Photo: Marc Royce
Q: I am married to a man who has no financial ambition. He's the nicest guy, and at first I tried to ignore the fact that he had a dead-end job. Later I helped him start a business, but without the motivation to learn new skills, he closed it down. Now he's settled into another $10-an-hour job; meanwhile, I cover 80 percent of the bills. I'm 56 years old and trying to pay down our mortgage and save for retirement. I've tried telling my husband how his lack of drive puts a huge burden on me. I love him, but sometimes I feel like a meal ticket. Should I divorce him over this?
A: You're asking the wrong question, my dear. What you need to figure out is why you married him in the first place. By your own admission, you knew from the get-go that he wasn't financially driven, so why are you mad at him now for being exactly who he's always been? Is he really such a burden, or are you falling back on the old notion that a husband is supposed to be the breadwinner, and you resent him for not fitting into that traditional mold?
Clearly, the big mistake here is that you chose to overlook some troubling facts. If you expected that he would cover more than 20 percent of the bills, then you should have made sure you were both on the same page about what you wanted him to provide financially. It sounds like you had expectations for him that he never had for himself.
But that doesn't mean the relationship is doomed. It seems as though his strength lies in offering you emotional support rather than financial. That's what attracted you to him in the beginning. It's up to you to decide whether that's enough.