Dear Dr. Don,
My husband and I bought a house this spring. When we bought it, it was agreed that we would each pay 50 percent of the mortgage (around $650 each). Well, shortly after we bought the house, my husband was laid off, so the financial responsibility fell on me. I was able to pay the mortgage myself for a couple of months, and around July he was able to find a job. I told him to spend his first couple of paychecks catching up on his bills and paying things off, so I continued to pay the bills myself.
Then, it just seemed like he could never get caught up. We would go over his finances and plan what he needed to pay on what, and it usually came out to him having the extra cash to pay me for the house. Then, come payday, he'd tell me once again that he didn't have the money, and I was left wondering where all of it was going.
He also gets very defensive when I ask him about the house payment. I try to be gentle about it because I know he's been struggling and has had a lot of stress. But he's had his job long enough that he should be caught up, according to the numbers that he and I went over.
This coming month, due to me going back to college, I simply won't have the money to cover the house myself. When I asked if he would be able to help me out, he simply said, "Hopefully."
Before we moved into the house, he was very good about paying the bills. He's even helped me out with the rent in the past when I was struggling, so I feel terrible about pressuring him now.
Our house payment is due soon, and my dwindling bank account just can't take it. What should I do?
-- Anne Attune
It certainly sounds like you've been very understanding about your husband getting back on his financial feet before asking him to shoulder his share of the house payment. The house payment should be the first bill paid in your monthly budgets; it should not be left until the end if there's money leftover.
Many employers offer direct deposit with the ability to split the paycheck between multiple accounts. Take the issue off the table as a discussion point by establishing a separate household account that automatically gets $650 from each of you every month and is used to make the mortgage payment.
Your changing finances have you in a place where you can't foot the whole bill. If he's not willing to shoulder his share, it's time to have a heart-to-heart with him on whether you should be homeowners. Admittedly, it's a bit late in the process for this discussion. But if you can't work together toward this common goal, it's time to re-evaluate the goal.
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