Sunday, January 14, 2007

Expensive LouLou?

I was absolutely thrilled with my anniversary gift. And I have come to love my new car as much as the old one. If the old one meant a lot because it was the first car I bought for myself, the new one also has it's mushy, sentimental value because my husband gave it to me on our first anniversary.

But lately, the accumulation of a lot of comments & reactions has made me have misgivings. Everyone acts like this is something out of this world - that it just doesn't happen, that it's too much. All this disbelief has left me feeling guilty, like I'm a parasite bleeding him dry or something. The thing is, I don't know any other woman who gets anniversary presents like that.

So now am left feeling gluttonous, decadent, greedy etc...I don't like the image of myself as one of those demanding, gold-digging, obscenely expensive wives who drive their husbands to bankruptcy.

Even my aunt was lecturing me about how I shouldn't let him do things like that, that we are just starting our lives together & we haven't even started a family yet etc....so we should be taking this opportunity to save & invest for the future etc....that a sensible, wife would teach her husband to economize if he didn't know how, instead of wasting the money on motorcycles & new cars & holidays etc....

But the thing is, how could I have stopped him? I don't 'let' my husband do things with his money. He makes those decisions for himself. We keep our finances seperate. I don't even know how much he makes, for heaven's sake. I don't know anything about where he stands financially really. Which is worrying. Because now am starting to obssess about how well he could afford to buy me a new car. I don't want him spending money he doesn't have or getting into trouble or anything.

I don't THINK am an expensive wife. At least I try very hard not to be.

When I moved in with him, our rent & utilities were prepaid for a year by his employer. He's entitled to accomodation & utilities as part of his package. Am entitled to cash in lieu of accomodation & utilities - which he isn't - meaning I can have it in cash whereas he can only have it in the shape of a rented house/apartment with the clinic's name on the lease.

So it made perfect sense to leave the issue of rent to him.

The interior designer was a friend & refused to let us pay, insisting on doing our apartment as a wedding present. The furniture, we bought together, each of us picking up the pieces we liked or that were more important to us.

However since he never used to cook when he was living alone & never bothered to stock up on supplies, whereas I love to cook, I decided I should pay for food & supplies. He resisted that initially but couldn't keep that up for long because he's so useless at buying groceries & household supplies he never brings back anything useful and I end up having to go & buy them again anyway.

Our personal expenses are completely seperate. That means car expenses, phone bills, clothes etc....Except I can't say car expenses anymore because now he pays the monthly installements & insurance on my car doesn't he? Bummer.:(

What else is there? Well our dry-cleaning rule is simple. If you pick it up, you pay for it. When we go out together, he insists on paying. I've learnt to let that go because he's so stubborn about it & then make it up later by picking up something for him within the same price range next time I go shopping . Sometimes I make it up by buying something for the house, something we can both use.

When we go away on holiday, he insists on paying airfare & hotel bills so I try to buy tickets for theater, opera, boat/yacht rides, sports events etc....He won't let me pay while am with him so am careful to get tickets beforehand. Am also generally responsible for buying souvenirs, gifts for family, friends etc....

One-way or the other I've managed to keep things pretty balanced so far. And he keeps saying I hardly cost him anything, that we live like roommates.

I mean, I wasn't even particularly expensive for him to marry since my family insisted on paying for the wedding which was arranged back home without much input from me or him & was really out of our hands. Which was good because weddings in my father's family are huge, tribal events which go on for several days, with an uncle giving a dinner here or aunt hosting something at her house there etc...My parents would have paid quite a bit but most of the expense would have been shared out among our relatives & would be absolutely prohibitive if one person tried to pick up the tab on his own. Besides, my parents said it wasn't fair to make him pay anything when 99% of the guests were people he didn't know who were our guests & who we invited & not him. The wedding took place in my hometown not his.

That was another big point of contention. He didn't like not being allowed to contribute anything to his own wedding & kept complaining that he felt like a guest not the bridegroom etc...And my father essentially told him that once I was 'fi baito'(living in his house which Arabs use to mean a wife moving into her husband's house & becoming his property I guess), then my husband could pay things for me but as long as I was still living with my parents, I was their daughter & they would pay.

After the katb ketab, he had his bank issue me a sort of supplementary credit card. I took it because I didn't want to upset him further in the middle of all the tension with my parents over the wedding expenses but to this date, I have never even activated it. When he asks, I tell him I am keeping it for emergencies. The thing is, I've got my own credit cards, why would I charge things that I buy on somebody else's card just because he's a man & am a woman? It makes no sense to me.

My head has been so full of such calculations & balance sheets over the last few days. I am desperately trying to convince myself that I am not ruining him or condemning our unborn children to a life of poverty & destitution just because he bought me a new car.

I don't want to say any of this to him yet because I know he'll be upset that am reacting to his gift this way. He will accuse me of creating problems where none exist, not trusting him, being obssessive, being impossible to please, letting other people interfere in our life etc.....He will not like any of it.

How does a woman go about making her husband 'economize'? Any advice anyone? I don't see my husband responding very well to any attempt to tell him what he should do with his money. I really don't.

And the funny thing is, when he got himself that motorcycle for his birthday, a friend of my mother's told me that I shouldn't leave him with so much extra money, that men tend to stray when they find themselves with money to spare & that I should make sure I always spend all his money so he can never afford to take a second wife or have an affair!

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20 Comments:

Blogger Haroun El Poussah said...

Now THAT is the weirdest thing I ever read on this blog... And this blog does have some pretty weird stuff!!

1/14/2007 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger tooners said...

what would you do if your husband wanted to take a 2nd wife? would you disagree w/ that or do you feel it's your duty to allow such?

not that i think it would happen, but since you mentioned it, thought i'd ask.

i don't think you're costing your husband much of anything. to have separate accts and to take care of your own stuff is, to me, being very self-sufficient. so what if he bought you a car for your anniversary. men buy their wives cars all the time.... blow ppl off for making a big deal of this.

feel glad that you have cash to do w/ what you want and need. saving is a good idea, but i think it should be a joint decision and done by both of you.

does your husband know how much you make and all that? it's good that he isn't possessive of such things as cash and controlling that aspect of your relationship. i think it's very healthy. :)

1/14/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

haroun,

"Now THAT is the weirdest thing I ever read on this blog... "

That's a pretty cryptic & obscure comment - even for you.:)

I'd be the last to dispute my weirdness which is a long-established fact. But I do like people to be specific when they comment on a given aspect of it. Which particular 'THAT' are you referring to here?


tooners,

"what would you do if your husband wanted to take a 2nd wife?"

When I saw him flirting with other women, I couldn't stand to see him for 48 hrs afterwards - even though I knew that he wasn't particularly interested in the women. He was just flattered by their attention.

Given that, it's easy to calculate my tolerance level if I actually had any serious competition - like a 'mistress' or another wife. The tolerance level would be zero. This time for good - not just for 48 hrs.

"would you disagree w/ that or do you feel it's your duty to allow such?"

My duty? You mean religious duty? No, I don't. Traditional Islamic interpretations give a husband the right to take other wives but also give the first wife the right to divorce him if she can't accept that situation. Some even give you the right to stipulate in the marriage contract that he can't take other wives.

And even if they didn't, in something that personal, I don't think I'd be opening my Tafsir to look for answers. It's not what I would consider a religious dilemma.

1/14/2007 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Alina said...

Lou, I think it's time for me to tell you a story my mom told me. During the communist period, people could go abroad every 2 years. In their last year of university, two of her colleagues got married. But they decided they will have kids, furniture and the works after 30 (this in a period when children came almost instantly after marrying). So they had nothing in their house but a bed to sleep on and a drawer for the clothes. They worked hard for two years, then went on holidays around the world. At 30, they fully furnished their apartment, had their kids, and lived happily afterwards.

My mom said people thought they were crazy. But they were actually smart, they did what they thought best, saw the world, had fun together, and managed to invest for the future anyway.

My advice is just enjoy your present. K hardly seems like a reckless man who would buy you something he could not afford. Stop wondering about who pays what and what you guys do. You should just enjoy yourselves and when the children come, start thinking about their expenses.

1/14/2007 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger aroundtheclock24_7 said...

Loul,
I second Alina :) Live your life and enjoy your new car w May God bless you both now and for the future anniversarries to come :P

The concept that you both haven't shared your monthly salary is a little bit weird...but the way both of you live together and pay for stuff is fair enough :)

Just enjoy it and relax x x x

1/14/2007 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Safiya said...

Gosh, you seem to know some opininated people!

How you both manage your money is between the both of you. As long as you are both happy and open with each other you should have no problems, so stop worrying.

1/15/2007 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Alluring said...

I think this post is weird too!

Do you REALLY have no clue how much your husband makes??!?! Do you really make sure you (or him) get something in the same amount if one of you pays for something such as laundry? are you serious?!???!!

Do you think the way you're dealing with things now will work if and when you have children?

While i agree that a woman should have her own income, she also should be, and HAVE TO be involved in her husband's financial status.

A little story, one of my best friends, who have been married for a few years, and who had always worked, had a very similar expense arrangement like yours.

Suddenly they let her go at work. The money she used to make wasn't there any more, and because they were used to that settlement for a long time, the husband didn' feel a change, and would literally forget to leave her money when he went away on business trips, and he did go quite often, it had become unbareble and she decided to talk to him about it and they were on the verge of getting a divorce because of it.

Another story, i know of a couple where the wife regrets that she never asked or showed any interest in her husband financial life.

Her husband suddenly had a heart attack and passed away. the wife was devastated and instead of having time to grief, she had to deal with a lot of shit she had no clue about, loans he took, bank accounts that she had no idea where or how much, his business partner told her that her husband owed him money and a lot of other shit, all that because she didn't want to get involved.

Loulou, being independant doesn't mean you have to tear yourself away from your husband's financial life, being independant means you have your own way of income to help and if applicable, raise the level of comfort of the life you both have,and in case, god forbid, something happens to him or his work. And most importantly, don't depend that your parents will help you financialy if anything happens, coz they have other things to worry about and probably other siblings who arent married yet.

Rethink your choices, and learn from other people's mistakes.

1/15/2007 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger Insomniac said...

i kinda agree with alluring when it comes to knowing a thing or two about ur husband's finances at least for the sake of emergency.. definitely not to make sure he can't afford a second wife or an affair, because if he has it in him to do such a thing, there isn't anything u can do to stop him (anyways, ma sha2 Allah u do not need to worry about that)..

mm, he can buy you whatever he wants.. it's a gift.. if it had been something a lot cheaper u would have still liked it because ur more into the sentimental value.. i think people r just jealous to see him that much in love with u we mesh mestakhsar feeky a car.. people can have even weirder thoughts i guess.. enjoy ur lives we seebek men kalam el nas el keteer.. God bless the two of u

1/15/2007 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Alluring,

" Do you really make sure you (or him) get something in the same amount if one of you pays for something such as laundry?"

LOL...If I was ever so crass as to say hey you took me out to dinner last night, here's a new tie then he will take the tie & strangle me with it!

Come on. The idea is to find SUBTLE ways of contributing my share.

A much more likely scenario would be if we've been out to dinner 4 or 5 times in a row - and he has paid every single time which he would, then I'll go out & buy a new, bigger TV set. Or I'll get him a video cam. Or a new suit.

He wouldn't think of it as payment for all the dinners. Why should he? He just thinks am a really nice woman who likes to buy him lots of presents.

Then he's happy cos he gets to pay all the time & so feels he's the man of the house & all those things men think are so important. And I'm happy because I like to pay my own way.

As for laundary, I only mentioned it because that was the cause of our first, serious, money-related fight.

After we came back from the honeymoon, he was the one to drop off our dry-cleaning & go & pick it up for the first month or so. Then one night, I was out of clean suits to wear for work the next day. I said will you go & get the laundary? He said not now am busy. So I said no I need it now, I'll go. He said fine. And handed over the slip with Dhs.250(about 75 dollars).

I told him never to hold out cash in my face again because I didn't appreciate it. Then I turned around then I slammed out of the house.

I mean, come on. We're more or less the same age. Am an IT consultant, he's a dentist. We're in the same income bracket. We come from similar family backgrounds. Why do we have to pretend that he's Prince Charming & am Cinderella? Or that am the Little Match Girl shivering on the doorstep who doesn't have Dhs.250 to pay for the dry-cleaning & needs a big, strong man to pay it for her?!

I mean that's just funny to me.

When he started going on about how I should be charging house supplies on his card, I just ignored him. Out of sheer perversity, he started trying to beat me to buying our supplies. But he'd come back with products that can't be used on our floor, or he'd get the detergent we use for white clothes but not the colored clothes. Or the dishwashing liquid am violently allergic to. It was a farce.

Eventually, he gave up, am glad to say.

"And most importantly, don't depend that your parents will help you financialy if anything happens,"

Now that upsets me. My parents have given me a great education. They've bought me an apartment. They've let me live with them for the last 6 years & pay nothing but my personal expenses so I could build up some savings & investments for my future. They've paid for my wedding so I didn't have to blow half my savings on it. They've done everything they should do to help me stand on my own two feet. And I will. I would be really selfish to ask for anything more of them.

Why do I have to depend on anyone? Is it really so inconceivable that a woman should be able to take care of herself? I mean, what if I had never met him & didn't have a husband?

1/15/2007 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Puppy said...

Post is a bit weird and the way you handling things are not usual in this part of the world, if i can say that.

But i dont know what would i do? may be the same thing as you are doing. I like to pay for myself, and having hard time allowing someone to pay for me.

Ridiculous but i would rather pay for someone with me, instead to allow him/her to pay for me.

I had b/f and I was forcing myself and allowing him to pay, but at the end it happened he accused me that he spent so much money in one month on me. Idiot! I told them if he want me to reimburse? I hate misers and he definitely was one of them, even big one. Everybody who ever contacted him told me that he is.
Anyways I think you should be happy for having such loving and caring husband. My motto is enjoy your life, as for money - you can earn them later anytime.

Good day,

Puppy.

1/15/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Puppy,

"Post is a bit weird and the way you handling things are not usual in this part of the world, if i can say that."

Sure. You can say anything you want.:)

But just because something is unusual doesn't necessarily mean it's bad.

Anyway, the financial arrangements are not what is bothering me. That was my choice & am glad he has learnt to respect even if he can't like it. I don't want him to start paying all my bills or giving me daily bank statements. That's not something I worry about.

All I want is some reassurance that he is fine & not depriving himself or getting into unreasonable debt because of me.

1/15/2007 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Puppy said...

"just because something is unusual doesn't necessarily mean it's bad." I am totally agree with you here.

LouLou,

I dont think you can have "some reassurance that he is fine & not depriving himself" without asking him, and if u will ask you will upset him if not angry him.

So my piece of advise, enjoy your present :)

All the best

Puppy.

1/15/2007 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Alluring said...

You totaly missed my point.

I never said you have to be dependant on anyone, all i meant to say was that you should know about your husband's finances, how much he makes, how much debt he owes, whether he has savings, where etc. just in case of any emergency.

Apparently my stories didn't have any kind of impact on you :)

1/15/2007 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Alluring,

They made quite an impact. But then I switched into denial mode. I don't like to think about emergencies involving people I love.

At first I tried to imagine a scenario where I lose him and then I start thinking about his assets & liabilities. Much more likely I'd be thinking about an overdose of arsenic to tell you the truth. I think I'd just die. At least I'd want to very badly.

Especially now when we don't have any children. If I had children then yes, I see how I would have to force myself to think of them, of not depriving them of anything their father would have wanted to give them just because I didn't know about it.

But that seems a bit premature in our case.

Then I had a chat with my Mom & she told me not to think about it like that. She said why not think that he may fall ill or be in an accident & have amnesia & not remember his name. And I might need his money to help him so I should know about it.

And I was convinced.

I'll tell him everything about my finances that I think he would need to know in the case of an emergency. And am sure he'll reciprocate.:)

1/16/2007 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Zed said...

What's disturbing for me is how you've made it sound so "calculated" - this whole "making sure that you contribute your share" / "keeping things balanced" sounds a bit obsessive and unnecessary! You guys are married after all and he's right, it sounds more like an arrangement you'd make with a room-mate than a life partner. Of course some of what you make should go towards shared purchases and finances as well but I wouldn't obsess over the details and I certainly would not worry about whether it all matches up in the end. It's never going to match up and that's ok! We all contribute in many different ways. You give what you can. Bas.

I wouldn't try to teach or encourage him to 'economize' either. I do think that will be creating problems where none exist. If he hasn't given you any reason to doubt that he manages his money well, then trust him. I'm sure he would not be that irresponsible to get you a car if he could not afford it.

But I absolutely agree with Alluring. You need to know enough about his finances so that you can deal with them in case of emergencies (God forbid), and there's nothing wrong with being as prepared as you can be. It's a tough topic of course but glad that you're confronting it. Good luck!

1/16/2007 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Zed,

I know I sound calculating but what choice do I have? He's opposed to the concept that I should contribute anything at all. And I hate fighting & arguing about it. It ruins our outings.

My preference would have been that we sit down together & say ok you pay for this & I pay for that. And come to an agreement.

But he won't do that. So I thought about it & came up with other ways.

1/16/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger N said...

hmmm. everything else aside, please meanwhile enjoy the gift you received from the man that loves you...
i mean, he's pampering you, thats a good thing and isnt really about the money...

1/17/2007 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Um Haleema said...

I'm wondering how you would feel if, God forbid, something happened and you no longer had the ability to work?

It is very strange to me to hear the phrase "my husband's finances". When I got married my husband's finances became "our finances". Marriage is a partnership neither party has a greater share though. It seems, to me, unhealthy to the realtionship that you should be thinking of keeping things equal the way you do.

What happens when it is time to settle down permanently in a house? Who is going to buy it? How will you know what you can or can't afford if neither of you know how much money you have? What if he can afford this big grand estate and you can't? How are you going to keep things equal then?

1/19/2007 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Um Haleema,

"I'm wondering how you would feel if, God forbid, something happened and you no longer had the ability to work?"

People keep asking me that. The answer is:

1) That's what things like savings and insurance are for. To tide you over when you don't have the ability to work & earn money.

2) If - God forbid - I ever find myself in trouble financially despite all the precautions I am taking, then of course I would expect him to support me financially, emotionally & whatever other kind of support I would need. And I would naturally do the same for him if he was in trouble. People who love each other come through for each other.

But my question is why do I have to let him treat me like I have no means now when it's just not true? If I suddenly go blind, I might need him to lead me to places but I don't think you'd expect me to start letting him lead me everywhere now when am perfectly fine just because one day I might go blind, would you?

Some bridges you have to cross when you come to & not before.

"When I got married my husband's finances became "our finances". "

To be honest with you, phrases like 'our finances' make me feel vaguely claustrophobic. Just like the phrase 'our friend' that one of my married friends insists on calling me even though her husband & I can't stand each other & I am most definitely her friend & not his. Some people feel guilty about saying the word 'I' after they're married. They feel like they have to say 'we' all the time. That's not for me. I would suffocate.

There is a me. And there is a him. We just love each other.

My financial independance, my family, my friends, my career, my privacy, all of these are elements of my identity & I will not give them up willingly or needlessly.

I've accepted that we need to be aware of each other's finances incase of an emergency. Just for our information. But I haven't changed my mind about supporting myself while I can.

I am actually quite pleased with the responses to this post - even if most of them disagree with me. My fear had been that I was becoming too dependant on my husband because I think about him all the time & find myself so attracted, vulnerable & sensitive around him etc...

But from the responses here, I am starting to think that despite the emotional dependance, I still have considerably more independance than the average wife - regardless of culture. Which is cool.:)

1/20/2007 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mak said...

I think it's very unorthodox the way you seperate your finances that way. I mean it's one thing paying for your personal purchases, but food and laundry? you're taking away from him this feeling of being "ragil elbeit". He needs to feel he's doing something for you, that you need him somehow... (it's just the way we Egyptian men think). And this is why he bought you that car. It's his way of giving you something you can't give back.

1/21/2007 02:15:00 PM  

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