Income - Apportionment of Income
It must be acknowledged that the money question is responsible for many of the matrimonial troubles that arise. When two people marry with just enough to get along with, when care and thrift and strict economy are exercised, domestic discord is liable to occur when household expenditure exceeds income, as it is often apt to do.
The average girl marries without that practical knowledge of housekeeping and household finance that is absolutely essential if she is to be enabled to make a small income suffice in this somewhat extravagant age. With a lamentable ignorance of market prices, with no more knowledge of book-keeping than a child of ten, with more or less vague ideas as to the elastic possibilities of money, the young wife is fortunate indeed if she manages to steer the barque of matrimony clear of the rocks during the first six months.
Young husbands, also, are apt to be a little vague as to the cost of household goods and women's clothes, and matrimonial discord inevitably arises unless there is some clear, definite understanding about money matters from the beginning. The ideal relationship, as it affects the household purse, is to regard marriage as a sort of partnership in which all available money is a common trust, and fixed allowances are set aside for various purposes. When mutual respect and confidence exist between husband and wife, it is not generally difficult to arrange various "allowances" for different requirements. The fact, however, remains that many wives begin without any special understanding about the household purse, and are content to acquiesce when the husband says, "I will settle the bills, dear, and you can always ask me for the money you require." The type of man who thinks that women should not be "bothered" with money matters is only one degree less aggravating than the husband who imagines that they are inherently incapable of handling money. In such cases, the wife spends what she considers necessary, and the husband pays the bills. And that is generally the beginning of trouble.
A Vicious System
The bill system is a bad one from every point of view. There are rich women who never have the satisfaction of handling money, and who are considered mean by other women because they have never sufficient ready cash to pay their share, and subscribe to the innumerable charities which the modern woman has to help. All their bills are met by the husband, who probably imagines that women are perfectly happy so long as they can buy whatever they want, and that they certainly do not need the ready cash that a man does. Such a husband cannot understand why a woman should want an " allowance," and would be amazed if he could fathom his wife's resentment of his attitude towards the money question. He lacks imagination to realise that every woman in the world hates to ask for money, or to have to require to "humour" a man when she wants a little more ready cash than usual. But if the bill system is a bad one for the well-to-do woman, it is absolutely fatal where means are only moderate, and the. family exchequer has to be carefully administered to keep things straight. Bills have a knack of mounting up when they are allowed to run for any time, and matrimonial troubles soon begin when the household money has to pay for food or clothes which have been bought weeks or months before. Every trustworthy woman ought to handle the money she spends in housekeeping affairs or personal expenses. There is far less chance of friction when the wife has a definite allowance, and when she knows exactly what she has to spend.
Every married woman knows that household expenses vary a good deal from week to week, but if she has a regular allowance she can generally manage to deal with such fluctuations by exercising a little method. Otherwise, she has to go to her husband continually for money, and it takes a man with a very equitable temper to meet frequent requests for extra money when he is tired out after a hard day's work. The continual necessity of asking for money every few days is a bad system, because, however careful the wife is to choose a good time, the inopportune moment is bound to arise some time. Men, even the best of them, are occasionally fretful and irritable, and the wife who has no' regular fixed sum for housekeeping has to risk a matrimonial reproach for extravagance some time or other. The sensitive woman may suffer a good deal if she has to ask and account for every shilling she spends, although, on the other hand, there is a good deal of foolish sentimentality over the question of money. There are mean husbands and difficult husbands, it is true, but the average man is not intentionally selfish, and would be only too ready to meet his wife's wishes with regard to money arrangements if she would speak openly to him of the matter. The "misunderstood" wife who harbours resentment for years because she has no personal allowance that she can consider her very own, lacks tact, common-sense, and humour, in that she will not talk to her husband as to her feelings on the matter, and ask him to reorganise the financial arrangements of the home.
The money question is often an imaginary grievance with women. The average man would be only too ready to meet his wife if approached in the right way, and matrimonial troubles often arise for lack of a good, straight talk between husband and wife, to clear the atmosphere and provide a better understanding.
The allowance plan undoubtedly is the best to follow. Let the wife reckon up carefully what she considers necessary per week for housekeeping expenses, and ask for a definite sum to cover these. If ready money payment is arranged, it will go far to avoid debt, which brings untold misery and trouble in its train. Then it is better for the wife to have an allowance, however small, for personal expenses. No man would like, if the situation were reversed, to have to ask for his tobacco money, or coax his wife into a good temper when he wanted to buy a pair of gloves. There are some men who are so afraid of their wives being extravagant that they invariably pretend their income is about half what it actually is. Whilst, on the other hand, many a man gets into money difficulties because he has never had the courage to tell his wife he cannot continue to run his establishment on the same lines, and debts accumulate which could have been easily avoided if the wife had known actually the-state of the household finance.