On New Years Day, we went to my best friend’s for dinner. She seemed to be suffering from money stress and appeared to have fallen off the credit card wagon- AGAIN- and said that they were attempting to refinance their house, which would alleviate some of the money pressure. J has actually been friends with her husband since they were all undergraduates, and his visit was even more stressful. Her husband was was sad and stressed about money and her spending habits. J has always been pretty judgmental about her behavior, feeling like she has taken advantage of his friend and not really been a partner throughout most of their marriage. On the way home, while we were talking about their situation, J insisted that he would have never married me if I had had spending habits like hers, and when I said that there would have been no way to know, he said he would divorced me if I had been like her, that he would have never put up with someone who spends money the way she does.
I tried to turn it off with a laugh, saying that I would not have wanted to be married to someone with such out of control spending habits either, but he insisted over and over that he would not have stayed married to me. It really hurt my feelings, since the only deal breaker for me – ever – has been infidelity, and yet here I still am. It seemed like such a weird thing for him to be so insistent about since it has never been an issue in our marriage – I have always been frugal – sometimes TOO frugal. In the last three decades I have spent very little money on myself or on things that only I value – like household items that are more decorative than practical. Any extra income that we have ever had has gone to our daughter, to vacations that all of us can enjoy, or to J’s interests, so the more I thought about the more angry it made me.
He has been saying things like this to me since we got married – he would have never married me if I had insisted on an engagement ring, he would have divorced me immediately if I had behaved like either of his sisters-in-law, he would have been done with me immediately if I cheated on him. How am I supposed to take this – my brother-in-law didn’t divorce my sister, even though she was a drama queen, developed a drug problem, spent money like water, cheated on him and was a bad mother. His brother didn’t divorce his wife even though she was selfish, unsupportive, bitchy and CHEATED ON HIM IN HIS OWN HOUSE. His friend hasn’t divorced my friend even though she can be selfish and self absorbed and has put them in debt by doing what she wants when she wants, no matter what the cost. He wouldn’t have divorced his first wife, even though she appears to have had a combination of some of the worst characteristics of his sisters-in-law and cheated on him when they hadn’t even been married a year. No, only I am so little worthy of love and fidelity. I didn’t even know how to take this. It certainly didn’t do much for my confidence in his commitment to me or for my feelings of self worth. We talked about it and talked about it, and by the next day he seemed to understand why I was so unhappy and promised to work on it – but once again it was made plain to me that my feelings are not as important as his.