Dr. Romance's fellow blogger, the delightful Melanie Waldman of Travels with two, writes:
Back in the late ‘90s, my then-boyfriend and I were in our late 20s and had been living together for about four years. I’d just recently realized that we were in a negative pattern, and had begun to wonder about the shape of our future.
The gist of our struggle was financial. We’d moved in together after a short, helpful talk about the division of chores, but had never discussed how we’d handle our joint finances. He made a lot more than I, but we nonetheless split our rent and utilities fifty-fifty. I did our grocery shopping and errands, always using my own money; I would then have to ask him to pay me back, something he didn’t always do right away.
I was patient at first — I mean, I knew where to find him — but after my bank account dipped into fee-incurring zones a few times, I became more insistent about being reimbursed. It took me a year or so to admit to my feelings of resentment.
I asked if we could open a joint account so I didn’t have to shake him down for money like a bookie with a chronic gambler. But I wasn’t surprised when he said no: on some of our dates, I’d experienced him step up to a movie theatre box office and pay for only his own ticket.
I was beginning to see that sharing money was a very difficult concept for him. Here was a wonderful, warm and funny man, always generous with his time and emotional energy, but despite his making a decent salary, he wasn’t generous with cash.
As the child of a psychologist and a social worker, I knew a red flag when I saw one. I knew this pattern wasn’t just going to disappear without laying it out on a table for examination. I asked my boyfriend, who I hoped to one day marry, to accompany me to therapy. I found us not one therapist, but two — a married couple who specialized in relationships.
We started seeing them once a week. Right away, they helped my boyfriend recognize his own selfish behavior, and I soon saw that I’d allowed my lack of self-confidence to keep me from taking charge of my own financial situation. I hadn’t been aware that, rather than using more direct means, I often relied on sarcasm to relay my fear and anger.