This afternoon, after three years of sharing money, Doug and I finally opened a joint bank account.
This changes nothing, and it changes everything.
The nothing: instead of us keeping our money separate and dividing up the bills (I pay cable, he pays phone, I pay electric, he pays water), our paychecks will now both be deposited into the joint account, and we will pay all the bills from there. We’ll keep our individual accounts and transfer monthly “allowances” into them so that we don’t have to check in with each other every time one of us wants a latte, and so we can buy each other presents without the other knowing.
The everything: what has previously been known as “Doug’s truck” will now become “our truck,” as we’ll be using the joint account to pay that bill, too. In turn, I won’t be left feeling like I have to support us at the end of each month – buying all the food and other necessities – after the truck payment has eaten up Doug’s entire paycheck.
Also, I get to be the one in charge of making sure all the bills actually get paid, in full and on time. Which is going to be wonderful, and will eliminate a ton of trust-related anxiety from my end of the relationship.
Sure, it’s a little scary, turning “mine” into “ours” like this. But as the wonderful, intelligent, and happily married Beth once pointed out, “If you know you’re in it together for the long haul, why wait until you have the paper to prove it, when you could make your financial situation so much easier now?”
Of course, though, there’s always a catch.
In this case, it’s my mother, who once told me – after my divorce coincided with yet another sudden and unexplained breakup on the part of my brother Joey – that she no longer trusts any of her children in relationships. (I find this to be really unfair, especially to our younger brother, Martin, who hasn’t even had a chance to fuck up yet.)
As a result of having been burned a few times, Mom now seems to be categorically against me making anything resembling a commitment – especially a financial commitment. When Doug and I mentioned the other night that we were planning on opening an account together, and asked my dad what bank he thought we should use, my mom started to protest before my dad could even answer. She doesn’t like me paying for things for Doug, doesn’t like that I make more than he does and don’t mind making up the difference for him, doesn’t like that I ask my dad for help so that Doug and I can go on vacation or do something together.
And yet, she seems to like Doug as a person, and has also told me that she likes “the way we interact as a couple.” She just can’t or won’t believe that we might actually be in it for the long haul.
I’ve taken this as far as I can take it as a narration.
I know that when I got divorced, your trust in me was shattered, and I’m sorry. Please know that it affected me deeply and has caused me to question my own judgment on multiple occasions as well.
But I have moved on now. I’ve been with Doug for three years, and I love him. I am not disillusioned as to what his faults are, or trying to convince myself that they will go away, like I did with my ex-husband. I love Doug in spite of those faults, or in some cases, because of them. The chances of me waking up one day and realizing I’m unhappy, like I did in my marriage, are very, very slim.
For his part, Doug has stuck with me through some of the lowest emotional points of my life: my divorce, my miscarriage, and the consequent loss of one of my best friends. The patience and support he has shown me during the past few years are worth so much more than money, and I can’t even respond to the suggestion that he might be using me. He hangs around because he loves me; and I have not been someone easy to love, and definitely not someone worth using.
When you broadcast your doubts about my ability to commit, and the staying power of this relationship, I feel hurt, abandoned, and un-supported by you. Adding insult to injury, you still claim that you don’t have time to read my blog, which might give you some insight into my emotional state, my current relationship, and the growing I have done since failing my first marriage and letting you down.
I love you, and I can’t imagine a life whose details I would have to keep secret from you. Please don’t let it come to that. Please accept that I am aware of and deeply sorry for my past mistakes; please see that I have learned from them; please support me as I continue taking steps to try to move forward.