I just want to share a recent boundary that I set for myself and how much enforcing it has positively affected me.
When we were first married I took care of all the finances because he worked away from home for weeks at a time. When my husband came home he would throw my carefully planned budget for a loop, 90% of the time I went along with it and made it work, 10% of the time I let him know that whatever it was, just wasn't in the budget at the moment, but if it was important that we could figure out how to add it in. Since he only was home for a week or two at a time, it wasn't a big deal. However, about a year ago multiple things changed at once, we had our first child and he took a lesser paying job that kept him home. Now said carefully planned budget was blown out of the water and we have less money coming in and more expenses. Over the last year I've been trying to hold things together with chewing gum and twine, and it has been a major point of stress for me. I have tried several different methods of recording and sharing the budget and what is available, and he has put in some effort to be involved, but ultimately it was all on my shoulders.
One source of stress was being the one who had to figure out how to make sure the bills got paid, food was on the table, doctor's visits and medications were paid for, and try to still have something left over at the end of the week to have some fun. Another source of stress was that because he wasn't invested and responsible for the budget my husband would either talk about the things he was going to buy with our nonexistent funds or asking permission to spend the littlest amount. Both put me in an uncomfortable position where I was the one saying yes or no to his request. I don't want to tell him no. I don't want to be the one to make all the decisions about where our money goes, and I don't want him to act like they are all my decisions to make. I'm not his mom and I want him to stop acting like I am. Since the beginning of our relationship he has asked permission for all sorts of stupid things, and my response, unless it has been a request that would have a detrimental affect on our family, has always been that I'm not his mother and he doesn't need to get my permission.
But now, I'm done. Taking care of the household finances is a major point of stress for me and he never took being involved seriously, so instead of trying harder to get him involved and share the burden, I'm trying different. He frequently told me that he didn't understand why there wasn't enough money for the things he wanted to do. After all, when he was single he was able to go out whenever he wanted and always had a good sized cushion in the bank. So last month I shared that what we were doing wasn't working for me. I shared a sample plan where household bills were split so that the ones I was responsible for comprised the majority of my take home pay, leaving me with enough money for gas and a few extras each month, but not enough to be relied upon for expenses, while his share of the bills would negatively impact him but not necessarily the household if unpaid and there would be enough left over that all other expenses (groceries, doctor visits, annual expenses, oil changes, etc.) would be his responsibility. I made a list of our annual expenses and roughly when they are due so that he wouldn't be blindsided by them when they come around. I told him that I had no doubt that he would do a great job, after all it wasn't something that was a problem for him before we were together, and it wasn't something I took over because he was bad at, but because he was frequently gone. I told him that I would help and support him in any way I could, but that ultimately it was on him how that money was spent. I told him that I know that he will do a good job and I wouldn't butt in and question every purchase, that I would assume if he was spending the money on something, that it was available to spend.
Last week was the first week in the transition. After all the weekly bills were paid out of the joint account, what was leftover was transferred to his account. I can't see or access this account so I have no way of knowing what is and isn't available in it. I can't tell you how awesome this last week has been! We went to the grocery store and I wasn't keeping a running total in my head of what was in the cart. I wasn't stressed about every "extra" thing he was putting in and trying to figure out how I would make the grocery budget work with the extras or constantly telling him that no, the super fancy cheese isn't in the budget this week, please stick to the list. He splurged one morning and bought breakfast; I didn't stress out because of the sudden loss of X dollars and how I was going to account for that expense. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and enjoyed a nice breakfast with him and our daughter. Before he headed to the store to pick up wine for a holiday dinner we were hosting, he first asked me if that was okay. My response was simply to ask him why he was asking. He thought about it, said that he didn't know, and rephrased to tell me that he was going to pick up wine instead of asking if it was okay. I just said okay and again, felt no stress about the purchase. He did make one comment at the beginning of the week asking "how am I supposed to work with only X dollars?" I said that we could come up with a plan together, but that it wasn't any more or less than would have been available to me to work with.
I didn't realize how much stress I was carrying. I didn't realize how much the responsibility weighed on me. I know there will be hiccups along the way as he figures out how to manage household finances again, and I'll be there to do whatever I can (except contribute monetarily), but it is absolutely amazing to not have that responsibility on my shoulders and to work towards no longer being asked permission by my husband every time he wants to make a purchase. I feel amazing! Boundaries are awesome!