I rearrange my pens into a straight line one more time and shuffle in my seat. I look at the framed degrees and certificates on the wall behind his desk and notice the one on the top left is slightly crooked. I’ll have to fix that later. The door is open just a crack and I turn to see him pacing back and forth in the hall. He’s on a conference call and doing a lot of hmm-ing and ha-ing. I think he’s trying to hurry it up because our meeting is about to start. I look at the clock. Should I review my list one more time? Is what I’m asking for too much? I think I deserve this. I’ve been here for four years. I deserve, at least a Christmas bonus. After all, I’m the one doing all the party planning, rsvping, and gift shopping during that time anyways.
I hear him say goodbye. I straighten in my seat. He walks around and takes a seat in the big office chair opposite me. He leans on the desk between us and folds his hands in front of him. He smiles, sighs, and says, “What’s up babe?”
“Hubby, I want a raise!”
“Oh? Do you?” He smirks at me and leans back in his chair. “For what?”
I storm out of the room and return a moment later with a heaping basket of laundry, filled to the brim with his sweaty, stinky gym clothes. “This laundry pile has somehow doubled in the last month and the dishes which are supposedly on your list of chores seem to have somehow magically made its way over to my list.”
When we first got married, my husband and I were expert penny pinchers. Okay, I was an expert penny pincher and he was great at living under my penny pinching rule. We gave ourselves an allowance of $20 a month to spend on whatever our heart desired. Yes, we were a twenty-one-year-old married couple who owned their own home, but could only spend $20 per month on themselves. I remember him coming home from work one day and being upset that his wedding band was getting scratched from all the hands-on work he had to do every day. His ring was made of sterling silver and cost us $29.99 from Le Chateau. We had bought it a week before the wedding because we couldn’t justify a real wedding band knowing that it would just get dirty from all the welding he had to do at work.
A few years, cheap wedding bands, and small promotions later, the opportunity arose for him to move to an executive position. This meant an office job where he could wear dress shoes and it mattered whether or not he did his hair in the morning. That year, for our 6 year dating anniversary, I bought him a real wedding band.
This new position came with a raise and one day I found myself looking in our bank accounts and seeing some progress. I decided to sit down and reassess our monthly household budget. Although we both worked full time and were equally as stressed out and tired at the end of the day, I would come home and do most of the chores. It never seemed unfair to me because I never had to take my work home. However, he was constantly travelling, meeting clients for dinners, and on conference calls in the evenings due to overseas customers and varying time zones. As I sat there staring at our budget balancing sheet, I realized that running our household could be just like running a business. So when it came time for allowances, or salaries and raises, I knew I had some factors to consider.
1) What were each “employees” or family members jobs and duties in the “company” or household
2) What did each “employee” contribute and how much do his/her contributions benefit the “company”
3) How well was each “employee” carrying out said job/duty
After assessing each point, I decided that trying to run our household finances like a business would be worth a shot. I would reassess in a year and see whether the household ran smoother. What did I have to lose? I gave my husband a salary of $60 a month with benefits for unlimited personal hygiene/maintenance needs ex) haircuts, manicures, pedicures. I gave myself $40 and only $40 for personal hygiene/maintenance needs. This meant, if I wanted a haircut, it would have to either cost $40 and that would be the only thing I was allowed to buy for personal maintenance that month or I would have to save. I knew I had to give myself a budget for this because I had a tendency to color and cut my hair excessively, using the excuse that it was “personal hygiene”.
After a year, I found that because my husband earned more than me in terms of our household salary:
1) He was more generous. He would often offer to give me part of his allowance for me to treat myself to an extra coffee or skirt I had been eyeing for a while.
2) He stepped up as a leader. Paying him a higher salary at home, made him feel that I acknowledged him as the breadwinner. The more I made it obvious that I acknowledged this, the prouder and more driven he was to be the breadwinner and provider of our family.
3) Our partnership was stronger and we fought a lot less. The number one thing couples fight about is money. Money issues equal resentment and though most husbands make more money than their wives, most wives control the finances. Granted, this is not always the case but if it is, it’s usually because our husbands act like three year olds at home so frankly, why should we trust them with our money? Well, because if he makes more money, he knows it. A little acknowledgement goes a long way.
4) He was more cooperative and flexible. This point stems off the last one. Removing the power struggle put him at ease. He no longer felt the need to fight me on every decision to appease his natural desire for dominance.
I also found that because we each had allowances, which we treated as salaries, we never questioned each other’s purchases. If he wanted to buy a ridiculously expensive electronic that I thought was a waste of money, it didn’t bother me because it was his household salary and he could spend it on whatever he wanted. We found this system gave us the freedom to spend money, on what we wanted, in a guilt free manner, without going over the budget.
Since then, we have continued to grant each other raises just like any company does. Each time I felt that I was beginning to carry more of a workload, I would ask for a raise. We would negotiate and it would result in either a raise or him taking some of the workload off my hands. It worked the same way if he felt he deserved a raise as well. We sat down, put personal feelings aside and acted like we were in an employee review meeting. We also allotted an allowance for home décor and for date nights. I was in charge of when and where to spend the home décor budget and my husband took control of the date night budget.
So, does your household need some restructuring? Don’t let the power struggle over finances get the best of your marriage.
They say not to mix business with pleasure… but, it's hard when you've got a crush on your boss ;)
Try it. It might work for you.
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