I’m a terrible, terrible, terrible person.
She has been working really hard lately, but unfortunately, my income hasn’t kept up with hers, and now things are off-balance.
For the past 5 days in a row, she talks about money for at least 3 hours everyday, ruining the little time we have for each other, and causing me to feel inadequate at the same time. What I understand so far is that she wants me to comfort her, and make promises about how my income is going to increase, so that she can do all the things that she wants us to do.
I began a new business about five months ago, and it looks very promising. The returns are great – unfortunately I don’t have enough assignments yet. We’re still in the startup phase.
Yesterday was the fifth consecutive day that she began talking about money – her salary is right around the corner, and we’re broke right now.
It was perhaps the worst conversation to have had at dinner time. This time though, I had had enough. I did not entertain her thoughts and considerations. She took out a piece of paper and started doing our finances – out of her paycheque. Here she was assuming I wouldn’t contribute a single cent, and then demanded me to give her a number, at least.
She even said, “why do I have to pay the price for your father not being there all your life?”
I wanted to tell her how privileged she was to have a father who invested in her career unconditionally. I wanted to try and have a logical conversation with her, but here she was throwing fire at me – touching sensitive topics over what could’ve been a peaceful dinner. My survival instincts wanted to kick in but I remained calm, and reminded myself how physical abuse can never be productive – yes, she said things that made me want to strike her. So I pictured my father hitting my mother and reminded myself about the superiority of words and just faced the attack on my whole life.
But she wanted answers. She had never had to pay her bills, and when she married me, she thought I would take care of it for the rest of our lives. And I would’ve if I was still pursuing a job, but after thinking hard about the future, I realized my own work would be much more rewarding – financially as well as mentally. It is.
I work in the creative industry – I write articles and copies, draft digital campaigns, work with business strategies, and work with visual artists and programmers of all sorts. I enjoy my work. That is, when I can.
To put it simply, I am passionate about what I do, and money has never motivated me. Sure, it’s a great by-product, and a necessary one, but it isn’t my primary aim when I set out to finish a product. Unlike her.
On the other hand, she’s a surgeon – she chops out body parts when they go bad, and she is good at what she does. When these surgeries get carried on for longer, she works overtime and gets paid for it. She fights with herself to find focus when she’s working more than she expected, because it is a tiring job. Then she motivates herself by thinking about the compensation she will receive for every extra hour worked. Therein lies the difference in our personalities.
After moving in together, I provided for both of us for more than two years before she began making a substantial amount of money, but she climbed up the payroll ladder very fast, probably because she works very hard (and is smart too).
However, what was once a partnership has now turned into a competition.
I never wanted this. I never thought it would affect us this much, but it does. It affects her a lot. Me, I’ve lived most of my life barely surviving, but this is all new for her. And we’re not even ‘barely surviving’ now – we got a new car and a house this year, and those things cost an arm and a leg – of course there is pressure!
She complained about how she will not be able to upgrade her phone or computer this month, or those summer dresses she wanted to get. The list wasn’t very long, but lacked the sense of partnership I thought we had. No, she doesn’t want to cover up for where my income lacks.
So I did what a self-proclaimed male feminist like myself should never do.
I told her I thought she needed to see a doctor because she’s chronically depressed. I told her I don’t have the energy or the patience any more to do this everyday AND fulfill the role my startup requires of me. I need to sleep for 7 hours and work 12 hours everyday to take my business to the next level, which would also increase OUR income, but I am unable to do it because she gives me a downer EVERY night. Most creative work is done at night, and I need my loved ones to instill positivity in me when I socialize with them in the evening – if anything, and she was doing the opposite. And then I told her I had shown her the door a few times when we had similar fights but I wouldn’t leave her myself because she herself told me her father wouldn’t welcome her back. (Why, hello there patriarchal dad.)
Needless to say, she’s not a feminist. She doesn’t think it makes women worthy. (As if what makes a woman worthy is what a man spends on her, ha!)
Yes, she did tell me I made her feel worthless.
I want to tell her she’s being crazy when she keeps obsessing over the same things over and over, but I don’t, because that’s gaslighting. I want to tell her how life is a bed of stones but together we can make it right, but she’s adamant when it comes to her sense of entitlement.
So I left the room, put my headphones on, and travelled to the planet of rock and hard metal as I usually do in desperate times. I opened some work-related windows on my computer and tried to get some important things done. But I couldn’t.
She came to me after a while to tell me she was going to shift to her dad’s place tomorrow, and I didn’t react or even acknowledge the message. “Go wherever you wanna go,” I told her, and turned towards my computer screen again.
So she took one of my headphones off and shouted, “Didn’t you hear me? I am leaving you! You understand that right?!”
I told her she can do whatever she wants. Nobody is forcing her to do anything, and I need to get some work done, so please excuse me. She left.
As you can imagine, I got nothing done. In fact, I couldn’t even work today, which is Monday, the most important workday of the week. I am really troubled by all this.
I wish we could go back to the times when we were a perfect couple together. We’ve been seeing each other since some eighteen years – she’s my high school sweetheart – and we began living together a little over three years ago.
I am convinced that she might be depressed and that I should help her through it, and I really hope I’m not gaslighting when I say that. But how can I help her at my own expense? Especially since I have been attending to her emotional needs every single day for so many years. Maybe I spoiled her? I just want her to understand my perspective, sometimes.
At one point in our discussion I even told her, “When your salary arrives, go get your iPhone – first thing.”
“But how will we manage the bills then?”
“I’ll manage. I always have.”
“I don’t want us to be broke again by the end of next month. I will not take it.”
“Well, this is your house. If you don’t want to pay the bills even when you can, that’s something you have to decide for yourself. I do whatever I can.”