Just to set your expectations right at the start of this article – there is no punchline, no happy ending or profound conclusion. I have no idea what the answer to the question is and I think that’s ok.
The question is whether or not, I have committed the cardinal sin, of giving up my own income stream – I am completely financially dependent on my husband.
It’s an interesting question, mainly because it inspires such a variety of responses and occupies much of my own thoughts. Quite ironic, given the fact that I’ve signed a legal agreement binding myself to him – admittedly this can be dissolved, but it’s a pretty messy process and I’ve had three children with him, therefore no matter what happens to our marriage, we will always be parents. So, from where I’m sitting, I’m pretty committed, whether I’m earning my own money or not.
Having said that, I do struggle with this question daily. I hear so many stories of women who have done exactly as I have and their trust has been abused. Women abandoned by their husbands and left to fend for their children alone, women controlled and manipulated by their husbands, by the fear of having no means to support themselves and women who have sacrificed their earning potential, to run the home and are then been traded in, for a newer model.
My over-riding instinct is to trust my husband – and I like being married to someone who makes me feel like that.
It’s not pretty reading at times and of course, it makes me think. But does it mean I’ve committed the cardinal sin – have I given up my power, am I a sitting duck, will these things happen to me? I’ve no idea, to be honest. I do not have a crystal ball and neither do I want one. My over-riding instinct is to trust my husband – and I like being married to someone who makes me feel like that. The decision to have children with him was far bigger than my decision to give up my income stream. I can always go back to work, but I cannot replace a father, should he choose to do a runner. I’d certainly be heartbroken and financially stuffed in the short-term, but I’m a great believer in resilience – I’d find a way through somehow, I’m sure of that.
But what about the couple thing – does my dependence affect it? When I met my husband, I was earning more, I had a big career, I was a very different person. Does giving up my income make me somehow inferior, less attractive, less happy, less confident?
Well, yes and no. From a purely logical perspective (which is my husbands by the way), we are a team. That means we have a number of roles to be filled and we simply split them between us, based on our skills and desires. In his eyes, I am the same person he married and my ability to earn or not, has no bearing on how he sees me. To be fair, he also told me I looked the same after having the children as I did before. He simply didn’t or chooses not to notice, the additional 3 stones in weight, boobs that no longer defy gravity and the annoying hair that keeps growing out of my chin.
But, if I listen to much to the narrative around me, in all honesty, yes I do worry. You hear heartbreaking stories and of course, you think it will never happen to you. I tell my husband about my concerns – I think he hears them, but let’s face it when someone is bombarded with the amount of anxiety my husband is, you can understand it, if he switches off now and again. But his response is constant – that is not us, if you want to work fine, if not fine, either way, we are a team, I want you to be happy and we will make it work. It’s very simple to him. And without the narrative, it is to me too.
I enjoy my freedom immensely – I get to work pretty much when I want (save the logistics and needs of three children!), I don’t have to worry about hitting any sales targets and I get to actually choose who I work with.
Alternatively, more money would be nice – although I worry, I would just p•ss it all away again (see my previous blog on being a financial addict), I would have an answer at a dinner party, about what it is I do – although, do I really give a sh•t anymore? probably not, it would reduce some of the pressure on my husband to provide, it would allow us to build some savings for the future and finally get that extension built.
The real problem is, I’m scared of money. Sounds unbelievable coming from a financial addict I know, but I am. It’s like a drug that I’m completely sh•t at controlling. If I have more, will I revert to type, will the ego step in, will I start living up with the Joneses again, will I be under pressure to maintain a certain level of income, what if I have a bad day – will I be able to cope, how will I be able to leave the kids, if they ask me not to? And the list goes on.
So, I’ve no idea whether I’m completely barking mad, having given up my financial independence, or just a lucky woman, who was put in a position to be able to do so and took it.
My husband hasn’t dropped me in the sh•t yet, so I’m continuing with my current strategy.
Call me a fool, but I’d prefer to enjoy the delights of trust whilst it is here, rather than worry about the hell of fear when it isn’t.