitude, brings light and love and laughter into your lives, knowledge to your children, support, safety, .... because these things are priceless. There are ways to contribute that are much more valuable than money.
Its important to be honest in understanding his true character. If they are not on board, can they be? No one is perfect, we have to teach one another how to grow to be the best we can be. Not just give up. Unless there are some real problems. Do your kids love him, for more reasons that just gifts?
Financials are a reality, and if you focus on the numbers and decide what is fair... then you have calmed your own mind. You have a question. Is this fair? You can calculate an answer.. if you put all the information and considerations down on paper in front of you. It will settle your mind to have it in a notebook, and it wont occupy you as regularly. Whatever you work out... you can create a new plan when ever you choose that clearly outlines expectations.
I see a lot of "gifts" and extras he has given your and your family, but he really hasn't contributed to LIVING EXPENSES all this time. Sorry, but you let this happen. Accept your co-responsibility for the confusion in just how this household would function.
Get all the bills together. Create a budget and figure out how things are going to require input from both you and him. Don't let the "extras" that he chose to purchase be included in the household budget.
For sure, he should contribute to groceries and his personal items, at the least.
Good luck. This is going to be a big ship to turn around, I'm afraid. Things were allowed to happen for a long time and he has convinced you that he has great entitlement.
BTW - Is he working?
To be frank, your BF either has a need to contribute or he doesn't. If he was genuine, apart from gifting you different things over the years, he would be contributing to your household together regularly without you even having to ask him to. He would have the need to do this if he had you on a pedestal and he was with you 100%.
His statement "that you have to pay rent etc anyway', should tell you where you stand because a genuine man wouldn't have this attitude. Instead, he would be taking the responsibility of supporting you in every way possible and striving towards a stronger relationship together with your children.
It's not the depth of his pockets or the dollar value of his sometimes generosity, rather it should be his attitude towards building and maintaining a successful relationship and that means communicating with you about your needs whether they be emotional or material.