My Partner Is the Breadwinner, Is He Being Selfish?

Updated on September 07, 2017
K.C. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
14 answers

My partner earns more than double than what I earn. I used to live alone with my first son, and had a lot more money. I lost £1000 a month in tax credits for us to get a mortgage together as a family with my son and have a baby together.
Our agreement was that he would pay the mortgage and bills = £750pm and I would pay childcare £500pm.
I am now on maternity leave and receive a total monthly income of around £900pm he receives around £2400.
Granted I now only pay about £150 a month for childcare as I am off.
I found out the other day that he had been on a gambling website and spent £10,000 in one night. He is not in any debt and still has some savings.
I have been getting by each month by dipping deep into my savings because we still split the costs for things like holidays, furniture, food shopping anything that the children need. And just recently we've had a lot going out.
He works every weekend for extra money, and I didn't mind staying in and looking after the kids alone all the time and having not very much money because I thought he was out earning all of this money to buy a second property to invest in our future. But obviously I found out all of those weekends alone were just for him to give his money to a betting website.
We have had a huge row over this that has nearly broken our relationship. His argument is that I haven't gone without as such except for on his time, he's still paid the bills he was expected to pay and that his spare money is his to do what he wants with.
I don't see this as very fair, I want him to understand that we made a decision together to have a baby and he knew I wouldn't get much money on maternity leave, so surely he should be paying out more towards holidays etc than I am. I feel that if I am matching what he pays then I am left with nothing and he is left with a ridiculous amount of disposable income. When we argue about anything he throws back in my face that he pays all the bills so this is his house, even though the joint mortgage, deposit and everything in the house was split evenly down the middle, I paid just as much as he did and I am always expected to go to my mums with the two kids if the argument gets that bad because he has nowhere to go.
He is very tight with his money and grumbles at me if I don't put half of the life insurance money into the joint account each month £30, I feel so resentful because £30 goes along way with me, and he blows £10,000 in one night so it must be nothing to him.
Twice since our relationship nearly broke down he has been back on this gambling website and gambled around £500-£1000 each time even though he knows how much this has hurt me. I feel a complete lack of respect, I feel like he is being so selfish and that money could of gone towards the family. This doesn't feel like an equal partnership. He lives a completely different lifestyle to me.

What can I do next?

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answers from Boston on

Yikes. This is not a financial arrangement, it's a relationship. Or it's supposed to be.

He's away on weekends, and you thought he was working, but he's gambling? And you're worried about dividing money that he says is his to spend as he wishes? I can't believe you are on maternity leave but there are arguments about how much he pays for holidays vs. what you put in!

Usually, I suggest that men who don't value what at-home moms do all day long simply be given a fun opportunity to experience the easy life. So normally, I would say that you should go away for the weekend and leave him in charge of kids and meals and laundry. Usually that straightens up men who think it's all a piece of cake. But in your case, you have an older child who isn't his, and a man with a gambling addiction. He might be far too neglectful for you to trust him as a parent.

Counseling, now. Financial advisor, now. Get into some support for spouses of gamblers. You're just not dealing with the gambling here, and are more focused on who is paying how much. The gambling and the lying are the elephants in the room, and they must be dealt with. That doesn't mean you telling him that he's wrong. That means you controlling only what you can - which is YOU, what you'll put up with, and what your next move is. But first things first - your baby's financial future needs to be protected. You need to start separating your finances so that your partner doesn't gamble away everything you need for those children.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

The thing that stands out in this is "he had been on a gambling website and spent £10,000 in one night".
Which puts everything else in perspective.
So what if he still has money and savings - with his gambling habit he could be broke and in debt in a snap.
He has a gambling addiction - and that will ALWAYS come before anything else in his life.
He has to realize he HAS a problem (he doesn't) and then want to do something about it to fix it (he doesn't) - and he is NO where near coming to this conclusion and may never.
Regardless of your years together - regardless of having a child together - your 'partner' is not committed to you and your kids as a family unit.
You say 'partner' - not 'husband' - which makes me think that you are not married - you have no rights beyond child support for the child you share in common and you're right - this isn't an equal partnership.
You need to pull yourself together and quietly come up with your exit plan.
Talk to a womens shelter, talk to a lawyer - make your plan, save your savings - and be ready to support you and the kids all on your own without this guy.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Your partnership is not working. It is not equal, not just financially but in any way. You're not on the same page and don't have the same perspectives or values. You share by a child, but a child can't make a poor relationship work.

I understand you're not married, but you're living as such for the most part and money issues are the top cause of divorces. Additionally, he has a gambling problem that can leave everyone destitute. This is not an easy fix.

You two need professional help for this. The best case scenario would be couples counseling for the two of you, working with a financial planner, and therapy for him to stop gambling.

If he won't agree to this, see a lawyer for advice on separating your financial entanglements such as getting the house sold, or having him buy out your half. Also for arranging child support and visitation.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't mean to be rude, but why did you marry him? You haven't mentioned one good thing about the guy. I'm sure you're venting - and there must be positives, but honestly - that would be a deal breaker for me. I get why you are upset. I think most people would be.

My husband and I never treated money like you and your husband do. It's never been divided - it all goes into our joint account and we're both responsible. I have friends who have husbands who make significantly more and they may stay home with the kids. Their husband's buy boats, sports cars, go on trips etc. and my friends pinch pennies. I have never understood that. Sure - they work hard and may have earned the big income, but I don't know too many women who do that (when the roles are reversed). They aren't the happiest of marriages.

I don't like the whole argument well I do all this at home raising our kids or looking after babies ... if you have to go there, then that's pretty bad. My husband, thankfully, knew that staying home with babies was harder than my career was - and I had a challenging job.

Your husband does not sound supportive. Period. That's a problem. He also doesn't sound respectful.

As for his gambling problem - that's pretty significant too. I don't know how you'd be able to trust a husband like that. He needs to address his problem - pronto. If he is in denial (I have a friend whose husband was in denial and went to great lengths to hide a shopping addiction), then you should spend a bit and see a good counsellor who can get you a plan of how to proceed. All it would take is a couple of sessions for you to feel not so lost and to have some real solid advice on this.

I never went to therapists until someone suggested I try it (I was stressing about my son being stressed). I felt 100% understood and supported (my friends and husband didn't know how to help me) after that first session. I only went back once more or maybe twice, and had a whole new outlook and approach.

You are right to be upset. I would be. It's not how healthy marriages work - you don't divide everything down the line. Or if you do, then that has to be because you both want it to be like that and you're both OK with that. You are not.

If you're not happy, and he's unwilling to change ... then you might have to ask yourself some very hard questions and be prepared for the outcome.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Are you married? I didn't pick up that you are married.

If not, then wth did you get a mortgage with him?....Then get pregnant?

You're not in a partnership or marriage. You need to get your ducks in a row to take care of your children independently BEFORE he blows through all of your $$ and you lose the house.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

There is not much you can do until he recognizes he needs help with his addiction.

Leave ASAP! You will have even less if he is continuing with his habit and you have to pay his depts if you don't get out of this situation.

One thing I want to add is that I am surprised that with only £2400pm, and paying mortgage and other bills, he has this big of savings!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Since he believes you should split everything evenly, track your hours doing childcare and housekeeping, write up an invoice using a standard (for your area) wage scale, and tell him he needs to pay half the invoice amount to you.

Also, get legal council on how to protect yourself and your finances because you are in a relationship with a gambling addict.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I'm sorry. This is not how a marriage should work. It should be that you are both a team...and the money made goes equally to both of you and the household. In a good marriage there is not your money and his money. He should not be living a different lifestyle than you. Also, taking care of children is a big job and a good husband would think you are amazing for doing this and working so hard and would appreciate that the kids are with their mom. A good husband would not say he pays the bills so that it's his house. Nope. That is truly awful. Also, it is terrible that he has this gambling addiction...from what I know of addicts and people like this is they rarely ever change. If it were me I would divorce him and start over. If you and he really want to try to make it work you need to start marriage counseling together asap. I don't see him wanting to change though, so I think you are screwed if you stay with him. You want someone who sees you as an equal (no matter who makes more money). You want someone who wants to spend their time and weekends with you and the kids. You want someone who wants to save any extra money for the family and not go blow it gambling. You want someone who appreciates you and thinks you are awesome. You want someone who wants you to have a job that is the best one for you (whether it's being a stay at home mom, or working part time, working full time, or making less than him) and who is your cheerleader in life. I'm so sorry. I would leave. It's not worth it. Envision what you want in a husband and what you want for yourself for your future. Envision how you want to raise your children and who you want as their role models. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

He blew $10,000? He has a gambling problem, it will suck you both down, I have seen it happen. Run now unless he agrees to get help.

If he does agree to help you guys need to renegotiate how you handle the finances. I am a stay at home mom and never, not once in 14 years, has my husband called it "his money" or implied that my contributions were worth any less. I would take this as a sign and get out, I am sorry you did not know all of this about him before you agreed to a child but I am sure you still see that child as a blessing. Best of luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

You call him a partner but he really isn't...a partner, a life partner makes you a team together to face life as one single family unit.

My husband brings home almost all the money in our family and still calls it our money. He asks before he spends a large amount to make sure all the bills are covered and our savings is being stocked up.

We don't have his and hers money we have our money. Our kids, our house, our life together.

It sounds like this isn't working for are a single mom maybe with benefits but still left to do it all on your own. Sounds like he isn't in a healthy place with the gambling and that right there would be a red flag to me to make a huge change.

I know you are on maternity leave but maybe it will give you the change to figure out where you are going from here. Good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Are you married? It sounds like you are not. And he doesn't behave as if you are, and you accepted that. You sound like roommates with a contract regarding expenses. And that is how he is approaching/viewing it and acting accordingly.

I'm probably just a strange bird, but marriage means everything that is his is mine and everything that is mine is his. The good, the bad, the ugly, the cheap and the expensive. And we discuss and plan how to spend OUR resources together (time, energy and money). I'm sorry. It sounds like you have completely different ideas about your relationship and your family. I cannot imagine trying to negotiate an amount of money my husband and I would each be contributing toward our children's expenses or our household goods. We do whatever is required to provide for the needs of our kids, and we make choices together about what large purchases/vacations/trips/etc we buy, and spend from joint funds. ALL of are funds are joint funds, too. Nothing is "his" and nothing is "mine" like you describe. It's all one pot. And it's all both of ours.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm sorry you're going through this, but this does not sound like what a marriage should look like. First of all, he apparently has a gambling problem. I would look into gambling addiction so that you can learn more about it and see if that sounds like him so that you know what you're dealing with.

Second, a marriage isn't like a business where everything is cut and dried in terms of who needs to pay for what. When my ex and I were still married, I made more than him. Some years, it was a lot more - like more than double his income. We never really had enough income for disposable income to be a problem, but we basically sat down and looked at all of our income coming in, everything going out, and agreed on how much we each needed for individual spending (gas, the occasional lunch out, and some cash on hand for unexpected things). We had roughly the same in spending money, and everything else went into a joint account for bills, groceries, etc. and when we needed something extra - new skates for one of the kids, replacing a small appliance, etc. we checked with each other to make sure that we had enough. While in theory I could have flexed my financial muscles a bit and bought myself expensive shoes or jetted away for the weekend because *I* could afford to do so based on my income, it wouldn't have been fair or right for me to be like "too bad, live within your means and I'll live comfortably because I make more and can do what I want."

As a married couple with a family, your financial goals should be joint goals. You should each end up with the same amount of flexibility in terms of spending money and after bills, the rest should go towards savings and investments for short and long term goals. Perhaps you can work with a financial planner on this - sometimes a neutral 3rd party can make someone stubborn come to their senses.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Get out now! Run! He is an addict.
He will drain your bank accounts dry.
Take what cash you have and don't look back.
Take him to court for child support.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

K. - Are you married? Or just in a relationship?
Not that it matters TOO much....but right now it sounds like you are dating.
Every couple does what works for them. My husband and I put all our money together and pay the bills. We don't ever count "his" and "mine." It doesn't work for us.
We have friends who split everything down the middle and live almost like roommates...even though they are married. Separate accounts and both pay half of everything. It works for them.
But what i hear you saying is that this DOESN'T work for you. That it worked for you in the beginning, but now that you are on maternity leave it doesn't. So this requires a sit down with your significant other. You are both adults and have decided to have another child together. I am assuming that you can both sit down and figure this out.
Remember, come at the "problem" with a "solution." don't just complain at him, tell him what you think would work better.
ADDED - I didn't even touch on the gambling. My Aunt was married to my Uncle for a LOOOONG time. (she passed away 6 years ago) They had 6 kids together. My Uncle had a gambling addiction. Once, he lost their life savings. My Aunt (a very devout Catholic) did not divorce him, even though she should have. My Uncle took that family to hell and back. He had an addiction and the whole family suffered from it. If you are not married to this man then may I suggest NOT marrying him? Unless he can get that gambling under control you are looking at living a life full of financial woes.

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