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I think I'm too controlling


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Guest Anonymous

Just looking for some advice for myself. I've been married for just over 2 years to a really wonderful guy who I trust completely. We've always gotten along well and we communicate openly and honestly, which is why I think we work. We argue rarely and when we do we resolve things fairly quickly. 

I'm naturally a more dominant personality- have always been type A, career driven- and in my work I'm the one who's steering the ship and making decisions. His personality is very sweet, tender, and caring. I worry. He takes life as it comes. 

With all that said, I think we complement each other well. One recurring source of arguing (like, 2-3 times a year at most) comes over finances. I've been busy with work recently and when I've been stuck at work he's gone out for drinks with friends, but when he goes out he's the kind of guy who *loves* buying all the rounds and treating everybody, because it's just who he is. He loves his friends, and his family, and people in general. And what is he supposed to do while I'm working- sit at home and wait for me to come back? I look at the bank account and it drives me up the wall. This tendency costs, I'd say, less than $1000 a year. But it drives me nuts. He generally is much more generous than me (I make most of the money but I never want that to be a sticking point). Recently I've consciously avoided bringing it up because I think I make him feel guilty, and I also think that that's very unfair of me to do. But I hate having these negative feelings and having to keep them to myself. 

Anyone else find this about themselves? Or any advice? Thanks in advance. 

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I'd say I'm the more frugal and worrying one in my relationship. It'd drive me nuts to see that too. These things aren't a problem though because we have our shared money and then we have our seperate accounts and we don't have access to see the other with those. Everything essential is covered with shared. Seperate is for do what you like. 

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2 hours ago, Guest Anonymous said:

This tendency costs, I'd say, less than $1000 a year. But it drives me nuts. He generally is much more generous than me (I make most of the money but I never want that to be a sticking point)

I think you need to ask yourself where this irritation is coming from. 

Is it because he you feel he's being financially irresponsible? Or because he's out having fun without you, while you're at work? 

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Guest Anonymous

Oh, I think very much a mixture of both! Whether what he's doing is right or wrong, I am bothered that I feel like a grumpy pain in the a**, and I don't like it!

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Guest Anonymous
4 hours ago, Guest Anonymous said:

 I'm the one who's steering the ship and making decisions. 

I make most of the money but I never want that to be a sticking point.

Separate your finances better. If he wants to squander money on booze for him and his friends, don't compensate for it.

Stop mothering him. Stop paying for most things. Advise him that he will need to pay more and if that means getting a second job rather than getting drunk with his buddies, so be it.

You're enabling and rationalizing shabby treatment, disrespect and drinking too much.

When you are working late he can do something more productive than go out drinking carousing and buying women and his buddies rounds of drinks. ( Don't kid yourself buying rounds means for the ladies at these bars too).

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27 minutes ago, Guest Anonymous said:

Separate your finances better. If he wants to squander money on booze for him and his friends, don't compensate for it.

Have one shared account which is set up to cover bills and all joint expenses, eg holidays.  Pay into it via standing order so that neither "forgets" and proportion it according to your take-home pay, so you both end up with the same proportion of your earnings to spend as you wish.  This is 100% fair to both parties.  If he chooses to spend $1000 of his own money on booze, that's totally up to him, but it won't be your hard work that's paying for it.  If it takes up too much of his money, then it's up to him to work more hours or get a better paid job.

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8 hours ago, Guest Anonymous said:

I've been busy with work recently and when I've been stuck at work he's gone out for drinks with friends, but when he goes out he's the kind of guy who *loves* buying all the rounds and treating everybody, because it's just who he is. He loves his friends, and his family, and people in general. And what is he supposed to do while I'm working- sit at home and wait for me to come back?

Why does he have to choose between "sitting at home" and going out drinking? And what's wrong with being home -does he like to read, do stuff around the house, workout whether at home or at a gym etc- and why is going out drinking his main social choice? Why does he have all this free time? Does he do any volunteer work or get involved in a sport, etc? 

It's lovely to be generous -but obviously there's balance. I'm a Type A married to a Type B but I don't get why this means he's not career driven.  My husband is and he's Type B.  Sounds like he enjoys socializing and drinking and is not particularly ambitious about work - not that he's laid back overall.

I don't think you're being overly controlling in this particular situation.  I'd tell him that there's a compromise here.  $1,000 a year is too much given your financial situation and budget so can he take turns with the buying rounds? Can he do other activities that do not involve drinking which is pricier than, let's say, meeting up early evening for a run or similar? Also is he driving under the influence? Do you have/want kids -because that might change the situation of the way he chooses to socialize.

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Guest Anonymous
8 hours ago, Guest Anonymous said:

And what is he supposed to do while I'm working- sit at home and wait for me to come back? I look at the bank account and it drives me up the wall. This tendency costs, I'd say, less than $1000 a year. But it drives me nuts.

$85./mo. is quite a habit. No he doesn't have to "sit home and wait" but he also doesn't have to piss away this much money in bars on booze. Why doesn't he get another job to occupy his time?

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What does he do for a living? Does he put any money in a retirement fund and does he have enough money in savings for an emergency? Does he ever do anything fun with friends beside drinking?

Often opposites attract, which can be good in some areas, but can also be bad such as in this case. 

When you are both in a mellow mood, you really need to sit down with him and explain that any reoccurring argument that never gets settled will build bitterness in a relationship. Come to a consensus with him on the limit that could be spent per each of these outings without comprising retirement and emergency funds, plus perhaps some money toward any mini vacation that would be fun to plan together.

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Consider setting up 3 accounts: His, Hers and Ours.

The Ours account covers all shared expenses, savings and investments, and you each contribute to it based on percentage of income.

Once the Ours account is covered for the month, each keeps their remaining income to spend or save as you wish.

So if he spends from His account, it's no skin off your back, and he also has no rights to criticize how your spend your money from your Hers account.

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I find it interesting that you self identified as controlling and further say that acting controlling  makes you feel bad.

When you find a habit you have that you don't like, you have to practice making a difference choice over and over. it's hard. it takes work. recognizing you're in the situation, while it's happening and then acting in way that is different from before. 

I like the idea of each of you having your own money to spend as you like. I personally don't think it's a lot of money but that's very subject.

Is it the money? Or is it that you don't like him doing something he knows you don't like? aka you're not able to control him? 

Look into Buddhist theory and the practice of detachment. There are things in life you will not be able to control. Learning to not let that control you, is a valuable lesson and mastering it will bring other benefits to your life. 

I personally find it super disrespectful when a person is willing to admit they do something, but then cop out on changing their behavior. To me it's right up there with "do as I say, not as I do."

Imagine the tables are turned. I could  see how something like this could easily eat away at an otherwise happy coupling. At the some point, even easy going people hit a point where they question, why am I putting up with this?

You say you don't think it matters that you make more money.  but do you really belive that?  Isn't it the source of your control?

Edited by Lambert
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On 3/18/2022 at 11:33 PM, Guest Anonymous said:

And what is he supposed to do while I'm working- sit at home and wait for me to come back? I look at the bank account and it drives me up the wall. This tendency costs, I'd say, less than $1000 a year. But it drives me nuts.

"Going out for drinks" and "sitting home and waiting for you" aren't the only two choices available to him when you work late. Maybe, on a subconscious level, you are more concerned about how quickly he turns to drinking than you are about the money he is spending.

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9 hours ago, Lambert said:

I find it interesting that you self identified as controlling and further say that acting controlling  makes you feel bad.

When you find a habit you have that you don't like, you have to practice making a difference choice over and over. it's hard. it takes work. recognizing you're in the situation, while it's happening and then acting in way that is different from before. 

I really like how you put this. I have controlling tendencies, I don't have the best patience for certain things. Two times in the last 24 hours I had to make a choice about two things my husband did that irritated me.  They both had to do with emails he sent me asking me to do something that (1) I had already done, he just forgot; and (2) he could have found it himself and I felt a bit like his secretary at that point.  For (1) I had to self-talk that he forgot because he'd had a really hectic work day that day and pointing it out -his mistake- was just not fair or right. 

For (2) I first replied that I'd looked quickly and couldn't find the answer and suggested he call or e-mail the person who would know (so yes I bounced the ball back to him but without complaining he'd asked me).  I then found the answer with another search and sent it to him but with absolutely no "don't ask me to do this stuff you can do on your own"  - I was annoyed. He should have done his own searching.  And.  I want to show myself as Lambert wrote that I was both going to acknowledge and act on it.  

It's a very good point she makes because especially with impulsive situations like you realize he treated all his friends, you really do have to STOP and pause and make a different choice if indeed you think you are being too controlling.

But I also agree that maybe you're mostly worried about his lack of ambition and his choice to go out drinking this often (which is not about type B as I wrote above -not in my opinion anyway).

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I am wondering whether it is just the money. How often does he go out during the week? $1,000 per year, is less than $20 per week. So how can he be the guy who “*loves* buying all the rounds and treating everybody” for $20?

I agree with setting up different bank accounts, have each your own account and a joint account, which you fund every month. Whether you fund 50 / 50 or as a proportion of the net income, that’s up to you. When I lived together with my boyfriend we had this system in place and we split the joint expenses 50 / 50 even though he earned more. We both made enough though and I did want the 50 / 50 split myself.

How are your household chores divided? Do you do more than he does?

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On 3/18/2022 at 8:33 PM, Guest Anonymous said:

Just looking for some advice for myself. I've been married for just over 2 years to a really wonderful guy who I trust completely. We've always gotten along well and we communicate openly and honestly, which is why I think we work. We argue rarely and when we do we resolve things fairly quickly. 

I'm naturally a more dominant personality- have always been type A, career driven- and in my work I'm the one who's steering the ship and making decisions. His personality is very sweet, tender, and caring. I worry. He takes life as it comes. 

With all that said, I think we complement each other well. One recurring source of arguing (like, 2-3 times a year at most) comes over finances. I've been busy with work recently and when I've been stuck at work he's gone out for drinks with friends, but when he goes out he's the kind of guy who *loves* buying all the rounds and treating everybody, because it's just who he is. He loves his friends, and his family, and people in general. And what is he supposed to do while I'm working- sit at home and wait for me to come back? I look at the bank account and it drives me up the wall. This tendency costs, I'd say, less than $1000 a year. But it drives me nuts. He generally is much more generous than me (I make most of the money but I never want that to be a sticking point). Recently I've consciously avoided bringing it up because I think I make him feel guilty, and I also think that that's very unfair of me to do. But I hate having these negative feelings and having to keep them to myself. 

Anyone else find this about themselves? Or any advice? Thanks in advance. 

I didn’t read this as a money issue. You live different lifestyles and he may drink too much or go out doing things you don’t agree with. Does he plan? Does he have forethought? Or does he impulsively do whatever comes to mind? Is his life or career a mess? What’s causing your “worry”? 

Talk about your long term goals together. Split the finances and tell him to spend from his personal account, not the joint account. He sounds scatterbrained or oblivious if he’s not seeing how this affects you and continues to do so. Try to come to a solution together.

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I don't know when was the last time some of the posters have ordered a drink, but a single cocktail will set you back $12-$16 without the tip. So, if ALL he is spending is roughly $1K per year, the guy is downright frugal and completely opposite to the picture the OP is painting of him.

Either he goes out only once a month or once every other month and treats some friends to a round as they do him, as tends to be normal, or he goes out more often, has a drink and goes home.

What I'm guessing at here is that OP is both jealous and incredibly resentful of her husband's more outgoing personality. A case of she hates what attracted her to him and perhaps what she wishes she was more like herself.

It's a bit more serious and more unpleasant than just being controlling. Some inner demons to face and don't make any of that about your husband. Time to look within and address your own issues more honestly. This situation is entirely a YOU problem, OP.

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Some men need an allowance, as per my mom to keep them happy.  Your husband's allowance amounts to $19.23/week.  I think you need to take a deep breath, recognize this is about your insecurity about who is cooler and, or more popular, or can smell the roses a bit, and just let it go.

My dad likes to gamble 100K away each year, and that is a ridiculous problem.  $19/week, crap, I waste that on taking my kids to McKie D's.

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Guest Anonymous

Thanks all. OP here. There are certainly subtleties to every situation and relationship that I could not begin to cover in a single post, but your insights have been helpful. 

A few thoughts:

I think one major root of the issue is that I have always been a major internalizer. In prior relationships, I usually bottled things up and didn't address them until I was mentally and emotionally checked out of the relationship. When I met my husband years ago, I knew I had found someone right for me, and fortunately I was at a stage in my life where I had learned enough and had matured enough to be comfortable with bringing up issues that bothered me when they arose. And I love that I've grown to be more confrontational because frankly I think I would have foiled the relationship long ago if I had been unable to speak up. That said, I recognize that all virtues can be vices if carried out excessively, and I'm sensitive about being a nag. 

When I mentioned that he's spending less than $1000 a year, it's an estimate and the less than was to highlight that I don't see this as an overly consequential number. 

For whatever it's worth, I'm a guy. Not that gender norms should matter, but it may add a different dimension to your understanding. I'm 7 years his senior as well. The vast majority of our friends are straight, so I'm not too worried about him buying girls a few drinks. Or guys for that matter. He has a full-time job (40hrs/wk), and I have a job that varies a lot seasonally (sometimes 80+hrs/wk, <30hrs/wk other seasons). Where we live, everything is walking distance, so no drunk driving, ever. We don't have kids and don't plan to.

Frankly, with some time and thought, I don't think it's a very big deal. I think there are other elements of the situation that get to me (I'd prefer he just stay home, not go out anytime anybody invites him, etc.), but I'm not going to ask him to change and foster resentment. For the record, I am no teetotaler either! But I probably feel a bit jealous that he's able to go out, and that it's not me that he's hanging out with. Definitely a me problem there. I'm not perfect, and he isn't either, but we do have a marriage based on open and honest communication. I've talked about it with him, and everything is good. Sometimes I worry I can get in my own way, so it is helpful to have a sounding board such as this to give me food for thought!

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15 hours ago, Guest Anonymous said:

Frankly, with some time and thought, I don't think it's a very big deal. I think there are other elements of the situation that get to me (I'd prefer he just stay home, not go out anytime anybody invites him, etc.), but I'm not going to ask him to change and foster resentment. For the record, I am no teetotaler either! But I probably feel a bit jealous that he's able to go out, and that it's not me that he's hanging out with. Definitely a me problem there. I'm not perfect, and he isn't either, but we do have a marriage based on open and honest communication. I've talked about it with him, and everything is good. Sometimes I worry I can get in my own way, so it is helpful to have a sounding board such as this to give me food for thought!

Getting stuck in routines, work, and also feeling disconnected from each other is a pretty common marital problem. You are right that you can't ask him to change. However, you do need to address the fact that you would like some more quality time with him. Maybe frame it like that for yourself - what can you and him do together that you would both enjoy and would find to be fulfilling? During those 80 hr week times, think quality rather than quantity together time. Maybe he can organize a special date for you or something along those lines. Just because you are married, doesn't mean you can stop dating each other kind of a thing.

Another thing to consider for you personally is are you getting burned out by your job? Are you redirecting some of that resentment toward your spouse rather than dealing with the work situation you are in and maybe seeking to change/improve that? Seeking to improve the work/life balance before you reach that explosion point perhaps?

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16 hours ago, Guest Anonymous said:

I'm a guy. Not that gender norms should matter, but it may add a different dimension to your understanding. I'm 7 years his senior as well.

True. Whether you're a straight or gay couple, you're in a parent-child relationship, like the strict father and the naughty child. That breeds resentment on both sides.

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On 3/20/2022 at 10:30 PM, Lambert said:

Is it the money? Or is it that you don't like him doing something he knows you don't like? aka you're not able to control him? 

Very astute question, because you can probably add up something like mani-pedis or facials or lunches or coffees--or whatever--that might equal an 85 buck habit that doesn't benefit husband in any way.

If not, where's your self care?

If you're all about scrimping and saving, and THAT brings you joy, then consider the 3 account method of meeting shared responsibilities, and this will allow you to build your own nest egg even while he splurges a whoo-whoo 90 bucks a month on feeling social and appreciated and, uhm....happy?

Try it, you might like it!

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22 hours ago, Guest Anonymous said:

I probably feel a bit jealous that he's able to go out, and that it's not me that he's hanging out with. Definitely a me problem there. I'm not perfect,

You're also really smart--and fair--for recognizing this.

You own the ability to 'drill into your drill' so to speak. I mean, if you're going to spin about something, why not keep asking the question, "What bothers me about this?" and then write lists of ALL of those things--at face value, first.

Keeping your list at face value prevents you from drilling into each thing prematurely, which can cause you to spend too much time avoiding the REAL thing. It also creates a giant abstraction, and nobody can resolve those.

Think of it like creating a tree: This bothers me, Why?
List the face value things that you don't like about it.
Next to those things, list the things you don't like about that,
Then the things you don't like about that...
Until you stumble across the main thing or two that REALLY frost you.

From there, you can grapple with whether it's a Him thing or a You thing, just like you did here.

If it's stuff you want to bounce against this board for inputs, I think you've found that people here can be pretty helpful. But also ask for ideas about how you might diffuse the issue, or even how you might negotiate a good trade that husband can do to remedy this in exchange for an issue he'd like you to address or some kind of reward that's valuable to him.

Negotiation is the opposite of whining, controlling or fighting unconsciously--it gets a win/win for both partners, and the most successful marriages incorporate the practice rather than ASSUMING that someone will just change for zero payoff.

Spell out 'what's in it for HIM,' if he'll cooperate with your preposed change, and you could both have a good time with this.

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In this case, his/his/ours.  "What's mine is yours" works when you're genuinely OK with upfront on the balance sheet seeing the fact your SO drops a whole $80 or whatever a month in discretionary spending treating his friends and family.  If you don't wanna see that, do separate accounts for such expenditures.  

Additionally, you claim that you don't want to hold it onto him for the fact you're making more money than he is, but clearly your emotions are dictating you lord it over him.  You are arguing with him fairly regularly about it after all.  That's something to address likely both internally and with him, even if through a mediating counselor. 

Also-- I didn't read catfeeder's latest post before this paragraph, but it's really worth heeding.  Wishing the best for both of you.  

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