I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.
I apologize, this is going to be long.
I am a newlywed of less than a year. My husband and I have been together for 6 years. Throughout our relationship, he has always been the major breadwinner, making 6 figures. Before I suffered a layoff, and then we made the decision (together) to move to an area with limited employment opportunities for me. Luckily his position is one in which he can work remotely so we were still able to maintain his 6 figure income.
After we moved, he wanted to start a small business (one of the reasons why we moved). I was very supportive, offering my time to help, even though financially, I could not contribute. He took out a loan to help with the expenses of starting up a business. He also had some outstanding credit card debt.
Meanwhile, I was severely under-employed so most of my salary was going towards some already accumulated debt (in the form of student loans and commercial debt). My husband (Then boyfriend) seemed OK with this although occasionally he would make remarks about the "financial inequality" in our relationship. I would get upset saying it wasn't my fault that I was laid off and we made the decision to relocate together and that I was doing the best I can to support him emotionally and with my time.
After about 8 months of being severely under-employed I was able to obtain a job in which I was less severely under-employed. This position still wasn't anywhere near the financial level of my previous position from which I was laid off. However it was in my field and provided a small amount of more money.
We got engaged and began planning our wedding. Not wanting to accumulate any more debt, we had a lengthy engagement (2 years) and paid for the wedding in cash. I will say that he did contribute more than I did - $10k to my $5k, however he never complained about it and we were on the same page with the type of wedding we wanted. In total, the wedding cost about $35,000 with our parents contributing as well. My husband did pay for our honeymoon ($5000) and made the decision to purchase me a $15000 ring set. I did not ask for these things and he will be the first to tell you that I am not flashy at all. I shop at Kohl's and TJ Maxx and get excited when I find a bargain.
Approximately 6-8 months before our wedding, we made the decision to once again relocate. I found a job rather quickly and was making about 10% more than what I did previously. However, still not up to the level I was pre-layoff. My then-fiance still made about 2.5x my salary, but any increase is good, right?
A few months after we were married we decided the wisest thing would be to combine finances. We had a "Financial meeting" in which we both laid our respective debts out on the table. Here is where I made my huge mistake. At this time I had about $35,000 in student loans and about $44,000 in credit card debt (from poor decisions, going to graduate school, medical costs, just unwise money management.)
Due to my embarrassment of such a high debt amount, I only told my husband about $30,000 in the credit card debt. His total debts were about the same and we came up with a plan in which we could aggressively work these debts down so that we can buy a home and start a family. He had been making fewer and fewer remarks about our financial inequality and seemed to have adopted the "We're a team, we're in this together, it's OUR income, not mine vs. your's." mentality. Things were going well and we were working our plan.
In my warped mind I thought that I could pay off the $14,000 by using my "fun" money (an amount previously agreed upon with my husband deposited into a private checking account which he had no access), picking up random babysitting jobs, etc, and that my husband would be none the wiser. I called both creditors (the $14,000 balance was spread out over 2 cards) and negotiated lower interest rates and have not used the cards in over 18 months. I have been paying slightly over the minimum payments (some months by $50, some by $5).
I had been wanting to tell him about this hidden debt but really struggled. He tends to be very analytical of finances. I do the grocery shopping and he gets frustrated with me if the bill is more than he expected. I try to explain that I don't set the prices, use coupons, food is just expensive!
Like I said before, I am not the flashy/spendy type. I am not just saying that to boost my ego. I shop at less expensive stores, rarely "shop for fun", use coupons and gift cards, etc. I drive a 7 year old car (paid off), and have never been one that needs or wants the latest and greatest.
So for the past 10 months or so since we had that initial "financial" meeting, I've kept this debt from my husband and have made payments on the sly. I know this was dishonest and it was eating me up inside. Finally, the other night, I came clean. I told him that I had to be honest with him and laid it out on the table. I started out with about $14k debt, and it is now down to about $11,500.
He reacted better than I could have imagined. He was flabbergasted and upset, but was calm and didn't freak out or get angry.
In the past few days he has expressed his anger and hurt but in a very mature, calm manner. He's told me there are some things I can do to make this situation better.
1. We need to wait at least 6 months to start trying for a baby (we were going to start trying in the next month or two). We would wait longer, however I have a medical condition and am in my early 30s so really, the door is closing there).
2. I need to "own" it. Whenever someone asks me about when we are going to buy a home or try for a baby, I need to essentially put the blame on myself for the delay. I don't have to say that I screwed up financially, but my husband would like me to at least deflect the reasons for waiting off of him.
3. He wants me to get a part time job. This is what I am struggling with. I recently accepted a new position in which I will be getting a 20% salary increase. That, along with some other better company offered benefits, should lead me to bringing home about 25% more than I do now. I am finally back to where I was pre-layoff 5 years ago. Ahead, even. He said that he is burnt out by carrying us financially for the past 5 years and I need to help out more so that we can "tow the line" more evenly.
But then in the next breath, my husband says that the part time job isn't really for the money (he is only expecting me to work through the holidays before we start trying for a baby), but more about showing him my remorse and that I understand the gravity of the situation. I do. I have plans this weekend to go through some of my belongings and list things on Ebay.
I understand what he is saying and know that "actions speak louder than words." What I am struggling with is the fact that I am trying to get my body "baby-ready" which takes a lot of work on my part. I don't want all of my hard work of the past few months to go down the drain. Working 40 hours per week and adding on another 20-30 to that, I feel, will greatly effect my health and mental state. I understand that I need to do something to show my remorse and that I am actively working towards fixing the problem. However, at the same time, I am starting a new job and do not want to be burnt out and exhausted all the time. It is hard enough as it is dealing with my medical condition - it is a full time job itself.
Also, when you look at our combined debt, even with the additional $11,500 I kept from him, we are about even. I have expressed my concerns with him regarding taking on additional part time work, and he basically says that he can foresee himself becoming resentful towards me if I don't work to fix this problem. I can already see myself getting resentful towards him if he forces me to take on a part time job - who is going to keep the house in order? Do laundry? Grocery shop? I am sure that all of those things will fall on my shoulders (even though he says he will help) and for what? The small amount of money I will make between now and the end of the holiday season (assuming I easily obtain a part time job) doesn't seem worth it to me. I estimate that I'll be able to make $1200-$1500.
He says it isn't a punishment, but that is what it feels like. I told him that I was so supportive of him and his business and that we are BOTH paying that debt off now. Yes, he may contribute more financially to the household (it's closer to 65/35 now) but our combined debts are pretty even and we are both working to get things in order. I can just see myself getting frustrated with being exhausted all the time and working my butt off to pay this down.
I apologize for the length. I know I was horribly wrong in deceiving my husband. How do I move past his forcing me to get a part time job...how do I move past viewing that as punishment?