Should spouse pay rent?

kellyz2009January 8, 2009

Should spouse pay rent?

My spouse, Jessie, says I should pay rent while I say that a marriage does not include one spouse paying rent to the other. While the idea of paying rent to my spouse does not seem right to me, I am open to whatever the right thing to do is; hence Im posting to this forum in hopes of getting feedback as to what other couples in similar marriages are doing. Here are the relevant details (I apologize for the length; I am not good at being succinct):

WeÂve been married four years, and we each have two children from previous marriages; JessieÂs two live with us full time (the oldest is currently living at University) and my two were already out of the house by the time we got married, so they never lived with us.

We had what I thought to be a reasonable arrangement to cover expenses:

 Jessie owns a house which was ~75% paid off when we married; if something happened to Jessie, the plan was to sell the house and give the proceeds to JessieÂs children, with the caveat that after ~five years I would "probably" begin to get partial interest in the house. I took this to mean that we would eventually end up pooling all of our assets and resources.

 Because Jessie was already paying the household bills, I have been direct depositing money to JessieÂs bank account every payday so that I am paying my (more than) fair share;

 In addition, IÂve paid for all of our vacations, including costs for JessieÂs children (airfare, hotels, food, activities, etc.); IÂve paid for all of our entertainment, e.g., dining out, movies, Disneyland, musicals, etc.;

 IÂve also paid many incidentals for JessieÂs children, some of which include multiple University / College application fees, school supplies, personal hygiene purchases, etc, etc.

 In essence, IÂve paid for everything just as if JessieÂs children were my children.

When all is said and done, the amount of money I have given to Jessie, after accounting for common expenses, is equal to ~10% of the house value. It is important to note that this is over and above the amount I have already paid for common expenses.

This extra 10% that has been at JessieÂs disposal has provided for many things that Jessie would not have been able to do alone:

 Pay extra towards the mortgage such that it is now practically paid for (~94% paid off);

 Remodeling of the house;

 Re-landscaping the yard;

 Vacations including two cruises, two trips to Mexico and two trips to Hawaii, among other things;

In essence, I have subsidized our household such that we could afford all of these things, thereby providing a certain "quality of life" that would otherwise not have been possible.

While discussing how we should setup our trusts, I suggested that if something happened to Jessie that the house would be sold and I should receive ~10% of the proceeds, while JessieÂs children should receive the remaining ~90%. If something happens after 10 years, my share would be ~25%, based on my continued excessive contribution to our families finances. As time marches on (after 20 to 25 years) we would finally end up with pooled resources and assets, so if something happened to Jessie after this time, I would receive 50% and JessieÂs children would receive 50%.


Now Jessie says I get no interest in the house; it is for JessieÂs children only. Not only that, we need to keep all of our assets separate; and, in addition to paying my half of common expenses, I need to pay rent and the amount I am to pay is more than double the amount already being charged to someone who Jessie recently rented a room to.

"Okay fine", I think to myself. Then I say, "I want to be fair to both of us, so I think that since you do not want to pool resources and assets that I have been contributing waaaay too much money and the current situation is very unfair to me."

To me, I am JessieÂs spouse who provides much more in intangibles as a spouse and as a parent than I already do in extra money. Some of the intangibles (I am more involved with JessieÂs child (Casey) than Jessie is in many important ways):

 Since Casey has early morning school, I take Casey to school so Jessie can sleep a bit more before going into work (even though it is much more out of the way for me than for Jessie);

 I take Casey to and from school and other activities, e.g., scouting events, church events, friends houses, etc. Jessie rarely is willing to do this;

 I spend quality (and quantity!) time with Casey, allowing for spontaneous conversations about pretty much everything; Jessie does not spend quality time, and Jessie does not like to discuss things;

 I coordinate and attend individual school academic counselor appointments to ensure Casey is taking the right classes and is not getting overloaded (Casey is an excellent student already);

 In essence, I parent Casey just as if Casey were my own, which does also include guidance and discipline.

 BTW, I enjoy very much this aspect of being in a family, i.e., the parenting role is very rewarding :-)

Here is the crux of the problem: While we are coming to terms with how to reconcile the extra money IÂve given to Jessie, we are still very much disconnected in regards to my paying rent. To me, I am not a roommate who pays rent; I am a spouse and a parent in a family unit. To Jessie, since I donÂt want to continue paying extra money, I should pay rent in order to help with the mortgage payments; to me, this is ridiculous: if Jessie wants to keep all finances separate, then Jessie needÂs to pay for JessieÂs own stuff; I already add a lot of intangible benefits to the family, only a short list of which is pointed out above. Plus, with my paying half of all the expenses, JessieÂs expenses are actually less than if we were not married BTW, note that we each make reasonable money, but with significant monthly college expenses for the oldest child, Jessie is starting to feel a bit pinched.

After all of that, I again pose the question: should I pay rent to my spouse?

Thanks very much for any insight (and sorry for the long winded post)!

Best regards,


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You lost me a little bit on this one with the comment about "extra money". It seems to me you are already paying your fair share with all the extras. I don't agree that married couples should have their money seperate and I also think its ridiculous that a husband wants his wife to pay rent. However, if thats what he wants, so be it, give him fair market value for the rent, and stop paying all the other things you pay. (The vacations, school tuition, etc). I'm betting after a few months of this, he'll change his mind. One other thing stands out to me even more than any of this. Where is your future, your retirement? If it were me, I would be selling this house right now, and buying a house that we both "purchased" together. This is always going to be "his" house. You need to have some security, especially if you are contributing.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 6:46AM
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re-marriages with previous kids can get a bit dicey but what you've described is more than a little pedantic. The idea of "rent" being somehow separate and discrete from all other contributions is particularly annoying. The prospect of having to keep careful tabs on everything is a recipe for constant bickering. There are almost always differences between spouses in amounts and nature of their contributions. If your wife is going to be this picky about how your affairs are conducted and accounted for, you've got a miserable life ahead.

How long have you been married? Is this rental obsession of hers new or have you always had money quarrels?

Depending on both of your mindsets about such things, perhaps a counselor's help with a post-nuptial agreement would be in order. Don't let this nonsense fester. This issue needs to be put to bed permanently.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:48PM
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I'm curious about this post.

Kelly is a brand new poster.
IMO, the subject passes beyond the controversial and into the bizzare.
But most oddly, there is absolutely NO indication of either person's gender. And it's so difficult to write that way that I think that has to be deliberate. And the writer's writing style itself doesn't give it away, which is also unusual.

I'm wondering if it isn't a Psych 101 experiment tracking how many of us jump to what gender conclusions about Him taking advantage of Her, Her attempting to cheat Him, Him being picky with Him, or Her micromanaging Her...

So Kelly - Care to fill in some gaps? ;-)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 3:14PM
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Hi sweeby,

I understand your skepticism; all I can do is state that this is no experiment; I wish it were, but I am actually living this scenario, bizarre as it is...

BTW, I posted this in one other forum, "Stepfamilies", because I did not know which one was the best fit. If you go there you'll see many more posts, including my recent follow-up that actually answers your points.

Thanks and regards,

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 4:20PM
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sweeby, I had the exact same thought.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 8:25PM
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Kelly, is your wife terming it "rent" or is that your word? Is she saying that you should contribute to the remaining cost of the house (mortgage) or actually saying "rent"? Does she work? Do you work? Does she ever pay any of the expenses that you said you do?

I don't have an opinion for you yet, just trying to get some more info so I can weigh it more.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 8:58PM
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Hi Suzieque,

Yes, rent is her term, used in the same breath with, "I have a mortgage to pay and now I have this large monthly college expense for my kid; you can't live here for free! I can get a thousand guys to move in here and pay rent!"

I agree with her that she will have no trouble getting as many guys as she wants to move in and pay her rent; but I'm not convinced (unless they are independently wealthy) that she will get many guys who will marry her, be a father to her children (doing most of the parenting "chores" as she sees them, though to me it's a joy and very rewarding), pay half of the common expenses, and pay her rent (this actually is what Im really trying to find the conventional wisdom on, if that makes sense)

We both work and we each make reasonable salary; and the expenses? I have been paying for pretty much everything, and when all is said and done, I have paid significantly more (over and above common expenses) than I would have had her intention of not allowing even partial ownership in the house been clear. And yes, we know, we were stupid and naïve and should have figured this out before we married, but water off a ducks back at this point


    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 9:35PM
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got the same idea, sweeby... no "his", no "him" etc...

VERY deliberately contrived.....

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:16PM
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" can't live here for free! I can get a thousand guys to move in here and pay rent!"

That is really obnoxious! Assuming this post isn't a hoax, I'm going to ignore everything else but this statement. A normal husband -- good, bad, or in-between -- would have stopped the presses at the instant such a thing was spoken. ( Ladies, imagine your reaction if your husband said such a thing to you.) Nothing good there. All bad. And, perhaps more to the point if your description of the existing arrangement is anywhere close to accurate, quite intolerable.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:34PM
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I was also thinking it was strange that the gender of the spouse was not clear. And it is still more strange that rather than simply saying, "I am the husband," or "I am the wife," which would go far towards clearing up people's doubts, Kelly wants us to go to another forum and do a search for his/her posts in order to find out. I don't buy that.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 12:18AM
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It's funny, I thought from the start Jessie was a "she" (boy Jesse's spell the name without an "i") and Kelly was a "he" (though with all the speculation I did start to wonder if maybe they were a lesbian couple). I think OP made his post genderless because people on these forums (especially the Stepfamily) often take the woman's side even when it is possibly not justified, and wanted an answer that was untainted by gender assumptions.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 1:52AM
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Apologies for not simply copying and pasting it into this forum as I'm doing now; I am new to this forum thing and have been going back and forth between this one and the Stepfamilies forum, in between tying to work and deal with all of this with my wife; I didn't think of the inconvenience of looking at the other one. Here it is:

Thanks all for your responses; I actually feel appalled by this whole thing and you have validated my feelings.

As some have suggested, we are in counseling and have been for ~two months; we are also (assuming we can work through this) considering to purchase another property together that we will live in, thus leaving the current house for her to do with as she wishes.

The problem persists though on how to reconcile the imbalance in financial contribution over our four years of marriage, since her intention of not allowing even partial ownership is now clear, and also due to her insistence on my paying rent over and above our common expenses.

BTW, we are in a community property state, but really to me that is irrelevant unless we end up divorcing; is what I want to do is understand the fair and equitable thing to do for both of us so that we can work this out.

BTW2, this is interesting because from all the responses it would seem I'm the wife, but actually I'm the husband; Jessie is my wife... I intentionally wrote this to be gender neutral because my wife says expectations are different depending on which gender is in which position. Again, my intention is to do what is fair and equitable, so if conventional wisdom is such that your responses would now be different please feel free to say so and please let me know what the difference would be.

Again, thank you very much for your insight

That's the end of the post I was referring to, hope it helps everyone to better understand what's going on.

The money issue has surfaced only in the last three months or so, due to our finally getting around to setting up wills and trusts, etc. Also, your second post, along with a number of posts in the Stepfamilies forum, speaks to how I have been feeling. In fact, I brought up in our counseling session last Saturday that even if we "reach agreement" with the money, that we as a couple have deeper issues that are probably the real culprit, and that unless we get those understood and resolved, the money thing won't even matter...

You have captured the intent of the gender neutrality, though not because people on these forums often take womens side of things (I haven't been on these forums long enough to know), but because (as I now include above) my wife claims that what she wants is okay for a women, but not for a man; so yes, I did not want gender to play into it.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 2:15AM
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Sorry for stirring up the 'gender-obfuscation' pot -- and I can see why you did it.

That said, I'm completely in agreement with Asolo about the outrageous stench of Jessie's "I can get any number of guys" statement.
I'm sorry, but the subtext of that statement is that your value to her can be measured by your financial contribution. Period. The End.
Like if you're not willing to be 'the highest bidder' she should really do some more shopping around...
Yeah. The old "I can do better."
How digusting. And that sentiment would be equally disgusting from either gender.

Sadly, she seems to have the "What's yours is mine, and what's mine is mine too" bug, and I don't think that's curable.
If she really is that selfish and petty, it's a core personal characteristic that you'll have to either take or leave.

Either way, I think it's clear that she's looking after HER own financial interests, and that therefore, you'll have to protect your own.
And that's 'singular you', not plural.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 11:34AM
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I totally agree with sweeby.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 11:46AM
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I am one of the ones that totally thought "kelly" was the wife and Jessie was the husband, however, my answer is the same, no matter who the wife is, and who the husband is. A marriage is not like two people living together sharing expenses. Everything is done "together" regardless of who puts in what, where and when.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 12:01PM
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" a couple have deeper issues that are probably the real culprit, and that unless we get those understood and resolved, the money thing won't even matter..."


Money matters are usually the familiar scapegoat. It's easier to understand and explain than personal issues which are more frequently the real problem.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 12:14PM
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Maybe if you mention the state you live in I could give you some advice you didn't ask for but would profit from knowing -- --legal advice. That would change everything because altho your wife/husband/domestic partner thinks that house is all theirs no matter how much you contribute it isn't true in many states.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 5:17PM
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Maybe you have posted on other forums, but if you did it was under a different name. If you click on your user name it shows when you first registered to post. In your case, that your be January 7, 2009. Hmmmm!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 10:34PM
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patti, he did post on Stepfamilies. It's right there, very easy to find, using the same name (see link below). The post date is Jan. 8. What does his registration date of January 7 matter?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 10:45PM
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