The boyfriend and I have been dating for over two years now. We’d both been living the single life for a long time before we met, so it probably took us longer than most couples to find our balance. Eating, sleeping, communicating; We’ve had to make a lot of adjustments and compromises to make things work as a couple. And one thing that has taken us a little longer to figure out? Money.
Dating and finances are always a tricky thing. I mean, sure, your money is your’s, and his money is his. But who pays on a date? Does he pay? Do you go dutch? How many dates until you can quit playing the check dance? One of the benefits of dating a much older man is that he’s pretty old fashioned; He believes as the guy that he should pay for everything.
But the more time we spent together, the more awkward it became. I’d pickup something and bring it back to the house, and he’d want to pay me back. Sure, I was saving lots of money, but he was spending a lot. Our system wasn’t fair. The increased spending wasn’t sustainable for him, and I wasn’t really comfortable having someone else footing the bill all the time. It took some convincing, but I finally convinced him he didn’t need to always pay me back. So, when I ran to the grocery to pick things up for dinner, or stopped and bought him some soda, he didn’t need to worry about giving me money.
I’ve learned that making changes in relationships often takes baby steps. Letting me cover some of the costs was better, but it still wasn’t really fair. It wasn’t long before we were basically living together. Me paying for one dinner a week and a few random items here and there wasn’t really cutting it. I offered to start pitching in a weekly amount to cover more of the food costs. He wasn’t at all comfortable with that. For a long time we were at a stand-still, unsure of the best way to balance things out.
A couple of months back, we finally figured out a solution. It seemed so simple, I don’t know why we didn’t think of it before. What’s our solution? A grocery list. We still do dinners on a night by night basis. I know, that probably sounds crazy to most people, but we actually waste a lot less food when we just buy what we are eating that night. Otherwise we end up with things like the “broccoli incident”. Broccoli is now a sore subject in our household, due to my stubborn refusal to have it for dinner for an entire month, despite him having bought it, and even cleaned and cut it in preparation of “tomorrow night’s dinner”. I swear, it was the longest lasting broccoli I’ve ever seen! I kept praying for it to just go bad, so we’d never have to speak of it again.
So, whoever is cooking dinner that night usually buys. But, there are all those things that normal people keep on hand in the kitchen. Like eggs, and butter, and seasonings. Sodas. Household items like toilet paper and paper towels. Anything that we’re getting low on goes on the list. And then, at least once a week, I’ll go to the grocery, and buy anything that’s on the list.
It isn’t a perfect system; It’s impossible to make things 100% even in any relationship. But now I feel like I’m contributing financially to the relationship. And he isn’t having to shell out so much money every week. It’s an adjustment for both of us: I’m not used to anyone supporting me financially, and in his marriage, he was accustomed to paying for 100% of the living expenses. It may seem small, but it’s getting us used to combining our efforts and each contributing to our common goals. We’ve talked about bigger goals for our future, like buying a house. If we’re going to retire mortgage-free, it’s going to take both of our financial efforts.
– Cindy W.