"My Husband Is a Tightwad"

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Her Turn, continued

"As newlyweds Michael and I got along great. We never argued. We ate at fancy restaurants and spent summer weekends at the beach. Things started to sour when I became pregnant with Allyson. We were surprised that I conceived immediately. In retrospect, Michael wasn't emotionally prepared for fatherhood. As my pregnancy progressed, he became increasingly stressed out about the financial responsibility of raising a child.

"Since our one-bedroom condo was too small for a family, we bought a two-bedroom in a luxury high-rise. We got a great deal, but the place needed a total overhaul. I missed a lot of work in my first trimester because of horrible morning sickness, so I quit my job and focused on the renovation, hiring and supervising the architect and a platoon of contractors. We created a budget, but we grossly underestimated the costs and how long the project would take. As it stretched on, Michael became more and more nervous about the escalating expense. When I asked him to help make decisions, he dragged his feet until I ended up deciding alone -- only to face his criticism after he saw the bills.

"One of our most vicious fights was about $2,500 I spent on a still-life painting for our foyer. The artist is a friend and he gave it to me as a 'loaner' so we could see whether it was right for our space. I adored it, and my friend offered to sell it to me for half price. Michael lost his temper when he saw the canceled check. He claimed I bought the painting 'behind his back,' yet I distinctly recall that he never gave me a straight answer when I asked whether he liked it."

Baby Woes

"We also argue about what I spend on baby stuff. At an upscale store, I fell in love with a $1,100 crib that converts to a toddler bed, but I did my homework and got it for $800 at an online outfit. Yes, it was expensive even with the discount. Yes, I could buy a crib at Sears for a lot less money. But it's a beautiful piece that will be in our family for generations, and we could afford it. Still, Michael went ballistic when the bill came in. That's when he demanded that I hand over every receipt for his review.

"The renovation project is almost over, but not our fights. Michael thinks I buy too many clothes and shoes for myself and just the other day screamed at me for 'hiding' my purchases in the back of our closet and accused me of lying. It's true I don't go out of my way to tell him what I've bought. But does that make me a liar? What about his spending? I haven't noticed him cutting back on his wine collection.

"Recently, Michael has been staying out late at client dinners, drinking too much and forgetting to tell me he'll be late. I know he's doing this to spite me. In addition to his work and money worries, Michael is angry that I don't pay as much attention to him as I used to. But how can I? After a long day with the baby and everything related to the renovation, I'm wiped out. I still love Michael and don't want a divorce, but I can't bear the way things are now."

Continued on page 3:  His Turn


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