Dear Abby: My wife and I were discussing our sons-in-law and young men in their 20s and 30s in general. We were wondering where the attitude of “any money I earn is mine” in a marriage or live-in situation got started.
For the first few years of my daughter and her husband “Joe’s” marriage, Joe resented giving her any of the money he earned. My other daughter’s husband thinks nothing of spending money on himself and his friends without consulting her.
We have seen this attitude reflected in their friends, as well. They don’t seem to discuss with each other how each is spending their “joint” income. There seems to be an element of selfishness, too.
My wife and I have been married 40 years, and from the beginning, I have always considered what each of us earned was OURS, not mine or hers (when she worked). We always discuss any significant purchases, and I have always believed it was my responsibility to support my family. I realize the current economic situation has made that difficult, but the attitude should still be there.
Wondering In Washington
Dear Wondering: You have raised an interesting subject. There is a difference between living together and being married because of our legal system. Because people who co-habit without benefit of marriage are considered individuals in the eyes of the law, it is probably prudent to keep their financial affairs separate. However, each person should contribute to the expenses they share.
In a marriage, the situation is different: The law assumes that the man and wife are one unit. This is the mind-set you adopted when you and your wife were married.
There is a tendency among young couples, not only because of the high divorce rate, but also what they have been exposed to in the media from the time they were born, to view marriage as something that might not last. There is also a sense of entitlement among many — NOT ALL — that makes them centered on themselves. We have become a society in which disposability has spread from material possessions to relationships.