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How To Keep Money From Messing Up Your Marriage

Mar. 8, 2016 NPR

Mary Fusillo and her husband, Bob, have been married for 20 years. She met him on a blind date in Houston. Right away, she knew she liked him.

He was very intellectual, and he “read jazz biographies of dead jazz musicians,” she says, laughing.

“And I was used to guys that went hunting on the weekends,” she adds.

They fell in love and got married. Pretty soon they had a house and kids — twins, actually.

But within a few years, there was trouble.

“He was a good husband,” Fusillo, now in her mid-50s, says with absolute conviction. “He’s always done all the cooking, which is great.”

He gave the kids baths and did household chores. So what was the trouble?

“The money thing always made us crazy,” Fusillo says.

At the time, Fusillo says, she was working fewer hours to juggle her job with taking care of the kids. She was a nurse; he was a chemical engineer.

Her husband was making more money than she was, but they were splitting their expenses down the middle.

So after her share of the child care, groceries and bills, Fusillo says, she was feeling pretty broke much of the time.

“It would be a week before payday and I would have like 20 bucks,” she says. “And I would go to my dad and say, ‘Can I have a hundred dollars?’ and my dad would be like, ‘Well, what’s up?’ ” she re-enacts his one-eyebrow-raised question. “I’d say, ‘Please just give me a hundred bucks,’ ” she says. “It was bad.”

Oftentimes one spouse doesn’t realize how big an issue money is becoming for the other person. Fusillo says that’s what was going on with her husband.

They weren’t having money arguments per se. But over time, Fusillo got increasingly frustrated about it — to the point where she says she’s surprised they didn’t get divorced, “because I had such overwhelming resentment.”

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