Husband makes me use my own money to pay for furniture, bills

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a woman in my 50s and my husband is self-employed. As I am his full-time employee, he gives me a monthly salary, but recently, I’ve started feeling frustrated.

Whenever we buy furniture or appliances for our home, my husband tells me to pay for them out of my salary. I end up paying for them, but I find it hard to accept. When I complained about it to my husband, he said, “Is your salary only for yourself?”

I don’t know if I can say that I’m doing a good enough job to justify the amount of money I make. That being said, two-thirds of my salary is used to pay for our insurance premiums and other bills. So, I only keep one-third of my salary.

I used to think this was just because we are self-employed, but now that times have changed, I’m starting to wonder if this is some kind of exploitation or chauvinistic behavior.

When I see my husband spread out on the couch that I paid for, I can’t help but get angry. Can you please give me some advice?

— F, Ibaraki Prefecture

Dear Ms. F:

From your letter, I understand that your actual salary, after deducting insurance premiums and other bills, is only one-third of what you get paid. If you then have to pay for furniture, appliances or other necessities out of your income, you probably don’t have much leftover.

Since you’re working as a full-time employee, it’s natural that you feel frustrated about the situation. I can understand why you feel like he is exploiting you or trying to assert his dominance over women.

First of all, I think you should know that you deserve a salary that is proportional to the amount of work you do. So discuss with your husband how much would be a reasonable amount.

You may end up receiving less money, but it will truly be your salary. Your husband cannot tell you how to spend this money. It would be better to set up a separate account from the one used for household expenses. On top of that, you and your husband can discuss how to pay for furniture and home appliances.

Since you work for your self-employed husband, your professional and personal lives are likely to blend together. Let’s separate them little by little. Now that you feel like “times have changed,” it is the perfect time to do so.

—Yoko Sanuki, lawyer