"My Husband Is a Tightwad"

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His Turn

"Sometimes I Think I'm Just a Paycheck to Her"

"So Patricia thinks I'm a tightwad," said Michael, 30, in a clipped tone. "Well, I call it being financially responsible. We're investing for our retirement and our daughter's education, but I'd like us to stash away more of my salary. My wife just wants to spend it.

"Patricia goes overboard on everything. She buys too much food -- and she shops at gourmet stores, not supermarkets. She's extravagant when it comes to clothes for herself and Allyson as well as gifts for friends and family. She owns 75 pairs of shoes; her side of our closet is so packed I don't know how she finds anything. Yes, I flew off the handle after she spent $800 on a crib. And yes, I now insist she turn over all her receipts. I got tired of being unpleasantly surprised every month when the bills rolled in. But I'm hardly the cheapskate she makes me out to be: I collect fine wine and pay top dollar for business suits. Like Patricia, I like having a nicely furnished home. But do we need a designer sofa? Won't a moderately priced one do?

"Sometimes I think I'm just a paycheck to Patricia. When I ask her about bills, she ignores me or gets defensive. So then I yell or make hurtful comments, thinking maybe that will get through to her. It doesn't. Patricia hasn't reduced her spending. Our relationship is in shambles. Our sex life is all but nonexistent.

"My cautious attitude about money is rooted in my childhood. Mom was a housewife who doted on her four kids. Dad was a lawyer who squandered his salary on alcohol. My parents ended up getting divorced when I was 18, and at retirement my father had nothing but Social Security to live on. I do not want to end up like him. I worked part-time at a supermarket in high school to earn money for college because Dad wouldn't pay for it. I put myself through law school with loans I'm still paying off. I find it ironic that I'm now the one accused of being 'cheap.'"

Continued on page 4:  His Turn, continued


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