I've been married to my husband for two years. Early on, we decided to rent-to-own a beautiful home and, for the most part, everything's been wonderful. We decided I would be responsible for paying the mortgage and insurance and he would take care of the bills and house repairs. Lately, though, I've noticed that he's no longer paying the bills. We are now over a grand behind, and I'm starting to feel like I have to take care of everything, including housework. When I asked if he was going to help with payments, I got, "I'll put some toward them, but I need something to live on." I never have money for myself. I'm starting to think very hard about leaving him. What's your advice? - B.S., 29, Regina, Saskatchewan
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Does your husband know that if he doesn't start participating more in the nuts and bolts of the marriage that you're going to leave? If not, he needs to be told and deserves an opportunity to fix things.
Before you talk to him, ask yourself what has to happen to take divorce off the table. (Trust me - since things are mostly wonderful between you, you don't want to go down that road unless there is no other recourse.) What is he doing - or not doing - that can be fixed? If he gets a part-time job, would that help? If he does more housework, would that help?
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There may be a good reason he's not coming up with the money for the bills. (Have his work hours been cut back? Have interest rates gone up on your credit cards?) But if there's no good explanation for his falling behind, let him know how unhappy his new habits make you. Don't harp on how he's failed you; tell him - with the real concern that you feel - that his behavior is hurting you. Ask him to think about how he can take on more financial responsibility. Then set a time to discuss his ideas.
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Whatever you do, don't even think of uttering that immortal phrase I do everything! Do not go there. Every woman I know wants to say this, and every man I know goes instantly deaf when he hears it. It is completely counterproductive.
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If your husband isn't willing to hear you out or make changes, it may be time to seek counseling. But you're not at this impasse just yet. Hopefully he'll snap out of it when he realizes how his letting things slide is affecting the marriage. Don't forget, you had good reasons for marrying him, and they are still real. Good luck!
Karen Karbo is an award-winning writer and author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World's Most Elegant Woman. She's also a mom, a writing teacher, and a horse owner. Check out more advice from Karen.
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