Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Direct Report to the Boss Lady

In my book’s last chapter, “Happy-Ever-Aftering Takes Work,” I quoted wives and husbands who steer clear of arguments over money by the simple expedient of having the wife assume complete financial control.

It works, to promote not only domestic harmony but fiscal responsibility, judging from a great deal of testimony, from both genders. In that sense, according to one admittedly improvident husband, “men may well be the biggest beneficiaries” of these fiduciary arrangements.

As this wife of a spendthrift explains, “My husband has never signed his own paycheck and freely admits to anyone who will listen that he would have it no other way. Because without me in charge he would be in the poorhouse or a destitute alcoholic. Some men should never handle funds. All major spending is discussed between us, then decided on by me. He gets monies when I think he needs it.”

Of course, not all wife-led marriages adhere to this strict prescription. Many chief-executive wives prefer to have their husbands remain chief financial officers, or chancellors of the exchequer. But judging from postings on FLR message boards over the years, more and more couples are opting for the power of the purse over the wallet.

Here’s how it works, according to Ken Addison’s popular introductory book to wife-led marriages, Around Her Finger: “Ideally, the household finances should be consolidated and managed by the woman. The husband should operate under a budget that she approves, and he can appeal to his wife for exceptions to that budget.”

Fumika Misato goes into a little more detail on her Real Women Don’t Do Housework website, strongly advocating this system to wives starting out in the lifestyle:

“As head of the household, you control the family finances. He is required to justify his expenses to you. But there is absolutely no need for you to explain anything whatsoever about the family finances to him. If you give him a budget it is his duty to follow it; if you require approval for certain purchases, he must obtain such approval. You, on the other hand, are free to spend as you alone see fit whether, in your judgment, for the benefit of the family or merely for your own enjoyment. For example, if you want to buy a new car, that is your decision alone but if he wants to purchase a new shirt he must seek your permission.”

One of Lady Misato’s faithful followers, Au876, described how this dynamic operated in his wife-led marriage: “My wife now has total control of all our assets. My check goes by direct deposit into her account, and I am given an allowance which she sets and adjusts as she sees fit. I am not allowed nor do I ever question any decisions she makes about finances (or anything else for that matter).”

How, one may ask, does this unequal status reflect the courtship ideal inherent in wife-worship? It may be a stretch, but I really think it’s there. Work with me here, as they say on sitcoms, and conjure up the knight errant returning to court and laying some trophy of battle (the Holy Grail, perhaps?) at the feet of his queen or lady fair.

Or picture a caveman returning to his cave and throwing down his bloody kill at the feet of his cavelady. Perhaps he had to carve off a cutlet or two to eat en route, but I assure you he’d have preferred to lay the carcass intact at her feet. That’s the thrill of manly service to the she-creature who rules his heart.

That’s the same hard-wired macho impulse, slightly twisted, that has guys emptying their wallet onto the railings of strip club stages on Friday nights.

But, as I said, there are other working and workable FLR arrangements, some of which give the husband more discretion in family finances.

“In our house,” one husband explains, “it’s my job to keep up with the finances. My wife is the breadwinner and of course she has the final decision how the money is to spent. The way it works is I keep the books and if she wants to know some details, I report to her. I have some money for my personal needs, so I don't have to ask her or keep track of those expenditures.”

Another husband can buy whatever he likes without wifely permission, until he reaches a hundred-dollar threshold: “My Wife and I are both accountants, so it wasn't a problem when about a month ago she decided to assume full financial control along as part of her role of having final authority in our marriage. She decided I will receive a weekly allowance of cash from her to use anyway I wish, but I need to get Her advance permission on any purchases over $100. I'm not allowed to write any checks or making any savings withdrawals from our bank accounts.”

An interesting variation on these arrangements is where the wife controls the finances but relies on her husband for financial advice, keeping the books and handling all relevant paperwork. She just makes the decisions and signs the checks.

As Ken Addison puts it in Around Her Finger: “If, as a practical matter, the wife feels that she wants to defer the administrative component of managing the money (e.g. balancing a checkbook), then she can delegate this task as she would any other. If she decides to delegate this task, however, it is important that she get regular and frequent updates on the status of income and expenses in the home.”

Fdhousehusband (of the blog her househusband’s life) explains it how it works in his wife-led marriage: “In Her Household, my Wife earns almost all the money but i pay all the bills. i am really more of just Her secretary though. i prepare a budget every year that She then reviews and approves… i am to stay within the budget and advise Her whether proposed spending is within the budget. She can always change the budget and like a good secretary my job is to just advise Her of the choices She has to make.”

Another husband describes a variation of the same matriarchal theme: “The money is my wife’s, but one of my duties is to be the accountant. She is President and CEO, and as an underling, I make regular financial reports to her to let her know how her finances stand. As for big ticket items (cars, vacations, etc.) She has me do extensive research on all the possibilities. She will have me give a presentation to her, briefly going through pros, cons, options etc… In the end, though, she makes the final choice, regardless of whether I thought it was the very best one or not.”

Au876 is also privileged to be his wife’s financial advisor, financial secretary and, ultimately, accounts payable clerk: “Bill-paying is a chore as are many other aspects of financial management. I get all the bills ready for payment and she signs the checks. My wife often has me gather information on an investment she may be considering or do other research, such as comparing prices and etc. She often asks my opinion. When she does, she expects an informed opinion. However, after I present what she has asked for, she makes the decisions. Sometimes I never know what they are, but I have been asked for an opinion and that by itself thrills me.”

It was a decade ago in Lady Misato’s Wife Worship Forum that I first read Au876’s description of his wife’s stringent financial control. So I asked him, deeply puzzled, how he could buy his wife any special or expensive presents for Valentine's or Christmas or birthdays without funds? His answer came as a revelation:

“This is in reply to your question of how I could buy my wife expensive gifts. I can't. There is no way possible because I do not have free access to any remotely large sum of money. If she wants something, she buys it and I must say she does not hesitate to splurge on herself. Before she took control of the finances I would buy her expensive gifts from time to time. She appreciated them but often exchanged them for what she really wanted. Now she buys what she really wants. But the big plus is how much more she appreciates the gifts I do buy for her. It may be an inexpensive sweater, some new underwear, candy or even flowers from time to time, but she knows I have had to save back from my allowance to make the purchase and she knows I have given up some pleasures for myself to please her. She seems to appreciate them much more than she did expensive gifts that caused me little hardship.”

I was deeply impressed by the extent of Au876’s devotion. Now, after many years, I am privileged to confirm from my own daily experience the truth of what he wrote:

“There are very few things you can do without money. If your wife controls the money, she largely controls what you can and can not do. Meanwhile, she can do what she wants with no approval or permission from you.”

Yes, it’s a primal thrill for any wife-worshipper to relinquish all financial power into the hands of his queen, but I will whisper one teensy-weensy caution that others in the life have passed on to me:

Be careful what you wish for. Giving up financial control may be a point of no return on the road to wifedom.


Anonymous said...

Great blog! I've found it really interesting and added it to my favorites to check it as often as possible.

Mark Remond said...

Thanks, Anon. Which tells me I'd better keep posting stuff here, or I'll lose my audience!

Anonymous said...

My wife just took my debit card yesterday. I know get 15 dollars a week. Not sure how much I'm going to like this but she's not changing her mind.

Anonymous said...

This article assumes that the wife is not a spendthrift and is good at managing money. I'm a husband who's wife has managed all of the finances for the last 7 years. For the first 3 years we didn't have a lot of money and I did a great job of keeping our head above the water. We have gradually fallen into grave debt even though we both make a lot more money now. She has made things into such a juggled mess that it would almost be impossible for anyone else to come in and clean things up. The phone rings constantly from creditors yet she still spends in excess. Her budget is myopic only looking forward to the next paycheck and any large amount of cash that comes in (ie: a bonus, a gift) gets blown on stuff that she wants. I have to get approval to make any purchases and can't save for anything big. Any money I try to save gets used to bail her out of some mess (ie: no money for food, power will be cut off, etc). If things don't change I will be looking to divorce. My advise to any guy considering this is to give your head a shake. Beat it against a brick wall if you need to. If you completely give up control of your finances you might as well find the closest highrise and jump off the roof. The only option is to keep control or co-manage the finances. Split things up, but keep some control. Hold your spouse accountable for their share and be accountable for yours. Have a central budget that you both contribute to and set spending limits. Who the heck wants to have to beg for approval to buy a $20 shirt when your spouse can go out on a whim and buy a $30,000 new car that will have ramification on the budget for 3-7 years?

Locked Husband said...

The key is still living within your budget and maintaining common sense. I've always managed the finances, and have done it well. So when we recently went to a WLM the only big difference is I will ask permission before a large purchase, say over $100. I don't agree with the more extreme ideas where all the bank accounts are in the wife's name only, or the husband is more like a child. That scenario might be "hot", but isn't a sound real world plan.

sqc said...

fucking whore......

Anonymous said...

fucking whore

Anonymous said...

My wife has taken control of our finances. All of our accounts are in her name only. My paycheck gets direct deposited into her savings account. All of our accounts are online, and I manage them when necessary. She will log on and enter the password, then I make any transactions we need while she watches over my shoulder. All of our regular bills are automatic payments so there is really not much to manage. Some bills that we get in the mail, I prepare, and she signs the check.

I am not allowed to have any cash. I bring lunch to work everyday (or go hungry). I have 1 credit card that I am only allowed to use for things like gas in the car, groceries, etc. Any purchase that is specifically for me must be approved by the queen prior to purchase. She has credit card security email alerts set up, so that she is informed immediately when I make a purchase. I must provide itemized receipts for all credit card purchases once I return to the house.

This has cut my spending to near zero. I make about $175,000 per year, and she does not need/want to work. She is not extravagant, and this allows her to purchase whatever she wants and we still have money left over to save. I don't know how much money she has saved or what she will do with it, but I know its probably a lot. She is happy with this arrangement, and thats all that matters.

Mark Remond said...

A wonderful comment. I would love to hear more from you and how your wife has taken complete control of the finances and oversees all your use of money.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark, I made the previous comment. I think it has been more than 18 months now, since my wife decided that I was no longer allowed to have any cash, ever. My wallet has not had one single dollar in it, since then. I actually cant remember what it is like to have money to spend on anything I want. I can't even have loose change. Any money I get, must immediately be turned over. Like when I return our empty cans, she wants the receipt and cash. All loose change drops into a locked box which we bring to the bank when it gets full. About once a week I really need cash for something, but I can't do anything about it. I think my wife really enjoys this. And I have a feeling she really loves it when I need to ask her for cash, so that she can berate me, and tell me I don't need to spend money on this or that.

Something else she loves about controlling the money (true story). Right after she stopped letting me have cash (about april 2014), I was at a kids soccer game. One of the team mothers was collecting $10 for a coaches present, like they always do. So I told her I had no money and would give it to her next week. The following week she asked again, and my wife was there. I said "Honey do have the money for the coaches present?" And my wife gave the money to the woman. 6 months later at the end of fall soccer, the same thing happened - same mother asked for money, I said I had no money, I'll give it to you next week. I told my wife later, and she was smirking. The following week my wife gave her the money (again), smiling at me. Now onto spring 2015 soccer, you guessed it, same thing happened. After I told the team mother we would give her the money next week, she said, "Ok I'll ask your wife for it next time I see her." I think she was looking at me funny but I'm not sure. My wife was laughing when I got home and told her what the mother said. The next game, the mother ignored me and just asked my wife. Fast forward to fall 2015 soccer, of course it happens again. She asked me, I said I had no money, we'll pay you next week. When I informed my wife, she was laughing, and saying, "She knew you had no money! She just thought it would be fun to ask you again!" Which might have been true. Then at the game the following week, the woman ignored me, and said to my wife, "Hi I saw your husband last week, did he tell you its that time of year again?" My wife said, "Yes, he told me!" Then to me she said, "Honey, can you hand me my pocketbook?" It was six inches away from her on the bench, I was 4 feet away. I walked over and handed it to her. My wife was smiling, the other woman was also. I'm pretty sure that woman knows who controls the money in our beautiful marriage.

Mark Remond said...

Anonymous, what a delicious story, thank you for sharing! I have had similar experiences. I remember my wife saying to me, when it was agreed that I should arrange to have my paycheck directly deposited into her private checking account, "But won't that be emasculating for you?" The answer, of course, was yes. And how.

Anonymous said...

Me again. My wife would never say something like that to me. She likes being in control, but not actually discussing it. She really seems to enjoy when having no money gets me into a situation, like above, so she can laugh about it. I always tell her the story afterward to muse her. Last week I had to go out to lunch at work, and had to drive around to find a parking spot, because there were parking meters everywhere. I had to walk 6 blocks from my car to the restaurant, which she found funny.
This might sound weird, but after taking financial control, why do wives still give $20 a week as an allowance? Really it should be zero.
My wife enjoys grocery shopping so I rarely do that. What would I need money for? If I need shirts/pants/socks/etc, I tell her, and she gets them for me. She hates when I pick anything on my own, its always a bad choice, according to her. Great for me - she a great sense of style, and I look good! She buys nice but inexpensive stuff for me from places like TJ Maxx, etc.
A month ago, we stopped at a tag sale, and she let me get a few things. I picked out about 5 things, and asked her if I could buy them. She asked how much they each were, what I needed them for, etc. It was mostly tools and supplies, etc. She has a rule, that I can buy stuff like that, if I really need it. Meaning I am going to actually use it immediately, like within a week. If a week goes by and I don't use them, the belt is coming out. So I needed foil tape to re-tape the air ducts that the insulation was coming loose from, a new blade for my table saw, pair of pliers, etc. A few things she made me put back (C-clamps, screwdriver, etc). The funny thing, which I know she enjoyed immensely, was saying all this in front of the guy that was having the tag sale. He looked at me really funny, my wife just acted like everything was normal, I went along with whatever she said...

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous. You are going to get hosed so hard. I feel really sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, its anonymous again. So far I have not gotten hosed. But thanks for the concern! I didn't mention that my wife and I are in our late 40s, have known each other since we were 16, and been happily married for 25 years with 3 kids. So we do really trust each other fully.

Anyway this has been a slowly developing wife led marriage, initiated by me. My wife is still uncomfortable with it, but is doing better with it as time has gone by. Everything that we do, was always suggested by me, not her. Even controlling the money, which she clearly enjoys, was suggested by me, and made her uneasy. I remember going out with another couple for dinner like 2 years ago, and she was so embarrassed when we had to split the check, she slipped money to me under the table, so that I could pay our half. But a few weeks ago, we went out to dinner with another couple, for the second time in a month. When the check came the other husband picked it up and looked to me, saying how much it was and what should the tip be. My wife answered him, getting out her pocketbook and wallet. I saw the other couple look at each other... My wife handled it like nothing. We never mention that my wife is the boss to anyone, we talk that way privately, but at times it is obvious - hopefully we will talk about it with others someday.

I actually love having to ask her permission for things, it makes my whole day. I know I could just ask her something in the normal way, and it would be fine with her. But instead I prefer to ask things in a very subservient manner, re-enforcing our roles. I swear I love when I need to ask her something, I think about exactly how I'm going to word it for a half an hour, and I walk around rock hard while thinking about it. Hoping she will tell me no, or will answer meanly (though she usually doesn't). My wife is not there yet, by any means. She still considers what she thiks I want, when making decisions. I wish she wouldn't......