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Question:

My wife and I are having problems in our relationship. She said it is because she is never allowed to make any decisions about anything but mostly about who decides how the money is spent. My father always made the decisions about money in my home growing up while my mother took care of the kids. That just seems like a norm to me. I know some of the problems we have are due to my anger, but I think because I am the one who works while she stays home with the kids, I should be the one who decides on where the money is spent. She’s good with the kids. She just complains about this while I am the one working and she is just staying home and does not have to work. I should make these decisions about what we spend. Am I wrong?

Answer:

It’s easy to see how, from your perspective, that because you grew up in a home where your father worked and made the decisions about how the money for the family was spent, you would think that this is just the way to be in relationship. What we learn growing up is often what we adopt as a norm in our adult relationships. However, when you first were together with your wife, it’s likely, if you think about it, that you asked her what she wanted, or would have liked to do, or what her interests or thoughts were about any decisions you were considering together before you got married. You probably naturally included her in the decision making about where you went out or what you ate, or how you spent your time in order to make her happy, because you cared about her. You can think about how that practice showed her that you valued her input and her partnership. If you did not do that—it is something to think about doing now. Let’s look at why.

If you consider that you feel comfortable and value the decisions that your wife makes with respect to raising the children, wouldn’t it make sense to share the decision making on how the money is spent? Her input and point of view is just as valuable as yours. Consider the time she spends being a mother. Think about the value to your family of all that teaching, nurturing, first aid, food preparation, house management, and logistics management. Consider what it must be like for her not to feel valued by you in this way, and to have all that hard work categorized as “not working.” It’s also important to reflect on what your children are learning about relationship when you make decisions unilaterally without being changed by the interest or input from your wife.

I suggest that you practice making decisions in a way that demonstrates your respect for the labor and commitment your wife is demonstrating to keeping your family working.

You said some of the difficulties in your relationship are also due to your anger. This is another important discussion that we would welcome. Please give us a call: 877-898-3411.