I Have Trouble Taking Money From My Husband

My husband is a wonderful man and an excellent spouse. I’ve extolled his virtues on so many occasions that I’ve had to stop for fear of being accused of idol worship or braggadocio. After all, with 50-60% of all Christian marriages ending in divorce, wouldn’t it appear conceited for me to talk about how wonderful my husband is? What cockiness!

I’ve openly discussed the issues that Marshall and I have had over the years, but I can honestly (and gratefully) say that those issues have never included the following:

  1. His not having a job
  2. His not helping with the children
  3. His failure to communicate

Like any relationship, Marshall’s and mine has had its own unique set of challenges over time. At the moment, our challenge is that I have a hard time accepting money from my husband. This is more my dysfunction than his, but it still affects him indirectly.

Last night I got off of work at BS&W and midnight. Did I want to be at a shoe store that late into the night? Absolutely not. But I needed the money to pay for a project I’m working on, so I had to put in the hours. When I got home at 12:30 am, Marshall was still up waiting for me so he could at least see me. I said some brief words in greeting, got into the shower, crawled into bed, and fell into a coma. The next morning, Marshall asked me why I was working so hard. I explained my reasons.

“Well do you want me to just give you the money so you don’t have to work so hard?” he offered.

I balked at the very notion of him giving me money for a personal project. Like many marriages like ours, I stay home to look after the kids and he goes to work. His income pays for EVERYTHING. It wasn’t always like this, of course. I had a job once, and a good paying one too. I’ve lived my life paying my own way for everything. I couldn’t accept money from my husband.

“No, no,” I said quickly. “This is something I have to do on my own.”

“But it’s not a lot of money,” he countered. “And I just got a check from a project I’ve been working on…”

I repeated that I wanted to do this on my own and went back to doing dishes or eating chocolate – I can’t remember which.

I don’t know if this is a problem that other married women struggle with, but my single friends have assured me that I’m stark, raving MAD.

“Ah. Isn’t this what husbands are for?” said one (a Ghanaian).

“Girl, us single gals are TRYING to find a guy to pay for stuff,” said another (a White girl from the South).

Recognizing that my perceived insanity was not cultural (after all, an African AND an American had just told me I was being foolish) I decided to talk to my husband about it. Maybe there was something wrong with me?

He knows that I have an abnormal relationship with money, because I didn’t grow up with much. I was more often than not on the receiving end of a gift, and it’s made it hard for me to accept generosity from others. I hate feeling like a charity case…and when I spend my husband’s money, I feel like it’s just that: charity.

“Babe,” I began, “I want to talk about why I can’t take money from you…or why I have a hard time at least.”

“Okay; but I already know why that is,” he said sagely.

“Eh? Why is it then?”

I barely knew myself. How could he possibly know?

“Because you’re a first born and self-sustainer,” he said simply. “I’m the same way. I couldn’t live on anyone’s handouts.”

Self-sustainer. I wrote that down on our whiteboard. That was a new term to me.

“Okay, cool. Then you understand,” I said. “Well, I feel bad that I can’t take your money. I think it would make me less of a woman.”

“How is that? Every time you use your debit card you ‘take my money’.”

He laughed in that way that makes me feel like an idiot. I immediately bristled.

“Ah! When I use the debit card, I’m using it to feed the kids or buy something for the house. I’m talking about going shopping for myself, or in this case, needing $x00 to fund my project.”

“That’s because you’re selfish,” he replied.


How could I be selfish? Wasn’t I being the very opposite of ‘selfish’?

“Yes, selfish,” he continued. “You need to write down ‘value’ on the board too. You don’t think that I value you you enough to try to make your life better, or work for the children and all the stuff we do have.”

I found it hard to argue with that, so I used the best defense I could conjure: The one time that he said something that made me feel less than valued. It had to do with the car he’d just bought in October.

“Remember when you told me YOU had worked very hard to afford that car? I felt like you were saying that because I didn’t have a job that generates as much money as yours does that I was not as valuable.”

“Well, Malaka, I did work hard to pay for the car…but that’s not what I said to you. Don’t misquote me.”

“I’m just saying that’s how I felt.”

I quickly realized that I was failing to make my point. He was showing me the absurdity of my sentiments. All the same, I still harbored them. I told him as much.

“Look, here’s the thing. What I really feel bad about is that I should be able to spend your money because I’m valuable to you, but I just can’t.”

He paused and nodded. He understood. He said that made him feel good.


“Because I know that you won’t try to jack me and have checks bouncing all over the place.”

I snickered. I hate bank overdrafts.

“Malaka, it’s not like you haven’t taken money from me in the past, when we were dating.”

“But I always paid you back,” I countered.

He said he didn’t remember being repaid. I assured him I did. I’ve never been one of those girls who could take money from her boyfriend because my parents taught us not to be that chick. You never want to be in debt to some guy, especially for something you could afford yourself. I have never been able to abide the idea of a man taking credit for my accomplishments!

By the end of the conversation, Marshall encouraged me to look at the money I was offering as an investment, and not a gift. He said if I REALLY had to, I could look at it as a loan.

“If you really feel like you need to repay a loan to your husband,” he smirked.

“Shut up.”

I thought about it. I could take the money as an investment…but then something occurred to me.

“If it’s an investment, you’ll be looking for a return on that investment, won’t you?” I asked.

“Babe,” he said, cutting me off, “a return on investment doesn’t have to be monetary. My ROI could be you getting more sleep, not having to work more hours, you having a better day, us having better sex (because you’re not so tired), or you just having a smile on your face more often than you do.”

I had one friend tell me that I need to get off my “feminist soap box” and take my husband’s money. I’ve earned every cent in stretch marks and a scarred uterus.

“Calculate the cost of that,” she said.

I hear what everyone is saying. I really do. The world is crooning “You should let me love you/let me be the one to give everything you want and need” – but all I can hear is Kanye hollering “She ain’t nothing but a gold digger/She’s a trifling friend indeed!”

Surely other married women struggle with this, right? With all the issues surrounding money, sex and power, my feelings can’t be unique, right?

Right?? Talk about it here…or tell me I’m mad. ?


25 comments On I Have Trouble Taking Money From My Husband

  • @Malaka – You know I’m with the ‘Take the money because that’s one of the advantages of being married/having a partner. Partners should be able to support each other’

  • Yes ooo. I know which camp you stand in. But what about money and power and all that! Isn’t that part of the 12 gospels of keeping the balance of power in a relationship?

    • In an ideal world yes, but in a world where you’re the one who has born the 4 children, and had to not work so that you can be the primary carer then I say ‘Take the MONEY!!!’

    • Malaka,
      I feel like we just had a moment. I am totally on your side and have suffered from the same problem for as long as I can remember. I was socialized to never take money from a man, to never be that chick, to never spend someone else’s when I can spend my own and to make sure that I was never, even inadvertently, taking advantage of a guy. It made me this woman who never lets men pay for anything and who never accepts money from any boyfriend regardless of how broke I am. Everyone I have ever dated, however, will take money from me if I offer it or let me pay for stuff. I’ve never minded and until recently have never even felt taken advantage of. But in a conversation with my most recent boyfriend about my refusal to let him help out with something I needed he said something that gave me some food for thought. He said basically that he felt as if by refusing to take his money I was showing a lack of trust in his character and his intellect and showing a doubt in his reassurance that having taken the money didn’t diminish me in any way in his eyes. He also asked if I would take money from my father if he offered it and insisted (I would never ask) and when I said I would he said there was something amiss with my thinking that I would accept my father’s help cos he was family and a source of support throughout the course of my life who loved me unconditionally when I didn’t think that way about he, the boyfriend. Wasn’t he also my family, at least one of my choosing, one I was trying to build for the future? Wasn’t he also supposed to be a source of support who loved me unconditionally? And if my “feminist” argument that I never took money from men because it reified some kind of power structure in which men were providers and women were accceptors then didn’t my father qualify as a man perpetuating that power dynamic by giving me money? I pooh-poohed all the arguments but they left me thinking. What’s your opinion?

  • I’m not married (and probably not qualified enough to comment). You are stark raving mad-as far as I’m concerned. It is a partnership, not a sole entrepreneurship journey that you embarked on. Take it and be thankful to God for a partner that is super supportive and understanding. Others are crying right now, looking for a sponsor (lmao!) It doesn’t make you less or more of a woman if you take or decide to make it on your own. He values you all the same.

    Let’s flip the scenario here, would you help him out if it were him? If the answer is yes, abegiiiii take dat moooney. If it’s no, eh, still-take it.

  • You are not alone, i find myself in the same situation. Ideally yes take the money cos you need it but it is just who you are that is making it so hard to take. Take care of yourself and make yourself beautiful for him always. But sweetie, u need the money to do all that so try and take it if you have to 🙂

    • @fassie – Ermmm. What has beauty got to do with taking money from one’s hubby?

      • @ Malaka and Nana, I think you got me wrong. It’s not abt going for beauty treatment. what I was talking about is keeping a cheerful face and looking radiant. If a woman is worried and does not look cheerful, surely it does take something away from her beauty. I have been in this same situation for as long as i can remember and l know what worrying and less sleep can do to a beautiful face.

  • @Nnenna: haha! Yes, you heard correctly. I have 4 kids
    @ fassie: In this instance I’m not using money for a beauty treatment. I have loftier goals than a $200 weave at the moment 🙂
    @AM: you are in the majority oooo. I hear you all

  • Fassie: I completely get you. Forgive me for being so shallow. Ha! There’s nothing more intimidating than a woman’s face curled up in a frown, that’s for sure.

    VV: Oh. Em. Gee. You -or your boyfriend, rather – make an excellent point about love and accepting help from someone you love of your choosing. But to be honest, my biggest consternation lies in that I don’t want to have a parent-child relationship with my husband, and I feel and fear (probably wrongly) that if I become solely reliant on his income, that’s precisely what it will become!
    In fairness to him, he’s never set the tone of our relationship in this way, but you know how dudes be trippin’ 20 years down the line. Maybe I just need to work through my own insecurities? I hate to call it that.

  • I completely get you but with me it doesn’t stop with the money I also struggle with being ‘weak’ with my man. I come from a single parent family and am surrounded by strong independent women so I guess I learned from them how to be self-sustaining but it’s more than that. It also has to do with self-gratification, it feels so good to work hard for something and know you did it on your own.Growing up I also had problems taking money from my own father! And even now I will only ask my family for financial help only when i’m in a dire situation. I’ve recently gone back to school so i’m dependent on my family for everything and my friends fail to see why I feel guilty and I live stringently when I don’t have to cause my family can afford everything for me. I’m single and I know one of my problems is that ‘I’m too strong’ (a Naija I was kinda seeing words) and don’t accept help easily so my boyfriends always feel I don’t need them.

    You are married, I think now and then you should just let your husband help you financially or even meet you half-way just give him that ‘provider’ feeling.

  • It has been awhile since i came here (Adventures). I resonent so much with Malaka; i am not married however. In my case, i conditioned myself not to take advantage of anyone; men when it came to money and using my femine wiles’. My boyfriend says its my feminist tendencies; i think it is because i want to be seen as an independent woman who can hand her own(don’t even know who i am trying to prove that to) and independence in society is related to being able to fend for yourself and that means not taking nothing from nobody. This was a problem even when i was a kid. My dad always had issues with me not telling him stuff i want to do and then just going ahead with it. I see asking for things as being needy and i don’t won’t to come off as such. He has asked me about that and says that is one of the things he loves about me however i should allow him to pay for my stuff. I do now, howver he does not know this but i balance out things he pays for without asking me and i pay him back.I just can’t help it. Maybe gradually i can convince myself it is alright to take a guy’s money or whatever he offers as a gift without being mightly suspicious about the reason behind it and whether it is demeaning.

  • Welcome back, Aba! 🙂

  • i’m trying to let myself learn that in marriage(when and if i get married), what’s mine is his and vice versa cos i have found it really hard to take money fom my man(men). i offered to help my boyfriend with a little money once and he refused, reminding me of all the times i stubbornly refused his help.. i understood his point but changing is really hard. and i’m not even a first born(self sustainer), i’m the last(the supposedly dependent)…

  • Makeda Asantewaa

    I am the same. I do not take money from men, because I feel like I am giving them power over me. I also find it rewarding to pay for things on my own. It took a long time to allow guys to pay for dinner or drinks when out on a date. It makes me feel less than I am when I do. I am now married and still do have a problem taking money from my husband. The only reason i do now (occasionally) is because I am not working and at one point when he wasn’t working, I supported the family. Every time I do take his money, I feel really sad, even a little angry. I don’t have kids yet, so maybe, I’ll change once I do.

    • I don’t think kids will change your attitude actually. I think they will only make you want to work harder to get more money to bankroll their little ventures…or perhaps I am just speaking from my own view.
      All the same, since we seem to be in the same boat, I wish you luck! I will always earn money if I am able, and I suspect you are the same. There’s nothing wrong in that.

  • Makeda Asantewaa

    I thing you are right, I’ll never change. Like you said, there is nothing wrong with not taking money form men! Good luck to you on your project.

  • Once you are married to ur husband the money he earns belongs to both of you more especially when you are not working at the moment. You and him are now one so I don’t see the issue of his money and your money. You both ought to pool your financial resources together and plan your future.

    • Don’t get me wrong: We do have a financial plan for our family, etc. What I’m talking about is taking money for “personal” things – like trips to the salon and spa. These are things that I have always paid for myself when I was working, and because they don’t (directly) affect our family in a positive manner, I have trouble taking “his” money to fund them.

    • If I ever get married again, my hubby better not think MY money is our money 🙂 His money is for all of us though…

  • @BFFFL – I said ‘directly’, as in something tangible… Like good grades or a clean bathroom for once. Lol! But MASI, at your encouraging, I will spend more money on myself.
    And we all know you ain’t getting remarried, so many a gentleman’s credit card can rest easy tonight 😉

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