Do relationships work when one is wealthy and the other is in debt??

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  • mhe
    mhe Posts: 418 Forumite
    DH and I have been married 12 years and I do and always have earn more than him. Since we moved in together 14 yrs ago we have had a joint account and dont consider it to be my money or his money just our money. I buy food when its needed and clothes for children, ensure bills are paid etc. Hes very well trained now and rings up to ask me which account he should pay for his petrol from. I dont ever feel resentful that im paying more into the family pot than he does.
    "With no money you start to discover your own inner resource" GK Chesterton
    2 adults, 3 children
  • GFN123
    GFN123 Posts: 208 Forumite
    How weird, I was going to post a similar question a while back!

    But now I'm a few more months down the line, I'd say yes, it can work, but to a large extent I'd say it depends on both partners attitude to money rather than the actual financial differences between them.

    With previous OH's we have always earned about the same, so it was never an issue (basically both always skint!).

    Current OH earns 4 times more than me. I am in a fair bit a of debt, so the majority of my income is spent paying these off. I don't really have any disposable income each month. OH has a sensible attitude to money. He likes nice things but is a saver at heart and although he is a generous natured person, doesn't really waste money. I am far more of a natural spendthrift (hence the debts!!).

    It has caused problems in as much as I am very proud, hate the idea of being a 'looked after' woman who relies on her man for money or to pay for everything and I believe in a partnership as being equals. Of course, in the earnings stake I am not his equal, and I'll admit I have found that hard to swallow.

    OH is happy to treat me to meals out, holidays etc, but I do insist on at least trying to pay my way. This has caused problems now as I don't have any money to do any of these things, and OH has expressed frustration at the limitations this places on what we can do. I know he doesn't mind paying for things, but he also doesn't want to feel that he HAS to pay for every single thing. Equally, I don't expect him to and don't want him to feel I take him for granted or am using him for money.

    He has said that when we are married he views all money as 'our' money. I think this is a nice attitude and I agree with it. I am still unsure how I will actually feel about it when the time comes, because I know I'll be contributing less, but that's my issue, not his. We intend to buy a house together next year, and again he has said as he earns much more he would expect to contribute more to the bills etc. Currently we both own our own houses, and he has just moved in with me to mine, renting his out, so in one sense we have an equal-ish footing at this stage. If I'm totally honest, if it was just him with a house and I moved in, I would probably feel quite insecure. I was brought up to be independent and the thought of being reliant on someone doesn't sit well with me.

    Sometimes I wish I was less of a feminist (or just plain stubborn!) and could sit back, let him pay for everything and not worry about it. It is actually my conflicting views that are a source of stress when it comes to money. He has never treated me as somehow less than him because I earn less.

    Before going out with current OH, I always imagined it would be lovely to date someone who earned more and would treat me to things. The actual reality is harder than I imagined, my own pride and stubbornness being what has come to light over the differences in our salaries! So it's not the salary difference that is the issue, but rather how both partners view money and whether they treat each other as equals regardless.
    Proud to be a moneysaver :)
  • biglad
    biglad Posts: 617 Forumite
    Debt-free and Proud!
    i am in quite a lot of debt and live with girlfriend who has only her student loan and we get on fine. thing is she doesnt spend beyond her means and we dont do things that we cant really afford. she earns more than me but this doesnt bother me in the slightest. we pay the bills down the middle and until my debt is paid off then we will stay renting, gives us both chance to save a little.

    if we want something we save hard for it. ok so she may get a little more shopping in the month than me or pay for a meal out and i do appreciate this. but i think as long as morals and respect are with the person then things work fine. I think it could be hard if so the so called bread winner rubs it in the face of the person in debt but my girlfriend is fantasically supportive
  • loopyloulou_3
    loopyloulou_3 Posts: 1,269 Forumite
    This is a very interesting thread and has made me have a think about my previous relationship.

    I defo agree that it is less to do with difference in earnings, and more to do with attitude towards money.

    My ex was a high earner, but had a great deal more debt that I did, whereas I see my debt as something I need to deal with and clear as soon as possible, he just saw it as 'normal'. We had more arguments about our differences in opinions on what is a 'normal' level of debt than anything else in our relationship.

    I don't think it would make a great deal of difference to me if I was in a relationship with someone with a much higher or lower salary than me, as long as they lived within their means and were sensible! (not that I can talk!)My ex thought as he earned more, he could spend as he pleased (and would watch me struggle in the meanwhile, whilst buying himself new motorbikes etc). I didnt ever expect handouts from him, I just expected him to deal with his debt (as I was/am) and to pay his share of the mortgage (which didnt always happen!) - he was defo miles away from his lightbulb moment, and it frustrated me beyond belief!

    I can see how it would be hard at the start of a relationship if the other person offered to pay for things etc. I find it difficult enough to explain to friends why I cant go out all the time etc (when they say "oooh I'll lend you some money til pay day - ggrrrr)

    I am in the early days of a relationship (and have no idea what he earns) and if things progress he is going to have to discover really how [STRIKE]stingy[/STRIKE]careful(!) I am with money. It isnt an issue at the moment, but wonder if it will be when we come to want to do more things together, days out etc, which I doubt I will be able to afford. When the time comes (if it does!!) I am going to be honest and explain everything and the fact that it is under control and being dealt with, as I would want someone to do to me.

    You have to think of it round the other way too, if you met someone, who was in much more debt than you, how would you deal with it? I am not sure I could put myself in a situation with someone in a massive amount of debt (like my ex was) unless he was committed to dealing with it. Again, its all about attitude towards money/debt and being honest and explaining things.

    Good luck x
  • Milly1974
    Milly1974 Posts: 254 Forumite
    I am in a slightly different situation. Both myself and my OH have debt, although mine is much better managed. However, I earn about twice what OH earns, which I think at the start he had difficulties with on the man=breadwinner/woman=homemaker front.

    I think though, that we have settled in enough now that he is OK with it. I have finally managed to convince him that we both work hard, and that is the important thing. I have higher outgoings each month, as I have a car rather than a motorbike and have a train ticket to buy, so we probably have about the same amount disposable anyway.
    :naughty:
    OD £lots Egg Card £329.04 Parents £650 Sofa £741.78
  • bluejeans
    bluejeans Posts: 552 Forumite
    Hiya Icka, Just a little input. We are married, so we dont have his and my money we just have "our" money"

    Jo x
    1st January 2012 £2500 and 56lbs debts
    22nd Oct 2014 £1500 and 42lbs debts
  • painted_lady
    painted_lady Posts: 1,020 Forumite
    First Post
    I have been in my relationship for 13 years. When we met I was a skint student, OH worked. We moved in together after 4 years. We have always had our own money. OH has never had debt, never pays monthly, has loads in the bank and ISAs. I now only have productive debt (I used personal loans to buy investment properties) and I have more assets. He pays the mortgage, I pay some bills and we both pay ultilities. It works for us and we never ever argue about money.
    We dont have a joint account, we sometimes pay for the other if one of us is a bit skint, but largely its not a problem. I can do what I want with my money and he can do what he wants with his.
  • icka
    icka Posts: 216 Forumite
    Well thank you everyone for sharing your stories.

    It may take a little while to read through ;)
    Thread softly becuase you thread on my dreams
  • LilacPixie
    LilacPixie Posts: 8,052 Forumite
    In our relationship I earn around 10k more than OH does, our home was bought by me shortly before we met.

    That being said a proportion of my extra earnings are from my own business and I can only manage that because OH takes responsibility for the majority or the house hold chores. We do work money on a joint basis. All wages go into a joint account bill then come out of that account and then we look at what is left.

    Personally this works for us, we are a family, have 2 children together and all this yours is yours mines is mines malarky is just not for us. We both work our asses off to provide a nice home life for the family as a whole and don't particularly care who pays the higher percentage of the bills.
    MF aim 10th December 2020 :j:eek:
    MFW 2012 no86 OP 0/2000 :D
  • icka
    icka Posts: 216 Forumite
    I used to think Love would conqure all and I come to realise today that this question is nothing to do with my OH and his attitude towards money. Its mine and my bad relationship with money in the past that got me into debt. And just becuase he has everything he ever wanted and get buy what ever he chooses at a whim he should not be punished for this by me.

    I am only playing out my own insecurities and vunerability on our relationship. When you have nothing, apart from debt it is not nice not to be able to share with your partner,. When they are willing to share everything with you. But maybe it will not always be like this hopefully one day when I get my masters I will be bale to share and contribute to our relationship.

    Thank you for sharing your stories, much appreciated
    Thread softly becuase you thread on my dreams
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